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Yay! Whoopie Buddha! Inquiry and The Resilient Heart

The Resilient Heart Workshop is an integration of three important aspects of spiritual practice: intention, meditation and inquiry. The Inquiry method we were engaged in during this retreat was Byron Katie’s The Work. Hogen, Roshi introduced the Work of Byron Katie to the Zen Community of Oregon after reading her commentary on the Diamond Sutra called A Mind at Home with Itself.

The Work helps me re-commit to humanity. -Shokan Harrison Martin

Ever since it was introduced we as a community have engaged the question, what does this method, the Work, provide that supports our Zen Buddhist practice? On the surface it may appear to be a psychological or intellectual exercise— where you actually harvest thoughts in order to question them and then turn them around.

Since I discovered the Work, I am less afraid of my students. - Eduardo

The buddha is famously quoted for saying, “I teach suffering and the end of suffering.” In Zen this is expressed as recognition of the Nature of Mind, or one’s true nature, BuddhaNature.

The Work is a tool for looking directly at the nature of your mind and its contents, thoughts. Meditation is a practice of Awareness —where we develop the ability to stabilize attention and rest in direct present moment experience. The path of meditation can lead to states of deep peace and wonder. And yet, meditation alone does not transform the heart. What I mean by this is stabilization is not enlightenment, it is simply a state of mind. Transformation or liberation involves some form of inquiry.

Traditionally in Zen meditation, this inquiry takes the shape of a koan or deep fundamental question placed into a stabilized mind. Or simply a curiosity and orientation towards the essence or nature of mind.

The Work is using the personal koans of our thinking, as the basis for inquiry and deep looking into the Nature of Mind. Like I said above, its looking at the nature of your own mind. So a koan could take the shape of: “I’m not good enough” or “he abandoned me” or “I don’t know what to do.”

Byron Katie says,”If it is stressful, question it.”

The Four Questions are what follows.
Is it true?
Can you absolutely know that it is true?
What happens, how do you react when you believe the thought?
Who or what would you be without the thought?

These questions are meant to be felt into. It's not intellectual but experiential. It's an honest interrogation into what part of us believes to be true about ourselves, others and the world. This interrogation is gentle. It is not meant to harangue ourselves into changing our beliefs nor is it meant to get rid of stressful thoughts. It is simply about bringing curiosity and openness to an often vulnerable part of ourselves. Loving it, loving its perspective and also gently opening it up and then turning it around. 

The turn arounds are like your own personal oracle deck.

To turn a thought around, is to ask yourself is the opposite true or truer. If I want my partner to trust me, do I also want myself to trust me and even want myself to trust them? What does it mean to trust myself? What would that look like? What would it mean to live my life, to be in relationship, to work, write, meet people from a place of trust? Can I recognize the way I engage in the practice of trust everyday? How does the world trust me? In what ways am I already trustworthy? How do I practice self-trust?

Living the turnarounds is your guide to living the life that you actually want to live.

As one participant said, “Yay! Whoopie Buddha!”