I said the other day that I don’t like curriculums. I seem to be going through a period of not liking things. I suppose I could figure out what I really don’t like, so that the other stuff wouldn’t have to suffer. But that isn’t in the cards for today. Suzuki Roshi talked about turning on a pure plain white screen. In meeting others, whether it be an individual or a group, that seems to make so much sense. Another Zen teacher quoted or misquoted Buddha saying “Gaze upon your thoughts with kindness and remain still.” As we gaze either upon ourselves or others, with stillness and presence it is hard to be anything but kind. The next nugget from the Zen teacher was this phrase, “without manipulation or judgement.”
So you walk into the classroom. If you were a boy scout or a sailor, you’d wet your finger and see which way the wind was blowing. That’s starting with a pure, plain white screen. You certainly can have a topic but curriculum seems to bind you to a particular approach to the topic. Suppose you approach the other as a pure white screen. At first you notice how they walk into the room, and then you notice how they are when they sit down. Are they ready for wonder and curiosity, or are they preoccupied with what happened last and how are we might be perceiving their constructed colorful screen?
When we sit in meditation we can construct the same pure white screen. We might have pictures on the wall, but we can pull down the screen and start there. When you clear your mind, what appears? What have you been obsessing about that is on your screen. You walk into the zendo? You bow to the zafu and then you bow to the room. Finally you are sitting and physically still. But where are you? Did you remember to even open the door? Did you get out of your car? What is on your screen?
You don’t have to worry about being bored. The whiter and purer the screen the more it will reflect the space around you. You’ll see everything in the room, including yourself. You’ll see your mother who hit you. You’ll see your father who deceived you. You’ll find your childhood pet who licked you on the face. The challenge is simply to watch the movie rather than to be in the movie. Typically you have nothing to add to the old stories. But you do have the opportunity to watch these thoughts as you might watch birds playing in a spring puddle, without “manipulation or judgement.”