The Buddha, The Dharma, The Sangha

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

Sunday, April 24, 2011

A Week of Mindfulness, (with Mindlessness Interspersed)

Mushin, "no-mindness", a state of egoless, anger-less, delusion-less abiding in everyday activities, as well as in combat, is what I've been thinking about all week, inspired by Sensei Todd's scroll in the tokonama of Gessha Tea House. The first character in the scroll reminds me of a woman walking, carrying a bundle on her head, but the bundle, while balanced, is about to lift off in all directions.

Will she be lifted along with it? There are tender threads keeping woman and bundle connected.
Will her beautiful zig zag body remain rooted to the earth, yet connected to the vast sky above her?
And the dots and swoosh of the second character, Mind, remind me of taking two steps, and then simply leaving ego behind--the stroke of the brush begins in the Absolute, the trailing brush leads to the Universe, and beyond.
So we take the steps on the path, and then we leave the steps and the path behind.

What is this?


A rainy, blustery spring Saturday! We were like sodden flowers as we entered the Tea house, but the warmth and incredible thick cha heated everything up! Sensei Todd offered me Luxurious Tea, the tea that is made from the dregs of our shared thick cha, and it was the best tea I have ever tasted. As I slurped the last dregs, tipping the bowl as if to drink in all of life, I was aware for a fleeting moment of all those who had done exactly the same, perhaps even Rikyu, as he tilted a Raku bowl to his mouth!


The Tea House withstood the rain and wind. The leaves of the camellia were almost fully open, while the leaves of the magnolia were almost fully ending. They littered the ground around the Tea House, little prayers for our intention. Later, I read that a tornado had touched down somewhere in York County. Several times I had felt the subtle shake of the timbers as we sat in meditation, but a tornado...!
The following day, the sun shone brightly, and Sensei's garden looked scrubbed and fresh.


Cha puts a grin on my face, I can't help myself. Care in making tea puts a grin on my face. The weight of the tea bowl, the thickness of the lip, the sensation of the rough or smooth clay on the foot, and turning the bowl to face the face of the bowl, to consider how many hands and hearts have created the opportunity for this moment...Rikyu created the Tea Ceremony so that one day I could sit and smile and share cha, and for that I am forever grateful.


And yesterday, a full Retreat Day At the House of Meditation with Zazen, Kinhin, Dharma discourse and a Spring Oryoki meal of sticky rice, grilled tofu, pea pods, green onions, ginger and wonderful spices. Tenzo Andrea is a marvelous cook, and her offering was "Just Enough" in the sweetest way. She reminded us of the Four Abidings and how they are woven skillfully into the fabric of our daily living: Loving kindness, Compassion, Sympathetic Joy and Equanimity.
All come into focus again and again as the foundation for our Mindful practice.

Osho Ginny's liturgy reminded us all of the essence of the Tao, the essence of our lives together in the Sangha, and our deep interconnectedness to all beings, all of nature and it's geography.
Each bow is an exclamation point!
I see you, I honor you, you are Buddha!

Sensei Tony's Dharma discourse was on the Precepts--what do they really mean? How do we translate them in our daily lives, from moment to moment? How do we keep them fresh? How do they keep us grounded? How do they challenge us, over and over again, to live compassionately and from the heart of wisdom?
Above all else, I heard Sensei remind us to question everything, even the Precepts, to make the Precepts our own from moment to moment, to allow for the flexibility of our lives of impermanence, of interconnectedness, of suffering and of love.

Like bookends,the Precepts Retreat at the House was a beautiful way to end a week that began with tornado winds and typhoon rain around the snug little Tea House while all inside enjoyed meditation and cha.

And what about those days between cha and retreat?
Well, let's just call it a Mixed Zen Bag!
Haven't you ever wondered what is stuffed into Hotei's bag?

Let's just call it Living Life As It Is, which means that interspersed with the flowing mindful moments, there were many more moments of chaos, bewilderment, laughter, hurt feelings, joy, calm abiding, irritation, awakening, tense muscles and beautiful, beautiful distraction!
Songbirds, traffic, drunk students on a Saturday night, car alarms, kids laughing, kids crying, my husband sighing, Neko-Chan's purr, her evil Step-sister's hisssssssss...."you are too close!", and the ever-present silent hum of the Universe, of the blood running through our veins and the breath in our lungs.

All of it and more.
All waking up!


1 comment:

karen anne said...

"...the ever-present silent hum of the Universe, of the blood running through our veins and the breath in our lungs."

Love that!

In honor of your post I'm having a cup of tea in the cup and saucer you made. But the ceremony consists only of dunking the teabag in steaming water. It will have to do!

Hugs,
-karen anne