Zen means meditation. Dhyana also means meditation. So practicing the dhyana paramita means perfecting our Zen practice. How can we perfect our Zen practice, how can we perfect our meditation? When the eighth patriarch, Ma Tsu, was a young monk, he tried to perfect his meditation by sitting Zen for many hours every day. His posture was straight, his body never moved. One day, his teacher, Huai Jang, who was the seventh patriarch, asked him:
Why are you sitting Zen for so long every day?
To become a Buddha answered Ma Tsu.
Hearing this Huai Jang sat in front of him and started to polish a roof tile.
What are you doing, Master? asked Ma Tsu after a while.
Making a mirror answered Huai Jang.
How can you make a mirror out of a roof tile? Tha's impossible.
I's the same with you. How can you become a Buddha by sitting Zen?
That was a perfect hit. Ma Tsu's mind stopped. He bowed and asked, Please, show me my mistake, Master.
If you want a horse to pull a cart, do you whip the cart?
Hearing this Ma Tsu attained enlightenment and became a Buddha.
In Lodz Zen Center I often hear from my co-practitioners about their meditation frustrations. My mind is almost never still and I'm trying so hard. Wha's wrong? I feel this mantra stopped working for me. Should I try a new one? How can I make my meditation better? Maybe I'm not really meditating at all. Maybe I'm only wasting my time on a cushion. Most of our teachers' answer for such questions is Don't check. Just do it. So how can we practice the dhyana paramita? How can we perfect our meditation without checking?
For me it is putting down the concept of perfecting at all and starting every day from the very beginning. If I start every day from the very beginning then I have no chance to perfect my meditation. I'm in the same situation as a newcomer who just received an orientation talk, only my legs feel better. I don't know how to meditate, I have no meditation skills. There is only one thing I have: i's a decision. The decision to meditate, the decision to put everything down, the decision to return to this very moment with a wordless question. I's only because of this decision that I can meditate. I never perceive a moment when my mind catches something and starts to move. I can only perceive a moment when it stops. I's like finding myself on a crossroads. Should I continue to follow this thought? Should I continue to nourish this feeling? Well, I could, and sometimes it would be very nice to, sometimes it feels so important to, but there is a decision. So I let go, so I put down whatever my mind is holding at the moment and for a short while I'm a newborn baby buddha. Dooooon't know.
Zen Master Seung Sahn used to say: One more step is necessary. How can I make one more step from don't know? How can I go deeper into the primary point? How can I make my great question greater? How can this baby buddha grow? How can I perfect my meditation? Oh! I'm on a crossroads again! Should I continue this very tempting thinking about meditation practice? Maybe I will discover something important? Well, I could, but there is a decision, so I'm putting it down and finding myself again at the very beginning of my meditation practice. Can't make it bigger. Can't make it better. One more step is necessary? Yes, but i's a step back to the starting point. The same step again and again. I'm not whipping a cart, I'm not whipping a horse. The whip falls down on the ground, the horse can go free, the cart stays still. There's nowhere to go. Oh! I'm on a crossroads again! Decision. Don't know. Crossroads. Decision. Don't know. Forever.