Getting an earlier start on my post this morning, Day IV of our retreat, because of the shape my day is taking. I have a meeting at 10 a.m. far from home and I don’t want to be late – I don’t want to keep the others in my team waiting or cut precious time from our discussion. So now it’s fruit and tea for breakfast in front of my computer, writing this text for you.

Thanks again to everyone for your diligent practice and enthusiasm, for your presence here, with comments, or not, wherever you are. We’re all in this together. Keep going! Remember to stop for a minute at noon.

Today’s course, social action, grows naturally out of the courses of spirituality and livelihood, as Bernie notes: « Once we begin to take care of our own basic needs, we become more aware of the needs of the people around us. Recognizing the oneness of life, we naturally reach out to other people because we realize that we are not separate from them. »

(« Le plat de l’action sociale se développe tout naturellement à partir des deux premiers mets, la spiritualité et les moyens d’existence. Nous nous mettons à prendre à charge nos besoins élémentaires, et nous devenons plus sensibles aux besoins de notre entourage. Reconnaissant l’unité de la vie, nous allons tout naturellement vers les autres, car nous réalisons que nous ne sommes pas séparés d’eux. »)

In another post (Day II), I mentioned Dogen’s call to study the self. He then adds that to study the self is to forget the self. Forgetting the self means to become the whole universe, the one body. Bernie illustrates this with the example of the left hand and the right hand. If one hand receives money, the other doesn’t try to steal it. The two hands don’t compete, they don’t hurt or ignore each other. You and me are like those hands, different but part of the same one body.

I often tell a story about when I started teaching Zen, under the supervision of my teacher, Genno Roshi. At one point, I went to see her because I was having difficulty. It wasn’t easy, I told her, I was frustrated at times: people weren’t « getting it, » I told her. She calmly nodded, and then said, « Amy, you have to meet people where they are. » Of course she was right. I was seeing me and the other as separate, which means I wasn’t seeing the other at all; I wasn’t seeing that the separation between us was illusory. I wasn’t seeing that we are all interconnected, that we’re all one body.

On the previous days, you’ve begun to see this interconnection. Today, take a closer look at the other. Which means to take a closer look at you. And then tell us about both. Bonne journée!