Jamie Howell gave the dharma talk this morning, and in the course of reminiscing about his time at Zen Center over the years, told of how he would come in to be chiden or jiko in the morning, and because he was driving up from his house, he was often just a couple of minutes late despite his best intentions; he told how the ino at the time, Hekizan Tom Girardot, would invariably be waiting at the top of the stairs, tapping his foot.
I could definitely sympathise with this. Today was one of those days which was full of so many things that it was impossible to hold on to any one emotion that came up. To begin with, I woke up hearing crows, which was much more fun than an alarm clock, and it was already getting light at five forty. I was listening out for the wake-up bell at six, but I wasn't hearing anything. The usual Saturday fukudo (who rings the wake-up bell among other things) is at Tassajara this week, and his replacement had told me, 'oh I've done it before, but if you have the notes for the wake-up bell that would help', so I had given her the notes, and when I went downstairs at five past six, when the bell should be finished, she was just checking her notes before she set off, so I rather impatiently told her to hurry up. One of the things I can get very uptight about is punctuality, so if it says the bell should begin at six, I want it to begin at six. So I got to look at that, and a couple of other things that didn't go completely right, and seeing how I respond to those things, and what I was going to say to the stand-in fukudo. Then as I sat, the sun came into the zendo, and the light was beautifully soft, and in the Buddha Hall for service afterwards I watched the dust floating around in the shafts of sunlight, followed by trails of incense smoke, and at first I got impatient that the mokugyo was not as fast as I like it to be, and then with the stand-in kokyo leading the way, we went through the list of daioshos (the male lineage of ancestors) at exactly the right speed, which was very energising. Then I felt like I had to rush to be ready for oryoki, and get everyone seated in a way that made the servers' job easier, and then watching the new servers as they nervously made their way round, seeing a few mistakes but being happy that things went mostly very smoothly. After breakfast I went out to meet the Saturday Sangha people who were already gathered in the sunny courtyard, checked in with the soku who was worried about some of the things that hadn't gone completely perfectly during breakfast, then had just enough time to drink some coffee and go to the bathroom before putting on my robes again for the next sitting, seeing all the people who only come on Saturday mornings, but who are now familiar faces to me, and then getting the recording equipment and my announcements ready for the talk, and listening to Jamie telling great stories of his years of practice, and reminding us to smile. I made my announcements, which I find easier than when I started being ino, but which I always finish thinking, I could have done that better, or, oh I forgot to mention this. Another cup of coffee and then nenju. I had asked Bernd to be kokyo, and he chose the shorter eko as he finds it more joyful than the other one, and he did it, and the 'hosan' afterwards, very joyfully. Finally lunch with the Saturday Sangha. Last week I had been asked for a glossary, so I brought along the only one I could find, called 'terms used at Zen Center', and people found it very helpful, even though we thought of probably another dozen words that weren't on the list, and it proved to be a springboard for a very wide-ranging conversation about practice life and what it meant to me to be a priest (that could be a whole other entry).
Seven and a half hours of ordinary practice. Then it was time to clean my bike before tomorrow's ride.