Two weeks ago in lower Manhattan, the New York class demonstrated its sagehood.
In Chinese spiritual practice, people aim to achieve sagehood, which means acting with wisdom and good judgment in everyday life. To get there, we follow the Dao and are happy to meet whatever life throws at us along our journey.
As usual, we showed up for class at 9:30am on Sunday, looking forward to starting the practice. But unlike our typical Sunday, we were locked out of the building. We did not know when, or if, the person with the key would show up. But instead of waiting around and complaining, We crossed the street, gathered on the sidewalk in front of Joe’s Pub, and began practicing. Joe's is not open that time of the day on Sunday.
It is a very public location, and I was not sure how the class would feel when strangers passed the group. But over the next two hours, we practiced the saber form, standing meditation, and the essential 48 form.
We even managed to do our sitting meditation on the broad stone stairway to Joe’s Pub, a popular Manhattan performance venue. Though it was quiet on a Sunday morning, people passing on the sidewalk still made it a challenge.
An unhappy person stopped in front of the group, angry for some reason we do not know. He faced the entire group and raised his middle finger. We had different options at that point, and we automatically and unconsciously picked the best one. We just smiled at him. After seeing only smiles from us, he seemed to get bored and maybe tired from holding his arm up so long, and he left.
The fact that the entire group declined to enter the fight, even when provoked so openly, demonstrated better than anything the group’s sagehood.
Nobody at all showed up to open the building that morning. But our regular training had paid off: we stayed focused for more than two hours, just as we do during every Sunday class. And as curious passers-by stopped, stared and took cell-phone videos, we just enjoyed the publicity.
It was a great morning practice, and the whole class had pleasantly surprised me, We followed the Dao and we are the Dao.