Tuesday, October 26, 2010

caution! coward at work

The forecast says the temperature today will get into the 70's F, a short, warming reprieve in the slow slide towards extra blankets and closed windows. Already there is a warmth along the damp streets and a quiet softness to accompany it.

Yesterday's posting of the documentary "Amongst the White Clouds," a rough-hewn film about Chinese Buddhist hermits in the mountains, intermingles in my mind this morning with an internet note that also had to do with Buddhist "teachers" and "students." I guess it may be the only option -- teachers and students -- given the uncertainties and attachments that can make people so unhappy, but it causes me to remember ....

How many times did my own teacher give me the option to set such things aside? How many times, from within my own uncertainty, did I refuse? Endless times, I imagine, but a couple of incidents stand out.

I once asked my teacher, Kyudo Nakagawa Roshi, if he'd like to go out to lunch. He agreed and we ended up in an Italian restaurant in Greenwich Village in New York. When the bill came, he asked how much his portion came to. I said I would pay. But he asked me again how much his portion was. And again I said I would pay. I ended up paying, but looking back I think I made a mistake: I didn't dare -- didn't really have the capacity -- to be friends with him.

And the same thing happened when he officiated at my wedding. How much should I pay him, I asked. He dismissed the notion immediately. Again I asked and again he dismissed the idea. I suppose this could be chalked up to a subtle humility, but I have a feeling it went deeper than that: What parent would not gladly do what a child requested? What child would not gladly do what a parent requested? What friend would not fulfill the needs of a dear friend ... without even thinking about it? In the end, I paid him some money.

Inequality clings like a leech sucking warm blood. Equality is frightening and excites all sorts of explanations and meanings ... the heart of inequality.

Practice takes some courage. You have to work through the cowardice. How long do you intend to rebuff what you long for ... or rebuff with your longings?


  1. "Well I know it wasn't you who held me down
    Heaven knows it wasn't you who set me free
    So often times it happens that we live our lives in chains
    And we never even know we have the key"

    - Already Gone, Eagles

  2. This is sad. Again I did it! I had to say somthing. Why can't i just be silent and weep over this?

    I AM NOT PRAISING THIS. How could i like it? I feel like i must like it. I can't help it. Giving up on not being able to help it, though, is not an option.

    Friends ... Peace