Sitting With the Stones



Mallard spoke up first at an evening meeting and said, “When I’m traveling, I find it difficult to do zazen without the support from the community. As often as not, I end up not doing it.”

Raven said, “Sit with the stones.”

From Zen Master Raven by Robert Aitken Roshi


Mallard is voicing a common problem we have…it is difficult for us to do something without the support of the group. You can read this as a metaphor for whatever it is in your life that you don’t do because no one looking or helping you. There is nothing wrong with relying on the effort of others to support our practice, but what do we do when the others are not around? What do we do when others don’t meet our expectations? Our effort and vow is that we do this thing or meet this situation anyway.

We don’t always do what is skillful or helpful because it requires some effort on our part and no one will know one way or the other if we have done it.

This also goes the other way too. These are all the times we engage in our life in a wholesome way regardless of who knows. We do this because it feels right even if it takes some effort to make it happen.

Sit with the stones means that all of reality is watching and waiting for us to join in the dance of this life. Dancing  means hearing the music of the rocks, and like the ‘stone women’ we get up and join in. Dancing means understanding all of life as a partner and seeing this partner. It is knowing our partners are the trees, stones, dolphins, air and humanity. When we can do this our effort is supported by the whole universe. Waiting…waiting for us to catch up. Can we come out and play? Can we learn the steps? Ask the stones.


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