Yokoji-Zen Mountain Center

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There and Back Again

February 13, 2012 by Jokai

David Blackwell Rev. David Jokai Blackwell
Yokoji Zen Mountain Center

It’s a common practice of the British to discuss the weather. That seems an apt starting point for this post as we finally have a shift in temperature. The clouds have rolled in and it’s once again time to leave a tap dripping overnight in each building to avoid bursting pipes. Wood piles are restocked and bare feet become a rare sight for a while.

This is my first week back in the schedule since returning from a two week trip to Kauai to see my son Dylan. I’ve realized that such transitional times deserve particularly careful study for me. I greatly value (and highly recommend should the opportunity arise for you) a sustained period of residence at Yokoji. There is much power in simply staying put. On the other hand, a trip away “into the world” is in itself a wonderful opportunity to test the functioning of realization in new activities. I think it’s important to witness how our practice manifests in very different environments and circumstances.

This past week I noticed upon returning to the training center that my mind was stirred up and busy. I felt very grateful for the simple act of entering the Buddha Hall. In allowing the body to take the posture and the mind to rest in this place, we develop the space to let things be as they are. My impulse tends to be to try move away from so-called negative feelings and to attach to pleasurable feelings. Good old attachment and aversion! No change there then and just part of being human. The challenge that I’m working with is in being awake and aware to whatever is arising without reacting in a knee jerk fashion or going off on automatic. Trusting in not-knowing. I find that if I trust this place irrespective of how I regard it, then naturally the way forward becomes clear with time. Practice, practice, practice. See things as they are.

The next area of interest to me with this process is in studying cause and effect. Looking at time, person, place and amount, then acting in accordance with reality.

Webster’s definition: reality: the quality or state of being real.

Not for some desired result based on my plan for world domination I hope. In studying the self we begin to see what a huge responsibility our life is and how each interaction has great effects on those around us. I say those around us because my major points of difficulty tend to arise with other people. Trees and rocks and I tend to get along just fine.

I’m excited to be back at Yokoji. I’m more than grateful to practice a way not based on schemes or inflexible belief systems. The longer I live here - indeed the longer I live anywhere - I feel I understand my life less and less. By that I mean understand cognitively. Yet dwelling here in this unknown miraculous place, we stand always at the fulcrum. Always the place of power and openness is at hand. It might just not look like how we would like it to be. As we move towards the end of Winter Interim, another Training Period is almost upon us. I look forward to the schedule heating up. On an immediate level, I look forward to the Practice House heating up as well. It’s cold today! Thank you for reading.



  • Scallymick@charter.net:

    13 Feb 2012 13:43:08

    It struck me that your title “there and back again” was the subtitle for Tolkeins ‘the Hobbit’ , I don’t know if you realized this or if it was intentional. Bilbo leaves home on great adventure, only to return wiser and valuing his friends more, tested and scarred by a great obsession, dropping into the comfort of routine. Welcome back Jokai, but the question is begged, where is home?

  • Lisa Shokai MacDonald:

    21 Feb 2012 21:18:30

    I do so enjoy your blog posts, David!

  • Jokai:

    21 Feb 2012 21:25:11

    thank you so much

  • Jokai:

    21 Feb 2012 21:26:56

    Thanks for the comment Mick. The title was intentional on my part, but you explained it far better than I could.

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