This week we had our first in-person meditation session at the 4th UU church in over a year and a half. Tesshin was pleased by the number of people coming out and sitting Zazen together. (Photos on our Events Page!)
Tesshin noted that when he was a monk in Japan there was a large 2-volume book which recorded the procedure for every ceremony and practice which could occur at the temple. The volumes covered everything from how to eat, wash, dress, manage a Zazen session to holding funerals. However, there existed no procedure to generate enlightenment or to nurture a Sangha through difficult times. We can look to wise teachers of the past, but at the end of the day, skillful actions must emerge from each of our hearts.
Tesshin next mentioned that every thought and action we take can be imagined as a lotus blooming with a Buddha at the center. He further explained that this means that our thoughts and deeds can be our greatest teacher – especially in uncertain times like these. Our first practice together looked different than it did in the past. For example, we were outside and we still have not really figured out how to the tea service safely. We can look at this as a challenge, or we can look at our thoughts, expectations, and reactions as a way to understand ourselves and our desires more clearly. Deep learning is the spirit which we take in restarting our face-to-face practice together.
Along these lines, Tesshin asked the group to contemplate our emotions. For instance, we talk a lot in Buddhism about the poison of anger. Anger most likely arose as an evolutionary skill. Do you notice a certain clarity when you are angry? We may think, “I am right in this and they are wrong!” There is no gray when we are angry – it is all black and white! We should contemplate whether the perception of clarity is the truth or just another delusion we suffer. We typically think after anger subsides that this is not really who we are. Here our true nature is acting as our teacher. The focus and energy of strong emotion does bring clarity, but upon further inspection we understand that it also brings delusion. Tesshin reminded us of this as we experience the strong emotions around Covid and finally coming back together to practice together.