Beth Joshi Mulligan - Fall training period week 9
November 28, 2015 by Jokai
I’m writing to you on this chilly Thanksgiving Day from my home office. I have many things to be grateful for every day, but today -especially, the magnitude of the opportunity I had to practice at Yokoji for this fall training period is filling my heart with thankfulness. I’ve been home now for four days following the ceremony of completion of my head trainee position, (formally known as Dharma Combat) and it is an interesting time.
Last night Hugh and I took our walk quite late in the day. To the west, the sun was setting, turning the clouds deeper and deeper shades of magenta and orange. To the south the full moon was rising over Mt. San Jacinto, appearing enormous and slightly hidden between wispy layers of cloud and mist which Hugh saw as giant translucent squid. These changed color constantly, from grey, to palest pink and then lavender. We had to keep turning back and forth, as we walked, to see the spectacular show nature was putting on for us. This time is like that, the sun sets while the moon rises and then it will be night and then day again. Something is indeed over, but then again is it?
A few weeks ago I was so sad the training period was coming to an end, that one day while washing dishes; I started to weep at the mere thought of moving out of my room in the practice house. But now, I realize it’s not that black and white. Of course I am always still training until I die hopefully. And I am still and always connected to Yokoji. In fact I’ll be up there Sunday! Tenshin Roshi said to see this transition, “as a punctuation.” I love that. During the fist month of the training period, every night after the evening sit, my friend Bill and I would walk sin companionable silence to our respective residences. We would pause in the meadow, and look up at the vivid Milky Way. As October tuned to November, we couldn’t see the Milky Way anymore, but that doesn’t mean it’s not up there somewhere. The constellations rotate and we turn as well, and the essential quality of aliveness does not wane.
I do want to write about the ceremony, but not today. Today is a day to say thank you. Thank you to Susan Yushin Tipton, who, when I shyly asked about participating in the fall training period said with great enthusiasm,”Why don’t you be head trainee?” And then continued to encourage and support me along every step of the way. Thank you to Jokai Sensei, who gave his support to the idea and then took care of all the myriad details that go into making it happen (and was an incredible role model of leadership and a truly fun to work with). And thank you to Roshi, for allowing and supporting me in doing this, in more ways than I can say. He is my teacher, he patiently undertook koan study with me and, he along with Susan and Jokai made sure the temple was and is there for me and all of to practice through fire and flood.
I’m grateful to my fabulous housemate and our Tenzo, Jikan for nourishing me in all ways and for her great good will and humor. Thanks to Melissa Severa, for her kind and gentle friendship and also being willing to get me things I needed when she was in town! Thanks to my fellow residents who did so much work to keep all of us going. And deep thanks to my partner Hugh who took on the care of our home and our business and was supportive in every-way possible. Among the many things he did for me on a practical level, he engraved my name on the bottom of the meditation bench he made for me, so that every morning when I opened it I saw “Joshi” in gold alongside the image of a beautiful bee, and I felt loved. And thanks to the entire Yokoji Sangha for your practice and presence in the world. May we all ascend to the throne of enlightenment together.