Sometimes Silent Illumination isn’t all that Quiet

Dharma Drum Retreat Center, Pine Bush, NY…

“Pain is inevitable.  Suffering is optional.”


“As you get older you need less sleep.”

“Yeah?  Anything else you wanna tell me before I either hammer your dumbass mouth or just walk the hell away?  Ya know, I don’t have to be here.”

“Remember all is impermanent.”

“Including me, right?  Right?!”

“When you think about it—“

“Will you just shut up and let me meditate?”

“You are meditating.  You’re focused on your body.”

“My damned body is focused on me. ”

“You are meditating.  This is meditation.  If you weren’t sitting here in this beautiful building, kneeling on your nifty little padded, rocking Japanese-style seiza bench, you wouldn’t be in pain.”

“Just shut up and let me focus on my breath or the ringing in my ears or the birds outside the window!  Breathe in…breathe out…breathe in…breathe out…breathe in…breathe out… breathe in…breathe out…”

“I’m still here.”

“I can’t hear you!”

“Yes you can!”

“No I can’t!

“Pain is inevitable.  Suffering is optional.”

“You said that before.”

“I’ll say it again.”

“Please, I only got about 4 hours of sleep last night.”

“Remember, “as you get older you need less sleep.”

“Then why am I so tired?”

“You’re doing everything you’re supposed to.  You’re not falling asleep.  Hell, you’re not even any clumsier than usual.”



“Just stop!”

“I will.  All is impermanence, remember?”

“Will my knees and my back and my thighs and my butt stop hurting?”

“Of course.”


“When it’s time.”

“You mean when I’m dead?”

“Now you said that.”

“You’ve got an answer for everything, don’t you?”


“A perfectly useless, meaningless answer for everything.  It was bad enough when it was just the body aching up it’s little storm.  Now I’ve gotta listen to your preaching.”

“I’m really getting to you, huh?”

“Yes you are!”

“How do your knees and back feel when you’re yelling at me?”

“…Wow…I don’t feel them…hardly at all.”

“What do you feel?”

“You’re playing me!”

“Am I?  What are you feeling?”

“You know damn’ well what I’m feeling.  I’m feeling like a fool.  After last Spring’s retreat I said I’d never do this to myself again.  Maybe I’m not too old, but my body sure as hell is.  I can’t keep these hours.  I can’t sit for—what—40 minutes at a time–in this kind of pain.  How the hell can I work on anything when my brain is filled by agony?  Or when I have to listen to your preachy bullshit, your know-it-all preachy—“

“Shut up!  That’s right, you shut up…”

A pause

“…Who am I to you anyway that I can rent so much space in your head?”

“You’re my mind.  I know that.”


“So what?”

“So who’s responsible for every thought that comes out of me?”

“You trying to say I’m responsible for your bullshit?”

Tap…tap…a bell rings

“Take a short break, and then return to your cushion to go through it all again.”


Published in: on June 7, 2013 at 12:54 pm  Comments (8)