Wait! Didn’t we just have a blog? Last week? Yep, we did, and the short story behind that is there’s too much going on for once per month.
As heard on Good News Update during Open Air Tuesday evening, we just had our first Sangha guests since we’ve been moving full-tilt toward June 15. This was meant to serve as a “soft invitation” for Sangha, an indication that while we’re not really ready—when is anyone ever ready to receive visitors—we’re ready enough. Hence, it seems a good time to clarify some terms.
Yes, the Privileged Environment is still primary, essential to our Practice, and within that Privileged Environment there will be some fairly significant changes. For example, while everyone during the time we are on the property is “monastic,” this is not a monastery. We have no resident monastic community. We will all simply be monastics when we’re here.
What does this mean? Primarily, it means that we will keep the most conducive environment for waking up and ending suffering together for one another. We won’t be here to be social. We won’t be interested in or curious about others. We will keep custody of the eyes and the attention. We will make Gasshō as our greeting, rather than speaking. We will attend to how everything is cared for for ourselves rather than counting on Monks to take care of things and us. We will be required to support our self in eschewing distractions. On the property we will be able to have phones and tablets and computers, and we won’t use them—out of respect for our self and for our fellow practitioners.
Some things will be familiar to those who have practiced formally with us before:
1) There will be someone of whom questions can be asked.
2) We will very likely have a centrally located message board.
3) Detailed information about how everything works will be made available.
4) Just as always, everything in the structure will be an attempt to support us in doing the extremely critical work of waking up and ending suffering.
The five “activities” of Zen practice are sitting meditation, walking meditation, working meditation, group processing, and guidance. Whether at the Zen Monastery Peace Center or at an away retreat, practice was “provided.” On wonderful, rare occasion, we had the enlightening fun of doing working meditation together, but usually we had only the other four. Here at Four Acre Zen Center (FAZC), we will need and welcome Sangha to all five activities as maintaining the physical home will be an essential part of our practice. Precisely how this will happen, we don’t yet know. We’re going to evolve it together. Or better said, we’re going to be together as Life unfolds how this will be.
On this birthday I received a lovely little book called The Gift of Dharma comprised of practice vignettes and pictures supplied by Sangha and curated by Jen. This is the kind of book usually written posthumously because it would appear to be about the teacher. In fact, it is about the practice, teachings we want articulated so they will inform how we are together, how we are on the property, and how we continue to reap the benefits of monastic Zen practice. We will not be able to replicate forty plus years of interactions in the next few months! Many in Sangha now have never done working meditation as we approach it in this practice. Many have never spent time together outside the very strict structure of a formal retreat. These little stories, we hope, will provide both flavor and insights for the “how” of being together as Sangha in practice.
I fear I was woefully unclear about hooks in the last blog. I wasn’t trying to say we can’t afford to buy hooks and therefore want you to order a bunch and send them to us. We were hoping folks who wanted to play along would either send one of their own that they like or come across one in their travels and pick it up for us. I apologize for the confusion and the appearance of asking for stuff! The invitation was for participating in the process of creating a practice home!
In the last blog we spoke about the injured tree. The pictures are our best effort to show the damage and the tree’s response.