Here at Windhorse we ushered in the new fall season with a 7-day sesshin. So many forces, seen and unseen, came together to support our dharma efforts! Perfect weather, with warm days bright with tall plumes of goldenrod, dreamy white-mist-in-the-mountains mornings, and cool, clear, starry nights, with the shimmering stripe of the Milky Way clearly visible against the moonless sky. And the perpetual concert of the crickets and katydids — all of it urging us on, helping to arouse the Mind that Seeks the Way that brought us to this practice, liberating the Bodhi energy arising from our pooled efforts – this mysterious force that buoys us up, carrying us along, making deeper efforts possible.
The Japanese word for a Zen meditation intensive, sesshin, is a combination of two parts: one, setsu, means to convey, touch, receive; the other, shin, refers to our essential Heart-Mind. So sesshin is a time when we join and intensify our efforts to dive deep in practice, to shed our crustacean-like coverings, our false personas and deluded notions of self-and-other, to touch into the vibrantly alive buddha-nature always shining beneath the waves of habitual thought.
We do not undertake this dharma work for ourselves alone, but for the welfare of all beings, past, present and future. The final teisho, or dharma talk, of sesshin ended with these words by the English playwright, George Bernard Shaw:
“This is the true joy in life, being used for a purpose recognized by yourself as a mighty one. Being a force of nature instead of a feverish, selfish little clod of ailments and grievances, complaining that the world will not devote itself to making you happy. I am of the opinion that my life belongs to the whole community and as long as I live, it is my privilege to do for it what I can. I want to be thoroughly used up when I die, for the harder I work, the more I live. I rejoice in life for its own sake. Life is no brief candle to me. It is a sort of splendid torch which I have got hold of for the moment and I want to make it burn as brightly as possible before handing it on to future generations.”
Through this practice each of us can take up this “splendid torch” of dharma with our own body, heart and mind – to keep it burning brightly for all beings, past, present and future.
September 26, 2022