Raven 44: The Good of Practice

Sometimes the regulars at any religious, faith, or spiritual practice group -- or the trained leaders -- don't seem to be any nicer, wiser, or more compassionate than the general population. Sometimes the regulars act out and act divisively, as though the congregation's function were to be the screen on which they can project all their stuff until they've worked it all through. Sometimes even the priests/ministers/teachers do this. Do these projectors make any progress toward getting it all worked through? Maybe. Maybe not. How about you? Have you already arrived at the wisest most compassionate version of yourself? If not, does progress that direction seem to be happening? Keep at it and see.

Grouse missed zazen one evening but came later to ask a question: "I'm hearing that some old-time students and even teachers act selfishly and cause dissension in the community. So what's the good of practice?"
Raven said, "It takes, or it doesn't take."
Grouse asked, "What does it take to take?"
Raven said, "Practice."
Grouse sighed and was silent.
Owl said, "I don't get it. If practice doesn't take, how will more practice do it?"
Raven said, "I hope to live long enough."
The thing, missed --
A tree, a ritual, a song, a shot at love --
Leaves a vacuum
Which the question
Of its good
Fills, or partly.
Case by Robert Aitken; introduction and verse by Meredith Garmon

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