I also had an important meeting with Christina at the end of yesterday afternoon, which went well; I put my robes on and went straight to the zendo, just as Roger and Farnoosh had guided the ten or so visiting monks, nuns and lay followers to seats in the zendo. I felt happy to have a chance to sit with them all, and since the theme was meditation in the city in the 21st century, I was listening to the usual sounds of the zendo with an ear to that topic.
In the end, I think the event was everything we all hoped it would be: the group sang songs as we settled down in the dining room, setting a lovely tone for the evening. Members of the audience were singing along, so it was clear that other people practising in that tradition had come along. I was delighted to see at least a dozen familiar faces from Young Urban Zen, and felt very supported by their presence; the dining room was full once the panel started.
I ended up being asked to speak first on the panel, and felt that I, and Tim when he spoke, held up our end perfectly well. The two young monastics who shared on behalf of the Wake Up group, Brother Phap Chieu (aka Brother Shiny), and Sister Bội Nghiêm (True Pearl) offered very refreshing perspectives on mindfulness practices. The feeling I got from being up on the stage for that part, and the question and answer session that followed was of real heart opening, and we all agreed that it was wonderful to be sharing the dharma with each other on an occasion like this. I remember the same feeling when I spent a few weeks at Great Vow, that the opportunity to practise with sincere practitioners who do things slightly differently is a wonderful tonic that also allows you to look at your own practice anew. They offered another song at the end which served to wrap things up beautifully, and Christina suggested we end with the Pali Refuges, which, as we often note, is the closest thing we have to a song in our regular practice. I came away feeling completely grateful and uplifted, transported from where I had been a day before, and that is still in me, I am glad to say. Reactions from people today have been universally positive for the whole event, so of course we say, 'we really should do this more often'.
Being on the panel, it was not so easy to take photographs, but here are a few from before and after.
|I went up on the roof before the event, and the beautiful sky helped ground me and prepare me for what I was going to say|
|The two communites mingled after the event|
|Lucy and Sister Bội Nghiêm|
|Lucy translated the inscription on the big bell in the Buddha Hall as we showed them around afterwards|