Guofeng: I was a slave to my emotion, too
—- Sharing on the 3-day retreat (3R4), 2015/06/13 ~ 15
Teacher Linda found that I was again sitting on the cushion loafing off mindlessly in the sitting sessions on Friday night, so she kept me after the sessions before the bed time. As the lights went dim, although her tone was smooth, her eyes were bright and shining. She said that although the purpose of retreats was to know one’s nature, she asked me to set a goal for this retreat, to “break through the situation of loafing on the cushion. ” I felt a lot of pressure because I truly hate pain. If I could avoid any sitting sessions, I would do every possible not to sit on the cushion. . If I could be mindless, I would do every possible not to be mindful. I didn’t anticipate that teacher Linda would point out this subject directly and ask me to overcome this problem.
The teacher addressed on doubting on no self with 100% engagement before every sitting session. So even I felt drowsy, I enforced myself to overcome my loafing problem. As soon as I found my mind went blank or my vision turned dark, I lifted my mind to ask, “Is this me no self?”, not following the drowsiness or blankness to sleep or relax as I did before. And sometimes, I even needed to pay partial attention to manage the pain. Back and forth I repeated this process, and I worked hard and felt exhausted. Onto that afternoon, the pain increased, but there was a thought kept in my mind, “Do I have the faith to know the answer of no self? Is it possible that I could know the answer of no self?” This was the question that teacher Linda asked us on Friday night, which she told us that she had asked Jeremy Yo, one of our classmates, before the retreat. “Do you have the faith that everyone could know the answer of no self?” It turned out that this question always came to my mind during the sitting sessions. I had no idea about no self before I came to the Center to learn Zen practice. Also I had no idea of no self when I practiced sitting meditation and suffered from the extreme leg pain. What on earth is no self? Is it possible that I could know the answer? This question was like the center of a vortex, dragging me down to the earth all the way. This question was always hanging there while I was distracted by the blankness, drowsiness, and leg pain when I kept doubting on “ no self?” Even during the break time, I continued to work on to see whether there would be an answer. Later in the one-on-one tutorial, I asked Linda, “How come you have the faith that everyone could know the answer?” Linda’s answer was so simple, “When you keep making progress in the process of Zen practice, you would have the faith that you could know the answer.” I doubted on Linda’s words, “Could this be true? ”
The pain became unbearable and my practice was awful on Sunday morning. Onto that afternoon, the pain was so extreme like burning the bones. My entire body, even my eye lips, was sweating and drenched. The damned thing was it started thunderstorming at our retreat site in Yangmingshan. The temperature fell, and the electric fans continued blowing at me. It was so cold that my upper body trembled. My entire body was shaking, totally out of control, not even mention to doubt on “no self?” I was so scared and kept trembling by the pain and cold. I heard teacher Linda shouted, “Don’t move!” I was completely in chaos, totally breakdown since the fear and pain had exceeded the point that my body and mind could afford. I would do anything if only Linda rang the end-up bell to conclude the sitting session. I wanted to put down my legs to ring the end-up bell. Suddenly Linda placed her Zen stick on my shoulders, saying “Doubt on this. Continue. Continue.” Like finding a direction in the dark, my conscious pull back from the chaos and I continued to doubt. I didn’t know how long the time had been. Then I heard the end-up bell, I opened my eyes gently, I saw teacher Linda sitting on the cushion in front of me, and everything in front of me was so clear. During the break time when I was in the restroom, I suddenly figure things out. I used to think I was a rational person with a good control on emotion, and I had never encountered any situation of out of control. At work, I could not understand and I disapproved those who engaged in domestic violence and those who committed physical assaults simple because of out of range. But today I lost control of my emotion. For such a long time I thought I knew what I was doing clearly, but in fact, haha.., I was a slave to my emotion, too. I followed my emotion to make decisions on my actions. I was not so clear about things that I was doing. That evening, teacher Linda asked us to share the most successful meditative experience of the day, and I told my story of that session. Linda continued to ask my feelings about my meditative experience, I answered it was an amazing experience and it was unduplicatable. I used to doubt on legs pain and drowsiness, and all of these doubt were companied with emotion and thought. However that session in the afternoon, my doubt was so pure with no any emotion, no any thought. It was unduplicatable. It was an experience that I have never had before.
The pain did not stop just because of the amazing experience the day before. On Monday morning, I still felt leg pain and doubted on “Is this me who suffered from such pain no self?” A thought came to me that the pain itself would not possible tell me the answer, even I asked the question of no self for thousands of times. So I put down my legs and took a massage exercise when I heard the bell. Onto that afternoon, teacher Linda told us that Zen practice was our own business, she would not remind us anything during the session. In the 2nd session, the pain was burning again but this time the teacher would not help me with her Zen stick. All I could do was practice doubting meditation which I learned from the class on my own. Still it hurt, and I sweat a lot, but I continued my doubt and doubted simply. I was clearly aware my situation that I was shaking, upset, and out of patience. But I did not lose myself in the chaos of fear and confusion as I did the day before.
As the retreat ended up, I went down the mountain to my daily life and reviewed my practice. I did not reach the goal of 100% engagement to Zen practice as teacher Linda required us to do in the retreat. I still went blank, stuck in leg pain or shifted focus to other things sometimes. But I did overcome the problem of loafing. The teacher asked me to conquer it, and I have made it! I got progress. At least, I have some faith that I could know the answer of no self. **** check more Students’ Sharing ****