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Awakening the Heart Retreat, Talk One: It’s the Curve, Henry Shukman

To be kind, you must swerve regularly from the path.

Henry’s talk is on the miscellaneous koan: “In order to be worthy as a Zen student, I must go straight on a narrow mountain road with 99 curves.” It’s not the straight road that counts, it’s the curves. If we aim to be calm and peaceful as practitioners, that aim is the ordinary, misguided and often mindless straight road. Whatever intervenes during practice is the point. Suffering is not an interruption, it’s the curve, it’s the the point of practice. The place we find the ideal of practice is in the very thing that keeps getting in the way.

This koan is relevant to the title of this retreat, Awakening the Heart. The first point of awakening the heart is to awaken from the trance of mindless day to day living, to being aware of the present moment and aware of our hearts, which may be uncomfortable.

Photo by Niklas Ohlrogge on Unsplash

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