Your Practice is Your Practice

By Edward Espe Brown

If I relaxed, I would stop shaking, but I’d also fall asleep. And if I fell asleep, I would be hit with a big stick called the kyōsaku: Bam! Bam! You need to wake up! Then I would start shaking again. This was called Zen.

This went on and on and on. For a while, I could shake so much that the tatamis (straw mats) in the zendo would shake in my corner. The whole floor would shake. Other students were sitting in a continuous earthquake.

Most people didn’t talk about it. Some people wanted to talk to me about it and say, “You shouldn’t be doing that. You should sit still. Zen is sitting still, not moving like that. You could stop it if you wanted. You do that to get attention.”

I’m still here, folks, in spite of all the people who knew better than I did what Zen is and what Zen isn’t. Excuse me for saying so, but I persevered. I kept on practicing. I didn’t know any better.

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Copyright © 2019 by Edward Espe Brown and Danny S. Parker.  Adapted from The Most Important Point: Zen Teachings of Edward Espe Brown, by Edward Espe Brown; Edited by Danny S. Parker. Sounds True, April 2019. Reprinted with permission. For more information, visit

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