Thursday, June 14, 2012

Dirty Zen Laundry

Be Vigilant when meeting New Friends
Be Vigilant when meeting New Friends, Hong Kong, 2010

I am going to do something slightly radical here, and air some dirty laundry from the Zen center where I practice.

While I have been talking to a number of people involved and attempted to verify all the facts stated in the narrative, all opinions and interpretations are my own, as are any errors. I have neither sought nor received permission from anyone to publish this. I do not believe I am betraying any confidences; all of the facts of the matter are already on the public Internet, or have been stated in open forums like our sangha meetings or the Helsinki Zen Center mailing list. Nor am I privy to any great secrets anyway.

The story is about something that happened in our sangha in the autumn of 2010. I have found it helpful to go over all the information I've been able to gather about it and attempt to fit together the pieces, to get some kind of understanding of what happened and what it means. While I don't have much – if any – new information to add to what's already been published on the Internet or in other open forums, I thought others might benefit from my attempt at explaining the events to myself.

So for whatever little it's worth, here's my personal interpretation of what's come to be called "the crisis."

Monday, June 11, 2012

Going Round With A Stick Is Not For Me


Back in November, I blogged about becoming a Zen choir boy. Or second zendo leader, as the official term has it. Now I've decided that going around with a stick on alternate Thursdays was a bit too much excitement for me and stopped doing it.

The role kind of blindsided me from the start. There are little parts to play in the zazen ritual, like banging on the han and lighting the incense, which I was already doing anyway, so when they asked if I could do the stick thing on Thursdays, I didn't really think anything of it and said "Sure, why not?" I like the ritual after all, and am happy to help it along.

I only realized that there's anything more to it a week or so later when I got an email invitation to a zendo leaders' meeting. I was like, Huh? A meeting, for walking around with a stick on alternate Thursdays? From there on out, I felt a bit uncomfortable about the whole thing. Initially it was just about learning how to do the stick thing and the bell thing, but once I had that more or less figured out, the discomfort didn't abate; if anything, it got worse.