Opportunity

Everyone is feeling the loss of Albert, wondering how they are going to continue with their practice, how they are going to get answers to their questions, how they will know what to do and not to do. Where they will get inspiration from.

I spoke with someone the other day, she was very upset about all this, felt she had missed her opportunity, didn’t know what to do, how to deal with the pain she was feeling. I have been listening each day to one of Albert’s teishos, and that afternoon I called up one from the very beginning of the list on the computer, an early one. As I listened, it was as though he were addressing directly all the fear and anguish I had heard that morning, directing, guiding.

It was an early teisho, but the message, the teaching was the same as at his last sesshin. It was all there, and not just the written word, all the intonation and energy, the encouragement and persuasion of his voice. This is where we need to turn, to all those teishos made over the years, the same thing said over and over again. We have to learn how to hear what he was saying.

I received many loving messages during his last stay in hospital and after his death. One person said “I will always carry away what he taught me when I had cancer. It was not possible to feel sorry for myself, or even to indulge. He said, ‘This was an opportunity I might never get again!’ What a difference this made to my attitude.”

Imagine you are sitting in dokusan, and you tell him that your teacher has died and left you on your own. What would his answer be? “This is your opportunity, don’t feel sorry for yourself, use it.”

The only way we can learn to hear what he was saying is to clarify the question, give yourself over to it, you have to follow it through. You do not have to try to find the answer, it has been given to you, in all those teishos. Just allow the question, the longing, to flow through you, to flow through your life.

Jean Low

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7 Responses to Opportunity

  1. Leslie Ihde says:

    The ripples of a great man’s passing are felt far and wide. This blog post pulls at my heart both by the depth of feeling communicated and the intimations of a powerful group of students with deep aspiration. Although I never met Albert in person, I came across him through reading Phillip Kapleau. Later I had a brief correspondence with him. His teishos, the ones available to the public, and his many books became a teaching to me. I shared his name to many and in our little group we have said prayers for him and for his students.

    Blessings

    • Gervais Asselin says:

      I’m sure that it’s not my place to say this but, I think that it’s important for us all to remember that as special as Albert was, he was just a person, just like everyone. He certainly would have been very uncomfortably sitting on the top of some pedestal. Brilliant as the sun, humble like the like the ground under our feel. Perhaps the best way to pay him homage would be to deepen our practice.

  2. Pierre Gilles Lebel says:

    Qui est l’auteur de ce texte?

  3. Marie Laure Leclercq says:

    Dear Jean: My most sincere condolences. There is nothing to be said, he will remain entrenched in the deepest recesses of our hearts. For all you have done, we will never be grateful enough: as for me, I know that Albert has saved my life, and has been a beacon of light, wisdom and courage since the first day I met him.

  4. Gervais Asselin says:

    It is very true, all of Albert’s teachings are there in his Teishos. His gentle sprit, his compassion, his sense of humour, his uncompromising dedication to bringing us all home. But what I miss most about him was his friendship, and the way he could just cut through my ego to keep me grounded. I think that I may spend the rest of my life feeling that I let him down. Of course he’d think that was just plane silly.

  5. Gordon Carson says:

    Dear Jean

    I too felt as if ” I had missed my oportunity ” Practicing at home. Sporadic attendance. Dodging dokusan.
    Your post cut to quick. Simple. Elegant.
    ” This is your oportunity, don’t feel sorry for yourself. Use it “.
    I knew. Needed the reminder. Grateful. Thank you.

  6. marc soucie says:

    Le zen: se connaître au delà de toute idée, de tout concept, de toute forme.
    La liberté est d’accepter que nous ne sommes rien en particulier. L’angoisse est de résister à cette liberté. Laisser libre cours à notre profond désir d’absolue jusqu’à ce qu’il envahisse chaque pore de notre peau, c’est le chemin (parfois terrifiant) proposé par Albert Low, tel que je le conçois.
    Me faire apprécier le simple (mais infiniment mystérieux) fait d’être, voilà le grand cadeau que m’a fait cet homme.
    Merci Albert Low.
    Also thank you, Jean Low

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