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Posts Tagged ‘Shido Bunan’

Meido Moore Roshi

Winter is the season of contraction. In the northern latitudes the earth contracts, and so do our daylight hours, our bodies, and our minds. To counter the ill effects of contraction, some of us engage in outdoor walking or winter sports or employ such interventions as anti-depression lighting. But another proven method, drawn from the Omori school of Rinzai Zen, can help to counter the feeling of contraction, while also enhancing our sense of freedom.

In Zen practice this method goes by various names. It is sometimes called “spreading out the vision” or, more lyrically, “practicing soft eyes.” This way of seeing is not unique to Zen. It is also used intuitively by martial artists, hunters, equestrians, quarterbacks, soldiers on reconnaissance, and others whose activities require unusual breadth of vision. But in Rinzai Zen the technique of spreading one’s vision is more than a useful adjunct to an existing repertoire of skills. It is a vital component of the practice. And in his new book Hidden Zen, the Rinzai Zen teacher Meido Moore Roshi offers the most thorough discussion to date of this important practice. What follows here is a summary of that discussion. (more…)

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Shunryu Suzuki

“If I had six hours to chop down a tree,” said Abraham Lincoln, “I would spend four hours sharpening the axe.”

That famous saying is commonly invoked to underscore the value of preparation—or, more precisely, of an attitude of preparedness. Whether we are preparing to cook a meal by chopping onions or preparing for a long drive by checking the air pressure in our tires, preparation is understood to be a necessary part of any serious undertaking. And an attitude of preparedness is regarded as a mark of a mature, responsible person.

All that said, preparation is often seen, consciously or otherwise, as subordinate to the main event. It is what the prep cook does before the chef arrives or what the warm-up band does before the stars take the stage. When I was teaching courses in English literature at Alfred University, I would often spend three hours or more preparing for a fifty-minute class. Yet until I began to practice Zen, I would not have thought of those hours as on a par with the dynamic experience of teaching itself. Essential my preparations may have been, even when teaching a text I had taught many times before, but in the back of my mind I still viewed the time spent locating sources, organizing the discussion, and selecting passages for special attention as mere preparation—the sorbet, as it were, rather than the main course. (more…)

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