Yokoji-Zen Mountain Center

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Blogging and Backhoes

August 20, 2010 by Yugen Lakey

Yugen Lakey Rev. Yugen Yugen Lakey
Yokoji Zen Mountain Center

Blogging and Backhoes

Blogging can be a somewhat cynical enterprise. This is a new realization for me, as a novice in the already-crowded universe of the blogger. Having created just a few posts so far, my inclination is to wait for the world to revolve with my newly minted words naturally rising through the mass consciousness in importance and popularity through some kind of magical behind-the-scenes technical process. Why? Because this is the way it should be, right? I act and the world sits up and pays attention. Unfortunately, reality seems to disagree. And as ever, my aim as an eager young Zen Buddhist is to match my understanding to reality, as sadly, reality seems to be in no rush to match itself to my projections and desires. So... this means joining the ranks, the hordes, who are anxious to see their words consumed by vast swathes of discerning blog readers all over the globe. How, exactly does one do this? A popular suggestion is to create lists. Apparently people love lists. Possible options are, "13 Ways to Instantly Attain Enlightenment", "How to Lose your Belly and Become a Zen Master in 30 Days" and "99 Surefire methods of Getting People to Read Your Blog on the False Promise of Something You Can't Really Give Them". So why is it so important to me to read various marketing strategies and find ways of getting more people to read this blog and in turn visit the main YMZC (blog strategy #7: freely litter your blog with website backlinks) website? The reason is very simple: to give more people the chance to come to Yokoji and train, in order to realize the Buddha Way together.

The mission statement for Yokoji Zen Mountain Center is as follows:

To provide students and families with a supportive environment for the teaching, training, and practice of Zen Buddhism; to incorporate sound ecological principles into the development of Yokoji-Zen Mountain Center; and to ensure the continuation of the Buddha Dharma for future generations.

I take this very much to heart. Tenshin Roshi is pretty much the only common thread of Yokoji, having been here full time since 1995 and part time for years before, since the early 80s. Roshi has built the entire Center with the help of numerous others and has been here, fulfilling his vows, through times both good and bad. This commitment to the practice and to the Center inspires me greatly. Can such unwavering commitment be matched and continued? I hope so. I really hope Yokoji does continue through the years, flourishing, following the simple mission statement, to provide Zen Training to all those who want it in a manner harmonious with the world around us. The supportive environment for the teaching, training, and practice of Zen Buddhism has already been established. We have a beautiful Center with all the necessary infrastructure. We can accommodate between 40 and 50 people for sesshin and workshops. My hope is that we fulfill this potential over and over again.

Back on the ranch...

Jim Prall and Tenshin Roshi have almost finished the stair case and Jim is now working on laying new carpeting in cabins 1, 3 and 4. We got a great deal recently on a roll of carpet and plan to use as much of it as we can. Anyone who has stayed in the above cabins will agree that, having served us well over the years, the carpets have seen better days. This year, two loft spaces have been converted into accommodation and carpeted, and the Rock Room, part of the Practice House and Jisha Cabin have been re-carpeted. This is part of the do-what-we-can-when-we-can approach that we have adopted at the Center. When we have the right people to do the job and enough resources to undertake it, then a project can be taken care of. Prioritization has us hold off certain jobs until we can realistically tackle them, and when we receive donations of time or materials, we try and use them as best we can. And this year has involved a lot of carpet.

Yesterday, after working in the office in the morning, I go outside to tackle the not-so-small matter of unhooking the grader blade from the tractor and attaching the backhoe. To be honest, my heart is not really in the project. It is a warm afternoon and I am drowsy after a great lunch from Jishin. I have never done this job before, having only seen it done twice. It is great working with other people, as a sense of synergy seem to propel a project along. Working solo, a daunting task can sap the energy right out of me. One thing I have learned here is to do it anyway. The way I feel doesn't affect the work that needs to be done, and by jumping in and doing it, I will learn much more about myself (and tractors) than by procrastinating. So I do it. Or try to, at least. By the end of the afternoon the grading blade is unhooked and the back hoe is roughly aligned with the tractor and the surprisingly heavy hydraulic pump is hooked up to the tractor. Although not finished, I now know a lot more about how this process works and a little more about my own lethargy. I am also covered in tractor grease. Before hitting the shower and moving on to dinner and zazen, I bleed the fuel line on the diesel generator which caused it to conk out some time the day before and consequently not equalize the batteries as I had hoped. By the time the sun came up this morning, the generator had completed its nights work and all is well in the Yokoji power shed once again.


  • Jeff Albrizze:

    20 Aug 2010 23:38:40

    Thanks Yugen, for your honest sharing. It means a lot to me to read your blogging, sharing your practice with us, and letting us see the behind the scenes at Yokoji.

    Be well and sit strongly,

    Jeff Albrizze

  • Ilene Van Gossen:

    23 Aug 2010 04:15:09

    Very well written, Yugen. It makes me appreciate Yokoji all the more.

    I do have to admit though that the “How to Lose your Belly and become a Zen Master in 30 Days” is a bit intriguing. Is it on the schedule yet? ;^)

    Ilene Van Gossen

  • Alasdair GF:

    24 Aug 2010 09:56:14

    Oh joy, spam. They’re quick to find you, no?!

  • Yugen:

    25 Aug 2010 17:54:02

    Sadly so!

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