Zen is experiential in nature. Zen also includes re-experiencing Nature. I would like to invite you to join us in May in a highly intentional actualization of these truths. Plan to attend our annual Spring Retreat at Watershed, from Wednesday, May 2nd to Sunday, May 6th; pre-register soon to reserve your spot. The retreat is titled with its theme:
RETURN TO NATURE.
Watershed Retreat offers a hundred acres of Mother Nature’s finest.
This will be a deep dive into Nature. The nature of the natural world. The nature of the self. The nature of the “world of suchness,” in which “there is neither self nor other-than-self,” according to the foundational Ch’an poem “Trust in Mind,” Hsinhsinming (HHM). In our natural state, we “imperceptibly accord with all things,” according to Master Dogen: Fire, Wind, Water and Earth. “The Four Elements return to their natures just a child turns to its mother” (HHM). I urge you to return to your Original Nature (initial caps indicate Matsuoka Roshi’s reverence for this term).
And there is no gap between your original nature and Nature. Listen to the babbling brook and “enter there.” “Hear the true dharma” expounded by the wind in the trees. Embrace the “sounds of valleys and streams.” Witness the blue and green “mountains always walking” (re: Dogen).
Settle into solitary liberation deep in the heart of the forest. Witness the passage of time, in the moving shadows of trees, nature’s sundial. Slow down to the moment. Experience “Uji: Being-Time.” Reenter real time and space, through zazen.
Return to your natural self: Rediscover the natural sitting posture, the natural breath, and the natural state of your original mind. Remember the natural way to sit; the natural way to stand; the natural way to walk; to lie down, and to sleep under the stars.
Meditate “through the day, through the night” to realize Kanzeon, the all-seeing, all-hearing Bodhisattva of Compassion. Merge with the sun and moon; rising and setting, though they never really do. Realize “Sun-faced buddha; moon-faced buddha” (Master Baso Doitsu).
My poem for you:
my pink flesh
Rearrange in any order you wish: red sun; white moon; just between; my pink flesh.
When it comes to talking about Zen, it is difficult to find a simple way to discuss its irreducibly simple approach to meditation, and how that integrates with our daily life. As a professional designer, I cannot see any way to make zazen itself any simpler, except to avoid imbuing it with overly mystical, or philosophical, or even psychological, overlays. The Chinese-Japanese sitting cushion (J. zafu), as a designed item, is also pretty difficult to improve. I have made some inroads into the design details of sitting benches (J. seiza) that I consider to add value: making them collapsible and compact, and weighing half of what the run-of-the-mill designs currently available typically do. And one could certainly argue that the protocols and accessories around traditional Zen practice could be less elaborate. But we embrace these as our Zen heritage.