STEP-LADDER ZEN


What we teach is that enlightenment and practice are one.  My early practice is what I call “stepladder zen.”  I understand this much now, and next year (I thought) I will understand a little bit more.  That kind of practice does not make much sense - stepladder zen is a mistake.

When you strive to reach a goal or attain enlightenment, you naturally have the Idea, “I am far from the goal” or “I am almost there.”  But if you  practice our way, enlightenment is right where you are.  When you practice zazen without any idea of attainment, that is actually enlightenment.

If you do not understand this, your practice will not work.  But if you practice our way in its true sense, there is no problem about being far away from the goal or almost there.  A beginner’s practice and a great master’s practice are not in this sense any different.  


To stay in this moment in this place is my zazen.  When I am really standing right here on my feet, I am not lost.  This is how we don’t waste time.  Moment after moment we should live right here, without losing this moment to the future.  Don’t lose actual practice for idealistic practice, trying to attain some kind of perfection.  If you don’t stay on this spot realizing your position, then you are not practicing our way.  You are wasting your time if you lose your present practice for some future attainment.  That is not real practice.


1.  Pick a step on the ladder and stop.

2.  Are you okay with that step?  Zen is basically being okay with every step, no matter                                             which one you’re on.

3.  Enlightenment is not about getting to the top.  It’s about how you move on the ladder.
     “In Buddhism there are 90,000 subtle gestures to practice.”   Climbing a ladder is just one.
      You can sit on a cushion and practice, cut up tomatoes for a salad or climb a ladder…

4.  How is each step different?
     ( change in perspective, the view, anxiety of heights…)  Are you okay with that?!

5.  You’ll notice there’s a warning label on the step near the top, they don’t recommend standing
     beyond that point… In zen there’s a koan that says,

    “Where do you go from the top of a 100 foot pole?!”

    Or in our context I will leave you with this question,  
    “Where do you go when you reach the top of the ladder?!”