Speaking with the Tao

[Genpo Roshi has been speaking about the importance of taking good care of one’s health and physical well-being]

Student: That’s great advice, because sometimes I’ve learned that the body is not you; it’s just a vehicle, so why pay so much attention to it?

Genpo Roshi: I would just change one word: it’s not just a vehicle; it is the vehicle. It’s not just a vehicle. It’s the only vehicle you’re going to get this time around. It’s not that you can trade it in. So take really good care of it. It is a vehicle, but it is the only vehicle. Maybe they’ll invent other ways to do that, but right now it’s our only vehicle, this body.

 There’s too much in Buddhism that goes against the self. All we have is this self, so we want to take good care of it. This body, this mind. Sure we have to drop it all, but we have to come back and pick it up, because you leave it down, on the ground, it’s going to get abused. And the one doing the abusing is oneself. We kind of disown the body, the mind — we drop them that’s fine, we have to drop them, we have to cut the root of this dualistic thinking — but we have to come back and embrace body and mind.
 A younger teacher may not realize the importance of this. I didn’t realize this five, six, seven years ago. It’s only really in the last six years, since I turned 70, that I start to appreciate how important it is. In fact at 76 I feel better than I’ve ever felt in my life. That’s saying a lot. I feel healthier, better, less ill, etc. You’ve got to take care of it. Nobody can do it for you.
S: Yes, I realize that. I can’t just trust the Tao and hope it’s going to take care of my body.
GR: Well, you are the Tao, so you can trust the Tao. Just keep returning to the voice of the Tao. Let me speak to the Tao disowned.

S: I’m the Tao that’s disowned.
GR: Why are you disowned? Why hasn’t he realized that you’re within him? He sees you as something else. He just said to me, ‘I can’t just rely on the Tao.’ Why can’t he rely on you?

S: He thinks I’m some kind of a flow state which he completely surrenders to.
GR: Well you are a flow state.
S: Yes I am the flow state. But he thinks if he just flows with me, he’s not going to think about resistance training, he’s not going to think about planning cardio.
GR: Is that true, or is that just his thinking that it’s not true?
S: I think that’s his thinking.
GR: Yes. What would you say? Even though you’re not awake yet, what would you say?
S: I think that’s his thinking, because well-being is a part of me.
GR: Of course. If you’re flow, which I know you are, he has to allow you to flow. And he also has to know that you’re not only out there, you’re within him. There is no outside/inside, right? It’s just flow. It’s just one.
S: Yes.
GR: So let me speak to you, the Tao, fully awake, fully embodied, fully present, fully owned. You are …?
S: I’m the Tao that’s fully empowered, fully owned, fully embodied, fully present, fully awake.
GR: Just be the Tao. — Now look at him. Tell me what you see over there.
S: I see that he definitely has some ideas about what’s me and what’s ego.
GR: Aha! Set him straight.
S: So I would say to him that even though he thinks that deliberate planning, intentional planning of exercise is, like a plan, it’s not trust, it’s not letting go. But it is to me. Deliberate planning, having an intention, having an agenda, that’s still aligned with me, because well-being is me. It’s just one of my dimensions.
GR: Of course, yes. Where do you see him stuck?
S: I think he was stuck in just completely letting go of personal will and seeing that as me. He doesn’t think if he plans he’s still aligned with me. He thinks the complete letting go is me.
GR: Right. That’s very common in spiritual practice, to get one side, the one polarity over the other. I fell into that trap for years. My teacher was in that trap. What else do you see as maybe an error in his thinking when you look at him, as the Tao?
S: He thinks the Tao is a certain state, maybe higher states, not lower ones. But I’m the full spectrum.
GR: Of course. If he is really owning and embodying you, and allowing you to be here and present, and not mistaking you for something, his idea, how long is he going to live? If he stays within your flow, and identifies more with you?
S: He can live to more than one hundred years old.
GR: Yes, that’s right. If he stays the way he had erroneous ideas about you, and didn’t take care of certain things, how long would he live?
S: Fifty, sixty, I would say, at the most.
GR: Yes. So you just allowed him to double his age, practically.
S: Yes.
GR: The ideas he has about you are not necessarily the truth. They’re just ideas, they’re notions. Talking to you, I trust you completely, that you’re speaking as the Tao. So, look at his life right now, and his ambitions, his projections, what he’s doing. Anything you want to say to support him, to help him, to clarify for him, now that he’s speaking directly to you, and allowing you to speak directly to him?
S: I would say, really develop yourself. Focus on developing yourself, then you can give more. If you start giving now, you don’t have much to give, nothing really skillful or unique that comes from mastery.
GR: Mastery takes what?
S: Time and experience.
GR: Yes, it does take time, time and experience. That’s right. Well, very nice to talk to you.
S: Thank you Roshi.
   – Excerpted from Big Mind Facilitator Training, Sept. 26, 2020

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