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Thank You and OK!: an American Zen Failure in Japan
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[DC notes to self and others in brackets]

Chapter 80


July 6, 1990   -   VITAL ENERGY


Today I had sanzen with translation by Jessica.  It's such a relief to hear it in English as well as Japanese.  I never stop enjoying the language study aspect.  Of course the words he uses in sanzen are mostly not of any use on the street.  Jessica did a dynamite job in her translation.  I don't mean that I'm qualified to grade her technical ability, but that her energy is strong.  Like Hojo-san, in sanzen she is really in her element.

As I walked in, I could see through the open shoji - gravel raked in circles like waves around islands of stone and mounds of grass accented with long green leaves and tall iris leading to the large temple pond.

After I'd bowed in, Hojo-san started off by asking how my practice was doing.    "Here I am," I said.  "What do you think?"

He said it's up to me to determine if it's working for me - it's up to me to bring out the living energy of every instant.  Not him.  Am I using mu in a creative and dynamic way?  The difference between someone who is working on these things and someone who isn't is that to the former there is a sense of the vital energy of every instant, it's not a matter of intellect or memory, but of expressing my own vital inner power, my ki.

As always, I can't really remember much of what was said.  But I felt I was with an authentic teacher who is not intimidating, but empowering, patiently pointing out my own strength, working with me and waiting for me to break through to the world where there is no idea of a permanent self moving from instant to instant - the world of emptiness, divinity, beyond birth and death, always here and ready to be enjoyed.

As I stepped outside, the sky was becoming light and filled with swooping bats.  Songbirds announced that they were awake.  Everything was awake.  I took a deep breath and looked around.