I leave today. In about five hours. It feel like being at the edge of a high diving board, exciting and scary, and the water looks amazing… and yet can sting.
Two weekends ago Sosan and I met up with Junpo and the Zen River sangha, a branch of Hollow Bones, in Appleton, WI. For me it was a whirlwind trip from Friday night to Monday morning, and a great way to prepare and have a strong and celebratory send off.
Saturday morning I was on the road by 5AM with Kevala from Milwaukee to Appleton. At the morning service, I sat in the “Spiritual Leader” seat, usually reserved for the Roshi, or zen master. Then I offered daisan, or zen practice interview, which provided a deep reminder of the importance of being clearly and selflessly present when being of service to people. After that, I gave my first dharma talk ever, the topic being that conscious embodiment is a 24/7 practice in all that we do, not limited to the physical practices of yoga, qigong, et cetera. I also encouraged people to take the practice in to nature, to give time to be truly present with this living world, observing and sensing without naming or thinking about it.
The rest of Saturday Sosan facilitated the Mondo Zen process, getting feedback after each koan. And I did the same on Sunday. It was powerfully important for both of us, to have our skills reflected back, as well as see where we have room to improve. Saturday night was a delightful dinner out, and Sunday was dinner in, including the celebration of three birthdays. I turned 49 the day before; I am not sure how describe what an amazing gift the week and going to DBZ is. I can say there are the feelings of trueness and completeness to it, providing me with a deep peace.
That peace is with me now, and I am also feeling a bit nervous… this is it. The real deal. No turning back. And then there’s a couple dozen things on my mind… last-minute packing, the lingering process of selling my business, my unsold dump trucks, having to come back next Sunday to finish packing and move stuff in to storage, tend to business, then go back Friday to start a 7-day silent retreat. But, this is life and Zen is a life practice, so here I am in it, grateful and amazed.
In my mind the big plunge doesn’t really start until I’m fully out of my apartment, and my business affairs wrapped up, but this is a very good start.