Yourself as an Instrument

"Yourself as an Instrument" number 21 of 200 from Robert Aitken's book Miniatures of a Zen Master.

I never tire of the 'Old Man's' encouragement. Here he points out that you are "always establishing your practice." Viewed this way, we can come to hold our practice lightly like a musician holds her instrument. We can see that there is no end to development of practice as practice. We can see how in the beginning we have a beginning practice and after much practice we have a practiced practice which both includes and transcends beginning practice.

I have just returned from Branching Moon Sesshin with the Three Treasures Sangha of Seattle. Each day we chanted the "Five Remembrances", part of which goes, " actions are my only true belongings, they are the ground on which I stand...". One of the lessons learned during this retreat is that I am comforted by Zen's admonitions to be responsible, do the work, and guard against greed, hatred and delusion. My practice, lacking or complete, is up to me and nothing else. Don't you think this is both empowering and a bit scary?

I made many projects and plans during sesshin when I could have been mediating. This is my usual way. (Work to be done here and there!) The one I'll share here is my plan to do more woodworking and slant my woodworking practice towards my Zen practice. To that end, I'll start posting photos of available wooden rakusu rings I've made and figure out a way to get them in the hands of jukai students. Here is the one in my rakusu. It is Pacific Yew wood. I have lots of this wood and can make one for you. (Post comment here or click on my blogger profile for email address.) Other woods on request.