Gratitude and more

1 Dec

On the verge of entering Rohatsu sesshin – the annual, traditional seven-day retreat remembering Buddha’s enlightenment – I have a few thoughts to offer, and a poem.

Yesterday was beautiful and warm. Finally I had the energy to organize the office and to make space for a third bedroom. And then I walked outdoors, with only a light jacket.

Cannon River, early winter 2014

Cannon River, early winter 2014

Roy Dopson left this morning, after a ten day visit. It was lovely. We would sit together in the morning, and after dinner would simply find ourselves in the zendo again. His wish, for being here (my words): that it be a place for deep spiritual life, more than anything else. He will come back next fall, after working the fire season. In addition to being a firefighter, Roy is an Advaita teacher. His website is here, with some very interesting thoughts: http://www.onesteppath.com/

Our mutual “yes” provokes many thoughts and images about what will be happening here. I imagine practice periods of three months, five-day retreats, visiting teachers. The farm plan is in process, and the conversion of the house will begin very soon. The nature of the community, how it will welcome guests and short-term residents, all are forming – and will be discussed after I come out of the retreat. Right now it is time to sit, to go into the silence, to allow things to be as they are.

And these words from Walt Whitman speak so well to how it is in my heart these days.

“This is what you shall do:

Love the earth and sun and the animals,

despise riches,

give alms to everyone that asks,

stand up for the stupid and crazy,

devote your income and labor to others,

hate tyrants,

argue not concerning God,

have patience and indulgence toward the people,

take off your hat to nothing known or unknown,

or to any man or number of men—

go freely with powerful uneducated persons, and with the young, and with the mothers of families—

re-examine all you have been told in school or church or in any book,

and dismiss whatever insults your own soul;

and your very flesh shall be a great poem,

and have the richest fluency,

not only in its words,

but in the silent lines of its lips and face,

and between the lashes of your eyes,

and in every motion and joint of your body.”

–from Preface to “Leaves of Grass” (1855)

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