Monday, September 27, 2010

Sun-faced Buddha, Moon-faced Buddha

It turns out that our Indian summer kicked off again on Friday, just in time for me to be busy inside for two days. Even with some experience of them now, big one-day sittings take a lot of organising, and this time I had a few complicating factors: a Coming of Age group leaders meeting in the morning; a request to change our morning service to resemble a more traditional Tassajara-type service, which involved a certain amount of cutting and pasting and reformatting; a couple of residents who came to tell me after four o'clock, when I had already begun the task of printing up all the various pieces of paper, that they wouldn't be sitting, so I had to re-allocate other people to the jobs I had given them; also forgetting to follow up on one of the notes in the ino's guidelines for one-day sittings, which is to check who is the Friday nightwatch and then not schedule them for anything early in the morning - I had the person who was on nightwatch down as fukudo, which would mean them ringing the wake-up bell and hitting the han for zazen...
All in all, I was still putting things together until nine o'clock; I went straight to bed, got up and had another very long day. For the number of people involved, over seventy including the kitchen crew, things went pretty smoothly; probably the worst thing was that we finished morning service early, so we had a wait downstairs in the zendo while breakfast was served up. I did notice my face starting to relax after lunch though, when the most of the variables have been taken care of. Before tea I went round and offered posture adjustments to the zendo. So far no-one has declined the offer, though I had expected someone I usually think of as prickly and self-protective to do so this time. There were one or two unyielding shoulders, but mostly I could feel tension dissipating at my touch, and generally no-one needed more than a gentle straightening. Of course I have to do my own adjustments internally, which is an ongoing effort.
It was hot - it was 92 degrees on the roof after lunch - so unsurprisingly I was sweating from the time I started chanting in morning service until I finished cleaning up the zendo a little more than twelve hours later. I wanted to get that done so I wouldn't have to worry about doing it yesterday; I was looking forward to an unscheduled day. We did have the Tassajara-bound folks gathering for breakfast and their departure; I helped get the food out first thing in the morning, and said hello and goodbye to them as they disappeared off to the valley until the week before Christmas, but also I was impatient to get out on my bike and I didn't wait for the stragglers to arrive from Green Gulch.
Yesterday was the warmest day I can remember riding in for a long time; the sun was just starting to hit the roofs in the Marina as I crested Pacific Heights, there was an iridescent twist of fog along the Golden Gate, and the moon was setting during the first half of the ride, until I rode up Lucas Valley to the big rock. The fog hadn't moved by the time I came back over the bridge, at about the time that the Tassajara students would be descending from the ridge to the monastery, which put paid to the idea I had had to sit on the beach for a while to make up for having only spent an hour and a half out of doors over the two previous days, but once I got back, I spent time on the roof here instead.


Linda Atkins said...

Hi, Shundo. It's very interesting to read about the one-day sitting from your perspective. During the day (actually, all day) I was doing metta practice: "May I be safe," and it occurred to me that, barring earthquakes, low-flying planes and sudden aneurysm, being in the zendo with Shundo by the door is indeed a nice, safe place to be! Thank you for all of your efforts on our behalf. (Your blog is wonderful. "Longueur"!)

kevin said...

Wow, 92 as hot? Must be nice. We're excited to have highs as low as 89 here in Houston this week. Your bike ride sounds beautiful, was it good medicine?

I'm interested in hearing more about the Coming of Age ceremony, it doesn't sound like anything I'll ever have the opportunity to see.

Thanks for all the posts!