Sunday, July 24, 2005

Ordinary Mind

I had the opportunity to sit with Barry Magid, founder and teacher of the Ordinary Mind Zendo in New Jork City. In an understated manner, uncharacteristic for a New Yorker, Barry talked about the nature of Zen practice, as he sees it. He likened it to looking in the mirror and sitting with the image reflected back. Our tendency is to turn away, to deny or to want to change what we see. He was emphatic in his gentle manner to say that Zen practice is not about self-improvement. Self-improvement or transformation, as was his preferred term, is an involuntary by-product of Zen practice. I like the image of looking in the mirror. The mirror does the work and reflects back what is. However, it is an image of subtle movement. Often, I think, what we contend with, is not only a mirror, but a bucking bronco or bull. By practicing, we try to stay on the bull, riding out what is happening without falling off into denial, avoidance, or old unhelpful habit patterns. Barry was in Vermont for the annual meeting of American ZEn teachers, which was held this year at the Vermont Zen Center in Shelburne. Barry is a teacher in the Soto Zen lineage of Charlotte Joko Beck, and he is the author of the book Ordinary Mind

No comments: