Lew Richmond

‘Suzuki-roshi loved certain ungrammatical expressions in English. He had certain phrases, one of which was, “Looks like good.” “Looks like good” is a genuine koan. It’s something you can’t quite get your head around. When I was doing dharma transmission, there were various people here who were assigned to help me, and there were things they were supposed to do-put down mats, light candles, and stuff. They didn’t do it quite the way it was supposed to be- maybe forgot the candle, or the incense wasn’t lit, or something-so maybe it didn’t look so good in acertain way, if you think that good means somehow doing it a certain way. But in reality it was very good. It was wonderful because they were so sincere and helpful. Their so-called “mistakes” weren’t mistakes at all. Just the way it went as we expressed our sincerity together. There’s a very strong temptation in Buddhist practice to fall into “looks like good.” You want your outward appearance to be amenable to people. You want to be well regarded. You want to be liked. You don’t want to make a mistake. That’s OK for a while, but there’s a certain point at which “looks like good” can’t be sustained and something else takes its place.’ (from Wind Bell)

This rang very true for me, and it probably does for anyone who has done residential or monastic practice for a sustained period of time. I mainly think back to my time as ino at City Center, where my idealistic fantasies about everyone doing everything perfectly softened up to meet the reality of everyday practice. As epitomised in this post (worth reading the comments too).

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