Saturday, January 9, 2010

Ask Bodhidharma

Dear Bodhidharma,

I am a dedicated zen practitioner who enjoys attending meditation retreats at my local zen center. While I enjoy these retreats, I don't feel that we spend enough time in silent, seated meditation. So during a work period at the last retreat, I asked the teacher "Why do we spend so much time working? Shouldn't we spend more time practicing zen?" He laughed so hard that he dropped his rake!

I don't get it - what was so funny?


A Confused Practitioner


  1. Dear confused student,
    That was not funny at all. Your teacher is the confused one. He makes you work so that he doesn't have to. Zen has nothing to do with work and everything to do with counting your breath, enduring really long, painfully quiet and boring ceremonies, and dedicated yourself to the belief that there is something deeply missing and wrong about you, and therefore you should rely on someone else to help you from your own sad state. Raking leaves will not earn you merit, but cash donations will. And as for you, stop distracting the other monks during oryoki. If it wasn't for your ridiculous and childish antics they would all be enlightened by now.

    Bow down!

  2. Your hard work is of great value. Already your teacher is learning from your example. Last "work meditation" I did on retreat, the teacher just supervised my raking with his hands in his pockets - but see how you had him holding a rake? Ok, he lost one-pointed mind and dropped it, but next retreat you can help him work on that, for you are a great teacher.