Jeremy Yo: My goodness, it is not only the question is within myself, but also the answer
—- Sharing on 3-day retreat (3R2), 2014/12/13 ~ 15
My mindset was different this time. I had a kind of unknown expectation. I was exciting, just like a student in elementary school knowing he is going to have a field trip and right at that moment the entire classroom is filled up with joy and cheers. I thought I was out of my mind because I knew that definitely I would be tortured to exhausted, I wondered about what I expected for and excited for.
In the sitting session of Friday’s evening, I asked and felt the question, and asked and felt the question all the way. I sat just like I did in my daily practice, a 70-minute session as Linda asked me to do. Things became such simple. It seemed that our weekly class is a kind of “theory class”, and the retreat turns into “practice class” for me to make an experiment by myself. When I had myself involved and experienced, the “time” was no longer an issue of suffering.
However, the effect of intensive training started to influence me from Saturday afternoon. My body moved, sometimes consciously, the other time, unconsciously. I knew the show was on! Linda told me that I cannot move my body during sitting session, and in traditional Zen hall, I will be beaten if I move. Linda said, “Don’t move is don’t move!” However, my real situation was, it would cost me more energy to keep my body immoveable while it is moving. So when we had 11 sitting sessions, I experienced 11 cycles of arising-and-ceasing, 11 times of reincarnation.
Onto Sunday evening, after dinner, I told Linda I was exhausted and felt painful. Linda then decided to tell her teacher Master Guoru’s story and his pain experience to encourage us. Ennn…, Zen practice is about self-experienced and self-enlightened. Master Guoru’s pain is his pain, and my pain is mine. So I pained to exhaust again. This time, I did not lean to left or right but bent forward. Linda teased me, saying my posture looked like a well-cooked shrimp. Thanks to her metaphor, I was just like that.
Until Monday morning, I knew I had no much time left in this retreat. I knew I repeated the cycle of arising-ceasing and trapped myself in this kind of reincarnation. The pain was extreme and made me feel I would rather die. But was I afraid of it? Not at all! I just wanted to figure out what on the earth no self is! So I sat for 3-consecutive sessions without taking any break, experiencing the process of exhaustion. Did I ask “what is no self?” Of course, it would be shameful if I did not. Besides, this was not my first time getting through this process, so nothing scared me. I asked directly “what is no self?” and I just felt confused—-What was I doing? What was I trapped by? What on the earth did I want to figure out or to attain? I really experienced so many MEs, how was it possible no self? Would somebody stand out and explain me everything?
At the end of the retreat when we enjoyed our tea time, Linda told me that my progress is sitting for 3-consecutive sessions on my own decision, instead of being pushed by teacher. But I still felt exhausted and too horrible to endure although I indeed sat for 3-consecutive sessions. Linda told me that this was consciousness, too. Such simple words yet like a catalyst caused a serious of chemical reactions. My goodness, it is not only the question is within myself, but also the answer. There is nothing to be found; nothing needs to be found. I got goosebumps all over my body and recalled the story of Bodhidharma and his disciple Huike. Huike said, “I looked for my mind but could not find any.” Bodhidharma answered, “I have your mind settled.” It is until one push oneself to exhausted, one would know that he could not find any, and originally there is nothing to be found.
My wife and classmate Karen asked me how come I was different this time. After each retreat, I used to discuss my experience with her excitedly, but this time I did not talk much. It is because the shock continued and expanded. Linda’s lectures, Zen masters’ writings, sentences in Buddhist sutra emerged from my mind automatically. I was, like making an experiment, kept asking “Is this true? Really, like this?” I am too nervous to talk, and I really do not know what it is. It is a shame that I need to deal with so many daily stuffs otherwise I shall take another 3 days continuously. **** check more students’ sharing ****