A couple weeks ago, my teacher asked me what I intend to do with my ordination. I quickly answered, "Plant crops, do calligraphy." Not really complete, but he thought if that's all I do, that would be great.
What in the world do I intend to do with my ordination? Ejun Linda Ruth, abbess here at Green Gulch told me 4 years ago that someone who wears the kesa is both asking for help keeping the way and giving help for keeping the way. This seems more complete, and very open- what does keeping the way look like for me?
Living by the precepts. There's 16 for us in the Soto Zen tradition. The one I practice the most with is right speech, which sets the parameters of:
1. Not saying anything about someone who is not in the room.
2. Offering only what is true, beneficial, and timely.
3. Refraining from offering my opinion when is not asked for.
4. Only speaking when it improves silence.
Of course, I violate these everyday. I also confess and avow these everyday. It's a roller coaster seat of samsara, with a sign that says, "Shut up, you'll hit your head."
Studying the turning of the 3 dharma wheels and investigating the 4th. Theravadan, Emptiness, mind-only, and intimate commitment to the sudden and complete enlightenment school. Also feels impossible.
To sit Zazen everyday. Ding, ding, outta the rack. Head presses the sky, knees press the earth, stretch the backbone.
To live with the Sangha. I plan to live with other priests and lay practioners for the rest of my life. Some more than others- I miss my teacher and my big Dharma brother and sister, back in New Orleans. I need to sleep no more than a block away from the zendo, or I will not sit.
To awaken. Whatever this means, whatever it takes.
To uphold our customs, ceremonies, and traditions. Not only uphold, but learn by heart, as to be set free to throw body and mind into them.
To be available. To everyone, regardless of anything a person might classify themselves as. This means keeping a loose grip on my own political views, and being in solidarity with any being that seeks liberation. It means loving people I really don't like.
I hope to be, in the words of our Ino, Carolyn, "...wrapped in 27 yards of fabric, an ocean of black, a mine field for mistakes."