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Big Band Zazen


St. Aug's band was marching toward the temple while I sat zazen on Friday evening. If you've never been to New Orleans for Mardi Grais, you've never seen New Orleans do something right. The efficiency of our police, our bands, and parade directors would make you wonder why we can't get anything else working around here. Perhaps most surprising is how quickly the streets are cleaned. The cleaning crew is its own parade.

I often think that New Orleans is a unique place to practice Zen. When it's not Mardi Grais, it's still insane. From 3rd world traffic patterns to the raging bohemian current, any routine is challenged. This may also account for our low number sangha; people may be to drunk to sit zazen.

When I was drinking, I came to the temple anyway- mostly hungover. My teacher knew and I can remember him saying that it didn't matter, that to sit zazen was most important, and that I needed to come. I'm thankful he didn't push me away, as I credit my sitting practice for leading me to sobriety.

So, big bands make me feel inspired. To see Mardi Grais come together makes me feel connected. The traditions- like Popeye's chicken and king cakes-give us spectators something to do. My father's house is a block away from a parade route, and there is always food and warmth waiting for family and friends.

On a randomly associated idea, I've been researching chaplaincy in the military. With a little research, I found one Theravadan Buddhist Chaplin in the Army. I think it's all the uniforms, marching big bands, and hanging out with my dad that makes me think of the military.

I'm years away from ordination, but afterward, I could see the a lot of good work to be done in the military. Seems to be fitting for a Bodhisattva, and I wouldn't have to carry a gun.

These are just Sunday morning thoughts. It's time to get ready for ceremony.

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