Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Heading Out Again -- written May 11

Well, things have been very busy the last month, and tomorrow we leave for the monastery for a week-long retreat. There will be periods of busy-ness there, as well, because I'm assistant tenzo again, so all my work periods will be in the kitchen. But the rest of the time will be primarily silence, lots of sitting meditation in silence, with some interviews with teachers, some dharma talks, and some chanting services. I may have to miss most of the chanting services in favor of the kitchen, not sure yet. I find myself looking forward to the quiet, and the fact that there will be no more actual decisions to make, no more conversations (other than with the teacher), a time to focus inward, a structure that will keep me contained.

I did two talks in the last month, at Term Student retreats (everyone who participated in the retreats was required to give a 10-minute talk). Here's how I ended the one yesterday. It outlines the beginning of my days. The talk was about love, and the point I was making was that everything I do here is about love.

The alarm goes off at 5:10. Some days I'm already awake, and other days I struggle to come out of slumber. I get out of bed around 5:20 or so, make the bed as I get out of it. I wash and dress and head out the door, turning off the porch light and locking the door carefully behind me.

I walk the three blocks to the Dharma house, looking at the sky, listening to the birds, smelling the air, appreciating the fact that I can walk in this wonderful world.

At the Dharma House I take off my shoes as I enter the side door so I can walk quietly upstairs toward the front door inside. Hang up my jacket and put my shoes where I can easily find them in a few minutes. I go upstairs, put my purse away, get out of some of the clothes I just put on in exchange for a sitting robe. Get my shawl to stay warm. Back downstairs, where I may or may not get a drink of water, and then put my shoes and shawl on and go out the front door, across the street to the Zendo.

I go in the basement door, put my shoes and socks and keys away, get my kesa case, get a drink of water (if I didn't do that at the Dharma House), and go upstairs the zendo.

I check to make sure the zendo is set up all right, look to see whether there are things I need to do, and either take care of them or assure myself that someone else has it covered. I take care of what is mine to take care of, and then take my seat by 6am.

I do this every day except Sunday, when the schedule is different, and my service to the community takes a different, perhaps more public form.


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