Saturday, January 21, 2012

The Seventh Pot

Having been ino for this long, I have become a bit blasé about one-day sittings, and don't prepare much for them before the Friday. This week I did go out and procure all the necessaries for oryoki sets, and spent time on Thursday scrubbing all the sticky labels off the bowls, spoons and chopsticks, which  is perhaps my least favourite ino activity. But it was only on Friday that I had a sense of exactly how big the sitting was going to be. January is always the most popular month, as I have referenced before, and, once we had collated all the lists, we were looking at hosting a hundred people. Well, 104 once we added in the teachers.
I know there have been sittings that big before, but certainly not in my time as ino. We filled every seat in the zendo, and the floor, and I had a lot of residents sitting in the gaitan. Nadia made sure we had extra seats in the hall as we did for New Year, which were certainly occupied for the 9:25 sitting. So Friday was another fifteen hour day making sure everything was done on the logistical front, and happily I think the initial sticker shock was the worst part of it.
There were some interludes to the preparations -  among our new residents, Alison duly arrived from London bearing a packet of Tunnock's as well as some English newspapers, which I hope to have time to read one of these days. I can report that the tea cakes are quite as I remembered. I was very happy to be able to give a couple to Jana, ahead of Burns' night, and she was thrilled to see some of her native foodstuffs again. I was also able to return at least some of the kindness of two of my regular chocolate donors.
On the more sombre side of things, we also commemorated the one-year anniversary of Lou's death: we ended evening zazen early, and came up to the Buddha Hall. It was full with old friends and residents, and people here for the practice period and the sitting. A number of us spoke to Lou first, remembering his great practice and not forgetting his crotchedy side, then we chanted the Dai Hi Shin Dharani, before offering incense at the end.

Today was much more relaxed than I had been imagining it might be. There was a bit of shoe-horning going on, especially in the Buddha Hall for service, and for meals. The residents who ended up in the gaitan didn't seem to mind being asked to forgo oryoki today, and amazingly we got through breakfast only five minutes behind schedule thanks to some classy serving, and the introduction of an unprecedented seventh pot for serving. Most importantly, the tenzo had prepared enough food for everyone. I counted seventy-five people eating lunch, all the upper and lower tans, and ten people on the floor as well. At dinner Blanche said she hasn't seen so many in the zendo since 1971, though I think she might have been exaggerating a mite. As always, once we got into the afternoon session, I didn't really have anything to take care of, so I could settle into some sitting - the middle forty minute period seemed remarkably short; I must have been having a good time.

And finally, the weather report. Those of you close to here will know that it has not rained since Thanksgiving, which is great for bike rides and being outdoors generally, but not so good for other, interconnected parts of our lives. Yesterday morning as we were sitting, the rain fell heavily, and I felt the kind of relief that you used to be able to feel palpably in the zendo at Tassajara when the first rain of the winter could be heard sweeping along the valley before landing noisily on the zendo roof. Certainly I was glad yesterday that I didn't have to go anywhere at all; by the end of the evening it was quite squally. Today started wet as well, then mostly cleared up with that blustery freshness. I am prepared to get wet on my ride tomorrow.

The thing itself, attempting to recreate the angle shown on the card I received
P.S. I see from the stats that someone has been looking for 'shundo zen'. Perhaps if they find any, they can let me know.


Anonymous said...

loved this ... loved the big heart accommodating all ... the seventh pot ... the rain ... loved the offering of tea cakes and chocolate ... loved the practice of removing all the sticky labels off each bowl ... very zen ... all these invisible preparations that you do so lovingly and with kindly so others may sit and have their zen experience ... may your ride in the rain be especially delightful ... may all manner of things be well ... may it be so ... am so loving your way of sharing the goings on and your way with it ... you are a precious ino and very much appreciated ... many gracious thanks to you

Shundo said...

Thank you so much, If I knew who you were, I might give you one of the last tea cakes...

Sandy's witterings said...

Good old teacakes - not only tasty but rather photogenic.

Shundo said...

Indeed so. I would recommend to you Gillian Kyle's prints if you are not already familiar with them:

Ruth said...

*Love* Tunnock's Tea cakes :-)