Crossing the Line

When I first started to sit, I couldn’t sit cross-legged in any posture for more than about 5 minutes.

After awhile I was able to get in the posture and experience some kind of ease and even absorption, and that kept me at it. The fact is, it’s a stretch, and the appropriate stretch is an involuntary function of the location of awareness and the ability to feel in the necessity of breath. Zen teachers insist that sitting zazen will cause this to become evident, and they are right, but they don’t tell you that your sense of where you are and what that sense allows you to feel will respond to the breath you need right now, and that you can start from where you are. And they don’t mention that this sense of location is the same sense of the mind moving that we sometimes have right before falling asleep. It’s not hard to find.

When it got up and walked around for me, I was sitting in a chair at a desk, resolved to be aware of my breath all day for a day; I crossed the room and I crossed the line between sleeping and waking. You ruin your life to do this, in a sense; at the same time, you can now move beyond doubt, even though what you believe in your heart will still lead you to do foolish things.

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