I’m at a funny (funny = strange, not funny = amusing) place in my practice. I’m working to investigate the self, the “I” we all perceive. I expect that eventually this will lead me to an attainment of emptiness. The difficulty is to sit without wanting to reach a goal. I am struggling to investigate this “I” without having any focus on getting to the bottom of it.
This is “funny” because I believe that I know how to do this — that my training over the past year has prepared me for this stage — but at the same time, I have no idea what to do. Our instructions in the Kwan Um school are to ask “What am I?” and reply “Don’t know.” I asked a Zen master about this recently: If I’m asking and answering a question, I’m using words, and therefore, I am thinking. Is this correct?
He said sometimes thinking is necessary. And I experienced one of those “Aaahhh” moments.
Skillful means, yes? There are no shortcuts in Zen practice. You can’t jump-start to the thinking part before you have learned how not to think, to sit without thinking, and not to attach to thinking.
Still, this is damned difficult! Also, I have found that I am really distracted when I have a head cold, and I’ve just gone through my second head cold of the new year. I’m not usually one to get sick, so I’m frustrated by that, and doubly frustrated by my poor concentration. But everything changes, and the cold symptoms will be gone soon, and presumably my ability to focus will improve.
(For a post related to illness, see Meditating on Sudafed at the blog Dharma Folk.)