Yokoji-Zen Mountain Center

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Ask and You Shall Receive

September 03, 2010 by Yugen

Jim Lakey Rev. Jim Yugen Lakey
Yokoji Zen Mountain Center

Ask and You Shall Receive

Stone Walls don't build themselves.

This week the residents get a break, working from 8:45am to 5:30pm with optional zazen in the evenings and mornings. Zazen is not normally optional, to be clear about how this schedule deviates from the norm. This reprieve is granted in light of the pending training period which begins with a 7-day sesshin. I always get a little apprehensive just before a training period. This one is especially important for me as I will be the head trainee. This means being around for the whole 3 months or so (as in not leaving the premises), performing services at noon and in the late afternoon every day and generally being there to support the other trainees. Of course the other trainees will be supporting me just as much, if not more, but that is the beauty of training periods. A sense of community and closeness evolves pretty quickly. Annoyance can trade places with tenderness in a matter of moments as we all live, work and sit together week after week. There is also the matter of Shuso Hossen. We usually refer to Shuso Hossen as dharma combat, in an attempt to move away from the Japanese terms. Shuso refers to the head trainee, but I looked up "Hossen" and the result is rather lovely:

Hossen (Jap., ‘dharma contest’). Fundamental method in Zen Buddhism whereby a master and pupil move each other toward truth. The literal tr., ‘contest’, is inappropriate, since hossen is mutual encouragement, arising out of zazen experience.

Isn't that nice! I don't feel half so nervous about it now - just need to work on my zazen experience. A training period is the perfect time for that. The Dharma Combat ceremony will take place on November 14th for those who can make it.

This week we are also preparing for a yoga group who are coming up for the weekend, arriving tomorrow. We had one volunteer lined up, Christ (pronounced Chris, with a 't' on the end, as opposed to the Lord and Savior of biblical fame), who is coming from Long Beach, but I figured we really needed more help. So I emailed the volunteer group, people who have signed up at www.zmc.org/volunteer, in the hope that some one may be able to help. The response was immediate and gratifying - a few people got in touch within an hour of the email going out, some of whom will be up at the weekend to help out. I have always been a little suspicious of the sentiment of "ask and you shall receive", but in this case it worked out splendidly! We could still use more help that weekend, if you, kind reader, have some time free...

In other Yokoji news, Tenshin Roshi and Ben have been working on a retaining stone wall up by Roshi's house. What with mudslides being a big problem in California, it's not a great idea to leave exposed slopes of dirt around buildings. This is one of those long term projects that gets dipped in to now and then when we have people and time to do it. The area is looking better, but it has been a work in progress for the past few years. Jishin has been stocking up for the upcoming group and the sesshin. A trip off the mountain to Hemet to buy produce and fresh goods and then a delivery this morning by the local organic and health food distributor. The company won't allow their drivers to go up Apple Canyon, so we always have to meet them at the bottom of the road near Hurkey Creek and shift all the boxes from their huge refrigerated semi into which ever vehicle we have at our disposal. Jim has been working on a tiling project at Roshi's house and I have been in the office catching up on paper work. And that, as of now, is that.

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