follow the stream

Be soft in your practice.  Think of the method as a fine silvery stream, not a raging waterfall.  Follow the stream, have faith in its course.  It will go its own way, meandering here, trickling there.  It will find the grooves, the cracks, the crevices.  Just follow it.  Never let it out of your sight.  It will take you.

Sheng-yen (in Essential Zen by Kazuaki Tanahashi & David Schneider)

Entering this week of practice for Rohatsu, I made the commitment to be fearless in my sitting.  It felt like I was about to attack the zafu with a vengeful pounce for all the times it met my efforts with undiscriminating silence.  Be soft?  Do I know how?

Sometimes I have a waking dream of falling, falling backwards into the ocean.  Arms outstretched, legs, fingers, and toes splayed open.  Whatever the height I am falling from, there is not a ripple, not a sound as I am absorbed into a vast, liquid, supporting cushion.  Be soft.  It’s worth a try.

Please take the time to practice softly,


4 thoughts on “follow the stream

    • hey marguerite! thanks for dropping by. i loved your blog-swap article on stringing the beads. so so true… this one breath is enough…

      sheng-yen’s quote really impressed on me the need to lighten up in my practice. i tend towards the kamekazi school of sitting! 😉 it occurs to me as well that when i’m at my most controlling, it because of a lack of trust that i will receive what i need.

  1. I dunno. Sometimes my stream gushes over dramatic cliffs and crashes onto the boulders below, shattering into innumerable droplets.

    More seriously, I sometimes sidetrack my practice through expectations about how it will go – soft/hard, easy/difficult, the whole world of opposites-thinking. The same occurs in all aspects of my life, when I enter into opposites world.

    Perhaps Sheng-yen’s advice to follow our practice wherever it leads is more to the point )at least in my experience).

    Lately, my practice (and my life) has led me into some pretty thorny jungles. How can I not get scratched?

    Thanks, Lynette!

    • hey Barry! one summer i taught myself how to pick up with bare hands the rose branches i had trimmed off the bushes. interesting how the thorns don’t prick when i don’t grasp them and let them sit lightly in my hands.

      i agree that sheng-yen’s advice is to follow our practice wherever it leads… i suppose where it lead me was to see how ‘militaristic’ mine is… hey… weren’t you the one who pointed that out to me in a past post about Zen not caring about our feelings???!!! 😉

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