Keeping Score

There is a story of the Buddha telling his disciples about the proper use of a raft.  Use it to cross the river, then let it go.  The very raft that saved your life while crossing the river will now be a burden if you try to carry it across dry land.

It can be difficult sometimes to distinguish between skillful means and unskillful means.  My meditation practice is a case in point.  For a while, I was writing down my daily practice: what type of meditation I did and for how long.  Then at the end of each week, I published it here.  Initially, the record keeping was helpful.  But somewhere along the line, I started worrying about what I would enter on this blog.  Would I have meditated enough?  Would I have done things that were interesting?  Would my readership be impressed?

Eventually I decided to stop keeping score, because my ego had become too invested.  “Spiritual Materialism,” Chogyam Trungpa called it.  My focus had become having an impressive meditation record, rather than the meditation itself.  The next time my Zen Center does a Repentance Ritual, I will be “repenting of my non-existent spiritual attainments.”

In that spirit, I let go of my record keeping.  I may return to it in the future if would be a skillful activity. After all – when you come to another river, you can always build another raft.


The Week in Review through 1/4/09


Demon Feeding:  2
Prajna Paramita Practice:  1
Zazen (periods):  1
Metta: 3
Mudita: 2
Chanting:  2

Books Finished: One Breath at a Time: Buddhism and the Twelve Steps” by Kevin Griffin

The Week in Review through 12/14/08


Prajna Paramita Practice:  1
Metta: 5


I finally missed a day of meditation, for the first time in almost three months.  My job is definitely wearing on me.  I love it, but there’s just a little too much of it!  I spent all day Friday trying to recover from the week, and then the weekend gets slammed with housework and getting ready for the next week.

Still: there is no guilt in Zen.  Only the awareness that time is precious, so I should use mine wisely.

One good thing: I did Prajna Paramita practice this week.  It was wonderful to be back channeling my inner wisdom goddess!  🙂

The Week in Review through 11/23/08


Demon Feeding:  1
Prajna Paramita Practice:  5
Zazen (periods):  4
Metta:  3

Chanting: 1


Talks attended:  2

Books Finished:
The Perfection of Wisdom” translated by R. C. Jamieson


Thursday night Tim gave a short dharma talk.  Sunday morning, Zen Master Jibong gave a long talk on the 4 Noble Truths and the 12-Link Chain of Dependent Origination.  I took about 8 pages of notes, in addition to the 12 pages of handouts he gave us.  Whew!  Heavy duty training.

Saturday evening we had a Buddha auction at the Zen Center.  Tim and another senior dharma teacher, Anita Feng, make amazing clay and porcelain Buddhas.  I got two statutes at such great prices, I felt like I was stealing.  I also got a pendant with a Buddha face.  It was a nice evening; I got to talk to some members of my sangha and get to know them better.

The Week in Review through 11/2/08


Demon Feeding: 7
Prajna Paramita Practice: 2
Zazen (periods): 1

Chanting: 1


Talks attended: 1


Zen Master Jibong gave a talk on growing up and taking responsibility without losing our childlike enjoyment of life. On the absolute level, form is emptiness. In 300 years, where will you be? Nothing we do matters. On the relative level, emptiness is form. One person can make a difference. Everything we do matters.

It was a profound teaching. I was ready for it, since my recent retreat. Prior to that, I don’t think I would have understood a word the man was saying. I’m sure he’s talked about absolute and relative truth before, but I swear I have no memory of those terms until Lama Tsultrim taught them at Spirit Rock. In the month since then, I’ve heard Jibong and Tim both speak of them many times.

Isn’t that interesting…?