Monday, November 03, 2008

November 3, 2008

Yesterday was the first anniversary of my father’s death. Last week at Segaki for the first time I felt some sorrow that we never really got to know each other, and I began to wish him a better rebirth. It was a much nicer feeling than the anger, rage, and pain that have dominated my feelings toward him during this last year.

I’ve been reading The Wild White Goose, Roshi Kennett’s autobiography. In her description of transmission, and especially when she had that transmission verified, she used the word “love” a fair bit. For her the training and practice had something to do with the love she and her teacher shared, and by extension to every other person and thing on the planet, and beyond, I suppose.

When I asked Gyokuko about the sewing master as a teaching function, she talked about the kitchen, and how it has to do with caring deeply for every thing we work with, awareness of its texture, our body sensation -- mindfulness and love. As she used the word “love” she got this big smile on her face. I realized later that she was recognizing this as a subject I have expressed a lot of interest in. [Hmmm… maybe I could do a student talk about this at some point …]

In fact, I’m seeing it. Last year when Hogen suggested that I put the pain in my heart into the context of a lot of space, he wasn’t saying that it doesn’t matter, which is what I was hearing. To the contrary, you do that because it does matter, profoundly.

Further, I recognize that my stuck places, my very obstacles, come from love, and the feeling that I have somehow failed in caring for the people around me. And so I keep trying to take care of everything around me as I did for my younger siblings growing up. And getting kind of bossy about it (as of course I felt I had to do with them). Taking over. Not trusting others or allowing them to fail.

Everything I do comes from love. It’s all love.

Now I need to learn how to express it skillfully, to communicate it in a way that is NOT controlling, that creates space for others to grow in their own ways. As my teachers have done for me. As they continue to do.

I’ve been thinking of saying something about soji [temple cleanup, 30 minutes] (which we do four mornings a week, and which I assign). Something like this: Soji is an opportunity to express our gratitude for a space that supports our training practice. It is an opportunity to extend that gratitude into generosity to others in supporting their training practice. It is an opportunity to practice mindfulness in paying attention to the things, surfaces, textures and tools we work with, and to our own bodies as we move through these activities. Creating a clean, welcoming environment expresses our love to all who enter here and allows us all to share our practice together. May we be mindful of ourselves, our sensations, our own practice, and also mindful of others who will use these things / food / spaces, so that we and they will obtain the truth.

November 2, 2008

I've been buried with work, but am really happy, feeling like I'm doing well, and enjoying what I do. I keep hoping to slow down long enough to write an update, but haven't been doing that lately, and my blog is way out of date. Maybe tomorrow? No prison group tomorrow night, so I may have some space to breathe. Mondays (day off) are traditionally laundry in the morning, brunch with the community here, and then library sometime during the afternoon. I have one book due tomorrow and if I take it back, the chances are pretty good that I will look around and find some more to check out, either there in the kinda small branch library I go to or in their system-wide catalog. Then guess what I spend the rest of the day and evening doing?

This morning I got up early to participate in our annual Founders Vigil. Our teachers' teacher and her teacher both died in early November, and so we do an all-night vigil each year to honor them. There are some people who sit in the evening and into the night, but I've found that it works well for me to get some sleep first and then get up early to sit 3-6am. I did that this morning, and it was lovely. There were three of us when I first sat down, and five by the time I got up. I think MrK did the entire vigil -- he usually tries to do that, and he's someone who doesn't seem to need a lot of sleep. I simply can't do that, so I don't try to. If my teacher asks me to do that some time, I will do it, and know that I will be basically non-functional for two days afterward. But I wouldn't voluntarily do it, and I doubt seriously that he will ask me to.

