How'm I Doing?

"How'm I Doing?" number 27 of 200 from Robert Aitken's book Miniatures of a Zen Master.

This has been my question too, or more accurately 'Am I doing it right?'. Looking closely, the question is not a sign of insecurity or a desire to see our rank in the sangha. Instead it is a genuine wish not to be wasting our time. The whole point in having a teacher is for a relationship to develop where the teacher can guide the student.

Let me try a Western analogy. Here in the West of the West, cows roam vast fields foraging to fill their bellies. Their minders, the cowboys, relax and let the cows peacefully wander here and there all summer long. Then when the time comes, they round them up into corrals, load them into trucks, sent them off to ... here the analogy get a bit weird.

In this analogy the cowboy knows what will happen and has done this many times before and the cow is oblivious. During the summer the cow faces many choices and some of them could lead to danger. The cows still has to walk through the corral on her own.

As you can see I'm not good at these analogies. In modern life we look for the quick remedies, the expedient means, we look for shortcuts. This is the way the West has tried to assimilate Zen.

Is it working?

Here I sit, chewing my cud of Mu.