Often when I hear someone give a talk or see a video of them speaking, what they say has little interest or hook for me. Usually I will get something out of the talk which is different than what they were saying. Like, I’ll see a video of someone and even if I don’t completely resonate with their words, I may learn something with how relaxed they are in space, or how they carry themselves in some interesting or beautiful way. Or that their presence seems to be shining in some inconceivable way. Something in the essence of their being. It’s as if their words are beside the point. Maybe they don’t even know that they are transmitting something, the main conversation, which is most interesting. Maybe they even think they doing one thing, but something more interesting is coming through. This is actually pretty common, especially among advanced spiritual people who become a channel for deeper aspects through their bodies. It can even be something like, “I like the person, but not for the reason they think I should like them!”

For instance, at Sogenji, I had some books about Cheng Man Ching, the great Tai Chi master. Well, I would sometimes just look at the photos in the middle of the book, or get a taste of what the words were saying, and then that sense is what I felt in the words, beyond the literal meaning. I would often taste something in them, get a flavor, and that feeling is what I took and learned from and which I felt was transformative. So it was kind of beside the rational mind. Kind of in the peripheral vision. Much like the deeper aspects of Zen training, one could not look hard at it and pin it down, but it rather had to be kind of gently held and allowed to transform us. This is actually much of how koan training was. Having no idea what is going on, learning to trust it, and being transformed by something beyond the rational mind. This is much of what I am trying to share in my work. This under the table aspect.