Issue 17;



By Gill Jackman

As I sat in bed this morning, drinking my tea, I remembered Reb's reflection that sitting or meditating is really a simulation of meditation.  We pretend to meditate in order to be in the right place at the right time under the right conditions to apprehend the nature of reality. We can't actually do it, we can only try.  In fact it's extremely difficult to stop trying.  So is this in the way?  The trying?

It's as good as anything, which is just as well, and if the instruction to 'study the self' floats around somewhere, so much the better, but it's what's at the core of this seemingly insane behaviour that struck me this morning.  This other strange behaviour.  The gift, growing at every contact, of loving Reb.  

Barking, obviously, to love a man I don't personally know.  So why do I love him?  As a psychotherapist, I'm not even going to open that casket of worms, but as a Zen practitioner, who feels her canny self has watched and researched this man enough to trust what he says, I've really started to listen to him.  A big chunk of me isn't interested in saving all beings but I love and trust Reb enough to know he's onto something.  So I listen to his talks, I read his books, I long to sit with him. And what he says (or is it who he is?) leads me towards more and more glimpses of dependent co-arising.  Not so much as a path as a line of crazy-paving. And what helps me most, is although my way isn't the way, I'm totally allowed to do it and to be it.

Held in the form of Soto Zen, there are no extraneous words to get tangled up in except my own and a load of koan-like liturgy, which offers only profound and helpful truths.  

I suspect, in the end, my wail – but I want to understand the nature of reality – is much like the cry of the child who wants to be a train driver or an astronaut, and like the very best of parents, Reb smiles and nods and engages to be helpful, because he knows I'll probably grow out of seeing things that way. But the point is, I love him, so I listen and I feel encouraged.  It's not devotion to liberating all beings (well – actually, it is, but I can't see it!) any more than loving your parents is being a human rights barrister, but with their encouragement, I might follow their suggestions, which are definitely worth having.  What I mean to say is, devotion is a start and with all it brings, maybe one day I will see that it's actually (in the words of Barry White) 'my first, my last, (and) my everything.'

Back to front page