My mother had brown eyes. My father had blue eyes. My eyes are brown. I hope you appreciate this fact, because it is a way to appreciate your life.
I’m always honored when someone contacts me through this site, or any other of our so-called social media, and asks how to take up the study of Zen Buddhism with me. I also realize that they will be slightly dismayed by my response, since we can seem to get so far these days by going nowhere at all, just flicking our fingers and thumbs across a pad.
I happen to belong to a Zen lineage that spans 81 generations of ancestors each of whom transmitted the teaching one-on-one, in person, to his or her successors. What kind of teacher would I be if I didn’t believe in the teaching I’ve been shown or the lineage to which I belong?
There are many who don’t experience the truth as I do, and so there are those who offer long-distance study. That is fine, up to a point. But the point of departure is the fundamental point of the practice: to penetrate the illusion of duality – separation – and experience the one mind. To do that, you have to meet the teacher eye-to-eye. When the student comes together with the teacher, as conditions are right, wisdom arises by itself: the way grass grows with rain and flowers bloom to face the sun. You may have already experienced what I’m talking about, although none of us can quite express it in words.
It would be convenient to make use of all our fancy communication devices, but they wouldn’t supplant the meeting of mind through which my lineage comes alive. I can no more change that vital truth than I can change my mother’s genetic code to give me the blue eyes and blonde hair I’ve always thought would suit me better!
Please don’t let a distorted view of distance or possibility dissuade you. When I began my practice, I lived three states away from my teacher, Maezumi Roshi, and came to sit with him only when I could. I tell people I came once. And then I came one more time. And then one more. Each time singular and unique as conditions were right. There is no minimum, or maximum, requirement. The dharma will lead you – is already leading you – and you need only trust it. You need only open your eyes, and you will see the sun.