Skip to content

The Daily Dharma – October 1, 2021

person washing fork Photo by Catt Liu

Continuing from When You Greet Me I Bow . . .

Like the monk in the story (see yesterday’s Daily Dharma), I came to San Francisco Zen Center years ago with huge metaphysical concerns. A student of literature, philosophy, and religion. I was full of questions about what was real, what was right, what was enlightenment, what was consciousness. The world that I had inherited from my parents, in which so much was taken for granted, no longer seemed tenable. Everything was up for grabs. I came to the Zen center propelled by this spirit, and I was willing to go to almost any length, do anything – meditate, read texts, practice austerities, listen to lectures – to answer my all-consuming questions.

But my questions seemed to have little to do with Zen as it was presented to me. Instead of engaging in study and discussion (the only modes of discovery I knew at the time), I learned how to mop the floor, wash the dishes, tend the garden. It was good training for me. Actually, it was exactly what I needed. As this experience grounded me, my metaphysical concerns began to be settled. The answers I was looking for were not to be found in spiritual teachings, enlightenment flashes, or meditative states – although there were enough of these over the years to keep me going. Little by little, through tending to the daily life of the temple, I began to breathe and feel my answers bodily instead of knowing them intellectually.

Norman Fischer
from When you Greet Me I Bow

To be continued . . .