Of course, my "little sister" just ordained thinks I'm crazy for getting up early on my days off to go sit at 6am when I don't have to. What she doesn't understand is that I really do "have to," in that it seems to be a requirement for me these days to sit at that time every day in order to keep making progress in my training and stay on an even keel. I'm getting a sense of what it means to sit still in the midst of all sorts of storms (internal and external), and the value of that. I find it incredibly precious. I thought I might take a nap this afternoon, but I didn't. And I just got back from a meeting with ZCO, and am not planning to sit with them this evening -- time to head up the street and settle in with the book that's due tomorrow (I'm half way through it) and go to bed.

I note that my father died one year ago today. I remembered him last week at our Segaki Festival, and his name was read on the list of those who have died in the last year. I find my feelings about him softening a bit on this first anniversary of his death, and that is good.

October 23, 2008

Good grief! Time just keeps marching on. The newsletter is done, but there's a whole lot of other things happening, and I'm still just putting one foot in front of the other.

This weekend is our annual Segaki retreat, where we feed the Hungry Ghosts and invite old unresolved karma to come and get whatever it can for the day before we send it away again for another year. We also read the names of everyone who has died in the last year, and George's name is on the list.

I'm going to be assistant tenzo for this retreat, and I think it will be relatively easy. The numbers look like we will be feeding from 21-24 people at each meal, not too bad. At Rohatsu (which will be in December, and cause me to miss the Bower reunion then), there are typically something like 60 people. One year we had 88 total over the course of the week! I will undoubtedly be in the kitchen there this year, but not in charge.

As assistant tenzo, I've been finding out what needs to be used up here, gathering the numbers of how many will eat each meal and what allergies there are, and then I will meet with the tenzo this afternoon to go over menus and what I need to shop for tomorrow. I will also set up all the place settings tomorrow. For this retreat, we use plate, bowl, fork, knife, spoon, cup, and napkin. Each person gets a setup which they use for the entire weekend, washing up their own dishes after each meal. We eat formally in the zendo after serving ourselves buffet style downstairs.

Jyoshin was indeed ordained on Saturday, so I now officially have a "little sister." I took her to the store yesterday to buy a razor, and she, MrK and I all shaved each other this morning. I remember that time of getting used to lots of fabric in new robes, bowing mat, etc., and shaving, and moving into a new room (which she's also doing). When I was a postulant, the ordained (plus me) shaved each other once a week, but once I was ordained, the dynamics shifted and I was the only one shaving, so I've gotten used to doing myself. It's kind of nice that there are again three of us to do each other. It's a nice time of sharing something as ordained once a week, caring for each other in that way.

We have three new residents moving in during the next week or so, all 20-somethings, one woman and two men. It will be interesting.

My volunteer ID badge finally came through in the prisons, so I can pick it up tomorrow evening when we go in. That will simplify paperwork considerably. I feel that I'm getting gradually more involved in the prison program, and there may be some changes in who's doing what over the next couple of years. Not that I will take over (heaven forfend!), and my involvement is limited somewhat by necessity because of what I am needed for here, but I may go to more places, etc.

October 17, 2008

Wow, time has been flying by. I intended to do a whole update about my trip to San Francisco, but instead I came back and was immediately buried in our newsletter. It's mostly done now, and I feel like I can almost breathe. Of course a few days ago I got a cold, which has slowed me down slightly in the last couple of days, but I'm feeling a bit better today.

Tomorrow my "little sister" postulant Jyoshin is getting ordained. I'm jikko in the ceremony, and my part will be primarily to hand her things and then to actually put her robes on her during that part of the ceremony. She and I have always gotten along really well, and it's nice that she's joining the "family" of the ordained here.

She's in her 30s, which puts her pretty close to MrK in age. Domyo is slightly older, but not much. So there's the three 30-somethings, and then there are the two abbots who are 60 and I'm 59. That's relative ages. And yet, both Domyo and MrK are my seniors in terms of ordination date, and of course the abbots are completely my teachers.

