How To Become a Lion of Zen
Q: Roshi, I've had powerful experiences in the Dharma Hall listening to a teacher speak or merely just listening to his silences, but when I try to experience the same feelings outside the Dharma Hall in the dust & noise of daily life I always fail. What is wrong?
A: Listen to me closely. When you sit silently in the Dharma Hall awaiting the Dharma Talk & the Roshi comes out like a shining vision in his formal silk robes & sits on the dais like a lion, holding up his fly-whisk or whatnot, your Ki naturally pours out through your eyes & becomes his possession, which only elevates & enlarges him further at the expense of your own store of energy. Often he can then generously allow some of his excess energy to flow into those who stand up to ask him pointed questions, & this energy surge is experienced by the asking student & sometimes by every one in the room as something wonderful & delightful. But this has nothing to do with Zen. It is in a sense anti-Zen. To do Zen successfully you must yourself have powerful extended Ki, not weakened or drained or flattened out Ki. When the lion-like Roshi (or even the Buddha) pours his Ki into you through his words or his gaze, the feeling of being filled to overflowing by his noble power & spiritual generosity will do you absolutely no good at all in the long run. It is even quite harmful for some.
Q: What is this Ki?
A: It is much like "the Force" in Star Wars. Obi Wan Kenobi describes it very well when he says that it is an energy that is created by living beings that also pervades all living beings & binds them together. You can call it "Dark Energy" if you like, because when you try to analyze it you cannot. Remember when Obi Wan Kenobi puts a visor helmet on Luke so that he cannot see the little drone he is supposed to fight with his light saber, & he tells Luke, "Reach out with your feelings." Wonderful. To be able to reach out with your feelings even when blind & respond to events directly & simply without the comical intervention of the thinking consciousness is to be replete & shining with your own subtle, elevated & instinctively refined Ki. Nobody can do this for you, although the Master can give you some good pointers.
Q: How do I develop Ki strength?
A: Go out walking often alone, in the open air, & let everything appear to you simply as it is -- the mountains, the forests, the birds darting & soaring in the sky or singing in the trees. As your thinking settles down to almost nothing, you will experience a feeling of energy in & all around your body that will elevate your mood & make you a more natural & interesting person. You will gradually gain a deeper sensitivity to sounds, light & colors, as well as tastes & smells & tactile sensations. Do not analyze this process or overthink it. It is just like the sun rising. You did not start it & you cannot stop it but you can merge your awareness with it. Develop this radiant playful childlike state in a single-minded way & use it to gain further strength in all situations of life!