Michael, the older brother, ended up with the group I was in with the Abbot in the dokusan room, eight of us all together, in a circle on the tatamis, a formal and sombre setting. Of the other residents, I will name Gretchen mainly to have a reason to point people who might not have come across it to her post from a few days ago. We had an hour, which allowed everyone to say what they felt they needed to say. As with last Friday's meeting, many different moods were expressed; apart from the grief and sense of loss, Michael cracked us all up with a story from their childhood. I talked about how I felt I had little space for a personal reaction with all that was going on, and also remembered a Saturday morning when we were having breakfast in the zendo a year or more ago: the server brought the pot with the miso soup, and I was waiting for them to stir it up with the ladle, to see the cloud of miso once again rise from the bottom. Only, when the soup was stirred, it remained clear. I went up afterwards and asked David, who had cooked the breakfast, about this phenomenon, and he slapped his forehead with the flustered realisation that he had made miso soup without miso, which, we both knew, was going to become one of those stories that would get told around Zen Center for years to come.
Afterwards all the groups came together in the grey light of the courtyard, a typical summer evening cool breeze blowing, to fill the space with the chanting of the Refuges.
This morning we had the first of what will be seven memorial services, to take us through the traditional forty-nine day period. During the Dai Hi Shin Dharani, everyone stood up and took a turn to offer incense as we chanted. I am not sure where we got the dedications for these services from; each makes an appeal to a different buddha or bodhisattva, and the phrasing is unlike anything else we use. I was moved by these lines this morning:
Kindly we pray that in the realm of life and death this one person Seizan Yushin, like the precious Dragon Jewel, will shine as the emerald sea, clear and complete, as the clear blue sky, in the Dharma everywhere, and will serve as a guide for the world in ascending the path to enlightenment.Afterwards, at breakfast, the almonds in our third bowls were still crackling as they cooled.