Friday, August 13, 2010

In the Great Ocean

Friday night dinner is usually more celebratory than other days of the week, not least because we have pudding, as we call dessert where I come from. Tonight was quite a contrast to the silent meals of the past seven days, and the chocolate cake definitely contributed.
In 2002 I was able to do the first Genzo-e at City Center, and it was the first time I had really thrived in a sesshin, so I have looked forward to them since then. It was a little different to do it as ino, but once we had got past the first day, when there were a few extra people sitting, everything settled down very quickly, at least as far as I was concerned. I find the schedule very amenable - it is insistent rather than gruelling. We go back to the zendo throughout the day, but we also have three hours of incomparably profound and subtle teaching. Shohaku's long immersion in Dogen means that instead of just wrestling with the dense language and often impenetrable logic, we are afforded a multi-dimensional view: which Chinese characters are used, what they mean aside from the way they have been translated, how the characters can be teased apart to reveal further meanings, which old zen stories they are used in, who is being referred to, and how Dogen takes all of that and uses it to express his own inimitable understanding, turning words and grammar on their head to indicate the fundamental point.
The sitting and the classes inform each other, and I had a spacious and rewarding week. I did not get to put aside worldly concerns completely - I had no shortage of emails to deal with, and my diary is filling up: five meetings next week, and then in the next month or so two tokudos (which I am just attending), a wedding, a jukai, tangaryo, a one-day sitting (all of which I have to help organise) and the Coming of Age programme at Green Gulch (which I am helping with this year).
I also have a big backlog of talks to put online, which bothers me more than perhaps it should, mainly because I know people enjoy and look forward to the posted talks, and also because people email me to ask when certain talks are going to appear, and I know I am not going to get through all of these so quickly (later: I found another folder of talks from Tassajara on my desktop after I wrote this, so the backlog is probably twenty talks at the moment).
Before all of that, I am going to lead the Beginners' Sitting on Sunday, and I am hoping that I have a little bit of my calm sesshin mind left to guide me through that so that I have something helpful to say.


DaiganSF said...

Of all the folks I know, you will bring your whole self to the Beginners.. How lucky they are.


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