Sunday, June 2, 2013

What do you guys do over there?


Okay, guys, let’s open the doors and sit down in the midst of all the action—aka, the Universe. Our regular schedule rares back upm 6pm, Tuesday, June 4th. Rumor has it that Polly Shikan will be there—navigating the bows, bells, fish-drumming, chanting, kinhin and silence (so much to do)—before heading off to the Austin Zen Center. At the AZC Shikan will be Head Monk in charge of…oh, I don’t know what there is to be in charge of. Perhaps she will tell us. In celebration of our door-opening, I thought to offer again this little reminder of what will be happening.

What do you guys do over there?

Well, before the evening even begins,
We say hello to each other,
Maybe a bow here and there
To remind us what we’re here for.
Then we talk about this and that.
Before we know it, the Ino rings the bell.
A candle is burning.
More bells: we’re taking Refuge,
And then the Ino begins to beat on the fish.
Poor fish. Her job is to keep her eyes open.

Form is emptiness and emptiness is form.

What’s that all about?
The priest guy lights a stick of incense.
We sit and stare at a wall.
Twice we do this in silence.
Of course, the birds twitter, cars pass by,
A train rumbles by down at Five Points,
That's okay.
Our job is to pay attention.
Then comes all that foreign gibberish.
Form and emptiness all over again
But differently.
We have some tea.
We talk some, maybe laugh a little bit.
The bell rings some more and we bow to a metal statue.
Who is that Buddha guy supposed to be anyway?

May the merit of this penetrate into our hearts. 

Once an old man said, “It’s like looking into a mirror.
No, that not right.
I feel like I am looking into myself.”

Life and death are of supreme importance.
This night our days are diminished by one.
We together vow not to squander our lives.

The bell rings one more time.
Don’t forget to blow out the candle.
It’s over.

But it's not over.

Have we wasted another hour and a half?
Oh, I don’t think so.
“It’s like food,” a woman says,
All of us standing out there in the last bit of summer sunlight.
There’s a little bit of tea to finish
So we do that. Joyfully.

“Yeah, it’s like food.”

We say goodbye.
“See you next time.”

Sunday, 10am.
Tuesday, 6pm

I hope you're all well and your practice is strong.
I look forward very much to being at home again and sitting with the Sangha.
A bow to you all, and I think you for your continued practice.
Bobby Kankin