Monday, July 27, 2009

What is ordination?

I'm 60 years old today, and that seems like the least of my concerns.

Slept poorly last night, mostly because of the heat, but I suspect my emotional state was also part of it. I sat two periods of zazen with ZCO last night in a very warm zendo, and didn't really mind the heat. I find myself more and more indifferent to conditions.

This past week I have struggled with the meaning of ordination. One thought that came up for me was "how could she throw away something so precious?" Her desire to serve the Dharma is clear, and in talking yesterday with another former monk who took off his robes a few years back, he said that at some point it became clear to him that there was no difference between ordination and lay life. I recall another former monk who said the same thing. In the past I remember asking this first monk what the difference was, and he said that a monk is about service 24/7, which is not true of a lay person. I remember thinking that was an easy answer. Now I find it incomplete.

I see more and more how little I can really articulate or explain, and sometimes it's frustrating.

I don't know that I "handled" or "understood" my emotional process this last week any better than formerly, but I think I was more aware than I have been in the past. I watched myself being upset and unable to express it, felt a few things, very faintly. When it finally came up for me yesterday and I had a small break in the action, I just went ahead and cried my eyes out, sobbed for a bit before getting back up and getting on with it. As jisha I was strong and clear and steady. Even though Gyokuko had told me that it was okay to cry during a ceremony, I found in myself a strong desire not to, especially in a ceremony where I had a role. I cried during chanting, when I had no particular duties, but not otherwise.

The ceremony, along with other signs (hair getting longer, clothing changes), have helped me to see her as a lay disciple, not a monk. She is marked, certainly, by her experience as a monk, and she may return, though I wonder about that. I don't think she shares my compulsion for this impossible, crazy, inexplicable path. I am coming around to wishing her well -- the anger is dissipating. She is living her life as best she can, as we all are.

How to affirm and uphold lay life while still maintaining a sense of this precious ordination. Valuing and honoring our lay teachers, which I do, and yet seeing something different in the ordained. It's more than serving the Dharma. I chose this path because of a need for my life to be the Dharma, to have my life be about the Dharma, to have the Dharma be the context of my life. To renounce everything else. As a monk trainee I am exploring how to do this. I don't know how to do it, but I begin to see that doing it without knowing is an important part of the training.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Genko. Thanks for sharing your thoughts. What would you think about posting this to the SZBA Associates list? I think it might spark some interesting conversation. Gassho.

2:41 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home