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In and Out of Darkness

One word: Exhausted. Mondays go like this: Wake at 3:20am, study until 4:30am, get dressed in black, find my rakusu, find my zafu, find my breath; Whisper over the shoulder from the dark, "practice discussion," climb down off the tan, gassho, gassho, and stumble out and sit with a bell. Listen for the teacher's bell, return the sound, gassho, gassho, climb the steps, gassho at the door, open, three prostrations in front of Guan Yin, step right, gassho, and sit, and stare, into the stitches of the kesa, and relax. We see what's there, and he asks, "But what is the question beneath this question? What is the question that makes this alive for you?" Truth balks at introspection, I say thank you, bow out of the room, back to a cushion, and sit. At 6:30am, we chant, "Great robe of liberation, field far beyond form and emptiness, wearing the tathagata's teaching, saving all beings." Into ceremony, prostrations in the dark, ancient twisted karma in the dark, taking refuge in Buddha, Dharma, Sangha, in the dark. We chant. We bow. We clean the temple, I don't finish; 2 alter's cleaned, 5 to go, maybe at lunch, maybe at dinner. Breakfast, the potatos we grew- yellow, fingerling, and purple with ketchup and lots and lots of gomassio, our drug of choice. Work- Monday harvest, transfer water, the smell of gasoline, the frustration of spilling. Lunch- no cleaning the alter, collapse in bed, no eating. Work, picking beans in the sun with brothers and sisters. Washing vegetables in the cold, damp, shade. Tea date with farm crew and farm elder, salty and sharp, 71 year old sage with a harvest knife, we drink mint and anhishissup. Miss zazen, clean alters instead, then a bath instead of dinner, searching for warm nourishment. 7pm time for class, show up is all, be open is all, and truth comes because there's nothing else left. 9pm, we see the fire watch come into the kitchen as we devour leftover dhal, cabbage, and potatoes. Find my bed in the dark, my wife is already sleeping, wise as a cat.

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