Thursday, September 16, 2010
Zazen at Helsinki Zen Center, Helsinki, 2010
I just got back from my Thursday zazen at the zendo. Olli, one of our senior instructors, had just been given authorization to give daisan. He seemed a bit flustered about it, plus he was in a hurry to set up the daisan room, so things started out a bit excited.
We had just started the second round, and he rang the daisan bell, and the first in line duly marched in. Then the fire bell in the neighboring building went off.
I suddenly got a vivid mental image of Olli sitting in the daisan room, furiously ringing the bell, and ringing, and ringing. I had to bite my lip to stop myself from laughing; I must've sat there for the better part of five minutes shaking (mostly) silently. If the zendo leader saw it, he must've thought I'm having some severely trippy makyos. Which I was, in a way. The image certainly blew my concentration right apart.
To top it off, Olli was still giving daisan when our half-hour was up, but the zendo leader and timekeeper hadn't had time to agree what to do if that happened—continue until daisan finishes, or ring the bell on time and stop, never mind the daisan. We ended up going a bit over, and when they finally rang the bell, they omitted the four vows and three prostrations to save time.
That resulted in a wonderful moment of confusion, as people were wondering what that single ending bell was supposed to mean—whether we were supposed to do kinhin, or go home, or what. For a while, the zendo looked more like a clown car track, as some of us (including yours truly) were solemnly marching around the place with our eyes down, as others were dusting off their zabutons or trying to make their way out past the marchers.
And just this morning, I made fun of my dog when he got confused about getting thrown off routine.
Whoever said zazen was boring?