Monday, September 3, 2012

A New Seat


Until today, my seat in the zendo was on “officers row” -- the tan southwest of the altar that’s anchored on one end by our former Abbess, and filled in with the meditation cushions of the Zen Center officers.  Sitting in the Secretary’s seat, I faced the wall, and myself, and an old Zen conundrum about whether facing the wall is facing in or facing out.

But today I have a new seat, the Ino’s seat, which faces not the wall, but the vast expanse of the zendo, and the backs of all those people who still get to luxuriate in wall-facing.   I’m now the Ino of Beginner’s Mind Temple, and I’m feeling very much a beginner as I try to remember the ten thousand pieces of this job, the ten thousand pieces of my life that brought me to this seat.  Excitement and terror arise at this intimacy of not knowing, at this incompetence that grips my breath like a too-tight jacket.  Yet, there is also the wonder of the unknown, the shy anticipation of what might be, and the delight of the unexpected way in which, somehow, it all works. 

After decades of sitting in zendos, I belatedly realized that the purpose of meditation is not to make any progress nor to get anything done.  The purpose of meditation is to come home.  (Zen master Dōgen called zazen “the full investigation of the homeward course.”)

And I wonder:  Can we find our way home, regardless of which way we are facing?


10 comments:

Daigan said...

Welcome to the web Ino-sama! May all beings benefit.

Dennis said...

What D. said - Welcome! I greatly look forward to practicing with you.

Djinn said...

Welcome, dear Val. Lovely to see you take up this amazing position.

kelly said...

Welcome home, Valorie! and thank you for the beautiful post. Is facing the zendo facing in or out?

Sierra said...

Hi Valorie, I loved your post! Especially the line: "Excitement and terror arise at this intimacy of not knowing, at this incompetence that grips my breath like a too-tight jacket." -so beautifully written! And thanks for the reminder that this is a time of excitement to treasure, when things are fresh! I'm looking forward to hearing more about what it means to you to come home. Thanks again for your writiing, see you at doorwatch Friday!
~ Sierra

dawna Foreman said...

Dear Valorie:

BIG welcome and thanx for a beautiful opening post, too! No matter which way you are facing, you know where home is. Cheers, dawna


dawna Foreman said...

Dear Valorie:

BIG welcome and thanx for a beautiful opening post, too! No matter which way you are facing, you know where home is. Cheers, dawna


Konin said...

Valorie, welcome to the role of Ino. Thank you for taking it up with question mind. Bows, Konin

DanP said...

Wonderful to see you here. I know that home will be well taken care of.

Danny

Nikos L. said...

As a one-time furious blogger, I've observed that your immediate predecessor has ably elevated SFZC's online presence in this forum and on social media.

In today's communications landscape, it is an increasingly vital way to provide householders and other interested parties a first-hand account of Soto Zen practice in the heart of one of the world's great cities.

May your time in your new position be of benefit to you, the Page St. sangha, SFZC, and all beings.

Great to see you on your "home turf" the other week!