Zenju first clarified that boundlessness could not be defined, and “the fear of boundlessness” would be the focus of her talk. She read from her book “The Deepest Peace,” a passage which includes the retelling of her being confronted with the question — “How far is a hundred-foot leap?” (a reference to the “100-Foot Pole” Koan from Gateless Gate, case 46). Throughout the rest of her talk, she used the metaphor of “leaping,” “stepping off,” and “falling” to discuss what might be holding us back from fully embracing the boundless nature of our beings.
She invited us to take a leap and to step off from our personal “100-foot pole” — the place where we hold on to our concepts, opinions, and ideas — and explore how we feel and where we think we might land. In leaping, in stepping aside, we open up a space for something else to come into our lives. Zenju encouraged us to reflect on how our concepts and ideas create walls and boundaries. And how they restrict us from experiencing the peace and serenity that is already within us all.
Scroll down to listen to Zenju’s talk. The recording includes over 30 minutes of Q&A, during which Zenju interacted with her audiences and offered more guidance on opening up our minds to the experience of boundlessness.
From the Teacher: Boundlessness (and our fear of it)
“Boundlessness” by Zenju Earthlyn Manuel*
* Zenju Earthlyn Manuel, PhD, is the heir of Zenkei Blanche Hartman with Dharma Transmission completed by Shosan Victoria Austin. Zenju was Shuso (Head Student) at City Center in 2012, which was led by former abbess Kiku Christina Lehnherr. She is the author of The Deepest Peace: Contemplations from a Season of Stillness, The Way of Tenderness: Awakening Through Race, Sexuality, and Gender (foreword by Charles Johnson), and Tell Me Something About Buddhism (foreword by Thich Nhat Hanh), with poetry and illustrations by Zenju, and her latest publication, The Shamanic Bones of Zen: Revealing the Ancestral Spirit and Mystical Heart of a Sacred Tradition. In addition, she is a contributing author to many books, including Dharma, Color and Culture: Voices From Western Buddhist Teachers of Color and Hidden Lamp: Stories from Twenty-Five Centuries of Awakened Women, edited by Florence Caplow and Susan Moon. Zenju Earthlyn compiled a collection of teachings from Zenkei Blanche Hartman (1926–2016) entitled Seeds for a Boundless Life.