Gesshin Claire Greenwood

‘ Practicing in a monastic or residential environment always shows me how selfish I am. It can be kind of embarrassing seeing myself this clearly. But I think this is the point of practice, to show us who we really are, not just how we imagine ourselves to be. When we first start to  understand who we are, it is unpleasant, like listening to a recording of our own voice. We think, “Is this what I really sound like?” But the recorder isn’t lying; it’s we who are ignorant.’ (Bow First, Ask Questions Later)

Typing this out I was reminded of the admonition Blanche gave at Tassajara, which I have probably quoted before: “Everyone can see who you are; you might as well see it for yourself.” To run with Gesshin’s image for a moment, we are not lying to ourselves about the sound of our voice, as that is the way we always hear it, but we do have to understand that it is a partial view. These days I have to acknowledge that what I saw as my diligence when I was practising monastically had a strong flavour of competitiveness in it as well – always hoping to be seen as the most diligent, the most dedicated…

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