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Lions Roar : September 2012
SHAMBHALA SUN SEPTEMBER 2012 31 I STAND BAREFOOT on the wooden walkway behind the zendo with the other members of my serving crew, the hot breakfast pots set out on tables. According to the thermometer, it’s 32 degrees. It’s the eighty-eighth practice period in the his- tory of Tassajara Zen Mountain Center, but my first. I’m one of sixty participants ranging in age from one and a half (the head student’s toddler) to an 84-year-old recently ordained priest who once served Shunryu Suzuki Roshi scrambled eggs at her home. I shuffle my feet and tuck my hands inside my robes. It’s said that Zen is transmitted “warm hand to warm hand.” At this moment, my frigid fingers are dubious. But the head server signals us, and we bow and file into the zendo in choreographed order. As warm pots and the motion of serving thaw my extremi- ties, I forget about the cold. I merge with the dance that is for- mal oryoki—literally, “just enough”—breakfast. The community raises their bowls in sync and takes the first bite in unison. We’ve been in sync for hours, actually, since we settled into our seats, facing the wall, for 4:20 a.m. zazen, or meditation. For the next hour, coughs were muffled and bodies sat si- lent and still while the creek outside the zendo splashed over Shunryu Suzuki Roshi, founder of San Francisco Zen Center, in front of City Center, c. 1969. PHOTOBYROBERTS.BONI San Francisco Zen Center members listening to a dharma talk by Steve Weintraub in the Buddha Hall of City Center.