Saturday, July 23, 2011

Mindful Of Transiency

There was a big crowd at the talk this morning - Liping had brought her qigong students for a visit, as she does from time to time - and I have also been thinking about the big crowd that was not in the room. The sangha here has many forms and layers, residents, former residents, friends, families, people who are just interested or curious, and we are all touched at times like this. This blog has received many more visitors than usual around the deaths that have happened in the past eight months, and since yesterday morning there have been 750 visitors to the first post that I wrote about David. One life spreads out and affects so many others, in a way that none of us can fully dream of.
Paul's talk was perfect for the occasion. When I got up to make the announcements afterwards, I found that I was quite emotional - I had been thinking about nenju, and its purpose of allowing each of us to express in bowing our gratitude to one another for our practice during the week, and wanted to encourage those who didn't want to do that as part of a ceremony just to take the opportunity to express gratitude to each other anyway, and connect with other people who were here today.
For the ceremony itself, which did draw a larger number of people than usual, I was the kokyo, which is always one of my favourite things to do. I was looking back at old posts, and it seems I have posted this before, but it has been a while, so here it is again. Today the words contained for me more energetic significance than they commonly do, and I could feel the emotion coming out again in my voice:

Carefully listen everyone.
24 centuries 97 years ago the Great Tathagata entered nirvana.
When this day is gone, your life also decreases.
Like a fish in a puddle, what pleasure is there here?
We are to practice constantly, as if to save our head from fire.
Mindful of transiency, pursue the path with diligence and care.
Throughout Hosshinji the Dharma safely resides,
      bringing all peace.
Everyone in ten directions knows an increase in joy
      and growth in wisdom.
Thankfully we recite the names of Buddha.

Sunset from the roof last Sunday night


Jane Reyer said...

Hello, Shundo, and other dear friends at Zen Center. My heart is there at the altar by David's door. All I can really do is sit quietly, but there is a sweetness in knowing I am sitting with you.

Shundo said...

Thank you for being here Jane.

Author: Maia Duerr said...

Have been thinking about all of you there at SFZC since I heard the news of David's death... so grateful for the depth of practice and the bonds of community that permeate everything there.

Gina and I send our love from Santa Fe. Gina spent the summer of 2008 with David at Tassajara as a practitioner, before the fires hit.

Shundo said...

Thanks, and hello to both of you too. Sorry I didn't get a chance to say much of a hello when you were passing through last week.

Tova said...

I wrote a poem this morning, which I'd like to share with the sangha.
Thank you, Shundo, for your eloquent expression. Tova

A Crack in the Bell

The morning after David took his own life
we rang the densho bell one hundred and eight
times, as we came from the zendo and returned there
to sit. The vibrations filled the halls,
embracing our shock and our sadness.

We chanted for David’s transition in the Buddha Hall,
dedicating our voices to him: “He is taking
a great leap. He is gone into a vast silence.”
How to comprehend it?

In my room I played the cello, slow Bach
allemandes in minor keys, bow and strings
expressing what I couldn’t say in words.

All day residents clustered in small groups,
remembering David, comforting one another.
It was Friday, a work day, and little work
of the usual kind was done. We created altars,
outside the door of his room and in the main hallway,
offered flowers, photos of David, words
of a Stevie Wonder Song, statues of Jizo and Kuan Yin.

The Abbot opened his morning class
to sharing about David’s life and death.
In the evening residents and friends sat
in a circle in the dining room, seventy of us,
to talk about loss, friendship, regrets, vows.
Let’s slow down, notice one another,
listen, connect. Sam offered the song
by Leonard Cohen, which David had loved:

“Ring the bells that still can ring,
Forget your perfect offering,
There is a crack, a crack in everything,
That’s how the light gets in.”

David’s death is a wake-up bell
for all of us.

Tova Green 7-24-11

Mike C. said...

My friendship with Dave stretches beyond three decades; from our hometown in Rockland, Massachusetts to our separate paths to California and, ultimately, spiritual practice in the Buddhist tradition - Dave at the S.F.Z.C. and mine at Spirit Rock.

Tova was the person who contacted me about Dave's death (I was listed as his emergency contact) and offered her sorrow at my loss. At that moment, I was still absorbing the information and had not truly reflected upon the fact that Dave's loss was at much Tova's, and Dave's entire S.F.Z.C. sangha, at it was mine.

I have shared the link to this blog with many of Dave's friends back east as its clear outpouring of love is such a testament to him and to your community.

Dave suffered in many ways over many years but as someone who has known him since he was a boy I can definitely attest that Dave reached levels of clarity, insight and peace during his periods at Green Gulch, Tassaraja and the City Center than I had ever seen him experience in the past.

Your mindful and caring community was a gift to him.

With love and gratitude,
Mike C.

Shundo said...

Thank you both for these beautiful words.

James P. Coady-Hahn said...

A man of little or no self-worth could not have touched so many.

We miss you, David:
July 17-1965 to July 21-2011