Tuesday, January 24, 2012

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!


Thursday, January 19, 2012

Leaving Home (again).

Lulu and I received our invitations to Green Gulch Organic farm and Zen center. On our way we go, Feb. 8th!

People ask for how long. I figure somewhere between 6 months and the rest of my life;)

We'll actually be working on practice period crews, helping to support all the residents who are sitting with one of my favorite Zen teachers, Fu, and a very close friend and advisor, Reirin, who is Shuso for the spring. Reirin married Lulu and me in April:

So I ride to work through these old New Orleans streets and I wonder if I really know them and if I'll let myself know Green Gulch. Most of my time in New Orleans has been spent with eyes for some temple somewhere else...Antaiji and Green Gulch, mostly.

About 4 years have passed since I decided I wanted to move Green Gulch, but I had a really rough job in the recovery school district, I was in a bit of relationship distress, struggling and struggling and I had been warned that a monastery is not a place to run away to. So I stayed didn't really ask if what I was experiencing was so, but insisted that it wasn't, which wasn't helpful. Basically, I denied my suffering and acknowledged a misunderstanding of the "true dharma" and sense of non-self. Amazing! Actually, horrible.

But a lot has changed. Another "you need a teacher" plug, but changing teachers was the best thing I've done in the last two years. But I'm pretty sure I needed the first one to find the second. The first one said, "Head presses the sky, knees press the earth. Zazen is your coffin, don't move" and that was exhausting. And exhausted, I found Kosho, who said, "Soften. Open your heart, radically accept."

Not so tough these days. I was never very good at being tough anyway. Now I just show up, pay attention, tell the truth, be open to what happens. Such a relief!

But I'll miss our little temple here. We just got a big new bell. The new priests are settled and integrated into the sangha and we really enjoy living with them. I'll miss the Saints! And my Dad, step-mom, and baby brother. I'll miss these streets and old houses, too.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Show up, Pay Attention, Tell the Truth, Be Open

I keep asking myself, "What is Aerial Pork? What do I want from this blog? What is this blog supposed to be?"

I'm going to try and let this blog be what is.

I'm still sitting, now living in a small zen center with two zen priests and my wife. My wife and I leave in April to sew our Zennie oats out in California. Maybe I'll ordain, maybe not- I actually have no control over when or if that happens, despite my spiritual ambition. I haven't been told no, I haven't been told yes, and I've asked, but only twice. Heard third time is the charm, but it usually takes me 2 years to approach the subject; I'm 5 years into formal practice, 9 years on a meandering path.

But hey, "Like a fool, like an idiot, practice secretly, working from within..."