Someone asked in class today what I mean when I say, “Become the room”. He thought maybe I meant architecturally to become like the wood or angles, etc.  But this experience of becoming the room is a big topic, and big part of the secret mission I am trying to share in my classes. I am cautious to talk about some of this stuff, because honestly I don’t want it psychologized.  I don’t want it reduced to something heady or wordy. This is something we feel in our bodies and cells.

Part of what I learned in sanzen with the Roshi was to become his state of mind. This is a long transformative process. It takes a long time of seeing him over and over, like a laboratory to feel into how to meet him in sanzen.

At first when we go into sanzen, we feel something very powerful. Maybe we feel overwhelmed, overcome, we feel how impressive he is.  An energy or light. It is a strange process that is difficult to describe to someone who has not done it. And as we come into the room with him, he can feel us. He can feel our state of mind as we enter the door. He can tell what we have been focusing on that day and he can see where we are pointing with our awareness. 

As we go deeper into sanzen and meet him every day, we begin to see that sanzen is much more of an under the table exchange.  He may say a few things, but the most important part of sanzen is this energetic exchange.  This non-verbal transformative exchange. Gradually, over time we begin to be able to meet his state of mind. We can feel it as we enter the door.  At first, we cannot meet it, no way, but slowly, as we become more receptive, we can feel it and meld with it as we enter the door.  This is a particular type of skill. A unique form of molding going on between student and teacher.  It requires a type of receptivity very rare in our current world.

And one day, we have become open enough that when we enter the door and do our bows, we feel him, his “Ba” or energy field, and we meld into it and become that same flavor as we enter.  He responds differently. We’ve finally arrived.

We get better at doing this every day. A type of entrainment happens, and slowly our practice deepens in this transformation.  We get inside of his mind, and we begin to receive wisdom through this. This is really what is meant by transmission, and lineage.

At the same time, that same meeting of a room, that same melding into a room, we begin to see that we can do that during the day in our practice. We begin to meet the garden as we are working. There is the flavor of the garden and there is our awareness and we become skillful enough, sensitive enough, to merge with the flavor of the garden or on the bus or in the kitchen.  Our energetic field has a flavor, and we see that we can match that flavor with the texture of the environment around us.

And with people, we begin to meet them just as we meet the Roshi. We develop another way of relating with others. Another way of communicating. This meeting of soups, the skill of doing this, becomes something we begin to do all of the time. So walking in the forest or down the street, we are continually meeting the present time field and becoming that.  At first this might seem exhausting, but over time we see that it is completely natural. 

In that meeting, that merging with what is happening, there is information, and there are subtle things we can begin to feel and slowly develop. Some gifts arise out of this meeting people and environments. We begin to feel people on a very different level. Can feel their intentions, tell where they are going.  Get a sense of what they are thinking.  Other gifts show up in this deepening of sensitivity, and I won’t go into them here. But the samadhi of truly meeting people, meeting the room we enter, is very interesting alchemy.

For me, in my training, I needed a lot of leeway to feel into this. I needed space and time to let go of all of the rules and feel without filter. For me, the best way to do that was to go out into the garden and stand there and forget all of the rules of engagement, and see what was trying to happen. I did an hour a day of standing on top or the normal schedule.  If I stood there, as I let go of my body and met the environment, my awareness would deepen, expand, and meet the entire garden. I was so fascinated, and got better and better at becoming, merging, becoming transparent to the environment. My awareness imploded, sealed, and I felt the garden as my body. I looked at a flower and I became the flower. And I saw that this was always trying to happen. I just had to let it. Had to allow the most natural thing to happen. For me, this felt like I had finally met life and was held by God or the universe.

And my body would open up in this meeting of the room. Often if we are doing practice, even as we are opening up the body energetically, we might get overly focused on the body, get into a holding pattern we can’t find a way out of. We can’t relax out of it. And at that point, I let in the room. Let the room penetrate me. Become the same texture of the room. And in that the body’s tension patterns will dissolve. And we see that we are just another weather pattern in this huge atmosphere. Often I mention it this way in class. This is not an idea.

And that meeting of the room continually creates a type of fresh innocence. And a profound joy emerges through that melding with reality. A joy of disappearing. A joy clear and wide open. Harmony. And this fresh mind will meet each thing and feel it, open to it. We can’t have armor up to life if we are meeting it.  Our filters drop, when we are sad, we are sad. When we are happy, we are happy, and then we are moving on to the next meeting of life.  It is as if we don’t ever need to add anything extra. Never need to make anything happen. Everything feels complete. And we shine and help others through this becoming each thing we encounter.

This meeting of minds, meeting of energies, is much of what I am trying to show in my classes.  I am not giving sanzen or presenting koans. I don’t claim to be a Zen teacher.  But I’m bringing that under the table meeting of the room through the class. The same way I learned from meeting the Roshi so many times and my cells picking it up and slowly being able to receive this beautiful process. That’s the secret mission I am presenting. So that’s what I am talking about when I say meet the room.  This is the transmission aspect of the class. Slowly this under the table communication will make more and more sense, as we get more and more curious, more honest in our practice. Thanks so much for reading and please keep going! 


Sogenji Pond and Garden where I stood