At soji, there was the Buddha Hall to set up, seats to reserve for many distinguished guests, extra cushions and chairs to be fetched and set out. I almost missed breakfast as I wanted to get things to certain point before stopping. And then I had to rig the dining room projection system for the overflow live video feed. Luckily things were all functioning as they should, which left me time to get some coffee before returning to the zendo.
I had started worrying yesterday that maybe some of the big crowd that we were expecting might want to come and sit first, but since we were all running around all day, I had decided against the extra work of putting out floor cushions. As the han started, it seemed like just the regulars were showing up; right at 9:25 there was a late influx, but it turned out to be just enough to fill every seat we had without needing the extras.
Upstairs was a different story - the Buddha Hall was already full when people came up from the zendo, and the dining room was filling fast. I was glad I had a spot for myself, though I wasn't sure how I was going to reach it.
And in fact, once I had sat down, and Valorie the jisha had turned the mic on, I realised there was a problem. One of my rechargeable batteries doesn't hold a charge very well, and the other one had gone missing while I was at Green Gulch; I could immediately see that the dodgy one wasn't going to last the talk, so I grabbed a spare and barged inelegantly around the edge of the room to replace it during the opening chant. Except the spare must have also been used in sesshin, as it had very little juice left, so I had to retrace my steps, and get the other spares - luckily I always keep a handful. The third one looked fine, and I gave the fourth one to Valorie just in case.
I didn't get to concentrate much on the talk after that even, as I was keeping a close eye on levels, and following what was going on with the Livestream. What I did catch onto sounded deep and subtle, and I will definitely listen to it all again. He started by dealing quickly and skillfully with the end of his abbacy, which defused any tension there may have been, and ended with a beautiful and moving vignette about Suzuki Roshi on his deathbed.
I felt a little more nervous than usual getting up to make my announcements - there were six other abbots in attendance as well as so many other people with a long and distinguished history here - and having forgotten to introduce myself as I intended, I kept them as brief as possible so as to hand over to Susan who was launching the public phase of Zen Center's Capital Campaign.
When we reconvened for the question and answer session, again, as far as I was able to concentrate, there were strong and clear answers to a whole variety of inquiries, including a number from the Livestream viewers, and as he bowed out, Baker Roshi said that it had felt very comfortable being here, which I think has been the experience all round.
I took a few pictures of the talk, but none of them came out well - I was a little more successful with the question and answer session, and also with Baker Roshi's chat afterwards with the Livestream crew - he seemed very interested in that set-up, as indeed he has been these past few days about many aspects of the current life and practice of the temple he helped create.
|The Buddha Hall crowd awaiting the lecture|
|The dining room with the live video feed|
|Baker Roshi during the question and answer session|
|Baker Roshi with Dianne, David, Tanya and Laura of the Livestream crew|
|I was surprised and happy to see Gaelyn today. This is me with her and Siobhan, who is just back from Olympic London.|