Sunday, December 12, 2010

my teapot and yours

As a humongous storm in the Midwest inches itself eastward and as a bombing in Sweden makes me wonder if the world isn't heading for some barbaric mediocrity, my mind and its notions of what to write today were swept away by an account of a rally outside Sho Bo Ji, a Zen temple I used to attend in New York. (The account is given towards the end of the comments.)

For those uninterested in Zen or Buddhism, it is probably all a tempest in a quite ordinary teapot. Zen is such a sliver of a sliver of spiritual adventure when assessed from a popular point of view. And even Buddhism is pretty small potatoes outside its religious and superstitious leanings.

But the comments this morning were a tempest in my teapot. This was something I cared about. (And, as a tempest in others' teapot, it is endlessly detailed in another thread on this blog.) Several people had taken the step and moved from talking the talk to walking the walk. Literally. Bless their hearts!

I don't want to resurrect the whole to-and-fro about Eido Tai Shimano and his missteps, but I do find myself thinking with renewed force about the difficulty in stepping from commentary and philosophy and religion ... into action. Into the actual-factual world of action.

I don't like telling others to put up or shut up. But I do think looking in the mirror is a good idea -- whatever the much-beloved topic may be. How many of us have been bored deaf, dumb and blind by the pot-bellied beer drinker who can wax critical for hours about baseball and yet, if the ball were headed in his direction, probably could not or would not bend down to scoop it up? It's the same for spiritual life, I think: Look in the mirror and wonder if there is anything you can actually DO to make what you profess and proclaim come true.

It's not a matter of criticism or praise that I'm interested in. I'm interested in the difficulty that arises when anyone might say to themselves, "Prove it!" I am interested in the foundation stones of honest happiness.

Oh well -- a warm morning though an icy rain is falling.

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