The gift I received from this practice and from Maezumi Roshi

(Genpo Roshi recorded during the “Masters & Mensches” Retreat, June 8, 2020)

     I remember over and over again when Maezumi Roshi was going through his hard times like back in the end of 83, he said to me, “If, if, everything falls apart, I lose everything, if you get it, if you learn from this what you’re supposed to learn, it will be worth it. It will be worth it.” Wow, reflecting on what that meant and how I received it — I couldn’t really get it. It was too big for me to get that, what that meant.

     So I found I had to make my own mistakes and my own failings and my own troubles and learn the hard way. And I think it is true of Roshi and of all great masters and teachers. We hope, we do our best to help the students manage the territory without stepping on all the mines and all the minefields. I think we all feel that we’ve done a pretty shabby job, that we haven’t been able to share and to save others from the mistakes we’ve made.

     Maybe that is just human nature, I don’t know. Or maybe it’s the stubbornness that I see in myself and many around me. But I think it is a wish of Roshi and others that we save people from the same mistakes, and how much when we want someone to grow into their fullest potential, as he and other great teachers wanted us to grow into our fullest potential as human beings, as genjokoan, how much that lifts us up, inspires us to face the difficulties, the challenges, the hard times.

     I think we’re in for some hard times. Before they get better they’re getting pretty difficult for a lot of people, very challenging. I feel very privileged and very fortunate not to be right out there in the middle of it all right now, and yet with the greatest respect for those who are. But somehow the gift I received from this practice and from Maezumi Roshi is we can face anything. We can face anything in our life, anything that arises, including death, from the stability of zazen.

     I don’t mean it has to be just sitting or sitting in a certain style or a certain fashion but from the mind of zazen from the samadhi where our capacity is to take anything in, to bring anything on, like a mirror doesn’t stop anything reflecting in it. But actually taking it in and juicing it too. That’s the difference between the mirror and us: the mirror doesn’t get stained by anything; we allow ourselves to be stained and messed around with, so that all that becomes juice, to come out in our life, as our life, in our path.

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