Since I left the Zen Center, I’ve been trying to find ways to arrange my schedule exactly as the program works. It’s four hours of meditation a day, followed by a work period, in which you use all of the ethical principals of Buddhism to follow into your work, being mindful of each task, each work, as an experience of the grace of the Dharma. This probably has paralells in other faiths. In fact, I was once given a prayer guide at Grace Cathedral that intimated to me that the process, at least in this book, is quite similiar.
What we do in the Vipassana practice is quite simple on the surface, but not so easy. There are so many books on this subject. One of the most accessible is a book I was offered by one of the Zen Center’s group work organizer, it’s here. Instead of writing an essay here about it, this book is very approachable and readable, and really follows what is one of the best ways we can approach the process in a very simple way.
A lot of the way I understand the dharma is through poetry. Dogen, who is the founder of the Soto Zen tradition, which is the practice I follow, often teaches through poetry, and I find inspiration in Buddhist practices. Most of my influences in music I frequently turn to are monastic from a variety of traditions, or transcendental music. This follows my earliest deep love for music. Coltrane, the Ellington sacred works, and essentially the entire tradition of jazz, in a way. So much of it is transcendental and beautiful. On the Christian side, Hildegard Von Bingen is absolutely incredible, and I often meditate to the early ambient work of Brian Eno as well, who I’ve been listening to for days.
As we wrap up our time in Emeryville, returning to this dharma mediation practice is so necessary to stay grounded and positive. But it’s not that easy. I have been able to make it to around two hours a day, but the full four will take time. I have to grow. One of the amazing things about this tradition is it’s never the same. I’ve experienced transcendental experiences, but I also sometimes just feel what’s going on in my body. How I actually feel, and how that translates into all of my actions.
I”m also starting a work period that includes writing and working on a non profit business, which I founded a couple of months ago after just testing the approach earlier last year. We’re essentially starting from scratch, and I hope everything we do has an approach to peace, which is so important for me right now. It’s important in our dharma work that we use every part of the ethical precepts, and flow that peace and equanimity into all the work we do. I’m dividing my time between sitting at my desk working, and cleaning the apartment and cooking, which is what I would have been doing at the Zen Center, and I’m working with one of the residents there to make a guideline for me to follow. With their permission I might share it here.
I’m still not a teacher, I am a student, and always will be, but I thought I would write this post to let my friends know exactly what I’m up to. My days, even close to despair as they can be in the climate, are solid on the ground, head in the clouds at times, yet with an ability, ever increasing, to reach down to the ground, and further ground myself in this beautiful practice and tradition. I’m also going to be studying mathematics for the GRE, for fun, because, I have no idea why, but I’m excited about it. 🙂