May 20, 2009

Home again, home again

The long flight home with engine trouble was tiring but who couldn't be grateful that the engine trouble occurred before takeoff and not after!  The flight was full of Washingtonians from Dulles Airport and so the group was generally compliant and quiet as we switched planes and then were halted because of lightening and thunder.  Four hours late which made it 27 hours without sleep.  I somehow have climbed successfully into this time zone.

The gardens of Olympia Zen Center are very beautiful and I could feel much gratitude for my teacher, Niho Roshi, to whom our temple is dedicated.  I think of the long connections in life that brought me into Niho Roshi's world and then moved me to this place.  Who could explain it!  A one-day working sesshin on Saturday led by C.J. Jikyo Wolfer took the gardens a step further in the spring cleaning.  We are blessed with an abundance of weeds and tiny sprouting trees as the land tries to return to an evergreen forest.  Each year we see a different abundant crop with billions of tiny seedlings fighting for a chance to reach into the deep earth.

Some of you know my painting teacher Tokunaga Sensei.  Her father died a week ago.  He had been hospitalized for several years after suffering a stroke.  Every day, Tokunaga Sensei went to visit him just as she had cared for her mother after she had become bed ridden.  Mr. Tokunaga lived to be 100 and I remember him still out riding his bicycle at 95.

So, I am back at daily morning Zazen here and enjoying the early morning light and birdsong.  We have a sangha meeting on Saturday and a chance to appreciate the gift we've been given in our sacred place of practice.  We also have the gift of Soto Zen, Dogen Zenji, Ryokan san, Zazen, the opportunity to bow to one another, the ancestors in our midst, Gogo-an, and countless other blessings that appear before our eyes.  When I think of the European cathedrals I visited on this trip, the size of the pillars and the work in massive stone that took years and years to build with some not yet finished, I think we can surely hold this simple place with low ceilings and only 4400 square feet.  A question of mere dollars cannot prevent the continuation of Dharma in this place where the eyes of our statues have been opened and the seeds of practice have been thrown down.

In the beginning of practice here in Olympia, we vowed the beginning of 500 years, and we opened this temple with 500 years of practice in mind.  We can renew ourselves in that effort and put behind us any thought that the Dharma will not support us when we make effort and practice sincerely.  What we have is because of the long history of effort of our ancestors.  And the land we stand on is because of the long history of ceremony in Native America practice.  We walk on the drumming and dancing feet of ghosts who protect this land.  There is so much more to life than we can fathom.