Sunday, February 11, 2007

New additions

There are two new additions to the Ordinary Mind altar, from Peg's trip to San Diego. The altar now has a new Avalokiteshvara (Kwan Yin), the bodhisattva of compassion, to match the Manjusri, bodhisattva of wisdom, and Samantabhadra, bodhisattva of great activity. There is also a striking new frog, from the artist Jon Anderson. The technique for making the intricate designs is from the centuries old Italian process of millefiore, originally used for art glass and jewelry, and here used with Fimo clay. There is more information about the process Anderson uses at his web site. If you click on Fiore technique, there is an explanation of this process. To see larger images of the frog, visit the Ordinary Mind Flickr gallery or click on any image in the set on the right. To see the frog in real life, come sit zazen with us!

Thursday, February 08, 2007

daily sitting

In the morning, Lila and Tabrez come and sit with me in the zendo. It is so peaceful to sit together this way. Lila is the timekeeper and today I was showing Tabrez how to do the clackers.

I sat for an hour last night, and then this morning I just sat with Dogen’s teaching of “dropped off body and mind.“ I had an image of walking down a sidewalk carrying two heavy suitcases, and finding a little city park, with flowers and trees and grasses. I set down my bags and sit on the park bench, resting a while, before I go on.

This is a peaceful way of life, a calm and present way to start the day. It feels so nourishing. We begin while it is dark outside, in warm pools of gentle light in the zendo, the little tree sparkling red. The birds begin their morning calls, the blower from the furnace, the traffic sounds, a siren, a neighbor putting the dog out and leaving for work. The light grows brighter in the room and spreads out. We move our bodies just a bit for the interval, and then resume sitting. The silence and stillness in the zendo deepen, even while the world outside arouses itself, puts on its daytime clothes. People are waking up, making coffee, turning on the news, feeding the cat, bringing in the paper. They are taking showers, paying a few bills, talking to someone in the next room. They are scratching an itch, blowing a nose, tasting the milk to see if it has gone sour. They are yawning and turning over to get a few more minutes of rest, they are beginning their yoga stretches, reaching for a sock, bending down to scratch the dog behind his ears. They are scrambling a couple of eggs, turning the bacon, pouring juice, buttering a piece of toast, sprinkling raisins on a bowl of oatmeal, grabbing a protein bar as they go out the door. The wisp of a dream is barely recalled, the last crumbs of sleep are swept from the corner of an eye; life turns in its cycle. Still we are sitting; we are sitting still.