Training Period Looms
August 27, 2011 by Yugen
The Fall Training Period is creeping up on us with a single solitary week standing between us and it. Training Period at Yokoji, I'm convinced, is a truly valuable way to spend the better part of three months. However, in the weeks leading up to it, my brain starts to make preparations for what comes ahead, both as administrator and as a practitioner who will be joining in with the training. There are lots of logistical considerations - getting the trainees ready, preparing for the various ceremonies, planning for the increased workload with either a sesshin or guest group in pretty much every weekend. So in short, it is a stressful time. Once I'm in to the first day or two of the first sesshin, things settle down as the transition has been made, but the psychological and practical steps that need to be taken to ensure the smooth running of that transition are usually exhausting. At this point - one week before - I'm trying to think over all the eventualities that need consideration.
We have Dr. Craig Eishu Twentyman as the head trainee for the Fall, but he's only going to be here part time. As a practicing doctor based in Hawaii, he cannot spend the whole period here, so will be here for the sesshins and maybe a few days either side. This means that we (the resident senior students who have already served as head trainee in the past) will have to pick up the slack in terms of helping lead the training period and ensuring all the daily services take place. When I served as head trainee last year, I felt my main role was to be present for the duration in order to support and guide the trainees and to learn from that process. It will be interesting to see how Eishu can serve as Head Trainee in absentia. Hopefully he has some ideas.
Tenshin Roshi gave a talk on Wednesday in Long Beach, with the title of 'Zen in Everyday Life'. The audience were asked what they wanted to hear about, and then Roshi weaved a talk around the feedback he got. It seemed to go well and attracted a decent size crowd. Thank you to all the Long Beach folk - Musho, Rich, Wayu, Christ and all the others for putting together the event. The Long Beach group now has a steady core of people who attend the twice weekly meetings and it is good to see it flourishing. There was an hour of zazen before the talk and the regular members of the Long Beach Zen Group got to have a private interview with Roshi, or dokusan, which for those who can't make it up to Yokoji is a rare opportunity.
At the beginning of September we have an off-grid specialist coming to look at our electrical system to help us with the work we want to undertake in order to upgrade it. There is a local company who are sending up the specialist, and the two founders of the company visited us at the beginning of the year for the Sunday schedule. I spoke with them about our system with the vague idea of asking for help in the future. When we organized our fundraiser aimed squarely at improving the system in Spring this year, I got back in touch with them to ask if they would be willing to help at a reduced rate, or even better at a no-rate for labor. We have yet to go through the specifics of cost - and I won't mention their name until we have an agreement to save any potential embarrassment if things don't work out - but there is a loose agreement that we can give them the money we have raised and they will buy the parts we need and install them, with almost all of the money going towards the parts to get us the most bang for our buck. I'm pretty excited about this as I thought I might end up doing the bulk of the installation which would have meant going through all my books and material on off-grid systems to get a refresher on the finer points and then having to learn a bunch more in order to get it done. I have a deep appreciation for professionals!