Thursday, November 6, 2008

Getting Bored?

A beginning Zen student complained to his master that the meditation practice of following the breath was boring. The Zen master unexpectedly grabbed the student and held his head under water for quite a long time while the student struggled to come up. Finally, he let the student go.

"Now how boring is your breath?" he asked.

I love this story, especially when I find my own zazen practice going 'stale' or I am finding it harder and harder to get out of bed in the morning to go and sit. It is very important for all of us to be aware of when we are getting bored with our practice of the martial arts or meditative arts. The simple things, like breathing, are essential. Without our breath, we would die.

To meditate upon our inhales and exhales is to study the very nature of our life and death. It is to see life and death with each breath, with each step we take, with each time we practice Sanchin. To see the ebb and flow of life and death in our daily lives and practice of the arts is the very essence of Zen...and freedom from suffering.

And, yes, at times Zen and Sanchin Kata is very boring. Our 'ego' or 'small mind' loves drama and wants us to have lots of excitement to feel alive. Without drama the ego feels threatened. Zen practice is also about seeing through this delusion and deception. To study the simple, basic and rudimentary levels of life, such as the breath, is to connect with the very essence of being alive and realizing true inner freedom. The same goes for the practice of the very rudimentary aspects of Karate, such as Sanchin. Sanchin is simply a moving Zen practice. Simple, plain and ordinary.

Shunryu Suzuki, a famous Zen Master, once stated that Zen is not some special excitement about life, but simply the concentration on the basics of life itself. Yes, not too exciting, but with daily practice, very liberating. So, I encourage you to perservere in the face of boredom. See boredom as an adversary that needs to be vanquished...and the best way to destroy boredom is to enter into it...accept it...and stay the course of your daily practice of sitting or martial arts. Boredom, like all things, are transitory like floating clouds. Remember, this too shall pass.

Take Care,

Sensei Dave

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