Geoffrey Shugen Arnold, Roshi
Zen Mountain Monastery, 12/30/2020
Book of Serenity, Case 3: “The Invitation of the Ancestor to Eastern India”
“A raja invited the twenty-seventh Buddhist ancestor Prajnatara to a feast. The raja asked Prajnatara, “Why don’t you read scriptures?” The ancestor said, “This poor wayfarer doesn’t dwell in the realms of the body or mind when breathing in, doesn’t get involved in myriad circumstances when breathing out—I always reiterate such a scripture, hundreds, thousands, millions of scrolls.”
At the end of a difficult year, Shugen Roshi offers a thoughtful and compassionate teaching on wholehearted-continuous practice. Beginning with a story of the very first ZMM New Year’s Eve in 1980, Roshi goes on to examine what it means to not “dwell in the realms of the body or mind when breathing in.” Pointing out that we, as practitioners, can become attached to forms, even though our inherent nature is without restriction. Holding tightly to our conceptions, we might mistake the forms of practice for practice. Going deeper into the heart of being, we’re able to use the forms as structure and skillful means.