Friday, June 3, 2011

tools of the trade

The older I get, the more grateful I am for the tools my life has provided. I imagine it's pretty much the same for everyone.

Specifically, I am thinking of Zen practice. I don't mean to do one of those underhanded proselytizing thingies where I imply (nudge-nudge-wink-wink) that Zen Buddhism is for everyone and will solve all ills. I just mean that the lessons I have found in it strike me as sound ... for me.

What brought this to mind was a recollection of sesshin, an intensive retreat at which people sit still and straight and silent for extended periods of time. Sesshin carries with it unspeakable horrors and delights and yet its lessons and implications ripple outward. It is, or has been as I look back on it, a wonderful tool for addressing the aches and pains, mental and physical, that can come along. It doesn't 'solve' anything. It doesn't get you out of the inescapable shit that life can dish up. It's just a tool and a very good tool at that.

I guess everyone finds some similar tools as they go along ... functioning ways to address what is serious. Something that makes them stronger when the weak points assert their power. Sesshin -- sit down, shut up and take a look ... and keep taking a look. It's not pleasant or blissful. It's just sensible and useful for my money. And it makes me smile....

Thank you very much.

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