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Lions Roar : March 2009
SHAMBHALA SUN MARCH 2009 47 low the monastic content and schedule that Maezumi roshi brought with him in the mid-twentieth century from japan. on first arrival at a retreat, you’ll likely be staggered by the intensity of the program: barely any time off, nearly every moment of the day committed to work either on the cushion or off. in practice, you may come to see it as i now do: a day of ordinary life, par- ticularly the life of a stay-at-home mother (albeit the kind of fully functioning and sane mother who only rarely inhabits my home). Monastic training positions consist of the very same things we might reluctantly do at home every day—cooking, clean- ing, gardening, and household administration. yet in fact they are positions requiring great depth and maturity. That’s because these activities are anchored in the continuous practice of zazen, the mind of no-separation realized in Zen meditation. in that state of mind, assignments are performed not because we might want to do them, or like to do them; not because we choose to do them; not because we think we’re good at them or because of any egoistic rationale; but simply because it is time. Thus, ev- ery activity embodies the full and unhindered expression of the awakened mind, our buddhanature, as it responds immediately and effortlessly to immediate conditions. The food is nourishing and delicious, and the garden grows. as resistance falls, we relax into a daily rhythm. We sleep easily and even smile. in silence and mutual respect, retreat partici- pants get along, i daresay, like the family we never had. Do not depend upon personal power or authority, nor belittle. Do not act willfully or make others insecure. as parents, we are not only the administrators of the monastery; we are its spiritual directors. and yet, teaching our children to sit in meditation is neither more beneficial nor practical than instructing them in thorough teeth-brushing. We raise our children to be whole and secure in the same way we raise ourselves to realize our buddhahood: by paying atten- tion to whatever appears in front of us, moment after moment. by doing whatever needs to be done, when it is time. The attentiveness of the officers should be the same as that of the abbot. attention? Mere attention? as buddhists, we might suppose we are to impart something far more than attention to our children, something special. a different way to think, for example, a righ- teous belief, a wise worldview, or an explanation for the mystery of life and death. at the very least, the right way to eat, to dress, and to speak!