Lesson 2. Aim – Boots and Feet
Boots and Feet by FLY 2019
It was a hard day – like most. The ground felt as though it was on an uphill incline no matter where he placed his old toes. The leather boots helped steady his frail legs and arthritic bones. Convinced he’d fall on his back without them, he kept the pair close by his bed for his night time trail walk to the cramped but utilitarian bathroom only a few feet away. E.M. Cairn
We are responsible for the direction we take – even though we may not get there. Our destination, it seems, is done in small steps towards some aim. The old man getting out of bed reminds me of the Zen Master who gathers a crowd around as he is about to display his archery skills. Dressed in his regalia he prepares himself. Marks off the distance and sets a large target at one end of the field. He selects an arrow and checks the wind direction. Right before he releases the arrow there is a silence of expectation – with drawn bow he steadies his gaze, looks upward and lets the arrow fly into the sky. The crowd dumbfounded. He never intended to hit the target down field – his intention was higher. The arrow shot into the sky is to remind us the target of Zen is every-where, all around us – the Master showed us that nothing is to be left out of our aim.
“When we leave nothing out, we insure success at hitting the mark.”
There is an old memory I have of a New Testament passage about being faithful in little things. I looked it up.
“Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much, and whoever is dishonest with very little will also be dishonest with much…Luke 16:10
The same message in different words.
Every little thing is the target of our practice, of our aim. Every little thing needs to be included in our intention and attention. But it takes a fair amount of practice to draw back our aim and let the arrow fly upward into everywhere – it is not a capricious exhibition. Years of practicing with a clear intention is required – otherwise we risk injury and failure.
The high aim of the Dharma is right in front of our left eye – a pinpointed direction. Right there. Everywhere. But we often miss it, because we often think it is somewhere else. We have forgotten that …all ingredients are the same….and then our attitude is blown about by the eight worldly winds of selfish interest (pleasure and pain, gain and loss, praise and blame, and fame and disrepute) and NOT the wind of refined practice (grace).
When the winds blow us around, we act wild and think crazy thoughts that we have found the Truth. If we are lucky, we get hold of our senses and see firsthand we are confused, yet again, by the self-centered winds. The result being – we overshoot the target or come up short. Our intention did not hold and we squandered our attention. At this point we need to STOP. Examine our intention. Otherwise we remain blind to the path and miss meeting the Buddha on the Road. And meeting God? Let me quote from The Cloud of Unknowing –
How will you get to God? Do not get entangled in things that are temporary and created.
It’s a paradox. But the old man shows us how to look after the visible things of the world.
…the old man beginning his hard day – considered early his situation and took care of what he needed to make the climb – in his case, he kept his boots by his bed.
Author: FaShi Lao Yue
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