Sunday, October 31, 2010

The Doshi Door

Once while browsing in the City Center library, I came across something that had been written as a thesis some decades ago, about the use of jargon at City Center. As we all know, jargon is a language sub-set that tends to promote inclusivity and exclusivity, and this is an issue that quite rightly Zen Center tries to pay attention to. The thesis pointed out that even beyond the extensive range of zen-specific terms that can be baffling to the newcomer, but would not necessarily be so to a visiting monastic (see the glossary for examples of this), there are any number of City Center-specific terms that confuse people even when they come over from Tassajara and Green Gulch. The 'doshi door' was cited as an example of this. Because of the way Zen Center made use of the pre-existing building, the entrances to the zendo are not traditionally aligned; the door near the library is generally reserved for the doshi to enter through, although this includes the Abbot and Senior Dharma Teacher, the tanto and other senior teachers. If you say the term "doshi door" to anyone at City Center, they will immediately picture it but I don't know what percentage of the readership of this blog would be able to do the same.
This is partly a response to the comment I received on the last Stats entry. I have been sitting with this since Friday morning, and while I am keenly aware that on the internet everyone has an opinion and gets to express it - myself naturally included, since I am typing this - I was struck by the tone of this comment: someone who knows me enough to use my last name, which I don't use here, but who prefers to remain anonymous themselves, takes me to task for being "enthralled" with the statistics of this blog.
My ego is at play here in different ways; first there is sensitivity to criticism - I think this is the first time someone has bothered to write me something negative about the blog - second because a part of me is thrilled that in the space of a week, people in twenty-six different countries have been reading this.
It is helpful to me to see that while most of my American readership is California-based, and thus I can assume that a fair number of those are people who visit Zen Center, whether regularly or not. While I know that some of the people in more far-flung countries are friends, or people who have spent time here, there are going to be any number of people who cannot picture the doshi door, and I should take this into account somewhat when I am deciding what to write about and how to write it.
Feel free to pitch in with a comment.


Sandy's witterings said...

The Doshi door top me of course means little but it's just a little part of this blog and not really what it's about. Two points come out for me.
As I think I may have mentioned, I picked up a book onthe way to work - Everyday Zen - by Charlotte Joko Beck - and from what I've read so far she seems to be at pains to point out from time to time that she certainly doesn't regard herself as enlightened, and has her moments. In a way your mention of stats shows a similar thing - that even with years of Zen training you can sometimes have a fascination in something the essentially feeds the ego. It's refreshing to see a human side displayed - infact it makes the whole blog more believable.
Secondly - thanks for the glossary - very handy.

Trevor said...

Anyone who leaves anonymous negative comments can bug off, if you ask me. They must be pretty miserable to do such a thing. You're not forcing anyone to read your blog, and I can totally see the appeal in looking to see how many people from where in the world are looking at your writing. How often do you get to communicate with someone in Slovenia? It's really cool. :) Be not discouraged, Shundo.

Shundo said...

Thanks for the support,guys, it is appreciated

Chris D said...

I don't recall the sutras mentioning it specifically, but saying something disagreeable with a snotty anonymous comment doesn't feel like right speech. Speaking under our own name (to people we know, no less) is good encouragement for constructive speech.

Blog stats are fun. I don't care about your blog stats as much as you, but why should I? =) Write what you want to write.

kevin said...

I'd think that if being fascinated by who you're reaching out to comes naturally (being in line with your true nature) what's the problem?

Does it make you happy? Would consciously ignoring it bring conflict with your inner self?

I enjoyed your post about the bike rides you go on through the California "countryside" but people could be critical of you for burning fossil fuels for pleasurable reasons.

Why not just accept the criticism, watch yourself and move on?

I enjoy checking my own stats regularly but don't try to adjust my writing or behavior to increase them.

Thank you so much for reaching out and sharing with us, we who are so far away!

Shundo said...

Thank you for all the supportive comments; here is another I received separately:
"Two comments on "Doshi Door:
1. Pfui on your 'critic' - the worst single thing about the internet is the presumed anonymity that allows people to make noxious comments while hidden... in point of fact, the width of your readership is quite remarkable.
2. Where would the doshi door be in a zendo built from scratch?

Well I thought I was going to find this second part easy to answer, but now I am not so sure - I was going to say that the main entrance would be in the middle of the south side, as it is at Tassajara, with a back entrance to the north, but looking at the plans included in the "Dogen's Pure Standards for the Zen Community", it looks like the monks' hall at Eiheiji had entrances on the east and west, so I won't try to be definitive.
And to clarify a few other things: I hope you are enjoying the book Sandy; I have not read it myself, but have heard it recommended by many people, and I suspect it squeezes into your pocket. I most certainly do not regard myself as enlightened, and can concur that years of training do not prevent you from having very human and even non-skillful responses in some situations.
Kevin - I wanted to assure you and anyone else that since I have never owned a car, my bike rides almost never involve fossil fuel consumption beyond boiling the water for my coffee before and after. Also, I am not angling to increase my readership - I am very lax at self-promotion usually - but I do want to take into account people's ability to connect with what I am saying, so if I get too insular, I imagine people will not enjoy the blog so much. Rest assured I am not going to let one sarky person change things.