Anyway, Jyoshin and I practiced today with putting robes on her, and she practiced bowing with all that extra fabric -- it takes a while to get used to. [As it happened, we practiced with her standing, but during the ceremony, Kyogen told her to kneel. Since we hadn't practiced that, I found myself stepping on her feet, and it was a bit more awkward than I anticipated. Still, we got it done.] She's been asking for advice and instruction, and getting quite a bit. One big difference between her and me is that she isn't shy about asking for help and advice.

We have another retreat coming up soon -- Segaki. It's a weekend retreat here in town (next weekend), so in many ways not too bad. Once again I will be in the kitchen as an assistant tenzo, and I've drafted someone else to lead sewing work practice. I suspect I will be in the kitchen on retreats for a while to come. Anyway, there will be lots of opportunity for sitting meditation, and I'm looking forward to that.

We've been back on our regular term schedule since returning from SF the beginning of October, and we're all adjusting to that again. I'm busier just with that. We have two classes a week now and two (sometimes three) additional evenings of meditation, along with our regular morning meditation and services.

Oh, and the other big news is that I finally started my own prison meditation group in Coffee Creek's Minimum facility. Seven women came to that, and it was a nice group. I'll be doing that every other Monday evening from now on. And in addition, I'm still accompanying people to Medium on some Friday nights -- tonight, for example, I'll be heading back down there with the two women who lead that group. My ID badge should be ready soon.

SZBA Conference October 1-4

More than a month later, I’m finally sitting down to write about this packed six days.

There were two conferences happening simultaneously October 1-4. The regular biennial SZBA conference, for full members: recognized transmitted priests/teachers in the Soto Zen school, was held at San Francisco Zen Center (locally known as City Center). The associates conference was a first-time event, for ordained novice priests who have not been transmitted, and that was held at Green Gulch Farm, which is across the bay near the coast. This is a Zen Center and working organic farm that supplies produce to City Center and I believe also to Tassajara. The food, as you might imagine, was wonderful -- lots of fresh organic produce at the center of everything.

The time outside of the actual conference was just as full as the time of the conference itself.

Jikan, Jogen, and I drove down to San Francisco in the Great Vow Zen Monastery van. Domyo, the other associate member from DRZC, was part of organizing the associates conference, and travelled separately by air. The teachers from DRZC and GVZM all flew. The three of us going by van had made arrangements to stay overnight at Shasta Abbey, about half way to SF. My thought was to make a fairly leisurely drive there on Tuesday, stay overnight, do their morning program and have breakfast with them, and then drive to Green Gulch to be there in plenty of time for the conference which started Wednesday evening. I like to have spaces around my traveling, especially driving.

However, I was traveling with others, and they had other ideas. It seems that Jogen had never been to San Francisco, and was keen to do some sightseeing. He and Jikan said they would rather leave Shasta early on Wednesday morning and be able to spend a few hours in the city before going to Green Gulch. Okay, let’s be flexible here.

We got to Shasta a bit later than I had anticipated, having stopped in Ashland for a wonderful dinner and a little window shopping. We had been watching Mt Shasta as we drove south on I-5, but by the time we actually reached the Abbey (which is right next to the freeway, pretty much on the mountain), it was dark.

Nevertheless, we were greeted graciously by the guestmaster, and then were given a grand tour of the place, which even in the dark is impressive. Reverend Master Eko and a couple of his assistants took us around. We did bows and made incense offerings at various altars, and for me it was especially moving to be able to do this at Roshi Kennett’s stupa, a large granite monument in the center of the circle formed by the Abbey’s buildings. She is, after all, my dharma grandmother, having been my teacher’s teacher.

They have built covered walkways to connect the many buildings, since they have a lot of snow in the winter, as you might imagine. The weather when we were there (the end of September), however, was pleasant and balmy. We each got a guest room to stay overnight in, and settled in.

