Saturday, 11 June 2011

Resistance is futile

I came to a realisation a couple of months ago: not an all-conquering "I am one with the universe" epiphany, but just a common garden variety sort, and it was this: zen makes things easier.
Okay, okay, I hear what you 're crying out: I know, you have to sit a lot. Yes, that can be painful. There are weird cultural Japanese things that take some getting used to, and yes, one's own faults and peccadilloes come into uncomfortably sharp relief. Believe me, I've wrestled with the difficulties of zen, in fact I think that most of my practise thus far has been in resistance to it. And there's lots to resist in zen: uniforms, hierarchy, ritual, right-wing craziness by the Japanese and so on and so forth. Sometimes I've thought I would ditch zen in favour of Vipassana or something else that's a bit groovier , a bit more..modern, a bit more accomodating. But then, I've also realised that there's a bit of me that loves the arcane crustiness of some aspects of zen. I like that it's not too easy. I like that it's not too shiny or overwhelmingly positive in that Californian way. Because I sometimes feel a bit grey myself, a bit grim, and zen is cool with that. And you know what? I love putting on my best throaty pseudo-Japanese impression and rocking the Hannya Shingyo. It's fun. Participating in these cultural strangenesses can be thought of as our offering to the long line of zen practitioners.Some gave an arm or a finger: we can offer our bewilderment.
My resistance then, is lessening. If I remember my own good advice, that zen makes things easier, then I'll get on the cushion regularly and not flounder about trying to run from suffering. And that'll be better for everyone.