January 11, 2009

Restoring the Treasure House, Shobo Practice

It's hard not to appreciate Sundays.  It happens to be our day off from the schedule and the usual doings.  Calling it Sabbath for Zen Buddhists doesn't exactly work because of its meanings for Jews and Christians.  But the intention to stop work, to pause, to reflect, to restore oneself is what it's all about, and I have always loved the meaning and intention of Sabbath.  

So, I call this day of rest, Shobo Practice.  The word "Shobo" in Japanese Zen, means "Restoring the True Treasure House of the Dharma."  Taking a step back from the usual workload and recognizing what we are doing in the activity of rest and restoration, lifts the day into a religious observation that keeps us mindful of practice but permits the body and mind to have a holiday.  We are better for the rest we take.  We can truly relax in the Dharma.

In our case, it just happens to be Sunday, but it could be any day of the week that we keep Shobo Practice.  I completely encourage it for everyone.  Some are old enough to remember that we used to take it easy on Sundays.  The stores were closed and the streets were quiet.  Some countries in Europe continue this.  In our city of Olympia, most Jews that I know follow the observation of Shabat, the Sabbath, from Friday at sundown to Saturday at sundown.  The saying is that, "it isn't that the Jews preserved the Sabbath, but rather it is that the Sabbath preserved the Jews."  Rest and restoration give us long life.

Let us learn from this.  Shobo Practice preserves us for more joyful spiritual expression.  Go forth with a free mind and heart, and play.