The Abbey’s schedule was a bit relaxed that Wednesday, as it happened, and the wake-up bell wasn’t until 6am. We made arrangements to leave at 6:15, and they had someone to see us off. We told them that we probably wouldn’t stop there on our way back as we (I) had originally planned. They assured us that we could do so if we wished. They kept wanting to give us breakfast, but we told them we were fine, and would get breakfast on the road. Unfortunately, it was still dark as we left, so we didn’t ever quite get the full visual effect of the mountain on the Abbey. We stopped at Redding to eat breakfast, and then continued to San Francisco.

Once in San Francisco, we weren’t exactly sure how to get where we were going, even though Jikan and I had been there the previous year. We wanted to go to this shopping mall in Japantown where we had enjoyed going before. Jikan I think had something in mind that she wanted to get there. We had a vague idea of where it was, and kept trying to find things that looked familiar, but we didn’t have an actual map of the city, and finally asked people for directions (more than once, because things weren’t all that clear). We found the place, gave ourselves a couple of hours there, and had also determined we wented to go to the Asian Art Museum. Jikan and Jogen both spent a fair amount of money in a shop that had a lot of very nice incense. I bought a few cards in a stationery store, but otherwise just looked around a lot.

We had asked about directions to the Asian Art Museum, but people in the shops weren’t exactly sure where it was, or whether there might be more than one? We had heard that it was near the library, but again there are several. So we headed for downtown and looked. At some point Jikan, who was driving, pointed to her left and said she had a feeling it was kind of over there. I spotted an underground parking garage and told her to turn left toward it, and as I looked up, there was this large granite building with the inscription “Asian Art Museum.” We high-fived, parked, and spent another enjoyable hour and half or so in the museum.

I spent my entire time on the top floor, where there were a lot of ancient statues, many of which were Buddhist (and many other statues as well, of course). The person when we went in said it was fine to take photos, as long as we didn’t use flash. One photo I took ended up on the front cover of our newsletter this time, and you can see it at our web site ( In the process, though, my camera’s battery ran out, and I hadn’t thought to bring the charger for that (I did bring the one for the cell phone, which I never used), so those were my only photos of the trip.

After this, we headed to Green Gulch, getting there in plenty of time to get our packets of information and directions for where we were going to be. Jikan had arranged to stay in a guest room, but Jogen and I opted for the Zendo, which was free. It turns out that most associates had chosen to stay in guest rooms, for which they had to pay extra, and there were only five or so of us in the Zendo.

I had brought my sleeping bag and therm-a-rest pad, and once I put those on top of the zabuton (futon) pads they supplied us with, I was quite comfortable. They have a system where you roll up your futon in the morning and store all the rest of your bedding in a large plastic bin. These fit neatly under the tan, a raised platform around the edge of the zendo where people sit meditation. We had a room downstairs from the zendo where we could hang our robes and store some things and change clothes as we needed. Although there were both men and women, we didn’t find this to be a problem. Monks learn to make do (putting on and taking off clothing under a kimono is not all that difficult). They did say that men should sleep on one side of the zendo and women on the other, which I suppose made a bit of sense, and of course we did so.

We got a great dinner in the cafeteria, and then all met together in the yurt they provided for us for meeting space. There were 30 of us, a surprisingly large number to the organizers (I believe there were something like 60-70 full members meeting at the downtown conference). A lot of the value of our meeting had to do simply with getting to know each other and gaining a sense of where each of us was from, what kinds of temples or centers or groups we were working with, etc. We did introductions and some orientation, and went to bed.

The wakeup bell on Thursday morning was at 4:35am, and we were sitting zazen by 5am. Morning service was 6:30, and then Soji [temple cleanup] was at 7am. The director of Green Gulch was having fun figuring out tasks for all of these priests to do, and I ended up doing some sweeping in the walkway in front of the cafeteria. We did breakfast, KP, and then attended their work circle to hear announcements.

