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Our source of awareness is prior to picking and choosing...
Harada Roshi

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What is essentially necessary for lay practice in the West? Which rules instructions and rituals can be changed and or neglected?

Tradition in not about words or form, so then you might think that anything is fine and you are free to do as you like. There is a saying in Asia (FuEki RyuuKo - Not changing Fashion) that shows that we need to know what cannot change and what needs to be changed. For example the clothes that I wear are made from threads, those that stay the same, and those horizontal woven ones that change and make the patterns. If the vertical threads are too stressed, then the material won´t hold well together, same for the horizontal thread. If we sit zazen and since our feet hurt we might decide to rather not sit, just caring for the mind is good enough, so everyone might think. Rules seem to restrict, so why not go with the natural flow of things. If it were so simple, then our mind would always be quiet and settled, never moved around by any happenings outside. Even when there is someone next to you whom you do not like, when the political situation is challenging, most often people get upset and irritated, and we try to escape the unpleasant situations. And from there we divide this world into like and dislike. Our words and our true feelings and deeds are quite different. That is how most people experience it. And on top of that, when we get older, we get even more unsettled, not knowing what to believe in. Is there anything at all in life we can trust in? It is not about bearing the pain during zazen, but having a deep vow and realizing that, isn´t it? The rules do help us to align our wondering mind. Tradition can be our wisdom.

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