Wow. This blog has all the makings of a really bad idea. I am not a teacher or a master or really very good at Zen. My thought here is to keep typing until someone stops me or reprimands me. Until then, I am waiting for the footsteps. There is no other goal really except maybe to demonstrate that by being aggressively wrong, sometimes you stumble into being right. And sometimes you just stumble.
With the encouragement and support of David Weinstein, the teacher at PZI Oakland, I founded this Wind-in-Grass Sangha. By founding, I mean talking to the Potrero Hill Neighboorhood House and getting a space and then asking "is that ok?". Really, like a lot of Zen, I thought there would be more to it. Like a ceremony in which I might have to hack off an appendage. Or at least a certification with a piece of paper with lots of imcomprehensible writing on it. That would have given the permission adequate gravitas to me. Made me feel more worthy. Frankly, thats what I hate about Zen. I want specail hats, or robes, or maybe a badge, yes Badges, that indicate how worthy I am. Even if it says worm. Frankly, its maddening to have so few boundaries.
I keep asking people what to do. I asked David "what goes on a zen altar?" (actually, I typed "alter" which is somewhat interesitng in its own right). He asked me "What is on your altar at home?" Well, lets be straight here, I dont have an altar at home. That would be weird. That would be bell ringing/head-shaving weird. What I have at home is a special place with a Buddha, an incense pot, a bamboo plant, and a candle. Not an altar at all. No siree. Thats for pinko communists.
So, interesting how we instinctively know how to honor a space isnt it?
The dedication ceremony for WiG (I am concerned Apple is going to file suit against me for unauthorized use of the lower case "i"), went well; I think. Like David's altar instruction, it just kind of perfectly unfolded. The three of us burned white sage in smude pots in the four cornder of the Potrero Hill Zendo. We swept the rough wood floors. Then we set the cushions, struggled through some bowing, beat a bell, sat for a period of zazen, walked the Zendo thrice (see, I said "thrice" to indicate that I went to college), and then said some words.
When it was my turn to speak, I had deliberately prepared nothing. I went to brush off the dust from the cushion an realized that was the thing to say. When I practice, I have this notion of a clean perfect black cushion. In that fantasy, there is silence and symmetry and cleanliness. When I began to practice zen, I was tireless in trying to clean the cushion of my mind. However, the reality is that we track dust onto our cushions and that dust is our lives, following us wherever we go. It IS our zazen, and our cushion. WiG welcomes you and your dust. Bring it all into the Zendo, into your practice, onto your cushions. Is it three bells or two to end zazen? Er...well, lets explore. Did I file my taxes this week or are they still on my desk? er...explore. Dust on the cushions. See you next week.
“A Course on Koans” is the delusion-riddled work of Chris Kufu (“Wind in the Void”) Wilson, who began practicing Zen in 1967. He regards Taizan Maezumi, Robert Aitken, and David Weinstein as his root teachers. Each of them pecked at his shell until he “completed” the never-ending koan curriculum of the Harada-Yasutani lineage.
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