Saturday, January 22, 2011

The January Effect

Today I figured that my job was mostly going to be traffic control. I tallied up about ninety people wanting to sit, and somehow managed to allocate seats in the zendo for everyone on my list. Last night at the orientation I told people it was going to be chaotic and crowded and that kinhin was going to be a slow-moving adventure.
I think there was a part of me that relaxed around the prospect of the day because it was inevitable that it was going to be complicated by the sheer number of participants. I was also grateful for the fact that I felt much better by the end of yesterday, which I mostly attribute to Cristina's chocolate pudding (that's dessert to Americans) - I know there were other things in it, but the key ingredient was definitely the chocolate. The printers were also completely compliant yesterday afternoon during the great logistical paper-fest, which reduced my stress levels as well.
So, at five ten this morning, I started showing people to their seats, and while it was a bit hectic for a few minutes, I noticed with real appreciation that everyone had arrived early enough that by the time the second roll-down happened, the zendo already felt quiet and settled, which was wonderful.
We did pack out the Buddha Hall at service as well as lecture, and for breakfast we even had people eating on the floor cushions between the tans, which I can remember having to deal with as a very inexperienced soku many Januaries ago, but which I don't remember happening since then. Nevertheless the servers did a fine job, as did the lunch crew, where we filled every single seat on the tans to fit everyone in.
I was grateful to have the opportunity to be the doshi for noon service, and to be chanting the Genjo Koan with everyone in the zendo; I felt completely focused and energised during that.
All in all it felt like a strong day of sitting - we had changed the afternoon schedule from four thirty minute periods to three forty minute periods. The mathematically-minded among you will notice that the total sitting time is the same, but that the number of times we move around is changed, and to me that lends to a more settled feeling, although my legs were getting sore as we went along, as I am sure most people's were.
I was moved to see Blanche come into the zendo during the last period. She led the evening service, which was a well-being service, and after dinner, spoke touchingly at the beginning of our Practice Period opening ceremony. We all bowed to each other, stated our intentions and chanted the Pali refuges. Thus begins the Practice Period.


John Bailes, Kotatsu Roko said...

Please look after my good old friend Tim Buckley. Don't let him fall over his new okesa and zagu. He's a real gem of a being and truly worth getting to know.

Shundo said...

Tim seems to have a lot of fans among readers of this blog - maybe I should have a special section for him.

Chris Burnham said...

I'm in Tim's corner too! Am thinking of a road trip up to SF sometime during practice period to check in on him (and to see City Center again, which I miss) but unsure if that is inappropriate.

Shundo said...

Well, Chris, it would depend on how you were planning to be here - as a visitor you just need to have someone whose floor you can crash on. If you wanted to come more officially, you should contact the work leader about being a guest student.

rachel said...

Thanks for traffic controlling us all. It looked like a serious logistical effort.

Sitting orientation the night before was amusingly brief, and clearly conveyed the useful message that everything would be okay.

Shundo said...

Hi Rachel (W?),
I sometimes take longer over the forms for the orientation, but with my general lack of energy, and the knowledge that the weight of numbers would carry everyone through and make each person's mistakes less conspicuous, I decided to be brief...