How do you stop suffering?

[Excerpted from a live video conference, November 22, 2020]

      . . . If there’s a koan — “How do you stop suffering?” — of course many of us can pass the koan, we just be suffering.  That’s passing it, but between that and doing it completely, it’s the difference between a kensho and dai-kensho.  You know, I sometimes feel the only thing that’s going to take care of this for many people is dai-kensho.  And I come back to our roots, which is what the great masters say.  There’s all this fiddling around with the leaves and the branches of the tree, but until we get to the root of the problem — uprooting, that is the dai-kensho, the great opening — until we do that we’re just going to keep fiddling around with the branches and the leaves.

     Sometimes it feels almost like — too much.  Because I know what it takes to have dai-kensho.  It’s a lot of the three kais, a lot of discipline, a lot of practice, a lot of devotion, a lot of samadhi, and coming through that other side.  So there’s the Hinayana approach, which is the mindfulness and so forth, but frankly it just doesn’t scratch the itch, and I can even see in teachers in that approach that the itch is still not scratched.  They’re still trying to get there.  The only thing that seems to do it is cutting that root, right at the root.  And it brings up ‘practice, practice, practice.’  How do you get to nirvana? Practice, practice, practice. . . .


4 thoughts on “Blog”

  1. The real koans present themselves in very real ways and the truth of the non-rational approach makes them seem absurd to start the practice in the first place. A waste of time until you are ready to test your nondual Western mind and find out that Siddhartha is also Steppenwolf.

  2. Projection. The question seems to be not whether I am projecting, but what I am projecting. If I can accept it is all projection, I have to soften my judgments of my teacher, and myself. Thank you for this, Roshi.

  3. The shoe fits, as you know! As for me the expectations, the ‘glamour’ of my own inflation and others projections, ‘not good enough’ and ‘better than…’ the comparing, it’s a full life’s work.

  4. Thank you Roshi for your comment on this topic.
    Drilling down a bit more, I would say, there is nothing wrong with seeing the weak points and appreciating the good qualities of a teacher. I believe the point is to have a clear view and work all one’s life with this clarity.
    Trying to copy our teacher blindly brings problems, as problematic as trying to live up to our projections and the unrealistic expectations we impose on our teacher. Through these 37 years I saw many moments you were involved in I considered to be mistakes, but that never broke my trust in you in a deeper sense, and with time many appeared as my mistakes much more than yours.
    This doesn`t mean every point of view of our teacher has to be exactly the same as ours, or ours exactly the same as our teacher’s. In regard to the absolute, yes, but not the relative. Respect is crucial, as I learn all the time, rather than imposing my expectations. (So if my students make a choice I’m not enthusiastic about, I do my best to respect it, which doesn’t mean I fully support it).
    My respect for you, Roshi, deepens through time, replacing my unrealistic expectations. I am always glad that thanks to your brave approach I can learn from your mistakes. Sometimes I had to do my own falls to really get it, but many times your honest sharing about your falls has been a great help and support to me. I am very, very grateful for everything I have received from you… and hopefully will receive, no matter what life brings.
    Thank you.
    PS. You said: “You had this ideal which you were trying to live up to. And that’s the problem, because when we have an ideal we’re trying to live up to, we can never live up to it.” Maybe the biggest problem is trying to fix others so they live up to our ideals of them? I would say it is great to have ideals, but as guidelines, accepting we may never live up to them? Maybe acting from the Apex? Owned ideals, and the opposite (having no)?


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