Domyo and Sanshin (the other organizer, whom I knew from the training ango in Jikoji last year) had divided our time into four discussion sessions, morning and afternoon of Thursday and Friday. We talked about the American Lay-priest Hybrid on Thursday morning, addressing the reality that what a priest looks like in America is pretty variable. Many are married, some with families. Many are working full- or part-time at outside jobs. Some are running a center or group with very little support, and others are part of a large organization. There were several people my age relatively recently ordained. Certainly for women, there opens up some space in our 50s to pursue something we’ve always wanted to do but couldn’t because of various family responsibilities.

Thursday afternoon we discussed monastic practice. Ironically, the two people who are training in an actual monastery, Jogen and Jikan, were at City Center helping their teachers put on a Jizo ceremony, and so weren’t able to participate in this discussion. Still, we talked about whether there is value in doing monastic practice, what that might be, how it might fit into the lay-priest hybrid we talked about, etc. Pretty interesting.

That evening we did a Ryaku Fusatsu ceremony, which was similar to one I participated in last year at Jikoji at the SZBA training ango.

Friday morning was a day off for Green Gulch, so no formal wakeup bell or zazen. I did zazen anyway, which I always do, simply sitting at my place where I had slept on the tan. Breakfast was informal, and we pretty much got it for ourselves. Friday’s discussions were What is a Teacher? and Establishing Dharma Centers. The Teacher discussion was my favorite of the four. We talked about the various ways that we do and don’t teach, and how we get or don’t get authorization for that. What requires transmission to do (giving the Precepts, doing sanzen/dokusan, ordaining priests) and what doesn’t. Ways that leadership happens in temples, centers, and sitting groups. Formal authority vs informal authority. Much sharing of how things work in our various places.

The discussion about establishing centers quickly turned into how centers grow and develop, how once they are started they go through a lot of changes and managing that and following that skillfully takes some doing. Again, much sharing of how various centers have developed, sometimes in strikingly different ways.

On Saturday, we were scheduled to join the full members at City Center. Again, my travelling companions decided to leave before breakfast in order to get there a bit early. So I did one period of zazen, while they did two and left the hall before service. I changed clothes and sat zazen for a bit in the room waiting for Jogen to come down. Then we hauled our stuff to the van and headed back across the bay to City Center.

Somehow we lucked out and got a perfect parking place directly across the street, went in and had breakfast with the big kids. We found places to sit in the cafeteria where they were meeting, and listened to discussions about the development of an Ethics Statement. Then they moved to talking about priest training, which of course was of great interest to all of us novice priests. The five of us there who had attended the training ango the year before all got up to do brief reports about it, and then there was a lot of discussion about whether to do it again (especially since the one planned for this last summer was cancelled for lack of signups and because two of the four teachers had to withdraw for health reasons) and if so how, for how long, what time of year, etc. Also heard something about a priest training program being done in connection with Tassajara on a different model, more like the distance learning program I did for my masters degree. The ango model is more like monastic training, and ideally should be at least three months (though the one-month session we did last year was valuable). This is tough for most novices to arrange for, and also pretty tough on the temples who have to do without them for that time. And yet, there is a lot of value in it. Formed a committee to work on it, with both full members and associates, to do needs assessment and plan for something more. I managed to keep my hand down and not volunteer to be on the committee.

In the afternoon they had a business meeting and then a Dharma Heritage ceremony for 12 Dharma Heirs. The associates all sat around the edge of the Buddha Hall on chairs for that ceremony, basically watching as the big kids processed, bowed, etc., but of course joining in for the chanting. I was right next to the chant leader, who was ringing a huge gong, and it was cool to watch how he was working the bells, chants, etc.

In the evening, we went to the banquet, which was held at a restaurant in Chinatown. We drove the van and followed Myosho, another associate, who had arranged for us to go to a jazz club after the banquet. When I first heard about going out to a jazz club, I was skeptical. I mean, our plan (again changed from how I had originally envisioned it) was to get up early on Sunday morning and drive straight through to Portland. Going out to a jazz club, no matter how cool, seemed like not such a great idea to me. But I finally shrugged, hey, I’m in San Francisco, take advantage of it. Anyway, technically I’m junior to both Jogen and Jikan (Jogen was ordained 3 weeks before I was, so he’s senior to me, even though he’s young enough to be my son), and it’s their van.

