Wow. What a week this has been. I feel drained physically and emotionally. I found zen this week to be an intensely psychological trial. I guess I shouldn't be surprised by this. Perhaps I thought zen was a only "spritual" practice. But truely it is more a psychological practice as it deals with self-identity and reality so much.
Thursday morning (4/16) I drove out to Bastrop State park. It is a forest of pine trees that was some how cut off from the larger herd in a past ice age event. It is the only place to find pine in the Austin area. I needed a sprig for Jukai. I spent about an hour in park. Did some zazen under a 100ft tall tree, grabbed a couple sapling springs (with apologies) and high-tailed it to the airport. Met Brad there and drove him home.
We (wife, Brad and I) spent some time talking about Buddhist names. Apprently Brad has not done a Jukai in his lineage before, and so was a little unsure about what his naming tradition was going to be. We talked a bit about the punk tradition of a new second name al a "Johny Phlem" or "Brad Nosweat". He also explored giving my same name back, but assigning phonetically correct kanji to it to give it a new meaning. I got favorably stuck on Lauren Roach, which is more consinent using the Japanese pronunciation of "Rōren Rōchi." On the following day I did a bunch of kanji research and actually found a kanji set that had a nice message in it; something like "Bright Training, Trifling with Delusion" (朗練 弄癡). There were several other fun combo's for "Rōchi", including "smartweed spider" and "humble mountain monster". Ultimately none of these were it (more later).
Went to dinner at a very old and locally famous veggie restaurant called "Mothers" and then stopped by Cheapo Discs, a used CD place. My wife and I picked up too many good old albums. I also bought a copy of Godzilla v. Mothra on Brad's recommendation. Then, we came home.
Brad took to my schnauzer named Baker and started calling him Baker Roshi. A bit later we did Jukai in the dinning-room-now-zendo (pictures in previous blog). I was dressed very casual at first. Brad asked me to dress up a bit, so I put on some dressy jeans, button down shirt and a tie. The tie was in the way during prostrations. Brad wore his full robe regalia.
The ceremony was light hearted, but sincere. Brad has done just one Jukai before this (Nishijima Roshi wrote the rakusu and picked the name etc... but Brad did the ceremony) and has not memorized the liturgy, and has most of the words to say, so we were both working from print-outs. I had propped his sheets in a binder on a music stand near his chair, so it looked a bit formal. My wife, daughter, Baker roshi and Kiba the cat attended actually, as well as Harry, Peter, Jordan, Gwen, Jennie, Julie and Rosemary in token. A couple of times during the precepts description, my daughter asked questions to be sure what she could hold me too. I must admit, "don't become angery" and "don't discuss failures of buddhist priests and others" were a be nerve racking to commit to.
After Jukai we got in our civies and watched Godzilla. I think all of us had nodded off before it was over.
Next day (Friday) we spent most of the morning browsing CD stores downtown, including our famous Waterloo Records, and Antones. We got at the Austin Zen Center about 5:30. We did zazen, and Brad his talk (see his blog for more on that stuff). I felt quite awkward having a rakusu and not really knowing the formalities around it. Thanks, Jordon, for the advice on the chant etc... Got more from Chris at AZC. We got pizza with about 8 others in the gang there, after all was said and done.
I noticed throughout the trip that zazen in a group is much easier then at home. The time goes much quicker. I also noticed that there was a lot of "fame" stuff going on (both good and bad) and that messed with my head a bit. For the good, it was kinda cool, in effect, riding Brad's coat tails. I caught my ego strutin' a couple of times, and I think several people thought I was "someone" because I was traveling with Brad. The bad was that the spotlight was definitely on Brad for the most part. As the trip went on, I felt less and less significant. To the extent these were real feelings going on in me - it was painful. To the extent I was able to step back and observe this happening in my own head - it was intereting.
Next day we got up early to ride out to San Antonio Zen center. It was a very welcoming, small group. The Zendo is an old house by a creek that was actually raging from night-before rain. A good zazen, a good dharma talk, nice chit chat after. More ego involvement.
I'm running out of steam here so I'll defer the rest for another post.
A while back, someone commented they wanted to see a close up of the Buddha I painted for the ceremony. That's why he's up a the top, there. I thought I might work on him some more after Jukai, as there are a couple impossible aspects to the picture, but I've changed my mind. It's done.
With this blog I strive to share what I've learned and think about Buddhism. I'm striving to do zazen and follow the 10 precepts. Buddhism seems to be helpful, but shrouded in too much weight and mystery.
I am also hoping to contact people of a like mind - that is - open to the exploration of 'self' and the joys and frustrations of its discovery through Zen. If you react to something written here, I'd enjoy hearing from you. Leave a comment. Comments to posts older than 14 days are moderated.
I hope you find something useful, interesting, whimsical or amusing (as in provoking your muses).
Most people end up here because they are surfing for a picture of a fish bowl. Go figure.....