Josh gave a lovely – and, as he put it, somewhat heretical – talk last night about some ways in which Zen practice may be useful to us. We’re constantly cautioned against having “gaining ideas” and reminded that Zen isn’t principally about the benefits people tend to experience, like becoming less reactive, the health benefits studies have begun to confirm, and the like. But Josh was saying that it’s okay to appreciate whatever benefits we may experience as byproducts of our practice, even as we practice without seeking them (in theory, at least).
Josh opened our discussion after the talk by inviting each of us to share something about the ways in which we have experienced Zen practice as beneficial.
I felt this immediate impulse to share – to contribute, to be useful, I suppose. I had a response percolating, but I couldn’t articulate it at that moment.
A couple of other people spoke, saying things I really appreciated, and then I had to leave early to catch a train home.
And I’ve been sitting with Josh’s invitation since.
And what ultimately came up for me is this: I experience practice as Jeff Jeff-ing.
The bird sings.
The burning wood cracks and whistles.
Wrestle with a koan.
Meet with the teacher.
I’m not really quite sure why I practice anymore, except that there’s somehow an expressive quality to it. It’s a response to life. A way to express the reverence and gratitude for life that I feel (which is a point Josh made, as well).
And it’s a communal response, which feels important to me somehow.