Mid Training Period Weather Report
October 04, 2011 by Jokai
Tired with an increasing chance of afternoon thunderstorms.
Well here I finally am, typing away at my first blog post for Yokoji (my first blog post ever in fact). I've been procrastinating this for some time. It's the kind of activity that I tend to leave in my inbox as a "to do". My difficulty in approaching this first post has been in deciding on a subject. I decided to drop the grand ideas and just write down what has been happening for me recently here at Yokoji.
I'm writing this on a Sunday afternoon after concluding another busy weekend. This time we once again hosted the Chapman University Group. The group leader Mark Maier has been coming to Yokoji for 13 years now and this was approximately the sixth time that I've worked with Mark. We've become friends over the years and it's always good to see him. My role in the weekend was to teach zazen to 32 young adults. It's a particularly interesting and challenging practice for me personally as this group did not visit with their primary motivation being to study zen buddhism, rather they are learning "service as leadership" and just happen to find themselves slap bang in the zendo with virtually no idea what they are in for. The forms and structure can look very foreign and intimidating and it's good for me to remember that. Living here for several years, the bows, robes and unusual words become very "everyday".
The main challenge I faced is in how to be of benefit to each person using the guiding principle of one teaching in response, or to put it another way, answering the person not the question. I've become increasingly aware of how much responsibility there truly is when we open our mouths and represent this wonderful tradition. I feel humbled by that and I think that's a good thing. I think I also need to throw away my desire to attain "results" on a continual basis.
In contrast to the Chapman group, the week previous, we had a children's day running alongside the usual Sunday morning program. Melissa Baiun Severa kindly organized and led the activities. For me personally, it was very interesting to be Ino (chant leader for service in this instance), when suddenly the Buddha Hall had several little people run in and charge straight off to the Kaisando (founder's room). Interesting because usually I am observing and helping to correct minor transgressions of the form.
In summing up, I am grateful for the continued challenges here. Life at Yokoji never fails to bring rich opportunities for practice and growth. I wonder what this weekend will bring?