Friday, November 11, 2011

Sitting Out

Last night I stuffed a zafu and zabuton into my bag and rode down Market Street to join the sitting being offered by Green Gulch residents. There was an interesting debate last week on the Facebook wall about whether Zen Center was endorsing the Occupy movement by promoting this event, and I don't think I have anything intelligent to add to the views already expressed. This was my first time down in that part of town since the Occupy movement started; there was a certain visual incongruity of seeing the encampment along the Embarcadero - and also outside the Federal Bank where we were sitting - but then I also found the illuminated snow flake decorations along Market Street pretty incongruous.
I thought I was late, but when I arrived, I found only Laura and Jamie - the Green Gulch contingent were down listening to the general assembly, so by the time Johan, Qayyum, Maria, Rihanna and the others came along with the candles and cardboard to sit on, I was already settling into some sitting. There were some people agitated at what was supposed to be a gas leak a block away, which turned out not to be anything to worry about. I watched people walking by, city dwellers, camp dwellers, many of whom went to and fro several times. There were security guards on the other side of the barriers, and I guess they would probably be fired if they were seen to be sitting down; they paced up and down, chatted and joked with each other to pass the time, and only came over after a woman who was reading the sign tripped over the leg of a barrier and fell flat on her face. There was the noise of the building's air conditioning, the rumble of streetcars and of skateboards; a saxophone across the street played 'Lara's Theme' from Dr Zhivago and other doleful tunes. I reflected how just a day before I had been sitting out on the roof at sunrise, and here I was sitting on the pavement, looking up at people just as beggars do. Only we were not begging for anything, just being there, sitting together for all beings, as the sign says. Afterwards, we gathered into a circle and chanted the Loving Kindness Meditation, and I remembered chanting it before the Pride procession started, just a few blocks away. When Qayyum intoned a long, hand-written eko, I wondered if it sounded like a manifesto to the people walking past.

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