Tesshin started his talk by chanting the Heart Sutra for our group.
He then opened his talk by likening this period to an intensive training period. We are trapped at home socially isolating ourselves – what better opportunity to deepen our practice. He reminded us about all the online training which has recently become available.
Tesshin is a member of the Soto Teacher’s Association. The group has been meeting during the Covid situation in order to explore how Zen can be of service to the wider community. One thing was clear during all these meetings – the teachers were calm and centered. Were they worried – yes! Were they harried with all the responsibilities thrust on them – yes! However, the teachers always manifested the Dharma – namely meeting every moment in life with honesty, skillful means, and compassion. In this regard, they are truly teaching the Dharma and acting as a role model for all of us.
Tesshin next stated that Covid-19 is something which affects everyone regardless of their gender, race, wealth, etc. All the things which normally separate us is not relevant when fighting this threat. He reminded us that this has always been the message of the Dharma. We are all the same thing! We all seek the same thing. It is ironic that it takes something like the Covid virus to remind us of this very simple truth. However, the realization of this fact makes Tesshin optimistic that there will be some long term good which comes out of this situation.
Tesshin next challenged the group. Can we ramp up our practice intensity during this time? For some it may be Zazen and for others – especially first responders and medical staff – it is acting on the vow to save all beings. In normal life, we negotiate with ourselves constantly around how intense we want to practice and how much we can “get away with.” We may do a ‘quick sit’ before crashing on the couch to watch some TV. Is this good enough? Today’s situation ‘amps’ everything up – but can we direct this nervous energy skillfully into practice?
Tesshin next discussed a bit about his meetings with local clergy in our area. How do different traditions deal with suffering? Many look externally to salvation – which is totally legitimate – but Zen does not share in this tradition. What can we do? It was once said that a child compared Buddhism to other traditions by stating …
“…many times, instead of pointing the finger, point the thumb.”
Yes, this is it – we look internally to our center instead of pointing to something outside of us. This is a core tenant of the Dharma – you are already complete and perfect – there is no reason to look outside of you. Once you remember this, you begin to manifest your true nature and then you can actually be of service to others.
Tesshin wrapped up by speaking of the meditation list which Wendy is compiling. This list contains all the meditation centers in the US offering Zazen through teleconferencing technology. When this list is ready, we will post it on the website.
He also reminded everyone that he is available if anyone is having trouble getting through this period of extraordinary challenges. If you need to talk to him privately please send an email to email@example.com simply stating that you wish to connect and he will get in touch with you.