Karen: Am I just the same as the leftovers? How come it is possible?
—- Sharing on 3-day retreat (3R2), 2014/12/13 ~ 15
In my first session, I adjusted my sitting posture, closed my eyes, and started my questioning. Linda told us many times that you need to ask the question from the bottom of your heart and continue asking the question. So I wanted to focus on the question and feel the question. I kept doing so. Sometimes I grabbed onto a doubting or an unknown feeling and I let myself to not be deviated away from the question. While I was genuinely feeling my sincerity, I heard Linda checking her watch and suddenly, a tiny, slight feeling of happiness arose in my heart (yeah, it’s about time to ring the dismissal bell), but in the next second, “Oh my!” I completely cheated myself while I was asking the question, and I was totally unaware of it. I felt that I was so fake. In the end, your “sincere heart” can cheat you. You won’t notice that you are cheated by yourself while you are cheating yourself.
I saw images of people’s perfect sitting postures from TV or books. I thought the posture was quite cool. I never saw people sit with a tilted head. I was troubled by my tilted head while mediating. I don’t know when I started having this problem. I often turn my head to the right during my mediation, and my body also leans to the right. I don’t know exactly when it started. When I discovered my posture problem in the middle, I would adjust my head and my body to the correct straight position, and then kept asking the question. But I knew it also meant that I was not on the question and I was being distracted. Sometimes I just adjusted it, and my head was, again, pulled by some kind of temporary uncontrollable habitual tendency in the next second. This happened back and forth and troubled me until the evening of the second day. I didn’t say my body and head stopped tilting. In fact, the situation hadn’t been improved. Because of the annoying back-and-forth, I started to think there must be some reasons behind it. At first, I guessed whether I felt safer if I asked the question in my right side. But I gradually discovered that was because I wanted to relieve my leg pain. Sometimes my leg pain hadn’t even started yet, but my body had been already leaned to the right side subconsciously. This is a way to show my escape issue. So I made a decision to stop moving as much as possible even though I often failed. I told myself “this is me, stand there, don’t move, and watch yourself”, and then I kept asking the question.
Finally the wonderful bell rang, relieving my legs immediately. I sighed a breath of relief. While I was massaging myself, I started feeling weird. My legs hurt so much just a moment ago. The pain was so true. How come I didn’t suffer that much pain while I was doing the massage? Sometimes I could jump vividly after getting off my cushion. After this, I started getting even doubtful during every massage time. Leg pain? Real? Fake? No doubt! I really suffered from my leg pain at the moment when I did my mediation, but I doubted whether the pain was exactly as painful as I experienced at the moment. Or just you pity yourself. Is it just another way to escape from honestly exploring our true nature?
On the morning of the second day, I was afraid that I would miss the knock and also there were some classmates in the classroom. I thought maybe I should go with them even though I was not willing to. As I started my sitting, the same titling head issue happened again and I didn’t have the feeling to keep asking any questions. I thought, “ Why did I need to fold my legs around five thirty in an early winter morning?” Since I didn’t really want to do it, I didn’t have to fake here. So I just sat there and blanked. In the following session, I resisted the meditation. I felt pissed-off without apparent reasons and didn’t want to keep asking. I didn’t want to face my impatience and titling head anymore, so I stopped and didn’t ask the question hard. I tried to keep some safe distance from my problem. In the following talk, Linda asked us what makes us stay aloof from our cushion sometimes. My answer is because you find that it’s really really difficult to face yourself. Therefore, I just set myself away from my own problem. Linda kept asking, “Aren’t all the questions yours, that is the person you care and love the most in the world? Why can’t you take care of them?” I was thinking, “ If you have a very ugly wound in your body, do you have the heart to keep looking at it?” I must have a strong courage so that I can stare at it and bear the fierce pain when I applied medicine on it myself.
It is very difficult for a person to admit that he doesn’t know a thing. I often felt that I didn’t really think that I don’t know. So from the night of the second day, I decided to admit that I really have no idea about the question first. I started to talk to myself, “Karen, do you really understand it? No, you don’t. What is no-self?” Besides, I slowed down the speed of asking the question. I meant to use the opposite way of talking from my impatient way of talking style that I normally use. As a result, my hands held tighter and tighter. When I noticed my hands, I told myself, “You think you can get the answer in this way. You’re silly.”
There is one more thing I think it is funny. One of my cleaning jobs is to take the leftovers out. I can’t remember when was my last time to take out the leftovers. I don’t think anyone would say he likes leftovers. On the first day, I took the bucket and stood in front of a very big and super smelly leftover recycling can. I frowned and poured it into the can. While looking at this can of disgusting leftovers, I thought, “Am I just the same as the leftovers? How come it is possible? Do I have the same essence as leftovers? What is equality?” Then, the picture of the can of leftovers occurred from time to time during my meditation on the first day. I asked what equality is. There was just some doubting or unknown feeling without any words sometimes. On the second day, I took out the leftovers, but it was weird that I didn’t feel so grossed about that can of leftovers. In my heart, I felt a little bit of pity that I couldn’t use it to generate my doubt. At the noon on the third day, that was my last time to take out the leftovers. I treasured the chance to meet it. I took my bucket to meet it. After I poured it into the big can, I looked at it and thought, “No matter how smelly you are, the thing is, I still don’t know what no-self is. What is no-self?”
Three days passed so fast. I went back home with this question and keep exploring it! **** check more students’ sharing ****