Sam: I was afraid of pain, and I had that fear!
—- Sharing on the 3-day retreat (3R4), 2015/06/13 ~ 15
I anticipated that I would be fatigued after work in the daytime, so I tried hard to open up the moment to know my mind movements before getting drowsy to prevent myself from falling asleep in the sitting sessions on Friday evening.
On Saturday, the first day, I told myself to lift up my mind, not falling asleep in the first day of the retreat like I used to do before. I found I was more aware of myself, I felt less drowsy, and I could focus on my practice. But the teacher told me that I was still falling in drowsiness.
The teacher kept reminding us of 100% engagement to Zen practice; I knew that half of the time of the retreat had been passed, so I should doubt even harder. I tried to put myself more in, whether by emphasizing the tone when I asked the doubting question or by straining my entire body to focus on my practice. Probably because I was lack of mental and physical energy, I found the process of each sitting session was always changing rapidly. They all started from focus, chanting the question, scatter, drowsiness, waking up, and then re-doubting again. Sometimes I could focus on the practice when I woke up from drowsiness, even though it lasting for only a couple of minutes.
I found sometimes I could not ask the question anymore and could not push myself further, and this was because “I did not find the answer all the time so I felt bored” and “I did not have strong eagerness to know the answer”, so I asked “ Is this I under such circumstance no self?” to keep myself focus on doubt. There was a time a thought flashed by that certainly I could not ask the question or push myself further if I just doubted on the forms of wandering thoughts, anger and leg pain. Only when one really wanted to know the answer of the nature of life, no self, one could doubt continuingly! And that would become the great unknowing, the great doubt, of one’s life. By end of the day, I was so exhausted that I found even my thoughts did not have any energy to wander at all. A thought just froze in front of me and I was out of strength to lift up myself to ask any question, leaving the scene there alone. The teacher told me that I should doubt continuingly right at the point later in the discussion session.
In the evening sessions, I found in that entire day my practice was more like “completing the homework” rather than opening up my wandering thoughts to ask the doubting question deeply, although I had the confusion, wanted to explore the answer and focused on the question “What is no self?” I knew I was wrong, so I planned to correct my practice from the next day. Coincidently (I might not need to be surprised) the next morning in the teacher’s lecture and the one-on-one tutorial, the teacher asked me to open every wandering thought and doubted on every I. She said that only when one doubted in this way, one joined the Zen practice to one’s life. My fault was I didn’t join my Zen practice to my life, and that’s the reason that I could not doubt any further, although I focused on the phrase of “What is no self?” and I certainly had the doubt and confusion to explore the answer. It seemed I was asking the question, “Does there any Martian live on the Mars?” and I really wanted to know it. But just for a while I lost the energy and got tired to know it. Upon knowing how to correct my practice, I could “ask” the doubting question continuingly, slowly and steadily, and I also felt the “unknowing.” I could even continue doubting during the break time, not got that many ups and downs like the day before.
The teacher told me not to be afraid of pain on the 2nd day. Upon hearing that, I told her, “I am not!?” and chattered in my mind, “I had never been whining for too painful to doubt!” From the 2nd day I strained my entire body, including my eyeballs, to put myself more into the practice. Onto the 3rd day, I found my eyeballs and some inner parts of my eye sockets hurt, so I switched to doubt gently immediately. I had have the experience the pain in my inner eye sockets would cause migraine and vomit. At that point I realized that I was afraid of pain, and I had that fear! I was too afraid to ask the question “Is this I who is so afraid of pain no self?” I also found every time I shifted my body when I sat for a longer session and felt the pain in my waist, and that was because I was afraid of pain.
In the discussion session at the end of the retreat, I found my old problem was looking for concentration and stillness unconsciously, and forgetting the purpose of Zen practice was getting to know oneself. Just like what I did on the 2nd day, I did not join my every mind movement to Zen practice. Join my life to Zen practice was the direction I need to work hard on. **** check more Student Sharing ****