In the mean time, the banquet was interesting. We walked into this Chinese restaurant, and they were doing line dancing to Chinese music. We ended up being upstairs on a mezzanine of sorts, able to look down on the dance floor. They did a tango and a cha-cha, all to Chinese music. The dancers had obviously taken lessons in ballroom dancing, and were really pretty good, but it just seemed kind of surreal. At some point the dancing ended and karaoke started, all of it in Chinese, of course, so I didn’t know any of the music. I take that back, there were a few snippets in English, but it almost still sounded like Chinese. Then later they went back to dance music.

The food was good, but some of it was not vegetarian, which evidently upset some of the people in attendance. I’m not a purist, so I ate some shrimp and some chicken. Not all that much, as I don’t really care that much for shrimp, and I tend to eat very small amounts of these things when I encounter them. Most people at our table did the same. I heard later that a few others were upset. There was also alcohol available for purchase, and several people took advantage of that. At one point, a few senior priests got up and were dancing to the music. Just generally having a great time. Along about 8:30pm, our little group headed out to go to Oakland to the jazz club.

The club in question was Yoshi’s, which I had never heard of, but which is well-known in the city. There are actually two of them, one not far from City Center, and the other in Oakland. Yoshi is the wife of Bishop Akiba, a Zen teacher. They are both Japanese, and have been in the US for many years, I believe. Myosho is Bishop Akiba’s student, and in addition her son works at the Oakland jazz club, so she totally has an in there. She said we could go to this club for free (we later found out that tickets for the first show went for $75, and the second for $50). We got separated from Myosho in the parking garage, so went on to the club. We walked in and the host asked us what we were wishing, to see a show or go to the restaurant (there’s a very good sushi restaurant attached to the club). We said we were with Myosho, at which he looked blank, and we all frantically tried to remember her other name, but none of us knew it. So he went to ask Yoshi herself, and she knew we were coming. He came back and said that she had said to put us upstairs in what he called the “VIP box.” We nodded and followed him.

He went into the kitchen, and opened this very small door, about the size of a broom closet, and indicated we were to go in there. It was dark, and I looked a question at him, but he was still pointing to the closet. I looked in and there was a ladder leaning steeply against the wall. He asked whether I could fit in there, and I stepped in and said yes, going up the ladder. At the top of the ladder, still in the dark, I reached out with my foot and found floor to stand on, and found myself in a kind of balcony overlooking the club. There were some chairs, and a kind of ledge forming a small table at the edge of the box. I sat down as the others came up, and there we were in the dark, listening to Wayne Shorter’s band.

Oh, yes, Jogen had earlier discovered that Wayne Shorter was playing, and was incredibly excited -- a jazz legend, he called him. I had never heard of Wayne Shorter, but of course I don’t particularly follow jazz. We got to hear the end of the first show, and it was pretty good, but I think we were all still kind of adjusting to the unexpected circumstances when the show ended.

People left the floor, and we went back downstairs. We ended up in the middle of the club talking with Yoshi herself, and the host, who turns out to be a monk practicing at City Center. There were many people cleaning up all around us to prepare for the second show. The conversation was interesting -- she seems like a fascinating person, obviously with a lot of energy, and maybe a little surprised at how she seems to be running two very successful jazz clubs. “I’ve created two monsters,” is how she started the conversation. She is obviously dedicated to supporting artists, and interested in fusion, combining different art forms from different cultural traditions, etc.

She asked if we wanted to stay for the second show. It was getting late, but we all felt that we would like to hear more. So she gave instructions that we were to be given the best table in the house, right in the center of the club. The host mentioned that they had 60 or 70 paid tickets already and people lined up out the sidewalk. Yoshi just shrugged and said, “they were here first,” and so we sat down as people were coming in.

