Important work

"Important work" number 68 of 200 from Robert Aitken's book Miniatures of a Zen Master.

As Zen practitioners, "what important work we are doing." Each morning I get up and sit. At first there were days I did not want to sit. I'd sit anyway. Lately this routine of daily sitting has become so warm and friendly that I'd rather miss breakfast and a shower to make time to sit.

Sometimes lately, I've had the thought that maybe I should cut short my 25 minutes of sitting. I feel the urge to get up and check the bird feeder or just get a head start on my day. When that thought arises, I remember 'what important work I'm doing'. My actions are the ground on which I stand, they are my only true belongings.

Recently I listened to a inspiring audio talk by Genjo Marinello on Case 87 of Hekiganroku. The case involves Zen Master Ummon about how medicine and sickness cure each other. In it at the 6:45 mark suddenly Genjo starts admonishing the Jikijitsu for ending the meditation period too soon. He then points out that the clapping blocks used to start a meditation period were not placed correctly. "Little things become big things if left unattended to." This is the important work of a practitioner. Notice and act appropriately in the moment. This is definitely my experience.

I am off on a short retreat with my friends from the Spokane Zen Community. I'll be back Monday morning to continue the exploration of Miniatures of a Zen Master. Up next is Yaza or "Night Sitting". This has always hooked me at sesshin or on retreat as I am attached to my sleep rhythm.

Any error or confusion created by my commentary on Miniatures of a Zen Master
is solely a reflection of my own delusion and ignorance.
Any merit generated by this activity is solely the result of
Aitken Roshi's clear teaching and is dedicated to
all Buddhas and Bodhisattvas throughout space and time.