‘If wisdom is the insight that nothing has a fixed nature and that all things are in process, that would suggest cultivating just enough detachment from things, ideas, and people to accept that they would all change and finally pass away. Wisdom meant letting go to some extent, releasing one’s grip on what would inevitably pass away on its own. Meditating on “emptiness” was meant to cultivate a certain degree of nonattachment by showing practitioners how it is that things continually appear, change, and disappear.’ (Dale S. Wright – The Six Perfections)
We looked at this passage in my student group on Tuesday night. We all sheltered in place and met on Zoom. We sat for twenty minutes, and then each offered a check-in, as we always do. I encouraged everyone to think of the most positive thing for them coming out of the current pandemic restrictions. Many of the group had spent all day on video meetings, and were already sensing their fatigue with that process; something that was expressed as a positive was the feeling that, despite the physical walls we were all surrounded by, there was a real sense of connection with others. We are all in this together, and doing our best to support each other through difficult times and hard decisions.
I think most of us, even the hardiest practitioners, did not imagine that among the things disappearing is our sense of what our ‘normal’, ‘everyday’ lives looks like. But through this practice we are encouraged to be curious, to be resilient, to be flexible, and to find equanimity – whatever arises. As I often say in my meditation instruction, this is what upright sitting signifies. Not leaning into or away from, but doing our best to be there with what shows up, moment by moment. Using Suzuki Roshi’s phrase, ‘limiting our activity’; not in the literal, physical sense that most of us are now forced to do, but in the sense of not trying to solve every problem right now, but to focus on each step as we take it.
I know I am grateful that the shut-down happens at a time when I have, for once, enough of a financial buffer not to worry if I can make the rent at the beginning of the month. I am grateful for a robust constitution that allows me to feel less worried about the virus than I might be, even as I know that this is a self-reassuring delusion, given how little we know.
I am also grateful that I can continue to offer the teachings. On Wednesday morning I was the teacher for the first Core Studio live session on Instagram. It is a long time since I have been that nervous giving a teaching, mainly as much of the technology is new to me. We had time ahead of the session to get me logged in and set up on Instagram Live, but I noticed, unlike a Zoom meeting or a hang-out, there was no audio or video coming from anyone else who had logged on; I just got to see the names of all the people who were joining scrolling up the screen as I spoke to an image of myself. I did get reassurance as we went live that I could be heard, so I just ploughed on, settling myself down along with everyone else, trying to find helpful things to say in the circumstances, and I think mostly it went very well.
Core’s idea is to be offering three classes a day, with the whole roster of teachers, and hopefully that benefits a lot of people. It is open to everyone, you don’t need the Core trainer, but, should you be tempted, you can get one with a discount using the code SITWITHSHUNDO, which as these things do, benefits you, me and them.
They also published today, on their blog, a post that I wrote a couple of weeks ago, whose message feels apt for the time. I hope you take a look at that too.
Although the weather continues wet, the clouds broke on Tuesday enough for me to get out on my bike, which is still currently permitted. I was actually surprised at how many people were out and about – running and walking in the park, and at the beach, but there were still a lot of people driving around as well.