Reading James Ford's blog about Zen Buddhism's hometown scandals, it occurred to me again how useful, if daunting, the practice of zazen or seated meditation is ... or seems to me.
And together with that thought came the phrase, "the rhythms of righteousness..." which led in turn to another phrase, one I hear my daughter use from time to time when assessing a friend or acquaintance or enemy who seems to be far too convinced of one thing or another: "Get over yourself!"
Anyone can say, "get over yourself!" when assessing some aspect of the world. But it is hard to apply the suggestion when looking in the mirror. What is deeply felt or sincerely believed or compellingly argued is often so convincing. I love ... and no one can tell me otherwise. I hate ... and no one can tell me otherwise. War is obscene ... and no one can tell me otherwise. Chocolate is outta-sight ... and no one can tell me otherwise. Gurus and religion are pristine ... and no one can tell me otherwise. I am me ... and no one can tell me otherwise.
Only of course life has its own version of things and "otherwise" comes calling. The rhythms of righteousness, however socially warming, just never quite make the grade. Not that they're naughty or ridiculous ... they just don't quite work, however often I restate and reformulate them. They are limited. Endlessly.
This teacher is fine. That teacher is a fool. This behavior is good. That behavior is bad. All of this and more like it may postulate some excellent directions and efforts but ... get over yourself! Listen to the mirror.
I like zazen as a means of answering the mirror's questions. Literally sitting down. Literally sitting still. Literally being quiet. Literally living the rhythms of righteousness. Literally providing a space in which thought, word and deed can assert their unity that has nothing to do with "unity." Literally, take the time to take a look.
It's not as if you had to give up chocolate or love or anger or any of the other rhythms of righteousness. It's not as if you had to give up your self. It's just taking a look ... and then seeing what happens.