Saturday, November 15, 2014

Day 8: no gaining idea

#5-8 Move the residue or echo of (4) in three different environments

I did a little math and it doesn't quite add up. Three different locations. Four days. Hmm. I could repeat a location. I could do any number of things. What I'm going to do is take today as a freebie, and just do a little reflection.

It's Saturday. On my calendar, every Saturday rather optimistically says, "9:25am zazen", which is shorthand for meditation and a dharma talk at San Francisco Zen Center. For most of this year, I was actually getting there about 3 out of 4 Saturdays, but for the past two months, I've been skipping it in favor of taking ballet. This choice might not seem to be doing me any favors in the obsessive thought department, but this ballet class is not unlike a spiritual practice. At the very least, for 2 hours I do not think about anything other than my pelvic floor and the connection of my little toe to my butt dent and how to not give up at the end of a pirouette and other things of that nature.

But today, with one week of my hundred days behind me, I find myself thinking about thinking about Buddhist stuff, like Suzuki Roshi's admonishment to have no gaining idea. (Shunryo Suzuki is the founder of SF Zen Center. He died well before I started sporadically showing up, but his book Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind is often the basis for talks.) He talked about practicing zazen with no gaining idea. Practicing without the idea of achieving enlightenment. Without even the idea of becoming a better person. You practice just to practice.

I just googled to confirm that I'm not completely misremembering this concept, and goddamn, sometimes I love the internet. In Suzuki Roshi's own words:
When you are idealistic, you have some gaining idea within yourself; by the time you attain your ideal or goal, your gaining idea will create another ideal. So as long as your practice is based on a gaining idea, and you practice zazen in an idealistic way, you will have no time actually to attain your ideal. Moreover, you will be sacrificing the meat of your practice. Because your attainment is always ahead, you will always be sacrificing yourself now for some ideal in the future. You end up with nothing. 
(The rest of the talk is here.)  

Looking back at the beginning of my 100 days booklet, I see again:
"document every prompt however you like"
“Try not to MAKE anything.”

I wonder what gaining ideas I have about this hundred day practice, and are these ideas blocking something? So far, it is different from the usual process of going into the studio to make a piece. That seems right. I am less concerned about whether what I am doing or making is good. Sweet freedom! But I suspect I am making things. And making these things - dancing and moving and editing video and writing - feeds seamlessly into my irrepressible need to feel productive. These things, and perhaps some others, make this process seem less pure and pristine than my idea of it. And okay, having an idea that anything about this process, or any creative process, should be pristine is a little ridiculous. But putting that aside, and putting aside the worry that I could get more out of this if I did it BETTER, I still think it's worth looking at the hidden ideas and expectations that I've encumbered myself with...
I will discover something new.
I will break through my movement habits and patterns.
I will become a better writer through the sheer volume of writing I'm doing to document this process.
This will be interesting to other people. (This one is the worst.)
I will come up with brilliant ideas for new things to make.

In the spirit of day 1, I am going to try to shed these ideas as I go on through the days.

Practice is just practice is just practice.

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