In the old days -- or did I make this up -- the monks might gather once a week to openly admit and discuss their difficulties and errors in the practice of Zen Buddhism. A confessional of sorts, something to bring integrity and honesty to the mix. I wonder if that tradition still exists and if not, when it was lost ... assuming I didn't just make it up.
No matter. Borrowing vaguely from the confessional in some Roman church, I can say at the moment, "It has been too long since my last confession...."
I am willing to repent, but cannot say I am sorry.
For how many years have I treated spiritual life as some sort of protective bulwark, hiding behind the spiritual furniture like a child pleading and desperate to escape the vicious invectives of quarreling parents s/he assumed might protect and shield and nourish a child's life? If those who are loved can be so downright mean to each other, how long before the viciousness finds a new outlet in this small and frightened child behind the spiritual couch? Please, please, please stop!
Stop the fear. Stop the uncertainty. Stop the fierce and fearsome sense of doubt.
Where the rug of assured and reassuring love is yanked out from under ... is there then no place of succor and peace and reassurance? And of course there is -- or seems to be -- here behind the spiritual couch. It may not be perfect, but it seems possible ... to cringe and cower and rely on the big strong couch or other bit of protective furniture.
How many good habits I learned along the way, crooning and listening to the croons of "enlightenment" and "compassion" and "love" and "freedom" and "liberation" and "emptiness," sitting still and straight and attentive and venturing into scenes of "failure" and "success." Yes, very good habits which I cannot claim to have perfected. I have done my share of harm and, although I have a hard time recalling when or where, I suppose I must have done my share of good.
But for how many years have the dandelions burst upon some springtime lawn or the Canada geese honked their way north or south depending on the imperatives of the season? A lot is all I can think ... and all the while I was buttressing my good habits and no doubt overlooking my bad ones.
I can repent, but I am not sorry.
Around some warming brazier, the monks talk deep into the night. Spiritual endeavor is hard and it is natural and fine to be among friends who will say, "I know what you're talking about" and not just paper over the scene with lofty encouragements... the lofty encouragements that provide the foundation for a brilliant love-hate relationship. The encouragements that beckoned and promised, but in the end were insufficient to any relaxed and easy peace.
I too have hidden behind the sofa and I repent.
There comes a time when the safety of the spiritual sofa must take flight ... dissolve like the honking of Canada geese. There is a time to stand and stretch and take my chances among querulous adults, to spring up like any self-respecting dandelion. When did spiritual endeavor ever have anything to do with success or failure? When did it ever have anything to do with "ego" or "attachment?" When did it ever have anything to do with "spiritual endeavor?"
I confess I really don't know and am no longer interested in the spiritual professionals who may honk and bray about "don't know mind." I can't quite remember why I was hiding or what I was protecting, but I repent to the extent that I have added furniture to hide behind. Put the "egolessness" over there next to the "attachment" La-Z-Boy.
But I am not sorry.