Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Presence and Absence

As I have said on perhaps too many occasions, a lot of the ino job is sitting behind a desk, a fair chunk of it is sitting on a cushion, and let's not forget sitting in meetings, but there is also a surprising amount that consists of catching people for necessary communications, which often happens at meal times. This evening was spectacularly productive in that regard - between the end of evening service and getting back to my room just now, I had probably half-a-dozen conversations which took care of many outstanding matters, and I feel most positive as a result.
This afternoon's fukudo had warned me that they might be late, and I was able to use our standard back-up plan, which is to send the doan out to hit the han. I was happy to play the mokugyo for service, as it really helps to keep my hand in at that kind of thing, and to see how fast we can push the chant - much faster than I suspected was the answer tonight. It also helped that new tanto Rosalie, who has been coming regularly to afternoon zazen since she took over, was on hand to be doshi as the scheduled doshi also did not materialise.
Over dinner Dennis was asking about Young Urban Zen, and I realised I haven't written about it for a few weeks. I would say that it continues to go from strength to strength - and perhaps some of the regulars there who are also regulars here might add their opinions. We tried a new thing last week, since it was Labor Day, having an evening in Koshland Park across the street from here, playing whiffle-ball and kick-ball, which were both new entertainments to me, before repairing to a local cafe for refreshments and chatter. We had enough of the regulars to make it a fun evening, and of course it is always enjoyable seeing people you are getting to know in fresh contexts.
Last night I invited Michaela to come and join us. During the recent sesshin I had had the thought that it would be fun to have an 'Awesome People' series for YUZ, and Michaela was one of the first people I thought of. I got to know her at Tassajara a few years ago, and she was also involved in the Coming of Age program last year. More to the point she is the youngest priest at Zen Center, and I thought it would be valuable to have someone in the same age range as our YUZ people talking about how they came to practice and what it means in their life. From my perspective, Michaela completely fulfilled the brief, talking about impermanence and her love of New Orleans, and just by being completely herself; she also brought along a section of the Parinirvana Sutra to talk about, serendipitously enough, as we had been previously looking at the Four Noble Truths, Buddha's first teaching, and now we were getting his final words. As usual, the lively conversation continued after the meeting had bowed out, and that is also one of the fun parts for me - we covered Camus and string theory in a remarkably short space of time.
There have been a few light-hearted suggestions as to other groups we could set up: Mid-life Crisis Zen is a popular one right now, and Genine has proposed Old Rural Zen as the counterpoint, though wags would have it that Green Gulch already serves that function.


Ruth said...

Oooh, I like the sound of 'Mid-life Crisis Zen' ;-)

Shundo said...

Perhaps your sis can get you pointed in the right direction, since she is so sorted now.

Anonymous said...

Heh, mlc zen sounds wonderful, I've been wondering what I'll do whenever I start to really feel "too old" for yuz...

It is interesting to be part of a group as it evolves from "meeting people" to "regulars" to whatever comes next; and changing up the format over the last couple of weeks has definitely opened up new ways of connecting with people (which is what many of us are there for). Intellectual conversation is fun and all, but not the only way of knowing each other.


Shundo said...

Thanks for the comment Kelly. We'll be changing it up again this Monday too - stay tuned. I think the group is really develoing its own dynamic, and when people sit together that is going to happen. The intellectual part is fun, but it isn't really the heart of it. As I have been saying, I just love getting to meet people.