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The Marrow Of Zen (from “Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind”, by Shunryu Suzuki) and a Few Thoughts on Global Service Day

Last weekend I was fortunate to receive two Zen books from my cousin (well technically she’s my niece, but she’s older than I am so our relationship is more “cousin-ish”).  One is Shunryu Suzuki’s “Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind”.  This book is rather well-known among Zen folks, especially in the West.  I actually have the audio of this book; still, it’s nice to have it in a physical form that I can bring along anywhere.  What I find amusing though is that every time I read, I hear the voice of the narrator in the audio format.  Anyway, here’s an excerpt:

THE MARROW OF ZEN

In our scriptures (Samyuktagama Sutra, volume 33), it is said that there are four kinds of horses: excellent ones, good ones, poor ones, and bad ones.  The best horse will run slow and fast, right and left, at the driver’s will, before it sees the shadow of the whip; the second best will run as well as the first one does, just before the whip reaches its skin; the third one will run when it feels pain on its body; the fourth will run after the pain penetrates to the marrow of its bones.  You can imagine how difficult it is for the fourth one to learn how to run!

When we hear this story, almost all of us want to be the best horse.  If it is impossible to be the best one, we want to be the second best.  This is, I think, the usual understanding of this story, and of Zen…(t)his is not the right understanding.  If you practice Zen in the right way it does not matter whether you are the best horse or the worst one…

When you are determined to practice zazen with the great mind of Buddha, you will find the worst horse is the most valuable one.  In your very imperfections you will find the basis for your firm, way-seeking mind.  Those who can sit perfectly physically usually take more time to obtain the true way of Zen, the actual feeling of Zen, the marrow of Zen.  But those who find great difficulties in practicing Zen will find more meaning in it.  So I think that sometimes the best horse may be the worst horse, and the worst horse can be the best one.

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I posted about Treeleaf’s Global Service Day last week.  Well, it’s done.  The two-week period is over.

And at the same time, it’s not.  After all, if you truly understand the intent behind Global Service Day, you’ll know that everyday is Global Service Day.  Every moment is, after all, an opportunity to be of service to the world.  That might mean cheering up someone who’s feeling down, or offering to help a neighbor, or volunteering for some type of community service.  Every moment can be a moment dedicated to work of the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas throughout space and time.

Anyway, a few folks over at the Filipino Buddhism Facebook group have expressed interest in having our own Global Service Day.  We even have our own blog already – though it’s still new so you won’t find much in there right now.


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