Wow. What fun.
It was Wind-in-Grass's first community night. And I think it went smashingly. wow, do people under 70 say that? Whatever. It was a blast. We had a couple community members bring their loved ones, and the Potrero Hill neighborhood house donated local farm vegetables.
We sat, in the main hall again, under a stunning SF sunset, watching downtown burn in the light off the skyscrapers, and I spoke into the room:
Every day is a good day.
C, my daughter, who joined us tonight, was so relaxed that she needed a rather emergency diaper change. [N would later note that it was not unlike being in an iawaska [sp]]. She and I went to the men's room, but practice never broke. But that seemed...well, good too. After we sat, and walked, I asked the group to take one minute to put themselves at work. At their desk. In front of a computer, a patient, a canvas, a phone.
Then I asked, simply, for each person to describe a moment of connect at work, where work and practice seemed the same thing to them. Where they felt a moment of connection.
A: Mentioned breastfeeding
B: B is an artist. He noted that people often insinuate that being an artist must be fun every day. That it is easy. He said, "lately, art has been like laying bricks for me", but went on to note, that when his art is working, its immediate and his attention follows every curve.
C: Cited Dogen: "Overwhelming overwhelms overwhelming". I looked up the full quotation just now. Its lovely.
The time-being is like this. Arriving is overwhelmed by arriving, but not by not-arriving. Not-arriving is overwhelmed by not-arriving, but not by arriving. Mind overwhelms mind and sees mind, words overwhelm words and see words. Overwhelming overwhelms overwhelming and sees overwhelming. Overwhelming is nothing but overwhelming. This is time. As overwhelming is caused by you, there is no overwhelming that is separate from you. Thus you go out and meet someone. Someone meets someone. You meet yourself. Going out meets going out. If these are not the actualization of time, they cannot be thus
D: described working with patients, how she just disappears into the conversation, into their needs, into her care for them.
E: described the ten seconds in an elevator just prior to beginning the day in the office. The ten seconds of total calm and peace.
F: Described her work as a massage therapist, feeling the person at the end and their needs.
H: Described reading a transcript of a talk from John Tarrant, where he described love as attention, then turning back to the document he was drafting and noticing that while the anxiety and circular review was still there as usual, it didn't cause distress and in the end, he felt the same as when sitting zazen, just noticing and interested.
Then the game continued. This time people were asked to notice moments where they felt like they lost their practice.
A: mentioned how she could tell that something was making her uncomfortable and that she was turning away from it because she started to make a joke of it. In her head, with others.
B: writing papers. Just no groove there at all. Anguish.
C: Moments of breathlessness, with a short airsupply while things and events over take.
D: She never noticed it happening, but often realized that her fingers where chewed on. Something nervous when things felt out of control.
E: Shit. I cannot remember.
F: Studying. Feeling disconnected in the books and finding herself spoiling for distraction.
G: Facebook. She knew just how tedious asset reviews were when she found herself on facebook, trolling for distraction. So much so, she deleted her account.
H: Sending email. Right before pushing send. That moment where he knew something in the client email was misspelled or incorrect, but cross eyes from looking for it and just ready to slam Send. Mind distracted and revving up. Looking for anything to break the tension.
Chris Wilson folded the evening together. I hope he will write what he presented, because it was really touching. He came back to the themse of Sunryu Suzuki's impending death and talk on every day being a good day, and how, when Suzuki Roshi was asked how, he answered "pine is good, redwood is good". Chris pointed out that any day where you can feel intimate with the life before you, with pain, sadness, joy, boredom or contentment- just look it straight in the eye and be there, was a good day.
We sang the vows, then packed up the hall, and drove down to Connecticut Yankee for drinks and dinner together. Everyone came down the hill. We got an odd mix of MMA and baseball on TV, but an amazing mix of people and friends and conversation. And thanks to J for ordering the onion rings. C came, and was pretty well entertained, though it might be the first time an infant was swaddled at the bar. I hope at any rate.
Thanks to all and I am looking forward to community night again next month. And next time, I will remember the cookies.
“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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