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For no one can be a Sage in his own home.

I left Tassajara two day ago and I won't return for another two weeks. So far I've watched three movies, one episode of Game of Thrones, played about 20 games of Go (online) and ran about 20 miles. I also ate a chicken, a quiche, and some gnocci.

I'm not exactly sure what monks are supposed to do on vacation. I imagine other monks maybe don't get them. It's 3:30am and I'm wide awake. Funny, when I return to Tassajara, we'll start practice period and the wake up bell will becoming around in just 15 more minutes. The stillness is still pretty still here.

After tomorrow my wife and I will go to Northeastern Pennsylvania. I like to pretend that I'm not really from there. I like to say, oh, I'm a military brat and I'm not from anywhere and then talk all about New Orleans, where my Dad and Step Mom (and little brother) live. What's there to say about NEPA? What's there to say about where we're from?

Master Ma Tsu advised:

I advise you not to return to your native place
For no one can be a Sage in his own home.
This old woman by the side of the old brook
Still calls me the garbage man's son!

I was a Dungeons and Dragons dork. I was a C student and a mason's apprentice. I wanted to escape, enlisted in the Marines, but chickened out and didn't go to boot camp. I went to a commuter campus, bumbled around, got lots of tattoos and piercings, and really could never have imagined I'd be living in the middle of the wilderness, practicing Zen Buddhism.

And that "monks" could marry and have kids.

And they have to sew their own robe.

Usually, I wear samue everywhere. Not sure you know what a samue is? Well I'll spare you a picture- it's a karate outfit. Or a sushi chef's outfit. I brought one, but I'm not so into wearing monastic garb in a place where they accidently shoot things that aren't wearing blaze orange.

But I'm being dramatic. Truth is my lovely sister is picking me up and I'll stay at her house for awhile. My wife is pregnant and everyone will be interested our baby. People ask me how I'm feeling and I usually say hungry. Baby? I'm just not worried about baby! I wonder if she'll like to run, if she'll to be quiet, and want to stay at Tassajara forever, but no, I'm not worried about baby. I'm worried about me and what my family is thinking of me because I'm not worried about baby!

Ever sit in a conversation worrying about what people think of you? If not, you must not have inlaws. My inlaws are wonderful, so wonderful they make me nervous. They make me want to do something heroic, which is generally not a good idea.

So I'll refrain. I'll refrain from trying to explain what Doanryo is, too, when they ask me what my next job at Tassajara will be. Maybe I'll just say garbage man and leave it that.


  1. My teacher and I hail from the same place we grew up. It is an interesting conundrum. We have spoken about it occasionally. Good dharma in central pa if you ever stop by :) 🙏✌️

  2. Hey, that's where I got started! With Dr. Mazis on Harrisburg Penn State campus

  3. Enjoy the framiliarity and comoradity of being home....


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