Eric: I dared to taste my leg pain when I decided to face the pain truthfully
——– Sharing on the 2-day retreat (2R6) from Oct. 4th to 5th, 2014
I had worried almost every day since half a month ago before this two-day retreat, as long as I thought of it. I learned my lesson this time. When I felt scared, afraid, anxious, I just doubted on it, like “I, who was so scaring so anxious, was also no-self?” It was really a miracle that the feeling of scare, affright, and anxiety was disappearing gradually when I doubt in this way. I thought that I had found a way to face the 2-day retreat, but it proved that I was wrong again!
During the sessions at the first night and on the next day, I prayed that my leg won’t be hurt so much and hoped the bell rang before the pain started. I could doubt at the beginning of each session without any difficulty. My doubt wouldn’t be intervened by any thoughts. But in the final part of each session, my doubt was always vanished like ashes and smoke because a notion of worry or afraid of my leg pain. Then I became anxious and impatient, even thinking to get off from my cushion and run away. Although I tried to doubt, “I, who felt anxious, was also no-self?” I knew in my mind that I asked just because I tried to avoid or ignore my impatience about sitting, and that was incorrect, that was rising-ceasing mind. At that time, I still didn’t face where the anxiety came from with my true heart. Till the last day, I had to face my leg pain and had no way to escape, and then I knew that all my anxiety, impatience and even the fear before this retreat arose from my fear of leg pain.
I just ran away, ran away and ran away until the session which continued almost for 110 minutes, I finally turn myself inside out to face the pain of my left femur. Before that, I just cheated myself and my teacher Linda. I moved my body for a more comfortable posture, I chanted “what is no self?” meaninglessly. Yes I did so and did all. But all I did was, of course, in vain. All these deceptive tricks were exposed and became failure when the sitting session was elongated. Then I was willing to face it. I did not know when the bell would ring, I just thought “Only two or three sessions left and that’s end of this retreat. So just go for it.” I dared to taste my leg pain when I decided to face it truthfully. I did not know where my courage came from but I was not using my body or my mind to avoid the pain. At that time I was not really doubt on it, I just wanted to know how painful or to what extreme level the pain would be. Later on, I found it was not that painful. I was not so care about whether my teacher was going to ring the bell. Gradually, I found my body seemed capable to accept the pain. I barely knew the pain was not so scaring anymore although my body still felt tight.
Here came the last session. The pain from right thigh joint and left femur occurred together. My first idea was still to hide away, and I calculated more than before. My right-sided body hadn’t suffered the pain yet in the past two days, and it might release the pressure on my left side if I leaned my body rightward. So I leaned my body rightward but Linda found me and corrected my posture. I did not give up and leaned rightward again, and of course, I was corrected again. Then I decided “go for it!” I recalled my experience of last session and faced my leg pain again. Only this time right when I felt the pain, I asked “so painful, how come this is no self? The pain is me, I am the pain, how come no self? Fxxk, how come no self? ” Suddenly, I heard the wind blow outside, and a thought ran into my mind “the sound of wind, no-self?” It was unbelievable that I could be distracted to notice the wind when I was suffering from the extreme pain, and that gave me the courage to face the pain. For a couple of times, I could even doubt “what is no self?” directly rather than using my pain to generate doubt. The pain was still there waving hands to cause my attention. It was real painful so gradually I paid more attention to pain and less to doubt. Although I doubted when I felt pain, sometimes I was more like chanting or repeating a meaningless slogan. But I knew that I was not supposed to chant the questions to expel the pain away. Gradually, it seemed not that painful. I found that when I was not expecting the end-up ring, the pain looked not so scary. In this way, I sat until the bell rang.
Teacher Linda told us that we made progress from each and every retreat and our confidence in Zen practice is established on every breakthrough. To be honest, I am not so sure if I can have the same confidence that I experienced from the last two sessions when next time I attend another one. Fear still exists, but I need to turn around and face it, investigate Zen firmly and work on the no-self true nature directly. ****check more Students’ Sharing****