Having run up the hill 1000 feet and down the hill to the ocean and up the hill to reservoir, I jumped in and swam. I left when all the naked women showed up. I wasn't naked and I wasn't even swimming- just kicking around and looking at newts suspended in our farm's life blood. I said hello and goodbye and honored the woman's hour. Boundaries. If it were Mom's ball in New Orleans, I never would have thought twice about getting naked- but half of the women had only seen me in my black robes or my farm gear.
Sitting on the table was a note from my wife. I could still taste the salt from my run. It was on an envelope from the IRS- it read, "Baby duck, I think this is for real."
They want 3,400 dollars for a retirement fund I cashed out when Lauren and I left New Orleans in 2011. I laughed and looked for our tax return. Turns out we didn't report it. I guess we thought since we lost 20% right off the bat, maybe that included tax? Turns out, no.
All this in an hour! The ocean of life is a big place and the waves come in many shapes. What makes one devastating? What makes one fun to ride?
Mel Brooks said, "Tragedy is when I cut my finger. Comedy is when you walk into an open sewer and die."
As I sat there just feeling light and happy, I thought, what nonsense! Last week so heavy and unhappy. How does this work?
There is this yogacara teaching of the 8 consciousnesses and the waves of karma, how all that works. I don't want to think about that today or maybe ever again. There is something about noticing and unnoticing that helps when you're riding the waves of samsara.
In response to the bill from the IRS, I thought, there's no way I'm leaving Green Gulch. They'll be very disappointed with my tea bowls, robes, and books when they bust into room 14 of cloud hall to seize my assets. They'll also be disappointed to collect my monthly stipend of 280 dollars (which actually feels enormous for my needs- do you know how many cheeseburgers that is?).
We could probably not pay them. We probably qualify for the noncollectable status. But that's not so easy to carry. Interest accrues. Could double or triple. In ten years, it's forgiven. But if we leave the temple in 9 years? And who wants to create a situation you can't get out of? Not us.
So we love Green Gulch and love our life. My father-in-law recently visited for a week and said, with what I saw as misty eyes, "I don't think I can go back to the real world." He expressed how much his work crew bonded and how refreshing it was to be with people of like mind. I'm not sure how people go back. I know sometimes they have to. Someday I may have to. But not today!
So, we forfeit our stipends. It will take 6 months to pay off the IRS (or the IRA as I have been joking). I'll look for some weekend work.
But I will not leave my seat.
Pema Chodron talks about what Mel Brooks said. The big catastrophes wake us up in this practice. It's the little things that catch us off guard. I'm having that moment. I feel no stress about this debt. Our universe provides us with this stipend and there it goes to fill a gap and allow us to practice.
But let me catch a guest student with my Writer's Almanac mug and the dragon roars and I'm ready to leave this temple of...cup stealers!