Wednesday, 31 August 2011

The Hesitant Bodhisattva

“Make now your mind that of a bodhisattva”: that was a piece of advice I got from a Zen teacher by email. I have been considering for a few years the possibility of going through the Bodhisattva ordination. There are quite a few reasons why I don’t feel it’s a good idea. First and foremost is the feeling that I’m officially “joining” a religious organisation. That doesn’t sit right. Secondly there is the feeling that I’m somehow separating myself from my peers. That may sound strange, but the fact is this: the majority of people I know would regard Zen and Buddhism as being, well, a bit weird. Normally, I’m not one to mind such things, but sometimes I get tired of being stuck out on a limb. The other main reason is, quite simply, I don’t feel I commit myself enough. I often slack-off from attending zazen. I don’t feel like an exemplar of zen practice, not at all. I’m not even all that mad-keen on sesshin if I’m really honest. I should confess that there are loads of things I like that aren’t zen.

But then a thought struck me recently. The whole idea of the Bodhisattva is that he or she is busy practicing in whatever situation they find themselves in, whether that be a temple, a supermarket or an underwater chess championship. Perhaps then, a lazy and unsure Bodhisattva might have his uses, to those who are even more so. Or even just to show that there’s more than one way to skin Nansen’s cat, as it were. I think I’ve built up this crazy picture of what being a Bodhisattva is all about, but as the teacher suggested: you can be a Bodhisattva now. All beings are already deeply in touch with our life, so really we cannot avoid being an examplar of humanity. Think about it. It's kind of scary....

1 comment:

kowey said...

I'm quite prone to greeting the thought of a sesshin with an "ugh" myself.

Would be interesting to see if this notion of returning to Bodhisattvahood moment to moment, much like coming back to your posture during moments of lucidity in zazen.