Norman gives the fifth talk on “Offering and Allowing” to the Santa Sabina Sesshin 2011.
Offering and Allowing – Talk 5 Santa Sabina Sesshin 2011
The word "offering." I guarantee that you can scan the entire New Yorker magazine when it comes out this week, and the entire New York Times, and you will not find the word "offering."
Offering – an offering. Zazen is simply an offering of yourself. Not something important; not something valuable; not something useful; not something purposeful – but simply an offering. Like lovely flowers on the altar. To offer your life freely instead of possessing it. A radical notion. To allow freshness. Not to force, or produce, or create, or manufacture, or improve – just to allow freshness.
Even Buddhism can be a problem. Even good Buddhist practice, good Buddhist philosophy – or any philosophy or practice that we determine we are, or identify with, or want, or believe in, or need to advance in the world – can be a problem. True refreshment for ourselves and our world goes beyond this. It goes beyond the personal and inter-personal debate about what we want, what we believe, what is right, what is wrong. True refreshment comes with offering and allowing. That is what we are learning to do on our cushions.
So, if you want, you can practice these words on your cushion this week. They are beautiful koan words. I think they open up in your heart. When you breathe in and breathe out, you can practice offering. You can say that word to yourself, and make your sitting an offering.
Sometimes, if it seems like your sitting is difficult, you can breathe in and breathe out, and just say "allow." Practice the word "allow" and feel what that is like in your whole body.
To allow. To offer and allow.
abridged and edited by Barbara Byrum