There was a big boulder in the Tassajara creek that Suzuki Roshi said he wanted for his rock garden. Every day four or five of us went down to the creek during the silent work period and struggled to move the boulder…After a week the rock had not budged, but no one was about to break the silence or give up. One day Suzuki Roshi came down to the creek and struggled along with us. Some visitors called down from the bridge to ask what we were doing. Suzuki Roshi called up, ‘We don’t know!’
From To Shine One Corner of the World: moments with Shunryu Suzuki
Here’s a story of my own. Recently I went to a friend’s house to install her Roku streaming device. The installation was not easy and I kept at it for quite some time. Essentially I was doing the same activity over and over again (connecting again when it crashed and attempting to download the upgrade), with slight variations. Having worked with computers in the past this seemed to be a method that often worked. Finally, in this case, it did. My friend joked that it was like the person who kept doing the same thing over and over again expecting a different result.
How do we apply our effort? When do we give up? What is the mind of “don’t know” and the mind of “knowing”? Suzuki Roshi’s effort is akin to zazen. There is something about the process, the team work: the totality of the situation that drove their effort. And love.