Monday, December 06, 2010

I had an itch and didn't scratch it.

I sat with the Yokoji Zen Mountain Center Long Beach group on Saturday morning, and it was good. The reason it was good, besides the sangha aspect, is mainly that once or twice I had really intense itches develop, and I noticed them developing, and didn't scratch them, and then I noticed that they had gone away.

This isn't the same thing as being intensely irritated or angry at something and noticing that irritation or anger, and not lashing out and saying something hurtful or rude or reactionary or counterproductive, and frankly, that's something I'd like to get better at. I'd like to notice my anger and not become anger, not become angry. I think that's something that may become easier as time goes on. I feel optimistic about it because here, a few steps down the path of my journey, I noticed an itch, and didn't become itchy, and didn't scratch it, and experienced what I knew -- whether you scratch the itch or not, it will eventually go away.

This reminds me of a story I read but cannot locate now, that goes like this:

A monk set about raising a huge sum of money for a temple or something, and started by begging for money, and a nobleman came by, and the monk explained how he needed a huge amount of gold, and explained why, and the nobleman refused, and the monk followed him, and reiterated how he needed this huge sum, and begged, and the nobleman refused, and the monk kept following him and begging, reiterating how he needed this huge amount of money, until the nobleman finally grew so irritated he threw a single penny at the monk. The monk became excited and exultant and joyful and happily bowed low and thanked the nobleman, who became confused. he asked the monk why he was so happy when he needed this huge sum, and had only gotten a single penny, and begrudgingly at that. The monk replied that he had been despairing of being able to raise such a huge sum, but now he had seen that he was able to raise even a single penny, he knew that in time, he'd surely be able to raise the whole sum and achieve his goal.

So it is with itches. Physical itches can be overcome? Why, so can emotional and mental itches of irritation, anger, distraction. I just have to keep sitting, and eventually, I will acheive it.