Pirate and I went over to SF this evening to hear Cheri Huber
speak at the Unitarian Church up on Geary. As is often the case, many practice opportunities presented themselves... most often as one of the other audience members was speaking.
I really don't get why people go to talks by Zen teachers and then try to argue with them about very basic Zen principles. At one point, Cheri quoted the Third Zen Patriarch
: To set up what you like against what you dislike is the disease of the mind.
A guy in the front row tried arguing with her about it, and went so far as to turn around and try to poll the audience: "Okay, so who here likes feeling good? And who doesn't like feeling bad? Okay," turning back to Cheri, "some people here like feeling bad and most of the people here don't like raising their hands, but anyway
And then there was a guy who wanted to argue about what "centered" means, and whether "grateful" is an acceptable synonym or description for "centered", and so on. At the very end, Cheri said she'd take one more question, and he raised his hand. "Can I just respond to what she said earlier?" he said, indicating another audience member.
"No," said Cheri. "Please don't. Really."
(Although part of me wanted to cheer when she said that, it really wasn't about "you're being annoying and need to stop", it was about maintaining the privileged environment
for practice, in which one doesn't comment on or about what other people say or do, one sticks to speaking about one's own experience.)
Really, though. When it comes to Zen, I am only an egg, but it seems to me that when you're looking at a spiritual practice whose core teaching is nondualism, sometimes encapsulated as "not two
", trying to argue for having preferences is both a waste of time and a sign that you haven't even begun to get it.