The Buddha, The Dharma, The Sangha

"Spiritual powers and their wondrous functioning--hauling water and carrying firewood." --Layman Pang, upon his realization

Sunday, April 26, 2009


Yesterday was Samu Saturday up at the House of Meditation.  After a cold Winter and early Spring, the grounds around the House needed some serious attention, as did the two floors of Tonboji Temple.  In fact, winter decorations of pine boughs and cones still remained on windowsills, and a Swedish troll nutcracker still stood sentry beside the Dana bowl.  Time for opening all the windows and letting the warm April breeze scour the corners.
I took a roll of paper towels and all-surface cleaner and went to work on the 2nd floor.  Up go the mini blinds, windows washed and thrown open, every flat surface wiped down, being mindful to replace items perhaps not exactly where they had been before, but at least close.  I  think it's a good idea to shift objects occasionally, because it shifts the energy in the room, creates a new place for eyes to rest, even though it may be unconscious.  Baseboards, chair legs, shelves, lamps, telephones, pictures and frames, wall decorations--all wiped down.  It was like an extended yoga session.  

Out in the yard, Sangha members raked, picked up dead branches, mulched and reset stepping stones.  There are some beautiful trees in the yard, including a mature red maple, a lovely cedar and a larch, I think.  Newly planted is a weeping cherry, that was fluffy with pink flowers.  L's 4 year old son ran from task to task wearing enormous gardening gloves--he raked, sprayed the hose, dug with the shovel, moved stones and cried when he scraped his knee.  Even as he was doctored, the gloves never came off!  
Samu Samurai!

Downstairs, B shifted everything in the zendo as I was doing upstairs.  We worked silently, took a little break to talk about relationships and drink water, went back to our work.  From the 2nd floor, I could hear songbirds in the trees and the sporatic discussion from those outdoors--how to drill a hole for a new outdoor outlet, where to place decorative stones, and did we really need another truckload of mulch?  Sounds of quiet activity, mindfulness, laughter.  
Samu is hard work, but it is like zazen, a place where the movement of body finds pace with a quiet heart-mind, where mindfulness marks one moment, and then another.  Samu is every bit as important as zazen, and is considered one of the four principle components of a Zen practice:  zazen, samu, teidho & dokusan, like the four points of a compass.  
My heart was quieted with this work. 

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