Bloodletting & Gate Crashing or Is Bodhidharma the Best Role Model for Westerners?

BodhidharmaIn a Japanese legend, the great Dharma Chan(Zen) master Bodhidharma cut off his eyelids because he fell asleep in meditation. According to Chinese legend his main disciple Dazu Huike cut off his arm to convince Bodhidharma he was sincere and worthy to receive the teachings.

In the 60′s many of us new Zen students of Shunryo Suzuki Roshi took to the austerity of Japanese Zen with gusto. But many of us didn’t appreciate how the model of Japanese aggressive determination (inspired by stories such as Bodhidharma’s and Huike’s) would combine with our Western guilt and shame to produce some rigid and stern Zen students quite unlike our soft, but strong, disciplined, but delightful teacher. (Read my Dharma brother David Chadwick’s excellent biography of Suzuki Roshi, Crooked Cucumber.)

Most Westerners I encounter think of discipline as harsh pushing of oneself, even abuse. Because of the ability to do spiritual bypassing, meditators can turn meditation from a heart/mind opening practice into a spiritually decorated denial system that breeds and justifies unkindness, compulsiveness, and addictions of all kinds.

Idealizing the legendary acts of self-mutilation of these genuine teachers doesn’t seem to help Westerns advance on the path. For us discipline is more rightly understood as “following with love” rather than “push and punish”.

When we make exertion  from love the actions are kind, yet strong, and can bear loving fruit. When we make exertion from fear and judgment, the nature of the exertion is punishing and the fruit is intensified shame  and self hatred, often proclaimed as the virtue of perfectionism or, on the passive side, the virtue of  uncommon and creepy meekness and invisibility.

Many of us in the first waves of American Zen had to work through this confusion – some of us made it, some didn’t.

One of my role models early on was homeless teenager. While many would come to the door of Zen Center with meekness signifying respect, and politely ring the doorbell, this young man would stand at the door and yell, “Open up!”

In my opinion, that’s the spirit to have! Approach the sacred place with full self-respect, respect for your own sacredness, and demand to be let in – no slicing and dicing or fawning required! No arrogance either — just genuine commitment to your own basic goodness which is one of the foremost tenet’s of Buddhism.

YouTube Preview Image

Good luck!

For those interested in the interdependency between hypnosis and meditation, my Finding True Magic is now an eBook!



___________________________________________________

ftm-front-cover-finalJack Elias, CHT is founder and director of the Institute for Therapeutic Learning in Seattle, Washington. He is the author of Finding True Magic: Transpersonal Hypnosis and Hypnotherapy/NLP, a book and course which blends NLP training modalities with philosophical traditions of both East and West. Finding True Magic now available as an eBook!

Jack offers private sessions in Lucid Heart Therapy and Life Coaching. He offers live trainings and distance learning trainings in Transpersonal Hypnosis and Hypnotherapy/NLP. Jack also presents keynotes and other programs to teach audiences how to use the techniques of  Transpersonal Hypnotherapy/NLP to achieve success,confidence, and a consistent sense of well-being.

Book Jack Elias to speak to your group or organization.

Be Sociable, Share!
This entry was posted in Addictions & Compulsions, Buddhism & Psychotherapy, Emotions: Becoming Skillful, exploring consciousness, Hypnosis for Health, religion, self esteem, transpersonal hypnotherapy, Uncategorized, Zen Buddhism and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Bloodletting & Gate Crashing or Is Bodhidharma the Best Role Model for Westerners?

  1. Sandro says:

    Can I just cut off my nails :)

  2. Very good. Thanks.
    Posted comments from Red Pine, Andy Ferguson, and me at http://cuke.com/dchad/writ/misc/DC%20Misc.html#bloodletting

  3. Or as I like to say, “Pirate up!”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>