Babe Ruth hit 704 home runs, but no one ever mentions that he struck out about 3,000 times. In our goal-oriented culture, we tend to forget that you can't hit home runs unless you strike out; we think that failure is something bad, and as a result we become afraid to take action. Daido Roshi encourages us not to be distressed by failure, and not to be delighted by success. Rather, we should accept falling as a healthy part of life, and realize that difficult circumstances offer a wealth of insight. Each of us is born with internal wisdom, and as we begin to tap into this wisdom we learn how to fall and rise with grace and dignity. By using the power of awareness to see our thoughts, our conventional idea of ourselves drops away and we find ourselves in a new relationship to the world around us. Roshi also describes how resilience is essential for spiritual practice, and how in Zen Buddhism failure is an important teaching method.
Zen Buddhism emphasizes zazen, or seated meditation, as the means to study the self and understand who we truly are. Dharma talks are an essential aspect of Zen training and take place in the context of zazen. Said to be "dark to the mind and radiant to the heart", a dharma talk is one of the ways in which a teacher points directly to the heart of the teachings of the Buddha. In our meditation practice, it is easy to get lost in self-doubt, fantasy, numbness, and emotional agitation. Dharma talks help to ground our practice, providing inspiration and an essential recognition of exactly where we find ourselves, so that we can learn to face difficulties and obstacles with a free and flexible mind. This talk was given at Zen Mountain Monastery or the Zen Center of New York City of the Mountains and Rivers Order of Zen Buddhism, founded in 1980 by the late American Zen Master John Daido Loori, Roshi (1931-2009).