Guofeng: You are the most difficult and uncontrollable person that you have ever met in your life
—- Sharing on the 3-day retreat (3R2), 2014/12/13 ~ 15
I had my first daylong class in the beginner of November and had a very profound memory of the extreme leg pain. Therefore, I hesitated to attend this retreat for a couple of weeks, wondering whether my body could endure the long-time sitting meditation with legs folded in the winter time. I was anxious when the bus snaked up along the mountain on the way to the retreat site. Looking at the lights of Taipei city down there at the mountain foot, I thought about my experience of learning Buddhism in the past three years and my confusion. I knew Buddha’s teaching is about the truth of life, but in my real life, I did not experience the truth of my life. I thought probably I could solve with my confusion in this retreat.
I spent most of time in sleep and drowsiness in the sitting sessions on Friday night. For the sessions before lunch on Saturday, I tried to doubt “what is no self?” simply but I could not endure the leg pain. My wondering thoughts arose one after another to avoid the pain, and I could not focus on my doubt at all. The teacher saw my problem clearly and gave me a one-on-one tutorial. She told me directly that I should not just sit there but doubt on the question. She asked me “What are you trying to run away from?” I did try to escape from the fear of leg pain and I had my story. The teacher answered me straightforwardly, “then you should not come to Zen practice but to see a psychoanalyst! As a Zen practitioner, you need a strong determination. ” I felt ashamed and speechless right at that moment. After lunch break, I started willing to doubt on “what is no self?” but actually I just reasoned and analyzed the meaning of no self with one and another wondering thoughts. Suddenly I was stabbed by a Zen stick, and I heard Linda’s shouting “Put yourself together!” I trembled, and all my thoughts ceased. I found I was dreaming, and all my wondering thoughts were in fact kind of self-talk in my own dream. I was not aware that I had fallen asleep. My body-and-mind cheated myself. I mistook the illusion as reality.
After 11 sitting sessions on Saturday, although my legs still hurt, on Sunday my capacity of enduring pain had increased. The distraction of leg pain became less than previous sessions. I suffered from my old problems, like drowsiness and impatience. When you sit on a cushion practicing Zen and ask “what is no self?”, it is not “no self” that appears. Instead, you force yourself to look at the one who’s trying to run away from his pain, the one who is impatient, short- tempered, lazy, arrogant and negative thinking, and the one you want to face least. You would understand, yes, you are the most difficult and uncontrollable person that you have ever met in your life. You have to face yourself so truthfully and honestly.
On the way home on Sunday, I was yet again sitting limply in my seat on the train. Did I experience Buddha’s teaching of no self, the truth of life? Not yet, but at least I had moved toward that direction. As for my confusion, it had lessened somewhat on the ride home.**** check more students’ sharing ****