Yearbook 2007


Eli (Canada/ Israel, 36yo, Martial Artist)

So here I am sitting in front of the computer screen and wondering what to write after being offered the opportunity to contribute some of my own words to the Antaiji yearbook...

This should be an easy task considering that zen and the martial arts are topics that are very near and dear to my heart...topics that I have spent years reading about, thinking about and practicing. But I guess that it is precisely the things that are closest to our hearts that we sometimes find the most difficult to grasp and to express, no? Nevertheless I will try...

When I first arrived at Antaiji about 5 months ago, Docho-san asked me during our introductory interview what is it that brings me to Antaiji. I didn`t have to think long for the answer since my motivation for coming to Antaiji seemed crystal clear to me, "I want to deepen my practice", I told him.

Over the past five months I have had a chance to revisit this question in my mind again and again. "What brought me here?" "What am I doing here?" I find myself asking this question very frequently...not in a self-reproaching way...but with genuine curiosity...and I realize that although I know that I want to deepen my practice - I have yet to fully discover what that means to me. This is what I was here to find out.

What is the true path of Zen? What is the true essence of practice? And how do both of these connect with - and enhance - our experience of everyday living? These are some of the unspoken questions that I feel I have already been spending years searching and re-searching for answers and that now - at Antaiji - I could perhaps answer at a deeper level.

In the movie The Matrix, Morpheas tells Neo, "There will come a time when you realize that knowing the path and walking the path are two different things." I feel that I have come to such a point in my life with my decision to come to Antaiji. I feel like I have come to know the path quite well over the years, but I also got to a point where I felt that knowing the path was no longer enough - I needed to do some serious walking if I were to be true to what I already knew. Hence my journey.

So what have I learned so far at Antaiji? Have I begun to uncover the answers that I am looking for? Am I clearer about what my practice means to me and to my life? Well... so far I can say that I feel I am learning more than I can fully digest right away. Teachings seem to be everywhere and in everything - sometimes in the places where you most least expect them.

Phrases such as: "Adult practice"; "Quickly, quietly, efficiently"; "Whatever you do, do it 100%"; "Be aware of your surroundings and your full impact on those surrounding"; "You create Antaiji" ( or in other words - take responsibility for creating your life); "You don`t count at all" (or in other words - it is NOT about YOU)"; "Just do it"; etc. - take on flesh and bone here at Antaiji as we get a chance to struggle with them and put them into practice on a daily basis.

These teachings are really life-time teachings - not something that you can answer once and forget about. Here at Antaiji, the teachings captured by these phrases require you to answer them with your own life - again and again - day-in and day-out. They ask you to question yourself and your life. To question what you are doing and why; how you are doing and for who? They ask you to look yourself and your life in the eyes, without flinching and without turning away.

So I guess one could say that what I have learned so far at Antaiji is how to question more and worry about answers less. A woman that I deeply love, respect and admire sent me off to Antaiji with the heartfelt wish that I "find my own truth", as she knew in her wisdom that this is what I deeply needed and wanted to do. And what better way to find one`s own truth than to dare to put your whole life into question?


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