Jun 18, 2009

Take a left before you get to the Buddha

Certainly I am not a Zen student, I know very little about Zen. But I was on my way to the yoga class at the Dai Bosatsu Zen monastery, and I didn't know how to get to the library where the class was held. I had already wandered around and run into a room where the monks were chanting and nearly smacked into the Roshi during the services, so I didn't want to disturb them any further.

I asked around and these were the instructions on how to get there: "Go up to the second floor and take a left before you get to the Buddha." It rather struck me as funny that I would have to take a left before I got to the Buddha in a Zen monastery, but I suppose we all take detours in our life. I can also see this as a metaphor in following teachings that tell you to take a left before you get to the Buddha. If you took that left you would end up in the library with lots of words, and words could become confusing (at least to me) about Zen.

On the other hand, the yoga class was just what I needed. I never had yoga before. I am so stiff I cannot sit half lotus when sitting zazen. I have never taken a yoga class, and Jimin our instructor, said that she would not get so hung up on correct positions but make it more of a meditative experience. Through gentle stretches, breathing and the sound of her voice, I opened up my body. In opening my body, I am sure that I opened my mind and my spirit as well, to take in what was going on around me. Not just the things that were planned and happenstance to do with the tea group, but I became aware of the monks as they went about their work and worship in the monastery. Ah, "Zen cha ichi mi" or Zen and tea, one taste.

*Photo courtesy of Morgan Beard

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