Jean: The pain is killing me, how is it possible no self?
—- Sharing on 3-day retreat (3R2), 2014/12/13 ~ 15
This is my first time attending a 3-day retreat; I was looking forward to it but also felt uncertain before the retreat.
It was getting cold in the evening when I rode my motorcycle on the way to the retreat site. Blown by the cold wind, I trembled and asked, “I am almost cold to death, how come no self?”
Although I had never been to the church, I followed the route map and the previous explanation from my classmate William to look for the check-in point in the dark. I was aware in my mind that as long as I moved in the right direction, I would find out the correct location even though it might take some time. Isn’t it similar to Zen practice, to discover the true nature of our lives? As long as we follow Zen ancestors’ wisdom and teachers’ instruction and work on the right track with our strong determination, we will reach the goal step by step.
Linda had told me that the reason I did not change legs when the new sitting session starts is because I rejected to face the pain in my left leg. So at the beginning of the first session on the first evening, I put my left leg inside which caused more pain than I had my right leg inside. I felt uncomfortable and painful after 30 minutes. It was such a long evening.
I used to ask the question “what is no self?” and answer the question by myself when I practiced doubting meditation. Sometimes, I “think” about the question. Linda told me I was wrong, so I decided not to do so this time. I tried to follow Linda’s instruction, asked “what is no self?” and felt the question, but I felt nothing. So I started to think, “Why do we ask the no-self question? Can we figure out the nature of life through the question?” Linda asked me about my practice in the second morning, and I answered her with my confusion and uncertainty. Linda shouted at me, “Do you think we (those who practice doubting meditation) all are fools? You just keep doubting!” and encourage me to continue.
I started to have uncomfortable feelings in my legs when I sat for about 30 minutes in every sitting session, then the uncomfortable feelings increased and caused leg pain. I have many wondering thoughts because of the legs pain in this 3 day retreat, e.g. ”why do I need to torture myself?”, “why do we have to suffer from leg pain to get enlightened?”. It seemed the leg pain became immense and boundaryless, and I almost cried out “The pain is killing me, how is it possible no self?”, “Let go of me! I don’t want to know what no self is!”
To be honest, I dare not to say whether I am getting closer to enlightenment after I practiced doubting meditation in the 3-day retreat. However, I tried the method Linda taught us and spent three days to deal with the no-self question and to deal with myself. The question “what is no self?”, a simple phrase with only a few words turns into a giant question mark to me. Linda said, “You just don’t know what no self is! And you win when you acknowledge that you just don’t know, you win when you subdue your mind.”
Legs pain is the biggest obstacle of my Zen practice. However, from the perspective of discovering the nature of life, it would be ridiculous if I hold back just because of leg pain. Keep practicing is the only way. **** check more students’ sharing ****