Beginner's Mind Zen Center
   northridge, california

the 10/30/10 dharma talk transcript

There aren't many "magic bullets" in our lives, but zazen is one of them.

"If you just sit," Suzuki Roshi said, "everything changes."

He said people who knew Zen masters in their earlier lives couldn't believe how they had changed.

In fact they might have had problems when they were young.

Sometimes I get asked what can be done to bring meditation into ordinary life and find myself having little to say about it.

Then I remember that Suzuki Roshi said again and again that just sitting is enough.

You might think that over time everything will change because you will get enlightened sometime down the road,

and that this is what will change you.

The fact is that whether you get enlightened does not matter in this.

Enlightenment is not enough. It is practice that changes you.

Suzuki Roshi mentioned that someone who has sat for three years or more may begin to worry about how nothing has changed, why their sitting is the same, why their problems are the same.

In fact, we are unlikely to be the first to notice that we've changed.

Someone may comment on it and we may say to ourselves that it may be so.

Those from other schools of Buddhism may advise that we should do this, or do that, but it is not necessary.

Sitting will change us on its own.

Indeed, if we try to change, we will generally find that we cannot.

Our habits are very strong Suzuki Roshi said.

The fact is that we cannot change what we were born as, our karma, as it were.

We will be who we are throughout our lives.

It is our dealings with our small self that changes us.

For one thing we don't take ourselves as seriously as before, and that gives us more space in our lives.

We see ourselves more clearly, and so are deluded less.

That isn't to say that the Dharma is not necessary to face self-delusion.

To meditate without sometimes hearing the truth does not work.

For one thing we may be more likely to stop sitting without it.

We like to have some reason to meditate, and the Dharma gives that to us.

It also dampens our doubts.

But the Dharma is more that just a carrot in front of the horse of our lives.

In telling us what life will be like if we continue to practice, it is more a kind of medicine than a candy for our inner babies.

The Dharma can even be comforting when it shows us how screwed up we are.

Whether the Dharma says "It's ok, it's ok," or says, "It's not ok, it's not ok," the message is to be a little serious, and we won't have to worry.

Just starting to sit and continuing to sit is all that it takes.