Wednesday, December 23, 2015

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's the circumstance- there's not a lot of money in Soto Zen and I'd like to keep it that way actually. In Japan, it's a different story. And I think for christian pastors, it's a different story. But there's something to Kodo Sawaki's saying that a only a hungry dog hunts. My bank account is a real reality check that, yes, I am doing this because I love it, because I think it's best. I even think it's best for my future daughter. 

This isn't without pangs of anxiety. But when I think of Suzuki Roshi and his hard time in post Meji era Japan as a Buddhist priest and the hardship of WWII, I'm encouraged to continue and do a proverbial search for the crooked cucumbers falling off the back of a truck. 

And of course, my sense of strain exists in my thoughts. Don't I have a decaf coffee right now? Don't I have a day's work outside the temple? Don't I have senior monks and sangha members giving us gifts? I'm struck by how often this mind panics to the tune of a song that isn't even playing. 

There is abundance, it's just not so easy to see sometimes. And there's a lot of love, breath, and stillness available whenever I'd like, 

I was driving to Berkley on 580 east across at least five lanes of traffic. I didn't really know where I was going and only remembered to breath now and then. What a contrast! A week ago I'd be raising my Buddha bowl full of grain, today weaving through traffic. 

I wonder what tomorrow will be like. 

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