Thursday, March 17, 2011


I wasn't especially impressed with my talk this morning; it felt very dry to me, and while I did talk about some of the things I felt I needed to cover, I also felt like I left a lot out, not least due to time constraints. Nevertheless people lined up afterwards, as we do every week, to bow and thank the speaker for sharing. Some people said it was good that I was so open and vulnerable, although that was not my own impression of what I said.
As the sun was shining after a fashion this morning, I took some time off to ride up Mount Tam. It was not as cold as the last time I was there, but it was nonetheless much chillier up top than it was in the city, and about as grey as it had looked on Sunday. My breathing was still a little awkward, which gave me an excuse not to push myself too hard. I am not really fit enough to go attacking the mountain right now; it was enough just to be up there - it was beautifully quiet, with one vocal red-tailed hawk above my head, and the usual chattering of crows at the east peak - and to feel depleted from the effort afterwards.
This afternoon I had tea with the guest students, which in the past has been an occasion to trot out a few of my practice history stories. Today, obviously, they had heard all my good stories, so there was an opportunity to delve a little further into some of the subjects. I found that I enjoyed this much more than giving the talk, as I had time and space to explain myself, and also it was easier to connect with the person asking the question than with the whole room this morning. All about meeting people again.
On the way out of the city on my bike, I was practising my trackstands at the red lights. On a fixed-gear, a trackstand can be fairly easy to master, once you have the sense of where the balance point on your bike is, as you can apply equal pressure pedaling forwards and backwards to maintain the equilibrium. It is something I enjoy doing whenever I can, even though I sometimes fail. With a free-wheel bike, it is not so easy, and requires more attention. What I noticed this morning is that it requires you to stop thinking about going forward - which is the bicycle's natural state really - instead you have to allow yourself to roll backwards just enough that you can apply forward pressure to stay balanced. It occurred to me as I was waiting to cross Geary that this is pretty much what Dogen asks us to do in the Fukanzazengi.


mattrn said...

This is the first time I've heard what I would call a qualified person talk about the zen of fixies!

Shundo said...

Well thank you. I wouldn't call myself remotely qualified, but I have always thought that a fixed-gear was a classic zen bicycle: no picking and choosing.