It's all pretty inside-the-racket, I suppose, but yesterday I felt a hot jet of inspiration ... to go to a public meeting in August, to be on hand for an open discussion of the tribulations that have surrounded Zen Studies Society, an organization I once belonged to and learned from and have been party to criticizing.
Generally these days, traveling -- even the idea of traveling -- 175 miles to New York for such a meeting is off my charts. I am, to recall the words my Zen teacher Kyudo Nakagawa once said to me, "getting weak." Physically, mentally ... I've got enough on my plate just holding onto my own ass.
But yesterday it came onto me like a lion on a gazelle -- I really wanted to go. It was important and -- win, lose or draw -- I wanted to be there.
In the wider scheme of things, I am generally at ease with the notion that there will always be charlatans and scum bags who are part of the spiritual-life panorama. So going as a means of dredging up old angers, old hurts -- of taking to my bully pulpit as others took to theirs -- seemed like a non-starter. Did I really want to listen to others tussle and writhe -- some oozing an imagined compassion with their forgive-and-forget drivel while others waxed outraged and righteous? Bleah. Did I really want to hear others conniving with their self-serving visions of the Dharma ... a Dharma that might bring in more customers and give meaning to their status?
The more I tried to winkle out my motives, the more it felt like nailing Jell-O to the wall. Did I have something trenchant and salving to say -- something that others might not say as well if not better than I could? No. Was there something in this get-together that would ease whatever uncertainties or lingering sorrows I might be feeling ... feeling even if I didn't allow myself to feel them? Dubious at best.
So what was this fire, this lion leaping without a second thought on its petrified prey? I felt somehow helpless in its grasp and yet, since I was in fact in its grasp, I longed not to be helpless.
And what I ended up with was an unreasoning belch ... a sense that had no reasons, a statement and a cry. It explained nothing and yet everything was explained, somehow. Any agreement from elsewhere was beside the point:
I say this: The Dharma is precious. It cannot be defended and yet it deserves all possible defense. It deserves to be nourished and cherished, not in some 'authentic' or huckster fashion, but truly and out of an undefended love. I don't care if this cannot be enunciated. A swooning "love" is disrespectful, and worse, utterly inappropriate. In the realm of the Dharma, sycophants and salesmen beware -- it'll burn your face off!
These are things I cannot prove. These are things I do not believe. These are things that are simply true. I am left, thank God, speechless.
And if any asshole quotes me on this, I will do my utmost to beat the shit out of him.
Will I go to the meeting? I really don't know. But I can say the lion woke up.