For 5 days, we lived together with homeless people on the streets of Washington DC. We slept 3 minutes from The White House in the area inhabited by the richest Americans. We had no wallets and no cell phones. We ate at soup kitchens, hung out in parks, begged and mainly talked to people we met.
I’ve been reading Realizing Genjokoan by Shōhaku Okumura Roshi and I wanted to come and see how he practice for a long time. Everyone worn me: “they sit crazy amount of time and they do not do anything else”. “That’s perfect” – I thought. I came to attend 5-day sesshin on May 29 – June 3, 2019.
The Lotus Sutra is one of the most fundamental and influential teachings in Buddhism, dating back to 150 CE. In April 2019, I was fortunate to attend a month-long practice period at Upaya Zen Center themed around this seminal text. We each chose one parable from the text to explore as suggested by teachers Joshin and Genzan. The contemplation of such work was reminiscent of working with koans, which are essentially Zen paradoxes used for the purpose of awakening. After a month, it was surprising to observe how much inspiration came from this type of practice.
The retreat is free. However, I’m obliged to organize a group of supporters who can help me raise $500 which will go towards charity. Asking for alms is meant to help us witness and understand the lives of people living on the street. Traditionally, Buddhist monks used to support themselves in this way. In fact, it is a great practice of generosity and gratitude thanks to which we can observe what happens with our minds when we ask, give or receive.
Przelot z Polski do Kalifornii zajmuje około 15 godzin, z których 2-3 spędzam czekając na kolejne połączenie. Jest to doskonała okazja, aby odprężyć ciało przed lub po długim locie. Na lotnisku w San Francisco urządzono specjalna sala do jogi. Niestety jest to rzadkość na innych lotniskach, dlatego zwykle ćwiczę w poczekalni. Na początku musiałem przełamać opór, że będę wzbudzał zainteresowanie. W rzeczywistości otaczający mnie ludzie bardzo szybko potraktowali ćwiczenia jako coś normalnego.
What is the purpose of this? What should I do? What’s the plan? How advanced am I? Am I doing it right? How close am I? These are questions asked by most psychoanalytical patients and meditation practitioners, especially at the beginning. There is one final answer to all of them and it will be revealed to you here if you dare hear it.
Psychoanalysts are famous for replying with silence to patient’s inquiries. They do not talk much and do not reveal much information about themselves. It’s not because they are shy or modest but they want to protect one of their main tools i.e. projection and projective identification. When the patient does not know facts about his psychoanalyst, his mind makes assumptions based on previous experiences. For example, one patient can view his psychoanalyst as rich whereas another one can see him as somebody who is poor. Giving the patient information about the psychoanalyst’s material status would destroy the possibility of revealing his fantasies i.e. projecting his internal world on the psychoanalyst. Things can be even more subtle with projective identification because even though the patient does not say anything directly, the psychoanalyst strangely feels like somebody rich or poor.
Psychoanalysis is usually criticized for its rigid rules referred to as the setting. A patient meets his psychoanalyst 5 times a week for 50 minutes always at the same time and place. Meetings cannot be canceled, extended or moved. If the patient does not come, his psychoanalyst waits for him and expects the payment anyway. The rationale is that the patient cannot destroy his psychoanalytical space.