Monday, January 28, 2019
I have a “Zen job,” I am the Ino or the head of the meditation hall of the San Francisco Zen Center. My job is to take care that everything is in its place, so that the practice happens in harmony.
My day starts early, at 5:00, just after the wake up bell, I check the zendo (meditation room), the light must be soft, the window open to circulate the air. On the altar, the candle should be lit and with a correct size and the incenser centralized.
People start to arrive and I’m the one who welcome them and tells them where to sit. Three hits on the bell, zazen begins, after half an hour two hits to start the Kinhin (walking meditation). Another 3 hits and another zazen period. The taiko (Japanese drum) marks the time, the Han prepares us for the verse of Okesa. “Great robe of liberation, field far beyond form and emptiness, vearing the Tathagata’s teaching Saving all beings.”
At the end of Zazen we go to the Buddha Hall, I check the lights, if the candles are lid, the mat centralized. I confirm if the officiant (Doshi) and his assistant, (Jisha or jiko) are ready.
The ceremony begins. Every day in the morning we do the repentance, we take refuge in Buddha, Dharma and Shanga, after that the sutras. Eyes and ears alert. How is the sound of the mokugyo (instrument that sets the rhythm), how are the bells sounding? At the end of the ceremony I give feedback to the people who participated.
During the day I take care of what is coming, ceremonies, sesshin (retreats). At the end of the day, I sit zazen again, it is when people come from outside of Zen Center, who comes from the work to practice.
This is my day by day. Taking care of details and having the vision of the whole. Paying attention to each one and overall flow. All this for us to practice together.
What is it to be the the giver of joy to the assembly? That the heart of Sanga becomes my own heart? That the practice of all becomes my own practice?
In the Zendo, almost everyone sits facing the wall, Ino, Abbot, Tanto (practice supervisor) sit facing the center of the room, is part of my zazen to pay attention in what is happening.
But more than that, to pay attention that the practice happens smoothly and to encourage people to practice. Knowing that I have presence like a host, caring with love for my guests. Zen love is a subtle care, it is to take care of the silence.