One day Elder Tetsu asked: “When I am quietly sitting in zazen and my thoughts are not scattered, my energy sinks and I become sleepy. What can I do about this?”
The Master said: “Urge yourself to get up and do dancing zazen.”
(p. 183 – P. 64 in Warrior of Zen)
My sitting practice each morning is proving most helpful to me, when I keep it short and sweet. I find that if I sit longer than 10-15 minutes, my energy becomes dull and complacent.
Which is the opposite of what I seek to achieve.
I am back to “dancing zazen” — taking my sitting practice into my daily life… using the principles of observing my breath, remaining impassive in the face of turmoil, and not instantaneously reacting to what suddenly flies into view, in my daily activities
I work with many people who prize reactivity. They believe it is a virtue to spring into action at the first sign of danger or opportunity. They believe it is necessary for effectiveness and doing a good job.
I would say the exact opposite.
Reactivity exhausts you. It leaves no energy for pro-activity.
Reactivity puts the control and influence in the hands of the others who are acting upon you. It makes you the object of others’ wants and needs, rather than making you the master of your own path.
Prizing reactivity and elevating it to a virtue, is like prizing getting mugged in a back alley you have no business walking into at 2 a.m., and turning your cuts and bruises and broken bones like they are badges of honor.
They are no such thing. They are evidence that you weren’t using your head, that you were not using good judgment, and you don’t have the sense to take care of yourself.
Today I will be dancing zazen.
And keeping away from those proverbial dark back alleys of life.