July 31, 2014

A Loose Garment

Speaking with a friend on the phone recently and asked about her practice. Just the general sort of conversational "how's it going" type of question.

She answered "I'm wearing my practice like a loose garment." Not concentrating or striving or actively "Being Buddhist," she said. Sitting fairly often, but otherwise not being overly concerned with "Being Buddhist."

We had a wonderful chat about kids and house remodeling and art and just sort of wandered through the fields for a bit -- gently and pleasantly being on the phone at that moment.

Wearing our practice like a loose garment.

It dawned on me at times as we spoke that there was much dharma flowing back and forth, even though we weren't actively "talking teachings" or "Being Buddhist." Little truths and little lessons were just flowing back and forth. There was plenty of substance and plenty of message in our conversation. There just wasn't the rigidity or the formality of
actively teaching and learning.

Wearing the dharma like a loose garment.

Lin Chi told the monks "One is on the way for eons without leaving his house; one leaves his house without being on the way. Which one is worthy to receive the offerings of men and gods?"

Who would be "worthy"? The preaching leaver-of-home who practices loudly so that everyne knows it or the quiet one who stays at home, practices meekly, but is moment-to-moment mindful -- gracefully turning the wheel without anyone knowing?

Who would be "worthy"? The fellow who ruminates at his typewriter, knowing that he can convey and quote the masters and find the appropriate sutras or the one who instinctively opens the door for others as he is going into the grocery store?

Who is the more "worthy"? The one who must sit as scheduled when the children want the same period of time or the one who laughs and plays with the children that evening and sits a little later?

Who is the more worthy? The one who concerns himself with "worthy" or the one who walks gently through life leaving as few footprints as possible?

Who is the more "worthy"? One who spends 10 minutes trying to find a listing of the historical first uttering of the advice to "wear life like a loose garment" or the one who says "yeah - it's an old adage that's very true" and moves on?

If you have genuine insight, birth and death will not affect you, and you will be free to come and to go. Nor do you need to look for worthiness; it will arise of itself. ... Do you want to know the Buddha? None other than he who here in your presence is now listening to the Dharma. Just because you lack self-reliance, you turn to the outside and run about seeking. Even if you find something there, it is only words and letters and never the living spirit of the patriarchs."

                        --Lin Chi

 Suddenly my blue jeans feel waaaaay too tight. 

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