I was regrettably, unable to attend sesshin recently. While at home, I carried the sesshin with me everywhere. I sat more than usual too.
One of the things I found myself doing was re-reading Novice to Master, a book by Soko Morinaga that Josh Bartok gave me some time ago. In it, this Rinsai Monk describes his life in the temple and out of it (which frankly sounded severe). In a later chapter, he describes a lecture he once gave, and an old man who appraoched him after his talk with the request that he summarize his talk into a single sentence because the old man had forgotten everything. The author says that he asked the man "For whom do you light you incense at home?", and the man replies "for my ancestors", and the author then recommends "Tonight, light the incense for your own corpse".
I get so caught up in things, and feel like there are only one or two ways out, or that success is a very fine line. But I guess when you live life prapring for your own death, you are reminded that even your darkest hours are bright and beautiful. In that sense, I was able to stop feeling like I was "missing" sesshin, even though I continued to miss everyone.
Tonight David will teach us at the inagural night of the Potrero Hill Zendo. There is much to do. Most of my anxiety has nothing to do with screwing something up, but just the fact that I have not even thought about what there is to screw up. For years, I bow when its time, sit when the bell chimes, and stand when everyone else stands. Now its like that first time I went driving without my mom in the car, and I realized, I had no idea how to get anywhere. For all those years I had just been cheauffered, but now, there was a big open road for me to pay attention to. Buckle up people. It could be rough at first.
“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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