July 25, 2010

After the Full Moon

The Full Moon Sesshin was full of wonderful spirit with the moon never so bright and clear. We had a wide range of ages and experience with several people sitting a Zen retreat for the first time. We were all encouraged by the openness of everyone and the willingness to adventure into participation without hesitation.

The gardens are beginning to be tamed after so much spring rain. The weeds went wild and the bushes seemed to double in size. But persistence of the Sangha in taking time in the garden is beginning to see results. We are getting a handle on the garden areas and the grounds are extraordinarily beautiful. Our bald eagle continues residence on the lake and surveys the waters regularly. Song birds this year are still in full throat. However, August is coming and they will soon be quiet. There is never anything so strange as to sit meditation in August when the birds quit singing in order to save up energy and fat for the migration. We call that the time when "Buddha is Sleeping."

During Full Moon retreat we do something rather extraordinary. We go to sleep at 9:00 p.m. then get up at midnight and do t'ai chi in the moonlight. Last night we were out dancing in this mysterious movement in the shadows of trees and coyotes began howling in the distance. Then in the opposite distance the dogs began to bark. Here we were between them moving silently. I can't imagine what someone would think happening upon us in the darkness.

5:00 a.m. comes rather early then after being up at midnight for half an hour. The sleep is delicious going back to bed, but the wake up at dawn isn't easy. Nevertheless, we do it and discover ourselves again in the silence of meditation listening to the birds wake up. The changing light is already noticeable. Nothing stays the same. The Full Moon will quickly enough fall into darkness.

"My meditation under the moon lasts till the ripest night.
The stream has hushed its cry, dew lies thick everywhere.
Who among the moon viewers tonight will have the prize?
Who will reflect the clearest moon in the lake of his mind?"
Priest Ryokan
Translation by Nobuyuki Yuasa