Skip to main content

Posts

Showing posts from December, 2015

Vows and Compass

Being in new Orleans reminds me that my way seeking mind ripened here. Maybe it was the level of maturity my father's recovery actualized. Maybe it was the Ben Wren book I found at Beaucoup Books on my lunch break. Maybe it was my step mom's copy of things fall apart by Pema Chodron sitting in the bathroom.

Later I would witness the host of suffering post-katrina offered to a young public school teacher. How could I help? I took my first set of vows not really knowing where they would lead, like the old black metal compass my dad put in my Christmas stocking when I was about ten. Beautiful to hold, difficult to understand.

Now, years later, I feel a bit subdued as form,sensation, perception, impulse, and thought tag everything, beckoning some purchase for the price of belief. I'm home, but a home leaver. People wonder when I'll move back and being a home leaver means being ready to leave home again and again, which could mean coming back.

How will I actually engage all…

Christmas Eve

Going home for the holidays can bring up a lot about who we think we are, who our family thinks we are, and who we actually are or are not. And then there is who they wish we were. Do your parents wish you were a Zen monk? I don't think my in-laws do.

When they met me I was a vibrant middle school teacher, full of interesting stories from inner city living. For the last four years my wife and I have been living at Zen center, preceding each Christmas with a rousing Rohatsu sesshin. After seven days of silence it's into Johnny Mathis' winter wonderland.

I catch a sense of dubious suspicion about what it is I "do". My inlaws are power types- Dad was an officer in the Marines, then did a career with the fire department, Mom was a computer programmer, brother is an engineer, other brother a foreign service agent, and I feel quite irrelevant.

Feeling irrelevant can be a dangerous thing, if you're sensitive. I'm pretty sensitive. And I've witnessed a cycle …

Just Doing The Next Thing

I'm sitting in Berkeley drinking decaf, waiting to go do some work for a friend. I drink decaf now- my blood pressure was a consistent 130/80 and has dropped to 110/70 since I switched. I'm also doing side work on this vacation, as the baby is on the way and my mouth keeps abscessing. Shortly after the first abscess I got another, this time under a tooth that's already been root-canaled. So off to an oral surgeon. The bills on the first abcess haven't been paid, and off I go into another one.

I don't often think about how small my stipend is until something like this happens. Secluded in a valley with other people on small stipends, we share a sort of interdependant wealth. Great organic food, dry places to sleep ( I wouldn't say warm for everyone- the most novice monks don't have anything but a good sleeping bag and hot water bottle), and beautiful sky, beautiful mountains, beautiful waters (and some of them are thermal!). 
It's quite humbling. And it&…

Words About Things That Don't Actually Exist Anymore

Day 3, September 29th, 2015 I said on day one of my third practice period that I would keep this journal of practice. I thought about Ariel Pork, now Go Cloud, Run Water, and how when I began writing it, I didn’t think many people would read it. But readership saw a high of 1,000 people a day, with an average of about 400 reading each post. And greed developed. I started self advocating, trying to make an online presence, and I can’t remember where I got that idea. But I give up; classically, the attention I did get from Reddit or Facebook was the kind of attention I didn’t want. What I really wanted was people to know me, and in return I wanted to know other practioners. I wanted to know what practice looked like in different contexts- single mom practice, sailor on a boat practice, hermit in the mountain practice, and I saw some of that. And the more I saw their practice the more I saw my practice. Farmer practice, disciple practice, husband practice, do what the temple needs practi…