Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Reflections

At last night's Young Urban Zen meeting, after a little gentle prodding, and perhaps in the interest of gaining a few more readers, Shannon acquiesced to my outing her blog, which I had happened across after she left a comment on one of these posts. As with the Zen Beginner, I find it enormously helpful to have other people's perspectives not only on what I do, since I play a bit part in some of the entries, but on what I take for granted, as they figure out their steps on the path to being Buddhists.
At more than one Way-seeking Mind talk, I have heard people from more traditional religious backgrounds describe the relative difficulty of outing themselves to their parents as gay and outing themselves to their parents as Buddhists. For me the question "Am I a buddhist?" was less contentious than "Am I a monk?" - I think the only person who ever asked me if I considered myself a Buddhist was my sister-in-law who is more inclined to ask questions than anyone in my more immediate family.
I don't think I have told the story here about how I spent my tangaryo at Tassajara composing haiku in my head about the very limited number of things that were happening and the many reactions I was having to them. I thought of this again after sesshin as one participant recited for us a haiku she had come up with. One of the better tangaryo haiku was around the observation I had had during oryoki - the servers would approach the tan, and in the curving reflection of their silver pot, I could see a line of people in robes, who sure looked like monks. And so I started thinking that maybe I was a monk - or at least going through the process of becoming one. Obviously the haiku version is shorter than that.
One important part of this equation though, was that I was living in a monastery. It followed that I was a monk. Here in the city, I don't describe myself as a monk, and I find it a little dissonant to read of the residents as monks, or to read about this temple as a monastery as I just did elsewhere. I could just be leaning on semantics, but I think it has a lot to do with what City Center is about. We are here to offer the teaching to everybody, in a formal setting; we are not so internally focused as we would be at Tassajara in the winter, although it may seem that way to the visitor. Having just emerged from the Tassajara-style schedule of the intensive to our more usual spacious and work-oriented days, I am certainly noticing the difference.

5 comments:

Daigan Gaither said...

Is being a monk about the schedule? Or is it about intention? I do consider myself a monk, even though I live in a place where others don't consider themselves monks. I think that's whats awesome about City Center in particular. Lou once told me when I was struggling with the way not everyone was viewing City Center the same, "Just be a monk, and this will be a temple." Anyway.. I think your a monk.

Dennis said...

Unsurprisingly, I really like what Lou said! Dead right, of course...

Myomon said...

Daigan thank you for that quote from Lou. I am struggling with the same thing. My practice is therefore: Be a monk: everywhere is the monastery.

Chris vLS said...

Two things -- Daigan, thanks for the quote! It reminds me of the movie Quiz Show, in which the Mark Van Doren character says that one of the points of Man of La Mancha is "If you want to be a knight, act like a knight."

And -- Shundo, thank you so much for the links to the other blogs. They are wonderful and would not have found them otherwise. A gift of sangha! Thank you.

Richard Urban said...

Sometimes if feel like It's the inner monk that's important. Other times if feel like a monk has been ordained and wears robes and has a shaved head and eats out of bowls.