Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Severely Edited Post

This past Saturday was a one-day sit at the Zen Center. It’s nice to go there Friday after work, sit in the zendo, stay for dinner, and try to line up one’s preferred chair for the next day. In particular, it’s fun to identify others who will be doing the day of meditation and get an initial feeling of esprit de corps which carries into the next morning and imparts a congenial feel to the effort. However, I decided that sleep was more crucial than trying to get my hands on the right chair (i.e., one of the two smaller black chairs) and correspondingly retired just before 8 p.m.—and then lay awake until 12:30 a.m.

Therefore, I might as well go back to Plan A for future one-day sits.

I got up at 4:20 a.m. on Saturday, fed Hammett, did a bit of stretching, and took a cab to the Zen Center. I like to give the driver $20 for this $6 trip so that even if the whole rest of the day is lousy, I can have the pleasure of remembering that moment of generosity.

The whole day was not in fact lousy, though it’s hard to know what criteria to use: If I’m in terrible physical or emotional pain, is that a lousy day or a great day? If I decided to go home in the middle of it, would that necessarily be bad? (Phillip Moffitt once told me that leaving a period of intensive practice in the middle may turn out to have been the wisest thing to do.)

It’s hard to avoid seeing a day with pleasurable feelings as a good day and the reverse as the reverse—it’s only human—but who’s to say what will ultimately bring more benefit? Perhaps a better criterion is: Did I mostly fulfill my intention to be present with whatever occurred?

Mostly I did, and I didn’t have particular emotional pain, nor terrible physical pain, though I finally did trade the thing I was sitting on for one of the aforementioned chairs. During one oryoki meal, my chant card slipped out of my hand and slid about two thirds of the way across the floor toward Paul, in his abbot’s spot, of course making what seemed like a horribly noticeable sound. I waited for a moment to see if it might come back of its own accord, but it didn’t, so there was nothing to do but to stand up and retrieve it.

I also made a grave miscalculation in the area of wardrobe and was freezing all day. I had a jacket with me, but it’s yellow, and also probably noisy in a room where it’s otherwise very quiet, so I decided to just be cold.

Sunday it was rainy as well as cold, so I made my first trip of the season in rain gear, to Rainbow.

Note to anyone who may have seen this post before all the exciting parts were taken out: yes, there is some life confusion at the moment. Please stand by.
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