I’ve been reflecting on Authenticity recently.
There’s a lot of noisy chatter about Authenticity in the pop-psycho-business world. I think they’ve got it all wrong. Just my opinion, as Bernie Glassman Roshi says.
I spent a lot of time my first year as a Prep-school teacher working on a “groundbreaking” authenticity program. It was led by a brilliant and creative mentor of mine named Patricia Work (Sublette). Most of it was really intriguing and effective.
We think of Authenticity as that which is genuine, not fake. There are many socio-cognitive theories these days about what it means to be Authentic, and if one can actually be so. There’s the idea of recognizing “my true self”, but how can we do so when that so-called “true self” is something that is always in flux, constantly changing, both situationally and internally? I don’t buy it, because then it becomes “situational authenticity”, which is, well, calculated, fabricated. Seems like they’re trying drive a nail into an ocean wave.
Considering this brought up the 23rd Case in the Wumen-kuan (Gateless Gate) entitled “Think Neither Good Nor Evil”. There’s a good back-story as well, which I won’t get into now, but check it out sometime…please. As you probably know, the sixth Patriarch was being pursued by monk Myō ( an illiterate and lowly kitchen worker) who was after the robe and the bowl that signified transmission of leadership in the monastery. The patriarch laid the bowl and robe on a rock and said “This robe represents the faith. How can it be competed for by force? I will allow you to take it away.” Myō tried to lift it but was as immovable as a mountain. Terrified, he said “I came for the Dharma, not the robe. I beg you please reveal it to me.” The patriarch said; “At the very moment you were chasing after me without thinking good or evil, what was the primal face of Monk Myō?” At that instant Myō attained great realization. He said; “Besides the secret words and secret meaning you have revealed to me is there anything deeper yet?” The patriarch said; “What I have now preached to you is no secret at all. If you reflect on your own true face, the secret will be found within yourself.”
Easy, right? Not so much!
Perhaps what the patriarch was saying is “reflect on your own true nature, your Original (primal) Face.
Walking in a snowstorm during a Rohatsu sesshin, I asked my dharma brother Ryushin, “What does it really mean to practice the way? He said to me; “Shit like a monk! When it’s cold, be cold. When it’s hot, be hot. When you’re mad, be mad. When you’re happy be happy.” He was telling me; be authentic. No worrying about stuff, no analyzing the thinking (stinking-thinking!), just walking, eating, sleeping, shitting. I figured he was referring to “the observer” in my head finally going away. That wasn’t it! I somehow knew it was something else, deeper than that. I sat zazen with his words for that week and ultimately saw; What you reveal can only be revealed by you. What he said brought me to the realization of Maha (no outside, no inside), the all encompassing-ness of the Dharmahatu. The Primordial Ground of Being. It cannot be made hotter, or colder, happier or sadder, or made to stink less, even by enlightenment. It can’t be altered in any way, not even by practice or realization. Knowing it, what I saw when I looked in the mirror; my original face.
Rohatsu Zazen Schedule at the Teahouse
Nov. 30-December 8
Nov. 30, Wednesday, 6:30AM
Dec. 1, Thursday, 6:30AM
Dec. 1, Thursday, 6PM-8PM
Dec. 2, Friday, Dec. 2, 6:30AM
Dec. 2, Friday, 6PM-8PM
Dec. 3, Saturday, 6:30AM-11:30AM
Dec. 4, Sunday, 6:30AM-11:30AM
Dec. 7, Wednesday, 6:30AM
BODHI DAY. Dec. 8, Thursday, 6:30AM
We will interweave Heart Sutra and Identity of Relative and Absolute.c
MONDAY, 6:30AM: ZAZEN (David)
MONDAY, 7PM, DREAM KOAN AT THE TEA HOUSE OR ZOOM
TUESDAY, 6:30AM, Zazen (Madison)
WEDNESDAY, 6:30AM: ZAZEN AT THE TEA HOUSE OR ZOOM
THURSDAY, 6:30AM: SADHANA AT THE TEA HOUSE OR ZOOM
DOKUSAN WITH ISSAN SENSEI
FRIDAY, 6:30AM: ZAZEN AT THE TEA HOUSE
DOKUSAN WITH ZENHO SENSEI
Here’s our poem, given by Zenho this week:
Sunray (?Sunra?) taking
A microsomething longer
As if on Holiday
To warm the fur
Slurping whipped cream
Proffered by 8 year Old
Boy deeply loving this
Pup sitting aquiver
Hearing this sunray
Tasting the warmth
And cool whipping
Bathing in this loving
Each for the other.
Are homeless tonight.
252 needle spike deaths
Dulling the screaming ache
Where there used
8 yo boy/girl love.
Or Taking away
Cleaves this heart