With palms together,
Good Morning Everyone,
My hair is getting longer. I haven't shaved my head close for sometime now. Maybe as long as I don't have to think about it much, it'll stay that way. Zen Buddhist priests have traditionally shaven heads. This is to show our lack of attachment to appearance, yet the shaved head as symbol, is appearance. I like my hair cut close because I'm lazy. Its so easy not to have to think about it at all. But that is not particularly mindful. Hmmm.
Too long, too much care; too short, not enough care. By gosh, I think I've found a middle way.
Setting humor aside, my disciples and I have been talking about what American Buddhism, American Zen in particular, will become. My own sense is that we must truly free ourselves from the Japanese as authenticators and trust our own teachers and ourselves. Tradition is good, ritual is good, but these must adapt to American ways and include American values.
My own sense is that few things are absolutely sacrosanct. The Buddha's robe might be one, vows another, gassho and bowing still another. In our lineage we recite the Three Refuges and the Heart Sutra in the morning and the Maka Hanya Haramita Shin Gyo with the Four Great Vows in the evening (or, if its a full service, at the opening and closing of the services). We offer incense and donation, pay homage to the Teacher, and that is pretty much that ritualistically.
I like this balance. There are reminders of where we came from, the core teachings, and the core vows, yet it is simple and straightforward.
Yet, Americans are also doers of things, so I think we need to find ways of taking Zen from the cushion and out into the world. Much like Jewish tikkun olam, we have an obligation to repair the world with compassionate practice. I believe this is a necessary counterbalance to life in the Zendo which is artificially serene.
So, what do you think? How much is too much? How much is too little? What is the place of Zen in everyday life?
I look forward to hearing from you.