I would like to thank everyone for their kind words and sympathy that was offered to me and my family. In difficult times like this it is easy to recognize that one’s Sangha is the true refuge.
I was asked frequently about my ‘unpublishable’ book. I called it ‘unpublishable’ because it is not really a book but rather a collection of thoughts that has managed to escape from the discipline of Zen practice. This is why this book is titled One Hundred and Eight Confessions. In lieu of the weekly Dharma talk, I have decided to share another selection.
Moonlit Crane Zendo
Not knowing what I was doing, some years ago I opened a zendo. Our zendo is just a small room in an old farmhouse on the edge of civilization where farming was always marginal. Today, the fields surrounding the house are overgrown and the forest is reclaiming them back. In a red plastic flower pot by the garden gate, sometimes a morning glory will bloom. Come springtime, the old, disused barn will be taken over by a pair of ravens and in the big hay field east of the house, cranes will come and dance.
It is pastoral and quiet here. The countryside around the zendo is sparsely populated. In this rural setting you will find hunters and fishermen, lumberjacks and cattle ranchers. They are largely oblivious to the presence of our zendo. We are hidden, while being in plain sight. Neighbors go about their lives, family and friends, work and church on Sundays. When we do come across each other, we always wave and smile.
Sometimes people do come and sit with me – two or three, four or five, never a crowd. When people come, it always feels different from when I meditate alone. When they arrive, they come carrying their burdens, and even though our zendo is very small, there is enough space for all of the guests to leave those burdens behind. In the silence of our zendo, it is easy to let go of unnecessary things. Returning home, they return unburdened. However soon enough, the spaciousness that was found in the zendo fades. The ashes of home-spun life weigh us down. We get entangled in the thicket of our days. Any possibility of practice is lost.
When I first opened the zendo, I did not know that zendos are places where we dump and leave behind our worries. The incense that burns there is the scent of relief. I did not know that the door to the zendo always remains hidden no matter how often one has walked through it in the past. As with our practice, this door has to be re-discovered day by day, week by week, season by season.