Foolish people think that if they help others first, their own benefit will be lost, but this is not so. Beneficial action is an act of oneness, benefiting self and others together. – Eihei Dogen
Years ago, I was at a seven-day intensive Zen retreat, asked to step in and serve as jiki or monitor just before the retreat began. The first day of the sesshin we were all settling in, adjusting to the forms, finding the rhythm. By the second day, the process came into focus, sitting settled, and things began to take care of themselves. The settling brought into relief a lingering doubt, a sticky construct, a trace of separation. Years of practice and someone is still there ringing the bell.
In a turning moment, seeing the trace, the possibility of separation dissolved. It never was so.
Practice tils the soil of our availability to catch a glimpse, encounter a signpost, or – in an unguarded moment – dissolve entirely in a great unbinding. No ‘one’ there – and nothing but oneness. One entirety, freely functioning.
Dogen’s pointer to beneficial action makes clear we cannot do this practice for ourselves alone. Neither do we sit apart from a boundless constellation of support: the whole world sitting you.
A dharma friend recently commented, ‘What a loss to live this life as if it’s only you.’
Here is the invitation to encounter and recognize your whole body – with its intrinsic capacity, compassion, and clarity. Always available and calling us home to exactly who we are.
Beneficial action all around.