After sesshin I write an e-mail to my sister with the subject line, “Not Enlightened Yet.” “Why are you doing this Zen meditation thing?” she asked months ago. “Do you want to become enlightened, or what?” I was stumped. “Or what” made more sense to me, but I knew that “wanting to become enlightened” would make more sense to her.
So maybe she wouldn’t get it if I told her that Zen has been changing my life. Because I wouldn’t talk about enlightenment; I would tell her about the flat tire I got at the zendo one Saturday. It’s drizzling. I’m forty miles from home, in one of Dallas’s less-flashy neighborhoods. I have on shoes and pants that make tire changing in the mud particularly unappealing. I’ve never changed a tire myself anyway. But you know what? I don’t panic or become even the slightest bit anxious. Not even annoyed. I just sigh and look around for someone to ask for help. Joe’s scraping the paint off the zendo. Poor Joe. With Zen clarity, I “go ahead without hesitation” and ask him to help. And he helps me. And then other people do, too, and in a few hours I’m driving north on I-35 on a repaired tire full of air. No problem.
Some Zen teachers talk about Big Mind, Beginner’s Mind, or Don’t Know Mind. I’m finding No Problem Mind.
“Not Enlightened Yet,” I write. “Disappointed?” my sister asks. Ha! I got to watch the tremendous pink lily open on the altar, and every day the cedar waxwings flew through and ate red berries.
From the Maria Kannon Zen Journal, volume 10, number 1 (Spring 2003).
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