We will be conducting activities virtually until it’s safe to reopen.
It’s OK Not to Know
I hope your practice is going well. Beginning Friday, March 5, we’ll have Friday noon zazen on Zoom. Come Join us. The feed will go on around noon and zazen will be from 12:15 to 12:55.
Today Dogen admonished us not to become rashly proud of our understanding. We tend to do that – it’s part of being human. We learn a thing or two about something, then think we know everything about that. We go along grandly, impressed with ourselves, and sooner or later reality rudely corrects us. This is what the Buddha meant by suffering.
This life is far more complicated and far more subtle than we can comprehend, so it’s perhaps impossible to thoroughly understand anything. Or person. Or even ourselves. There are too many parts, all affecting each other. There are even some parts we can’t perceive. I’m often tempted not to wear a mask because I can’t see or feel those puffs of moisture that might contain virus. Covid, however, doesn’t care if I can see it.
We also don’t see all the qualifications and complications when we first enter a situation or learn something new. We’ve only experienced the face of things – we don’t see the rest of the story. It may take a long time to experience the full story. We often forget this and think we know everything.
It’s human to forget these things and become proud of our understanding. We become attached to our knowledge and competence and attached to being right or being best. We fear not knowing – it means we have to let go of our ideas of our impressiveness and we may not have others’ admiration. This limits us. We’re no longer curious and open to seeing things in new ways. We’re more interested in being right than in growing.
Let’s remind ourselves in all times and places it’s OK not to know. Maybe it’s even better not to know. If we’re not attached to knowing, we can make mistakes and learn from them. We’re not demolished by others’ criticism if we have no investment in being totally competent. We invite others to teach us, encouraging their development and connection. In other words, we forget self and approach each person, each situation as a place where we know some things and are looking to find out the rest. We see ourselves as perfect − perfect as someone who doesn’t know it all, who makes mistakes, and wants to know more.
This is dropping off body and mind and becoming a bodhisattva.
If you’re interested in reading along, you can find Dogen’s Hotsu-bodaishin (Arousing Bodhi Mind) on pp. 349-364 in volume 3 of Gudo Wafu Nishijima and Chodo Cross, Master Dogen’s Shobogenzo. There are other translations out there, but the one I rely on is this one.
Zuiko sits in the zendo at every zazen period listed below. Please sit with her whenever you can. Just sitting quietly can be helpful in times like these.
Sunday zazen and dharma talk are live-streamed on Zoom. Contact us if you’d like the link.
Our Monday night dharma discussion group is continuing through Zoom. If you’re interested in joining, please contact the Center.
You can connect with us through email or phone. And you can listen to our dharma talks online and read our posts on Facebook. To find the dharma talks, click on the “Resources” tab above, and you’ll see the link.
Monday Night Dharma – by Zoom – Monday nights , 7:00– 8:00 p.m. Contact us for the link.
Introduction to Zazen – by Zoom – Wednesday, March 17 , 7:30 – 9:00 p.m. Contact us for the link.
Sesshin (Ohigan) – by Zoom – March 19 – 21 Contact us for the link.
Tuesday, Wednesday, and Friday
12:15 – 12:55 zazen
Tuesday evenings – 20 minute zazen periods
6:30 – 6:50 zazen
6:50 – 7:00 kinhin
7:00 – 7:20 zazen
7:20 – 7:30 kinhin
7:30 – 8:00 zazen
Wednesday and Thursday evenings – 40 minutes zazen periods
6:30 – 7:10 zazen
7:10 – 7:20 kinhin
7:20 – 8:00 zazen
Sunday zazen – by Zoom
9:00 – 9:40 sitting
9:45 – 10:15 dharma talk
10:15 – 11:00 check in and discussion
Quote of the week
From The Great Spring: Writing, Zen, and This Zigzag Life