Monday, June 22, 2009

Continuous Practice

Greetings from the Mothership! I just got back from sitting the 5 day June sesshin at Berkeley Zen Center, I believe my 7th consecutive. I always try to sit that one; it is the one that concludes the practice period at Berkeley, and so we always finish with a Shuso ceremony, in this case featuring our Shuso Rev. Dr. Ryushin Andrea Thach. She was awesome, of course. Berkeley Zen Center is my home temple, so I have warm feelings about the place, always. And of course my teacher is Sojun Mel Weitsman, Roshi, the Abbot there. For the last three days of the sesshin I was Sojun's jisha, so I was in a total bliss realm.


When I resumed my duties as Ino today, a few people remarked that I had just finished a three day sesshin on June 14th, before starting a five day, using my vacation time, on the 17th! To me that felt like a very natural and appropriate thing to do. For starters I was coordinating the three day here, while I was merely a willing participant at Berkeley. Don't get me wrong - it takes everybody's unified effort to make a sesshin happen, but I was noticing how hard the BZC sesshin director, Tamar Enoch, was working, and feeling a lot of empathy for her! And then, let me just come right out and say it: I'm a religious zealot! Okay I acknowledge that the word "zealot" has a lot of negative connotation for a lot of people, particularly when combined with the word "religious"! But I merely mean that I, like a lot of my friends in the Dharma, have a lot of zeal for practice! Zeal, meaning Diligent Enthusiasm. Those two words go great together, I think. Diligent. Enthusiasm. That's what Zen practice is asking of us.


The best thing for this monk was returning to the City Center zendo this morning after finishing the sesshin the day before. I recall having this conversation with Sojun years ago, where he emphasized that taking a break from practice (whatever that means) right after finishing a sesshin is a silly thing to do. The thing to do is continue! Take advantage of the momentum you've gained in sesshin and deepen your practice! During one of Sojun's Dharma Talks, he shared these words from Kodo Sawaki Roshi with us: "Being glared at by zazen, being scolded by zazen, being obstructed by zazen, being pulled around by zazen -- weeping our whole life away; this has got to be the happiest way of life." I could not agree more.