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HomeBuddhistDarkish Night time, Damaged Bridge: What To Do When What’s Labored Doesn’t

Darkish Night time, Damaged Bridge: What To Do When What’s Labored Doesn’t

The Damaged Bridge, West Lake, Hangzhou, China

Many people come to a spot in our journey the place what as soon as labored is damaged, the place the trail is darkish, the place we’re at a loss – particularly in these darkish days of ongoing pandemic, local weather disaster, social divisions, and political dis-ease.

The phrase “darkish night time of the soul,” used variously in Christian mysticism, is commonly about the entire journey to union with God. In Western Zen, beginning with Aitken Roshi, it’s generally used for these very dry locations on the Zen journey.

It was this that I used to be eager about in Maintain Me In Your Coronary heart A Whereas in “Cleansing Below the Hedge” (p. 53):

“One way or the other I had survived the idealization, covert clinging to hopes for magical achieve, and really crabby phases—this time round (however, the trail being a spiral, I might have identified this stage would come round once more). Nonetheless, a stage discipline was opening up. This was steadily strolling with out getting anyplace. Extra refined work begins right here. The apply at this stage is just completed for the sake of the apply itself. Trying to find a motive at this stage is including a head on prime of a head. If we simply stick with it, we’d even begin to recover from our self a bit and direct our life to actualizing a objective higher than our self.”

Throughout such instances within the path of earnest dharma apply, turbulence, previous trauma, or different psychological and/or bodily points emerge to seemingly block the Manner. Typically a practitioner secretly believes that the arising of those points is proof of their very own lack of true apply or the dharma’s lack of efficacy.

Nonetheless, when labored by means of skillfully, these very instances will later be seen because the fruit of the trail. How? Refined work is actually known as for. Some strategies of participating with no matter is arising could not work, are contraindicated, and so a freshness of view and cautious attending to what’s working and what’s NOT is so necessary.

This requires a letting go of dogma, of what’s “supposed” to work.

The Damaged Bridge (way back), West Lake, Hangzhou, China

Continuing tenderly and actually is the Manner. A trainer’s steerage, after all, may be necessary. Going in opposition to one’s proclivities to keep away from interplay with others and being with dharma associates may also be an important lifeline throughout these instances. And it’s at these instances that we are able to appear so completely alone even once we are with others.

I believe right here of No Gate Barrier, “Case 44: Bājiāo’s Strolling Employees:”

The Venerable Bājiāo, introduced to the meeting, saying, “If in case you have a strolling employees, I will provide you with a strolling employees.  If in case you have no strolling employees, I’ll seize your strolling employees.”

Wúmén’s Remark

It helps you as you cross the water over the Damaged Bridge. It’s your companion, returning to the village, no moon. For those who name it a strolling employees, you enter hell straight as an arrow.


Everyplace – deep and shallow
Totally in its grip
Supporting the sky and propping up the earth
In all places shaken by the varsity’s wind

The employees right here may symbolize the practice-awakening that we’ve found by means of our honest efforts on the Manner and that we’ve settled into utilizing to assist us on our journey by means of the robust spots on the street. So we’d suppose we now have a employees, however it’s at these instances that the employees is taken and we discover that we now have no employees.

As Wúmén compassionately factors out, clinging to our previous employees sends us to hell.

Alternatively, we’d suppose we now have no employees, no assist, no refuge. However it’s at these instances of issue that we actually study what no-staff really is.

This no-staff employees helps us as we cross the bridge from this time to a different part of the journey, from isolation to group, or from group to a interval of isolation – throughout the bridge that solely appears to be damaged, wholeness confirmed by means of persevering with on the Manner. The no-staff employees is our solely buddy as we stroll by means of the village at midnight.

Wúmén’s verse ends with “In all places shaken by the varsity’s wind.” “College’s wind” is the type, the customs, and the custom of a lineage (宗風, Japanese, shūjo). Moderately than these instances of issue reflecting one thing improper with us, this line radically affirms these durations – this too is the Manner.

It’s the wind of our Zen Manner that shakes such issues free and exposes them. Our skillful apply is what makes doable our regular (and generally regular inside the not-so-steady) strolling with all of it.

Further really helpful useful resource: Philip Taiho Martin, The Zen Path Via Melancholy.

Dōshō Port started training Zen in 1977 and now co-teaches along with his spouse, Tetsugan Zummach Sensei, with the Vine of Obstacles: On-line Help for Zen Coaching, an internet-based Zen group. Dōshō obtained dharma transmission from Dainin Katagiri Rōshi and inka shōmei from James Myōun Ford Rōshi within the Harada-Yasutani lineage. Dōshō’s translation and commentary on The Report of Empty Corridor: One Hundred Basic Koans, is now accessible (Shambhala). He’s additionally the writer of Maintain Me In Your Coronary heart a Whereas: The Haunting Zen of Dainin Katagiri. Click on right here to assist the instructing apply of Tetsugan Sensei and  Dōshō Rōshi.


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