Sunday, June 15, 2014

No Short Cuts. Show Your Mind: The Simple and Small

Note: The cat ate my original text. I will try to recreate it. It was really good. There were links and everything. Even compared Hasidic tales with tea as inspired by two important recently published books:

Rodger Kamenentz's Burnt Books: Rabbi Nachman of Bratslav and Franz Kafka
Allen S. Weiss' Zen Landscapes: Perspectives on Japanese Gardens and Ceramics

I guess all I wanted to say was that Matsumoto Sosei, my sensei since 1985, said many important things, but two stand out in particular in light of these wonderful books:

1. "No short cuts" ... every gesture needs to be accomplished for the entire temae to be considered complete. Like walking in the garden toward the tea hut. A simple path, the destination is in sight, but one really needs to step on each stone to get there.

Weiss's book will be reviewed in this blog in later posts, as I anticipate there are many, many points that he makes about how tea and gardens are compressions of the larger mandala of existence, here and now, but only here ... just now. To go through the nijiri-guchi, we have to get "small" to see it all.

2. "Show your mind" ... I was putting down the tea scoop on the tea container during a class early in my practice "career" and just before the bamboo touched the lacquer lid, she said that. No other explanation. Never repeated it since then. She doesn't teach "Zen", but the point is well taken: every gesture on the outside reflects our inner nature.

Hasidism, Judaism's mystical route, as taught in the tales of Rabbi Nachman seems to be a "simple practice", one that has a path for both the chacham, the sophisticate, and the tam, simple person. Yet, for adults, fond of complexities, it is quite accommodating to that end. We must not over - think the temae; eventually one's can rely on the practice to accomplish itself while the mind just sits still and watches.

Kamenentz notes that Reb Nachman's proclivity for hisbodedeus, personal yearning and communicating directly with the Source of nature by going out in nature, is the "practice of the broken heart". I have found that a 'broken heart' can be healed at the same time one refreshes the kama by pouring in water from the mizusashi. Here the hishaku can truly become an extension of the soul. In the same way, one does not pour water into the kama, rather one pours it into the water.