In case two in the Book of Serenity, Emperor Wu asks Great Teacher Bodhidharma,
“What is the meaning of the holy truths?”
Bodhidharma said, “Empty – there is no holy.”
The emperor said, “Who are you facing me?”
Bodhidharma said, “Don’t know.”
The emperor did not understand, and Bodhidharma went to Shaolin, where he faced a wall [did zazen] for nine years.
Now that I am retired and my life has opened up spacious time, I consider what I am doing. I want everything “to count” in some way. I have been considering doing nothing. What would happen if I just stopped? If I just sat zazen or just sat in my chair all day gazing at the ocean? I think that if I dropped all my projects and just sat, maybe something new would unfold and reveal itself to me. So I decided to try to do this.
So far I have not been able to sit for very long, but I have my justifications: I have to floss, shop, cook, sleep, eat. So I will put these activities in the category of “I have to do this, so it doesn’t count against my objective of doing nothing.”
Then there are some work related activities that I have to do and want to do: study math for my upcoming tutoring classes; do work for Everyday Zen. So that doesn’t mean I have made some kind of detour from doing nothing, because it is “important” work.
I am sitting (on and off the cushion) about three hours a day. So that constitutes the holy. Zazen – facing the wall on my cushion – qualifies as meaningful activity.
But my puppy reminded me that “there is no holy.” She deposited a neat, discrete turd on top of my meditation cushion. Thank you puppy!!
So, while some activities seem more holy, more meaningful, this may not be the case. Maybe everything is holy, and, therefore, nothing is (separately) holy. But still, it seems to me that I could perform all actions with the attitude that everything is holy.
Maybe this is possible. Maybe not.