Yokoji-Zen Mountain Center

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The Power of Coffee

September 10, 2010 by Yugen

Jim Lakey Rev. Jim Yugen Lakey
Yokoji Zen Mountain Center

The Power of Coffee

Someone's got the right idea!

Day 5. That is what popped into my head at 4:30am this morning as my alarm went off. Often during sesshin, before the day starts to flow and establish its own unpredictable pattern of events (or at least as unpredictable as a fully scheduled day can be), my mind likes to make these seemingly helpful announcements. The hope is always that I'll wake up, stretch a little, notice the texture of the bed sheets on my skin, or the slight chill in the late summer air, take a sip of water and feel grateful to be alive. Instead a voice in my head comes on like a cheap voice over in a Scott of the Antarctic-style movie: "Day 5. It is cold, dark and I am tired. The chance of more sleep now is impossible. I must go forward. I must gather the strength to get through yet another day". Ten minutes later and I'm awake and feeling (relatively) fine, my room looking more reasonable and less like the tundra as I head to the dining hall to sip some coffee. I am used to my sesshin voice-over mind by now - it is pretty predictable once we get past the first few days, and if that for me is the dharma of getting out of bed, then so be it.

I am enjoying this week. The participants are really putting themselves into it, maintaining silence, being punctual for all meditation blocks and work periods, working hard. I am the head trainee for this training period so it is a real pleasure for me to have such a solid group for the first sesshin. I hope it is a good omen for the months to come! For the first few days, Dr. Craig Eishu Twentyman was with us, giving interviews and talks. Eishu is a student of Harada Tangen Roshi and joins us at Yokoji when he is able to. It is great having two teachers present, seeing the difference in style and approach. Eishu lives in Hawaii and has studied with Toni Packer, Kapleau Roshi, Aitken Roshi, Maezumi Roshi and Tangen Roshi (and probably others I'm forgetting). I love hearing stories about Eishu's experience with these teachers, some of whom, for a young whippersnapper like myself, are the stuff of Zen legend. Hopefully Eishu will be joining us more in the future, and I look forward to his presence here.

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