"There are four kinds of wisdom ... giving, kind speech, beneficial deeds, and cooperation."

Wednesday, February 23, 2022

Investigate this fully

I began to accumulate comforts and conveniences. Here's an inventory from 2017:

Broom, cot, two blankets, two pillows, four chairs, electric desk lamp, desk, altar, censer, Buddha statue, vase, several clay offering bowls, candles, incense, lighter, cleaning rags, ointment, toothbrush, hairbrush, soap, ointment, two steel bowls, two soup/tea mugs, tumbler, two spoons, two forks, two pairs of chopsticks, a knife, steamer, coffeemaker, several Mason jars of dried tea, beans and grains, salt shaker with salt, water bottle, hammer, pair of pliers, assortment of hardware, pair of scissors, sewing kit, about twenty books, Guanyin statue, a copy of a Soto order of service, four chairs, framed enso, framed image of a statue of the medieval abbess Mugai Nyodai, trunk with several changes of clothes and a pair of slippers, oil-filled heater, kerosene lamp, four bamboo window shades, work gloves, a gardening apron, secateurs, camp saw, rakusu (for a layperson) in its envelope, mala, lineage documents, pennywhistle, magnifying glass, flashlight, thermometer, and a hori hori. Outside, tucked into the crawl space, usually reside a bucket, hoe, sickle, and watering can. 
I don't remember when I brought my dad's old steel cot from Georgia, possibly four decades ago. My mom's roll-top desk arrived in 2012. It's made of cheap woodgrain composites, but the cover does roll and it looks surprisingly nice. So I wrangled it out to the hut and it was my desk for five years or so, and presently resides in Beloved's hut. Daughter had it for awhile, too. It gets around. I've checked the brand name and you can get one of these new for about a hundred and fifty, but that seems steep for what it's made of.

Until recently, I've been able to sit at desks for more than twenty minutes and so have read a lot of books and written a few books and written many letters sitting at them; but as time went on, this desk became more and more of a shelf, lamp base, altar, dinner table, and general storage.

A niece completed her degree at the local university and migrated back to California, so I inherited her card table and matching folding chairs, which I carried out to the hut with ideas of having sangha members over to sit chair zazen with me. Few came, though. Modern visits tend to originate in phone calls and texts, neither of which are part of my universe, so.

The kitchen moved to a crate on the north wall. 

For several years the altar rested on a freebie pressboard TV cart.

At almost no cost but my labor, I now had, effectively, a home away from home. Overnighters were few until December 2019, when I elected to live in the hut for an intensive sesshin called Rohatsu.

This consisted of sessions of zazen/kinhin/zazen/kinhin/zazen, thirty minutes of zazen, ten of kinhin, formal meals (oryoki), and semi-formal work-release 😁 (samu), from six in the morning until eight at night, with services featuring chanting of the heart sutra and Fukanzazengi, all carried out in Zoom meetings. There were also formal Skype visits with the teacher, called dokusan.

In between sessions, I mostly drank tea and stared out the windows.

My son tells me what all I'm doing is called "cosplay" and that I'd be better off to just drink tea and stare out the window. 😂

He has a point. I respond that sometimes a framework helps prevent re-inventing the wheel. But I do sound like I'm trying to convince myself of that.

On the other hand, if an inquiry is honest, and I think this one, at its core, is, then I should see where it takes me. One of the things Dogen said to his followers more frequently than just about anything else is "investigate this fully."


Movement isn’t right and stillness is wrong
and cultivating no-thought means confusion instead
the Patriarch didn’t have no-mind in mind
any thought at all means trouble
a hut facing south isn’t so cold
chrysanthemums along a fence perfume the dusk
as soon as a drifting cloud starts to linger
the wind blows it past the vines

-- Shiwu (Stonehouse) tr. Red Pine


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