Sunday, December 09, 2007

Moving closer

This weekend, the Zen Buddhist community to which I belong held an intensive three-day period of zazen, or sitting-zen. This event, which in Japanese is called a sesshin, was held to commemorate the day on which tradition holds that the Buddha achieved his breakthrough to complete and perfect understanding, which many call enlightenment.

I joined the group, or sangha, today, the final day of the sesshin. After a closing meal, my teacher presented me with a kit to sew a rakusu. Rakusu are the bib-like garments that symbolize in vestigial form the robes worn by Siddhartha Gautama, who would become the Buddha, as he set out on his journey of spiritual and self-discovery.

Sewing the rakusu is in preparation for the February ceremony in which I will receive the Buddhist precepts and publicly (and internally) proclaim my commitment as a lay practitioner.

My spiritual searchings have led me over varied and beautiful terrain over many years.
Have I arrived at my "spiritual destination"? I really don't know. I just don't know. I know that I'm afraid of being a spiritual dilettante, but I don't think I qualify as one. It's just time to settle down. And, now that I look back on it, I have been moving inexorably toward this decision for 15 years.

Anyway, these paths I have followed seem to me to be roads leading up the same mountain.


YourFireAnt said...



Zen said...

Welcome! I am please with my Zen path.

Michael said...

Thank you.

Zen said...

I tagged you for a meme on my blog. I hope you can find the time to play.

Anonymous said...

Michael, it was so nice that you stayed for lunch on Sunday. I think everyone enjoyed your company and got to know you better. I hope you enjoyed it. How was the soup ; -)

Michael said...

Hi Jim,

Thanks so much! The Laurie Anderson DVD was great! The soup was delicious, most of all because it was prepared with love.

Kuma said...

This very mountain is you without you. Receiving the precepts is a great step on this mountain. Sewing a rakusu too. Or an Okesa. But being free from all Zen mania, spriritual trips or the likes is even a bigger step (I am not sure to be cured yet). Eventually, this has no name. Throw your money away. Soon my bones and yours will meet and merge. It is OK. Everything is OK.

Michael said...

Yes, yes. Everything IS OK.

Merci, Pierre. Toujours merci.

Mike Cross said...

Moving closer to what?

A Zen Buddhist community, "sesshin," Buddhist precepts...

Are you accumulating more baggage, or are you dropping off baggage?

Should receiving some precepts prefaced by an -ist, be called "moving closer"? Or should it be called "moving further away"?

Yours skpetically,


Michael said...


My time is limited. I do what I need to do. People's opinions matter less and less. If this is an exercise in self-deception, so be it. I totally give myself over to it.

Michael said...

Hey Mike,

By way of clarification: Do I think taking the Buddhist precepts is necessary to live them? No.
Do I think it imperative to join a Buddhist community? No.
Do I think attending sesshin are a requirement for or expression of sincerity? No.
Hell, do I even do zazen on anything like a regular basis? No.

But I tell you this: If any of this stuff, no matter how useless or redundant in anyone's eyes but mine, brings me closer to people and opens the tap on the flow of love that I want to give freely while I still have the strength and presence of mind to do so, then I'm all for it.

I don't give a fuck anymore about appearances or trying to decide in my mind what is right and what is wrong. I go with my gut. I have precious little else to go on at this point.

Now, it's about the love.

Mike Cross said...

Michael, you are a great big bloody fraud!

Michael said...

Perhaps. And that's how I'll die. Case closed.

Mike Cross said...

In my case, there is no "perhaps" about it. And as long as I remember that, I can't deceive anybody.

Michael said...

Your points, as usual, are well-taken, Mike. My big ego hates to be deflated like that. But I thank you.