Listening to Roshi Joan Halifax, in today’s edition of the Dharma Podcast (DP 59 - Rohatsu Sesshin Day 5), I felt a resonance with a statement she made in her dharma talk, "Practice is not finding fault with the present moment." What a simple statement. What a broad and easily misinterpreted statement. "To not find fault with the present moment..." I think many are likely to polarize to some reaction when we consider this statement, "to not find fault ..." I assume if you are still reading you have not said, "rubbish, another bit of online dribble." (Of course, if you are saying that to yourself now, it’s too late now, you might as well finish reading.)
I have found myself delivered into a world that demands that I judge, draw a distinction between what is right and wrong, good and bad, alive and not alive, me and not me, Zen and not Zen. This is reinforced by those I have been blessed to appoint as my teachers, though they know not that I am learning nor what they are teaching. And I found that to judge is to separate myself; separate myself from that which is not me, from that which is judged - good, bad, neutral, inconsequential another list of many things that are not one. These things I can not truly connect with and am separate from.
But even all judgments are not "bad," it is necessary to judge safe from unsafe, recognizing the state of things is important. It is only when a value is attached or attributed to the state - one that casts that person object or action which is judged into a class from which it can not be redeemed or redressed. This is discrimination. We separate ourselves from the other and judge them as bad or good, and divided from us. "They" are bound to a behavior, a tendency, a response because that is how "they" are.
I ran in to a few difficulties employing this philosophy, and wanted to define those positions for further consideration. Initially, I found it hard to differentiate between value-laden discrimination and simple observation of state; I still do at times. But the difference is that observation doesn't respond unthinkingly. It supports deliberation. Observation, in essence, simply notes what is. It does not find fault in the observed state.
The effort to not find fault, has also lead me at times to reject fault, and fault-finding, and finding fault in fault-finding in myself and others. But the intention of the proposal "to not find fault..." means something more. It is not about denial. To deny something is, at its root, to find fault, and to hide that fault as well as you can. However, no matter how a weakness is pushed down, no matter how it is hidden, our most flaws express themselves. Sometimes its expression is subtle. It lies behind a comment that separates you from those around you. It hangs unspoken in a rejection that you barely recognize. Sometimes it is brazen and seems to have a life of its own. You find yourself uncomfortably feeding your "habit" without respect for the barriers you have built to contain it. You find yourself setting up situations that allow you to sate a desire you hide from yourself. Your hidden flaw strives to be accepted or at least confronted, and will continue to strive until it is recognized and integrated into the self.
"To not find fault with the present moment..." Ultimately, it is a challenge. One I find myself facing it every day. Every time I glower at someone driving less than optimally in my vicinity, every retort I wish to loose upon the person limiting my freedoms and entitlements, each moment in which I stifle an angry comment on the state of religion, politics, art, or whatever other thing I distract myself with, is another moment lost. I have lost that moment, its perfection, its opportunity for insight. And I am one moment poorer in this life.
Wednesday, January 9, 2008
"Practice is to not find fault with the present moment"