If you have never celebrated Buddha's enlightenment, I suggest you come visit us at Green Gulch next year. It was a wild rompus!
We start out slow, chanting the heart sutra in English, and then the tyko drum kicks up with two drummers and we start circling the alter, faster and faster, and chanting louder and louder in old Japanese, and herbs and flowers get tossed everywhere, even the abbess throws them at you!
And it smells wonderful...verbena, pine, rose geranium, sage, about 20 pounds of it all gets tossed. Black robes fly. I broke out my punk rock voice. My elders sounded like the B-52s. We all escalated like Rock Lobsters. The drummers were on point! The St. Aug marching 100 of New Orleans would have been impressed by our baker, Mick, "Big Drum" as his dharma name, and my sister Emma, hailing from the marching bands of Virgina.
It was epic.
I can't find a picture of such a ceremony. I have to just show you how my face felt:
Please note the mudra of Rocksattva. It means, "This is fucking cool."
What's really funny is what we did after that: Go back to silent work. Our exit ceremony from our ango is this morning...guess what after that? Silent work until 10am, which I have to say, I am impressed by our work ethic. Me, I'm a zen student, err slave?, but we have people here who are flying back to northern Canada. But they're not packing up until 10am. You're a monk, and you follow the schedule until the schedule is done! It's your only hope.
But really, I'm dying a bit too. Deliriously tired, I am rattling like a pupa in a chrysalis...will I emerge or explode? I don't know. When I'm done today, into to town, to the library, to get a copy of a Christmas Carol. I am in a Christmas mood, big time.
I think this why Kosho Zenrei, my glorious teacher, sent me here. You can read about what goes on, but you have to taste and smell and learn with the heart what true Zen can look like. So grateful to all the support.