Skip to main content

Renunciation (Again)



We, home leavers and home makers attaining the way, are renunciates, says Reb Anderson. And we're giving up what doesn't make us happy, says Koji, my dharma brother, friend, and roommate.

Which is apparently a lot of stuff for me! I've been here before, too. Before I lived at Mid-City zen...I mean, before my wife and I turned our home into Mid-City zen, invited two zen priests to move in, submitted to the practice container of zazen and ceremony and sangha in the house every day, I lived at New Orleans Zen Temple. And there I had a stack of books and some zaboutons to sleep on.

How many books did I actually need? Where did that big TV come from? Why do I have 38 t-shirts and 53 pairs of underwear?

I'm down to the small stack of books you see in the picture. I had 4 book cases full. Big book cases, too. I have 11 t-shirts, all my best ones- which means I gave up every single punk rock or comic book on, covered in stains and holes. I've got good Zen student t-shirts now, left over from a season of rangering in East Texas-brown, green, tan, grey. I've got 5 work pants, and 4 pairs of dress pants. 3 ties. 10 underpants. 12 pairs of socks. 4 sweaters.

And all of it looks nice, hides my tattoos, blanks my slate, so I can be approachable. But my hair is getting long, because I'm not cutting it until my teacher does! It's a bit of strike; maybe it will get so unruly, he'll have to ordain me sooner.

You know, renunciation is so rooted in memory. I can't actually see what I don't have anymore. I actually don't "feel" like I've given anything up- it's more like trading- for lay robes, a beach, some mountains, a farm, the teachings, dark quiet mornings...

So I don't think I've been successful, since I "have" all of the above.

I don't even want to tell about all the kimonos, obi, robes, samue, and zen gear I have, or worse, want!

Hopeless!

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Boredom and Buddhism

To say I feel bored feels disrespectful. How could that be? I have a three month old daughter, I'm training for a demanding job in the temple, I'm a wilderness medic responding to incidents every 4 days or so, and I'm sewing my priest robes for ordination. And I have this sense of disinterest.

I have a few theories as to why I feel bored. One could be the natural come down from having the baby and becoming stable in our schedule. Another come down plays out in the adrenaline crash after responding to a medical emergency or the general up keep work I do at the temple when compared to fixing something crucial to operations. When I hear there's a fire in the area I'm pretty excited to be mobilized for stay and defend duty. I feel pretty guilty about that, too.

So I read Beyond Boredom and Depression by Ajahn Jagaro and I was reminded to be careful about looking outward by this passage:

So what is boredom? It is a subjective experience that occurs when the mind is not i…

Goodbye Green Gulch Sama! Hello Tassajara!

About two years ago I left Mid City Zen in New Orleans. I feared I was leaving something, and now I'm about to leave Green Gulch and that same fear has arisen. I imagined there was wealth, a sort of freedom, and a lot to "renounce."  I had a car (a fast one!), a playstation 3, many books, many articles of clothing, and as I look around our little cabin, that same perception has arisen- I have too much stuff! And I like it!

My book collection that I sold or gave away in New Orleans has somehow manifested out here. And I have quite the collection of farm hats and farm boots. Rubber ones, Redwings, Ropers, Bogs to the ankle, Bogs to the knee, a navy seal Solomon for the wet spring weather. Most of them are fit to throw away, glued back together and stitched with fishing line, and just so smelly, so smelly my wife won't let me keep them in the cabin, so I hide them all around Green Gulch.

So I started packing, and while that fear of renunciation has arisen, it's not …

Vows and Compass

Being in new Orleans reminds me that my way seeking mind ripened here. Maybe it was the level of maturity my father's recovery actualized. Maybe it was the Ben Wren book I found at Beaucoup Books on my lunch break. Maybe it was my step mom's copy of things fall apart by Pema Chodron sitting in the bathroom.

Later I would witness the host of suffering post-katrina offered to a young public school teacher. How could I help? I took my first set of vows not really knowing where they would lead, like the old black metal compass my dad put in my Christmas stocking when I was about ten. Beautiful to hold, difficult to understand.

Now, years later, I feel a bit subdued as form,sensation, perception, impulse, and thought tag everything, beckoning some purchase for the price of belief. I'm home, but a home leaver. People wonder when I'll move back and being a home leaver means being ready to leave home again and again, which could mean coming back.

How will I actually engage all…