Listen to Genpo Roshi’s commentary on one of his favorite koans, Copenhagen, June 2017:
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Very good stuff!
What a rare and welcome message!
As a young man I saw that intelligence could be defined as awareness of one’s own stupidity. Years later it’s even more clear than ever that there’s a lot of stupidity to be aware of.
Much of it we are too embarrassed to even look at.
All this stupid garbage may be a treasure trove of wealth, but it’s not something worth keeping.
Eventually I didn’t need so much to appear to be smart.
I didn’t need to buy the facade that I was trying to sell.
Still being older does not necessarily mean one is wiser.
Moreover, Time seems to accelerate. When we are two years old a year is one half of our life. When we are 70 a year is 1/70th of our life. One can’t escape old age and obviously there isn’t anything we can do that will make time stop. The very attempt implies time.
An unintended pause or break in time may occur if one is perhaps lucky, or serious enough (which I almost never am, which most of us fundamentally almost never are.)
Even if it does stop, still this sense that there is time will most likely resume on its own.
A lifetime. so many decades have passed and all one has learned is that life is very short, like lightning.
It’s just a flash.
In a moment I’ll turn around and find i’m 120 and it’s over.
It’s not grim however and it’s sort of amusing.
A century of stupidity to get a tiny glimpse of what patience is, and for what?
We may feel trapped in a paradox. That may inspire laughter. We find wisdom in the unmasking of our foolishness, yet that is inherently a bit painful.
I feel Roshi is very generous to point out that stupidity and self deception is inevitably a part of our life. That fact, however, is something I think we can discover to be quite engaging. One can’t help but relate to the reality of the down to earth fact that we face in our everyday lives a lot of “mishugnah” (Yiddish) stuff. Most of it is self created. It definitely isn’t nor should we allow it to be entertaining, but there is something beautiful in the challenge and the response that living presents us with. It can even feel ok, even sort of nice to be disappointed, even greatly disappointed. Who would have ever thought or dreamed of such a thing?
It’s very heartening to hear Roshi’s words. I don’t see very many people teaching, in this way, what people definitely need to hear expounded in a clear, plain and blunt fashion.
Thanks Sir. Please know that your effort is valued and appreciated. We’ll do our best to try not to make a crutch out of your refreshingly honest, rare and artful words
The realization that we are never going to be ok, perfect, or whatever we should be came through to me so clearly from your DVDs “To Study the Self.”
I have been from hell to grace, to … … …, and I really do enjoy, now, how I can go, moment by moment, to the human place as well as the being place, in a smooth and aware manner.
To know, and feel, that ‘we are who we are’ is a great gift, especially in these times when we are expected to think this, think that, be this, be that, do this, do that…
Thank you for the clear and straight-to-the-point wisdom you are sharing with us.
Great Gratitude Roshi!
I studied and practiced in Tibetan Buddhism for a long time. I finally gave up and turned to Zen because I didn’t seem to be getting anywhere or improving. I’ve struggled for many years to understand clearly the difference between the way the Tibetan tradition presents enlightenment (becoming a omniscient Buddha – a superhuman ideal that is practically unreachable – by a gradual process) and sudden enlightenment as presented in Zen. In just a few minutes, you explained what I’ve been trying to understand for years, Genpo. Yes, I kind of knew it, but your explanation brought it together in such a clear way.
This explanation of the hazy moon koan came at an opportune time for me. I just had a major insight a few days ago and was beginning to drift toward trying to hang on to it. But your explanation stopped me dead in my tracks. It doesn’t matter that I still dream of the past and the future. It doesn’t matter that I still get distracted sometimes.
Thanks very much!
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