Zen practice is not about getting away from our life as it is; it is about getting into our life as it is, with all of its vividness, beauty, hardship, joy and sorrow. Zen is a path of awakening: awakening to who we really are, and awakening the aspiration to serve others and take responsibility for all of life.
This sounds good, but how is it to be accomplished? How is it possible to enter such a new way of experiencing one’s life?
There is a term in the Celtic tradition that I find resonates with something fundamental about Zen practice. The Celts spoke of “thin places,” places like caves or wells or other special sites where the boundary between the mundane and magical was permeable. To me, Zen practice offers a kind of thin place, a “place” where we can discover that there is fundamentally no separation between ourselves and others, that what we seek is always so close, always right here. In the Lotus Sutra’s parable of the burning house, the only escape from our greed, anger, and ignorance is said to be through a “narrow door.” The narrow door, the thin place, and any of a number of metaphors point us in the direction of our own realization. A door or a gate or a threshold also implies that there is effort, movement, investment in transformation.
-An Introduction to Zen By Roshi Pat Enkyo O'Hara
Sometimes when you reach the end of your rope, and you just let go-- out of anger, or frustration, or sheer exhaustion-- a net appears. This is today's net, for me.
I'm not "saved" by a long shot, but it sure is nice to have a respite point where I can just sort of hang in the breeze and reconsider my options, and entertain what I already know-- what we all already know-- those little gems of truth tucked in to each of us, awaiting a light of reminder to glint off of it, to offer us hope within the impossible.
Gassho, sensei, for pointing to that thin place. I'll pass it along.