According to the rules I set myself for this blog, I was to post once a week. I was to talk about various specific parts of fundamental zen thought as they pertained to my daily life. Well, if I set the rules, I can break them. The problem for me today being that according to those rules I should be writing about sex as it pertains to Right Action. I’m having a hard time with the subject. But then I suspect that this would be normal, at least for most people of my generation, many of us being afflicted with a somewhat checkered past in respect to sex, specifically how we were harmed and how we harmed others. It’s not that I have any trouble remembering all the humiliations I caused myself, or the pain I felt because of sex, its just that sex is a pretty fraught subject and cannot be thrown off lightly.
Don’t talk about politics, religion or sex!
I want to get what I say right. I want to get what I say right from a Buddhist point of view. Is there a right point of view? What I mean is that I want to make sure that I don’t say anything that might be misunderstood. My post is in draft and it is coming along.
Instead, today, I want to say a few things about the Great Vow Monastery.
My friend Peter has just gone down for a three week residency at the monastery. At the same time I have been presented with a rather emotionally charged situation in that someone I know is dumping a rather complicated set of emotions at my feet and implying that I caused them and so am responsible for their feelings. Things said hurt my feelings. But the hurt did not last long because I can see that the attacks are not really personal. The poor distressed person has, through their stories, told me often enough that they have felt badly in this way (and act out because of it) all their life. And I haven’t known the person long enough to have caused the great suffering the person is blaming me for. So what has this to do with Great Vow?
When I was there I was totally impressed by the dedication of Chozen and Hogen, joint head teachers of the monastery, both allowed to hold the title of Roshi. I saw them living side by side with a large number of impermanent and permanent guests, all of whom, being human, suffer histories. The role of Chozen and Hogen appeared to me to be like benevolent loving parents (in loco parentis) for a whole lot of people who had not been loved properly but who seemed to want to learn to love. I am not trying to say that the people at the monastery are anymore screwed up than anyone else in the world. The fact that they are at the monastery is a great sign in that they are on the road to recovery. I’m saying this from the point of view of someone who thinks we are all screwed up (including myself), and that some of us unfortunately do not know it. The some of us who are fortunate enough to know the extent of our suffering are sometimes inspired to try to learn how not to suffer and how not to cause suffering.
My role in my present situation is that I have to be the local parent for the someone who is suffering and acting it out against me. My partner says that in a way the person is doing so because they see in me someone strong enough not to screw the situation up and who will act with compassion in the face of the personal attacks. Well, I don’t know if I am strong. But given that I can remember two teachers who seemed to be holding up well in the face of the hard and exhausting demands of their position as exemplars of compassion, I can have faith that such a thing can be done and therefor, if I try hard, I won’t screw up my situation too badly.