Although all of us are practicing social distancing and we are all very much apart, sitting in our separate spaces, we are, at the same time, in a very real sense, all here together. Suzuki Roshi said, ”When I sit, you sit; everything sits with me. When you sit, everything sits with you. And everything makes up the quality of your being.” Dogen Zenji said, not only do we sit with everybody, but the whole world sits with us. He said, ”Grasses and trees, fences and walls demonstrate the dharma for the sake of living beings… Because earth, grasses and trees, fences and walls, tiles and pebbles… carry out Buddha work, all are helped… to actualize the enlightenment at hand.”
Right now, although I am very far away, my voice is with you. Right now, although you are safely in your home, the turmoil of the world turned upside down is right here with you. Right now, your fear for your health or the health of loved ones is right here with you. Right now, your parents’ love, your teachers’ lessons, your friends’ embraces —all the support you received in the past that enables you to flourish is right here with you. Right now, the flowering of crocuses, hyacinths, and daffodils is right here with you. Right now, the effects of your months, years, and decades of practice is right here with you. Right now, the dharma wheel set in motion by the Buddha 2,500 years ago, and the teachings of our Zen patriarchs and matriarchs are right here with you. Right now, the air you breathe is the gift of trees and flowers, algae and bacteria. Right now, the food you are digesting is the gift of plants, animals, farmers, truckers, and grocers. Right now I am speaking to you in the language of Angles, Saxons, and Celts, of Shakespeare and the King James Bible, of Miriam Webster, Yogi Berra, and Suzuki Roshi. Right now, atoms forged in the furnaces of distant stars are being incorporated into your living cells. All of these people, plants, animals, and even distant stars are here with you right now.
Consider the ways in which all these influences are currently unfolding—how your past is rushing up to meet your future. Right now, you are blossoming along with the daffodils and crocuses. Right now, what is the quality of your blossoming, your being, your becoming, your ever-and-always changing yet somehow also remaining some version of yourself?”
Being—my being, your being—is never something static. It’s never even a thing. It’s always a coming into emergence, a maintaining, a dwelling, a furthering and blossoming, a fading away and a transforming. It’s a flowing, ever-changing, never-ending stream. Can you feel what these words mean for you right now?
When we sit we abide in this stream, allow it to be as is, and accept our lives as they are given to us. We slip outside the web of thought-created abstractions and dip our toes into the living stream, and if we’re lucky, not just our toes—we immerse ourselves in this stream—or better yet—we become this stream. Of course, we already always are that stream. How odd that sounds—to become what we already are.
In sitting, we free our lives from frozen abstractions, turning ice into flowing water.
2 Replies to “Teisho for the Third Day of A Virtual Zoomed Sesshin”
Thanks for this post, Seth! I often think about our interconnectedness in terms of the spatial dimension, of all those unknown persons across the globe whose current activities impact what’s happening to us right here in our own localities. You’ve reminded me to include in my thinking our interconnectedness in terms of the temporal dimension as well, of those who have gone before us and those who will come after us in this ever-flowing stream that is our being.
Stay well …
Thanks, Tom. In Dogen’s understanding (based on the Huayan interpretation of Buddhism) all times—past, present, and future—interpenetrate and exist “now.” Thus we can even imagine future generations—our descendants—encouraging us on in our practice. I’m not sure how convincing I find the Huayan interpretation of time, but it can be inspiring to at least imagine that it is true. In this view, we really are practicing with all beings. Even in a more limited view, however, we are practicing for the well being of our children and grandchildren, and on into the “seventh generation,” and not just for those beings here today. Think what the actions of Susan B. Anthony and Frederick Douglass did for the generations after them.