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Here We Go Again...

March 08, 2011 by Yugen

Jim Lakey Rev. Jim Yugen Lakey
Yokoji Zen Mountain Center

Here We Go Again...

The Yokoji 2011 Spring Training Period has begun. We are nearing the end of the first day of the first 7-day sesshin. Jishin is the head trainee and I think she'll do a great job. She is the  mother hen amongst the residents and is always the one to take food down to someone if they are ill or to check up on people when they aren't doing so well. Jishin now has a whole group of trainees to take care of and we're lucky to have her. We've got a good group for the training period. David Jokai Blackwell is back for a few weeks and Gerhard Ryuko Nicklas is visiting from New Mexico, and we have a number of new trainees coming up at different points over the next three months as well as the same crew that were here for the winter interim.

We took a bit of time off last week in preparation for the training period. I, for one, was feeling increasingly worn out over the past few weeks. There is always a lot of work in the winter and it takes its toll. It is good to start the training period having rested up. Tenshin Roshi gave a fiery talk on Sunday morning - a rousing reminder of the importance of committing to this period of time and doing one's best. The training periods are an opportunity to really knuckle down and practice with work, zazen and community living, which can be hard during the intensive schedule. I'm looking forward to it. Largely. It has a daunting presence, the training period and the opening sesshin, when looked at from the tail end of interim, but after a few days it normally picks up pace and things start to go smoothly (or not). It reminds me of how for people who don't live up here, the prospect of coming up for a sesshin can be overwhelming, as it is easy to picture it as monstrously difficult and foreign from the outside. Once you're in it and doing it, it is just what you're doing and that gap lessens or disappears.

After 3 feet of snow over the past few weeks, we have had a warm spell; the pipes to the practice house defrosted so we have water again, and the snow has all melted away. Today has been gray and windy and rainy, but tomorrow and the foreseeable is meant to be warm and sunny again. That's my kind of a winter.

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