Comfortably Uncomfortable

Rikuko Taifu said to Nansen, “I have a piece of stone in my house. Sometimes it moves and has its being, sometimes it lies down. I would like to carve it into a Buddha, can it be done?” “It can, it can!” said Nansen. Rikuko asked, “It can be done; is that certain?” ” It can’t, it can’t!” said Nansen.
From Zen and Zen Classics (very old edition) The wording has been slightly changed.

Somebody recently sent me some writings about his feelings of inadequacy/insufficiency with regards to functioning generally. Thoughts about himself that had dogged him all his life. His feelings of inadequacy had coloured everything. What to do what to do? Then he extrapolated, in his writing, that this inadequacy coloured the deeper, could call it spiritual, levels of his inner life. Rather than being perceived as the joyous call of liberation, “going, going, going on beyond” (The Scripture of Great Wisdom) can at times sound rather relentless when one feels ill equipped.

Right at the very end of the ponderings on inadequacy came a really interesting insight. He saw that the feelings and thoughts of inadequacy had become a place known so intimately that there was a certain comfort and safety which he was loathed to leave. Who wants to leave a home lived in all of ones life, known so intimately? That’s even when one knows the roof is leaking, there is dry rot under the stairs and the doors and windows are hanging off their hinges. Who’s to convince one such as this (and that includes all of us to some extent).

This post is for the chap who this morning sat with something he usually avoids. In the intensity of what was there he found himself taking refuge in the Three Treasures, over and over again. (Yes, he just silently repeated the Three Refuges over and over in his mind.) And what was there, washed through. There is no formula for this.

See this post about self justification and confidence. And this one too.

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2 thoughts on “Comfortably Uncomfortable”

  1. I have kept this Iris Murdoch quote for years but I can’t say which book it’s from.
    “People who thought that Stella lived in hell were not wrong; but like all those who do not, they failed to understand that hell is a large place wherein there are familiar refuges & corners”.
    Dorothy Rowe writing about depression says that sometimes someone is sitting in a cage not realising the door isn’t locked & they could leave, and sometimes they would just walk into another cage even if they did realise.
    Rather like the lovely piece in the Kyojukaimon “man stands in his own shadow & wonders why it is dark, but only he can turn round”.

  2. Thanks so much for the quote Angie. I’ll bring that one onto the home page because I don’t want it to get lost within the comments.

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