Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Give Over

When I was sixteen, a couple of school friends of mine declared, after, I imagine, much thought, that the meaning of life was that everything was a container. I thought then, and still do, for why else would it have stuck in my mind for thirty years, that the idea has some merit, while perhaps not being the definitive answer.
Here at Zen Center we are fond of using the word in its more abstract forms, especially the container of practice and the container of community, and both of these have been particularly to the fore this past week. As this second week of the intensive has got underway, I can feel myself settling into the schedule, as I hoped I would be able to, and giving over to what comes next.
This morning during service I looked at the candle on the altar, and saw that Gretchen had taken care of it, in the way that she described recently, and words from Dogen's Tenzo Kyokun came to mind: "Day and night things come to mind, and the mind attends to them". I have always liked this sentence, for its utter simplicity, and when I was tenzo, and we chanted from the Tenzo Kyokun every day, I would get to reflect on it frequently. This morning I realised that I hadn't thought about that line for a long time, and that my feeling of late is that while I have been attending to things as best I can, the doing has been accompanied by the sense that these things are a chore and are taking something out of me. With the nice number of hours we are getting to sit during the intensive, feeling my body relax and release tensions, it feels much more like I can just attend to things, be nourished by the attending, and keep moving forward to the next thing. This is how I understand the idea of being held by the container of practice.

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