Yokoji-Zen Mountain Center

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Soggy Zen

September 06, 2011 by Yugen

Jim Lakey Rev. Jim Yugen Lakey
Yokoji Zen Mountain Center

Soggy Zen

Even the blue sky of California has a bad day sometimes

The Fall Training Period is now officially under way. The week leading up to it, was as predicted, exhausting, which makes the transition in to a 7-day sesshin somewhat rough. However, for most people that attend the sesshin, the same can probably be said.  All of a sudden there is a new schedule with an earlier wake-up, a menu aimed at simplicity and basic nutrition and lots and lots of zazen. I felt totally shattered yesterday, for the whole day, but today my body is already starting to adjust and the rest of the week seems like a more realistic proposition. One of the beautiful things about sesshin is that with more zazen, I'm less inclined to take the whiny, complaining voice in my head so seriously. On day one, the voice that finds getting up at 4:20am an affront to its sense of propriety, seems to have a point. As the sesshin progresses, this voice loses its authority and takes its place as background noise, among the raindrops falling, the crickets singing and the occasional punctuation of the timekeeper's bells.

The air is unusually humid and the temperature has dropped as rain fell almost continuously yesterday. Possible storms are forecast throughout the week, which is great at this time of year as the fire season starts to pick up. One casualty of the rain is Jizo Bodhisattva. You may remember Jizo from a recent blog - the Bodhisattva who rescues those suffering in the hell realms, and protects children, women, animals and travelers. Busy guy/gal. We have the main statue in the grove where we held the Jizo day ceremony, and then we have a second statue near the rock wall by the dining hall. The rock work was done by Maezumi Roshi and then Chozen Bays Roshi, one of Maezumi Roshi's successors, made a small statue to go there. The base of the statue was gradually eroded away and some time last night, she fell over and cracked in two. Luckily, we have a second Jizo to take its place, one made at Great Vow monastery (which Chozen Bays Roshi now runs) and presented to us by one of the monks who lives there but came to Yokoji for the Sotoshu Ango in 2009. We will bury the broken statue this afternoon in the meadow near the stream bed while chanting the Jizo Shingon Dharani, the prayer for the protection of Children, animals, women and travellers.

You may have noticed that my blog posts have been looking a bit lonely, with no offerings from my fellow residents to keep them company. Hopefully this will be remedied soon as Jokai has signed on to write an occasional piece himself, to water down my weekly wafflings if nothing else.

Poor old Jizo...

Patty helps bury Jizo


  • Nikos Leverenz:

    06 Sep 2011 22:24:50

    Money quote: “[With] more zazen, I’m less inclined to take the whiny, complaining voice in my head so seriously.”

    Writing can be great practice too. I recommend the technique forwarded in Natalie Goldberg’s “Writing Down the Bones,” which I’ve used in small groups with other sangha members here — and even with a stranger on a plane trip returning to Sacramento from Honolulu.

  • Doetsu:

    06 Sep 2011 22:30:41

    Yugen, I don’t always have something to write but I do enjoy your blog posts. They help me feel more connected and more a part of the community there at Yokoji.
    Ilene Doetsu Van Gossen

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