Apr 102012

After the Roshi’s demonstration how to operate the gongs during Sutra chanting, he asked us to follow him to his Zendo one more time. We did one short round of Zazen, then he wanted to explain us more about his understanding of Zen. During his lecture, the Roshi was not just sitting on his pillow talking, he accompanied his words with lots of gestures and action while walking around in his Dojo.

In the middle of his talk he suddenly opened a door under the Altar and put three footballs out. Happily he started playing around with these balls for some time until we all had to laugh, then he told us from whom he got them and so on. 

Eventually he came to the point: that emptiness in Zen, or the KU (空) in the Heart Sutra, is not “nihilism“, but more like a kind of “energy” or Ki, the basis of life. The football can jump back, although there is “nothing” inside but air, but without that “nothing” (throwing a deflated ball towards the floor), there is no energy which lets the ball jump back. The funniest and most clear hands-on explanation about the concept of “emptyness” in Zen, and the related misconception concerning nihilism, I ever witnessed …

Later K-san remarked that the Roshi is always so funny and tries to make one laugh, but sad enough we are not allowed to laugh during his talk. Well, isn’t Zen also about breaking rules? I can’t help laughing even now, when I call back to memory the image of the Roshi playing soccer in his Zendo …

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