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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]

Epilogue Continued

Chapter 87


April 1, 1992   -   ONE DROP


A week before we left Maruyama to return to the States, Hojo-san said in sanzen that I had pretty much got the feeling of mu.  Almost huh?  He said it just like he's said things many times before - with a "nice try but no cigar" edge to it just before he tells me to push harder, go deeper, cut, pierce and completely express the world of emptiness.  Except this time he said I didn't need to do it anymore.  What?  I was so into it I didn't know how to respond.  I didn't think of it as something I'd graduate from - it was a practice.  I hadn't had any breakthrough experience.  Is he just being nice to me because I'm leaving?

"No more mu?" I asked.

He elaborated.  I listened closely.  It was frustrating - I couldn't understand some of the key words.  Damn his Japanese, I thought, why can't he say it in simple terms.  I couldn't read my final grade.


The next day I had sanzen with Jessica translating.

Watanabe told me that when people depart the temple, too often they leave their practice behind them.  "Your way is not only in the temples and zendo but in your own everyday life.  You don't have to be with a group or sit in a big zendo to practice.  You can sit in the One-drop Zendo, walk and stand in the One-drop Zendo - and that of course is you.  It will be wherever you are."

I thanked him for that teaching and then asked him if he could clarify everything he'd said to me about mu the day before.  He laughed and said he had no idea what he'd said the day before.

"Well, what do you think my practice should be?" I asked, "If I don't do mu, what should I do?"

He looked at me fiercly.  "Open your ears!" he yelled.  "I already told you!"