Twenty years ago. I am sitting on a cushion, opposite a Zen Master.
‘No hindrance,’ he says. ‘Don’t make good or make bad.’
‘But…’ I say. The day before I had told him that I had just remembered a horrible childhood memory, while I was sitting the morning four hours of meditation. Now, I want to ask him how I am supposed to live with the damage and pain I have just seen inside myself. I look at him, and he smiles at me. He pats my hand.
He says, ‘Don’t make bad. Just is.’
‘But…’ I start to say again. Quick as a flash, he whacks his stick on the table. It’s a big stick. The ‘crack!’ is so loud I can feel it in my sternum.
‘No hindrance,’ he says. I bow and leave. The interview is over.
Down I walk to the dharma room. I’ve been sitting uneasily on my cushion, ever since I remembered the horrible thing. I have found it hard to keep still. I’ve been choking back tears. I enter the room as the bell rings for the next student to attend an interview. We pass each other at the door. I bow, and settle back down onto my cushion.
As soon as my breathing settles down, I start my practice. But again, I think about this horrible thing. Then, suddenly, I understand. I don’t have to think about it. I can just feel the pain and keep in the moment. I don’t have to go back and back and back to the horrible time. I can just stay here on my cushion and do my practice. That’s what I was here to do, after all.
I sit like a rock that afternoon. I acknowledged that this memory had come up. I felt the pain of it. But I was there to do my practice. It was no hindrance.
The Olympics are on, and you know I love watching world-class sport. I will have three job interviews this summer. My department has a new head and new staff coming in. I still don’t have a publisher for Hospital High, and the puppy is being quite naughty. My daughter is off school and my husband has been home with a virus.
But I am here to write. And so I sit down and I wait for my breathing to settle and I travel into another person’s body, in another time and I put down one word after another.
No hindrance. CRACK!
Project: To Hide Her Blazing Heart
Word Count: 10,357
You can find our more about where I got my Zen training here: http://www.kwanumzen.org/