2018-09-01

Raven 69: Zazen Alone

Mallard is back with us today. It's her third appearance. The first was in #27 when she asked, "Aren't we wasting time just sitting here while the Blue Planet goes to hell?" The second was just eight episodes ago, in #61, when she had a question about the vow to save the many beings.

Being a migratory bird has some challenges.

The spiritual path has both solitary and communal elements -- and neither may be neglected. It's important and invaluable to have a solid, supportive group of "friends along the path" who gather to do spiritual practice together. Mallard has her flock, of course, but for her, it's the Tallspruce gang, not her flock, that is her spiritual community. (She's a bit of an odd duck.) Can trees and stones be your spiritual community? They're part of it -- and the spiritual path is one of a deepening sense of community with all beings, sentient and insentient. Especially at first, though, you need beings to talk to, that talk back to you and speak your language. Grandma, perhaps, may find it more fun to abjure spiritual community (as we saw last episode in #68), but that's because she has a certain temperament and has reached a certain stage that she would never have reached without having trained with a community for many years.

Case
Mallard spoke up first at an evening meeting and said, "When I'm traveling, I find it difficult to do zazen without support from the community. As often as not, I end up not doing it."
Raven said, "Sit with the stones."
Verse
Sit with the sturgeon, with the stars.
Stand with the aspen, with the yak.
Walk with the brook, with the ocean waves.
Lie with the moss, and the setting sun.
Sit with the lakes, fallen logs, and bunnies.
Stand with the mushrooms, mountains, and salamanders.
Walk with the cows, chickens, and the full moon.
Lie with the bedrock, yellow leaves, and rhesus macaques.
Do this because you can't not,
And because the ten thousand things
Are sitting, standing, walking, lying
With you.
Case by Robert Aitken, adapted; introduction and verse by Meredith Garmon
Raven 68

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