‘Usually when we practice we expect something: if we try hard, our practice will improve. If we aim at a goal in our practice, we will eventually reach it. We have the idea that our practice will improve day by day, and it will help our health and mental condition. This is true, but it is not a complete understanding.
We also do zazen with the understanding that the goal is not reached in one or two years, but is right here. Here is the goal of practice. When you practice with this understanding, you take care of many things and you remain concentrated, completely involved in the practice right now. That is why we have various instructions, so that you can practice hard enough to feel the goal of practice right now, as you are doing it.
You may say, “My practice is not good enough to feel the goal or the full meaning right now.” But even though you say that your practice is not good enough, there is no other practice for you right now. Good or bad, that is your practice. To approach perfect practice, there is no other way than to accept yourself. To say your practice is bad does not help your practice. Yo say your practice is excellent does not help. Your practice is your practice. You are talking about it in various ways, good or bad, that is all. We should know this point first of all, so we say, “Even though your practice is not so good, that is perfect practice. Just sit.” (Not Always So)
On Thursday I gave a short talk to Jamie Howell’s small group at the Oak Street Zendo. When I started to give talks a few years ago, I was advised that it is always best to focus on something that is alive in your current practice, so, having written last Saturday’s post, I thought it might be good to use a slightly expanded version of that as my talk. It certainly made the basis for a good discussion in the group afterwards, which is just as important as anything I might have to say about the topic. We touched on the metrics for success in our society, and I found Brad Warner had some very apposite things to say about this as well.
I took Not Always So with me on my commute this week to look again at Suzuki Roshi’s talk from the day of the moon landing, but also had time to read some other chapters again. I did not use this one as part of my talk, but it does tie in very closely with the idea of ‘improving’ your meditation with apps and data.