Practice is intimacy with the full range of our humanity—the silence is finally touched, spaciousness is accessed, and we realize it’s okay. All of it. But culturally, we’re not there at all. We now have the capacity to design drugs that are able to modulate precisely toward that bandwidth of neutrality. And that’s what’s happening with a lot of these students. Thirty to forty percent of high school students arriving on these campuses are already on medication, frequently on two medications. And often these drugs support you from below and dampen things from the top, so you don’t feel. You don’t have access to your spirited body. Our capacity to control our experience is unprecedented, and the insanity of it is that we think if we can somehow isolate our rationality, if we can narrow that band and eliminate the distractions, the unruly emotions in the body, then we would be more effective, more successful, more capable people. But the truth is anything but that.
In an interview with Kapleau Roshi that was published some time ago, a student asked, “But, doesn’t enlightment clear away imperfection and personality flaws?” Kapleau responds, “No. It shows them up. Before awakening, one can easily ignore or rationalize shortcomings. But, after enlightenment,” or rather, after our illumination into the nature of selflessness, “this is no longer possible.” That’s the beginning of responsibility. “One’s failings become painfully evident,” and, note the word “painfully.” We don’t want that. That’s not what we bargained for. We truly have hope that within this insight, a moment of selflessness, the self will disappear, and all of our problems will disappear. Kapleau continues, “One’s failings are painfully evident, yet at the same time a strong determination develops,” (I would say can develop,) “to rid oneself of them.” (I would say to see them, to become intimate with them.)