Myosho treated us to dessert and a small plate of sushi -- we weren’t particularly hungry, of course, having just had a banquet, but we did want to sample the food a little bit at least. I enjoyed the second show much more than the first, probably because I finally was able to settle down and listen to the music. Jogen was captivated by the drummer, who was quite a maniac -- evidently Jogen used to play drums. I found myself finally keying in (so to speak) to the piano player, who was incredible. I told Jogen that I grew up playing piano, and so I suppose it is logical. A very good string bass player joined Wayne Shorter himself on saxophone to round out the band. Each of the musicians was exceptional, and I began to be able to appreciate the ways that their individual sounds wove together to create various shapes, many quite intricate.

At one point Jogen looked at us and said it was past 11pm, and did we want to go. I said, I can’t leave in the middle of this song, I love this song. He just smiled. We did leave once that piece ended, resolutely not listening to the enticing strains of a new piece starting.

We got directions for how to get back on the freeway to go back across the bridge to City Center, but because there were two on ramps right together, got on to the wrong one and went the wrong way. We got off that freeway (I still couldn’t tell you where we were) and how to get back on that one going back the other way was not clear. We finally again asked directions, circled around in a way we never would have figured out except for those directions, and managed to get going the right way back to the city.

We got to City Center around midnight, and of course could find no place to park. We drove around for a half hour before finally finding something about 4-5 blocks away. Not all that bad, really, but it took a long time to find. I had asked about how we would get into the center that late, and was told that all we had to do was ring the bell and someone would let us in. So we got there about 12:30, and rang the bell. Nothing happened. We rang again. Nothing. Looked in the window to the hall way. Nothing. Rang again three times. Nothing. It was a full ten minutes and many ringings of the bell before a sleepy-looking woman (who I assume was a monk) finally answered the door and let us in. Evidently they assign someone to sleep in the Buddha hall, which is near the front door, to take care of night arrivals. And she was just sound asleep and didn’t hear the bell for quite a while.

We headed down to the zendo to catch a few hours sleep before getting up in the morning. Our plan as I understood it was to get up at 5am, leaving by 6am. We had arranged to find breakfast (bagels and cheese and tomatoes) to take with us. I had again brought my sleeping bag and therm-a-rest pad in with me, and was able to make quite a comfortable bed on the tan in the zendo, simply by stacking up zabutons. My two fellow travelers weren’t as fortunate, not having brought in any bedding, evidently. They had been told that there were blankets, but hadn’t found out where, and of course we didn’t have the heart to ask any questions of the monk who let us in. I gave Jogen my alpaca shawl, which he graciously accepted, but I later learned that Jikan slept very little, and wandered around trying to find some spaces that were warmer.

I had set my alarm for 5am, and it went off. Jogen went to wake Jikan, who was at this point on the other side of the zendo, and came back telling me that it was only 5am, and they had decided to sleep until 6am. Well, I was awake, so I got up and went to the bathroom, finally brushing my teeth and washing up and getting ready for the day. Packed everything up to get ready to go, and went upstairs to breakfast. Although there was no formal breakfast, things were set out, as several people were up getting ready to catch planes, etc., including my teachers. We got bagels, cheese, tomatoes, bananas, and headed out the door with all our stuff, finally leaving the city at about 7am.

We really did drive straight through. Stopped at a grocery store to get food to munch on in the car (deli salads, donuts, etc.), no more restaurants. Stopped maybe twice at rest stops along the way. Jikan started out driving, but at some point Jogen took over and I found it prudent to stop looking at the speedometer (though I glanced over once in a while, quickly glancing away again). He drove the rest of the way, even though I offered to take a stint. We drove up to the Zen Center in Portland at 5pm.

This has ended up being very long. I’ve probably left things out even so, but I wanted to record what I could at least.