Wednesday, January 5, 2011

The Great Assembly

Yesterday was a bit of a long day: in the morning we had a leaving ceremony for MacNeill, and the monthly Suzuki Roshi Memorial, and then right after breakfast a number of us headed down to Fort Mason for the next twelve hours. Abbot Steve had organised a day-long meeting for what I could lazily call sixty of Zen Center's finest - teachers and senior staff from all three practice centers, with the addition of a few members of the Board, and people from the development department.
The theme of the day was looking at Zen Center's ongoing financial stability, which is obviously a rich topic in these economic times, and I am not really going to talk about that here. For a lot of people, much of the joy and value of the day was in having everyone in the same place for once. A few precedents were cited, from recent years - and from previous decades, by those with long enough memories - but I don't think I have ever spent the day with close to sixty practice friends like that. Looking around the room, I estimated that I had probably sat sesshin with all but about eight people there, not to mention the countless hours of zazen we have all sat together. It was also the last day before a portion of the assembly headed back to Tassajara for the winter practice period, so there was a chance to catch up and say hellos and goodbyes, as well as having everyone putting their heads together on the topic in hand.
I took a number of photos just to capture the occasion, but since I hadn't asked everyone's permission beforehand, I won't put them up here. Except for the two participants who won't be able to vocalise their objections, and who probably got more loving attention than anybody else, on a day where that was not in short supply - Mati, Nancy and Olivia's dog, and Frankie, Jiryu and Sarah's delightful eight-month-old.

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