Monday, September 26, 2011


I think it is safe to say that without my love of bicycles, I would never have come to live in San Francisco (and if you haven't heard that story yet, you will probably have to ask me in person, especially if you want the version that starts with a skiing trip I didn't go on in 1984), so to have a whole weekend where riding a bike is the primary focus of attention and Buddhism is the backdrop, is my idea of an all-round good time.
Having just scrolled back through the archives, I don't seem to have referenced the Buddhist Bike Pilgrimage, (update - well I did, but I couldn't remember for a while where I had, and the search function failed to find the word pilgrimage for some reason) but that was how I spent my weekend. Last year it was deemed that my place was in the ino's seat for the one-day sitting that begins the Fall Practice Period, but this year more lenient forces were at work, and I am grateful that Joan took over as ino for the day. I still had to put everything for the sitting together on Friday, with a few potential wrinkles with our new online registration system causing a little concern, and a late request that we have some assigned seating for the practice period also adding to my weekend workload.
I didn't have time to think about packing for the pilgrimage until eight-thirty on Friday night, and I was due to be out of the door at four-forty the next morning, so it wasn't until we actually got to Spirit Rock just as the new moon was peeping through the clouds that I started to be present for what was about to happen.
Eugene Cash gave a nice introductory talk about approaching the event with 'don't know' mind, which was rendered most poignant by the fact that he had a bad crash about twenty miles into the ride and had to be taken to hospital with some broken bones. I had been riding along talking with him just a little while before that, but we got separated on a climb, and then he crashed on the tricky descent.
Obviously, with the news spreading quickly by the time we got to the next rest stop, it cast a pall on the day, and the whole event, but there were many joys as well. It is a very social event, and having done it two years ago, I recognised a number of people, and met a few more, and got to hang out with some good friends, either riding together, or sitting in the pool on Saturday afternoon, and at meals.
On Sunday we started with perhaps unprecedented damp weather, but since the temperature is often nudging a hundred degrees out on the roads, it wasn't so bad, and the sun was out before too long. We got to experience some different styles of Buddism along the way, though I confess I felt like taking the weekend off meditation and ceremony, and didn't attend all the dharma offerings.
Today, though I am still feeling a bit tired myself, City Center is buzzing with the energy of a dozen new residents and the extra events associated with the practice period.  I expect the Young Urban Zen meeting tonight will give me a much-needed shot of vitality.


Dennis said...

What was your reaction to the City of 10,000 Buddhas? I went on their website and read on the home page a lot of "pure doctrine" kind of talk, so I thought that it would be very doctrinaire - and then read further that they taught six different systems, all as equal, which sounded quite interesting. Of course, you weren't there to focus on dharma raps, so perhaps it didn't come up. It's just so - uh, charming - to find 10,000 Buddhas in Talmadge. Ukiah's out there, but Talmadge is further!

Shundo said...

Well, I got out of the dining room before the singing started, which by all accounts was a smart thing to do. I think it is a very traditional place - the teachings are great of course, but there is a very strict gender segregation and so forth. It is certainly in an interesting town...

caren said...

Glad you got to bike with the buddhists, Shundo. Indeed, this is right up your alley. ( :

Shundo said...

It was nice to get away for the weekend, especially as the upcoming ones are all booked up. I will be seeing you this weekend, n'est-ce pas?

Once was a zen student said...

The City of 10,000 buddhas is definitely more traditional, but the singing and chanting (in any of these traditional centers) can't be too much different in scope and form from what happens at the more modern centers when they do service.

There is the idea that 'the question everything' motto of modern style centers is better than the ritual forms of the traditional way. The old traditional way may no longer appeal and that seems reasonable but I have not found too many who have benefited from 'question everything' and have found many who have sufferred much.

What is gained by doing a running analysis of everything, everyday? Analysis of all your thoughts and actions and then as happens in places with a christian conditioning at the base, judging them continuously too. No one is going to escape the basic conditions of living regardless. All that analysis and judgement will only hurt.

The idea is to live easily and gracefully isn't it, versus thinking about it or analyzing it.

Shundo said...

Thank you for this. I didn't mean to imply that I am not interested in singing and chanting, as you will know if you read the blog regularly. In this instance, as I wrote in my post, I was focused more on riding my bike than listening to the dharma, so I was happier to be outside than singing along with the master and his guitar. This is a long jump from questioning everything, I think.