Raven 93: The Perfection of Character

This is Raccoon's first appearance. And we haven't had a mention of Moose Roshi since way back in #3, when Raven was just starting out and visiting a number of teachers (including also Jackrabbit Roshi and Prairie Dog Roshi) before settling down with Brown Bear.

Practice is for perfecting our character. And our character is already perfected. Practice is about remembering and living from that fact. This is transformative. In fact, it's the most radical transformation possible. It changes you into what you've always been.

Raccoon was a student of Moose Roshi at Cedarford, but he visited the Tallspruce community occasionally.
One day Raven invited him to have a snack and asked, "What does Moose Roshi teach?"
Raccoon said, "The practice of Zen is the perfection of character."
Raven said, "Transformation."
Raccoon said, "The Zen student trims the dead branches. It's the pigeon who can do the actual job."
The Will, Illusory Anyway

It's grace all the way down,
Even the pain and grief bits,
And, too, the wanting and striving bits --
All the doings my acquaintances call Meredith's,
In praise or in blame.

On my cushion, of a morning,
The world slowly lightening, there am I,
Trimming some dead branches, maybe,
Culling, weeding, making room
For something else to "do the actual job" --

Which it does, haphazardly,
And mentions, by the by,
That the way-preparing, garden-tending, discipline
Of hospitality to whatever guest may come --
The practice and intentions that seem of my making --

Come also from something else --
Something that watches, and sometimes whispers
It's grace all the way down.
Case by Robert Aitken, adapted; introduction and verse by Meredith Garmon

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