At a recent retreat, Genpo Roshi responded to a question about our tendency to judge and even fear differences. His answer summarizes one of the key elements of Zen practice, in one minute.
I think the way the practice, the way it works – not that it always works, but what does work – is when we have a complete experience of sameness, that we’re all essentially one, essentially the same. Like, if we use the analogy of snow, we’re all snow, but every shape and form is different. And when we come from that knowing we’re all snow essentially, then looking at the differences there is more appreciation, because we see the oneness. Unless we come from the oneness, or the non-dual, then when we see the other there’s fear, comparison, and all that is triggered. So the way koans are set up is to experience first the oneness, and then the subtle distinctions or differences, or the functioning.
— Excerpt from The Supreme Way Retreat, June 1, 2019