Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Even one pillar

daffodil blooming by fence post, Boundless Way Temple

David and I have been away from the Temple for more than three weeks, teaching retreats in foreign lands, and I am about to leave for another retreat tomorrow.  Briefly being home here in this amazing place that we have created together with friends and students of the Way is deeply satisfying.  Although there is always something to attend to and keep alive here, the work feels fundamental to my deepest sense of what it means to be a human being.  Sometimes it takes the form of sitting, sometimes teaching, sometimes raising money for projects, creating a teaching schedule for all of our teachers and senior students, answering emails or phone calls.  Every day brings more to do, and it can feel a bit overwhelming.

Because I can get lost in this ongoing work of maintaining the Temple, I was delighted to come across some heartening words from our great Japanese ancestor Dogen, who writes, in his Shobogenzo-zuimonki (Record of Things Heard, translated by Thomas Cleary):

"The fact that I am now soliciting contributions and working as much as I can to establish a [meditation] hall, I do not necessarily consider to be the flourishing of Buddhism.  It is just that for the time being, while there is no one to study the Way and I pass the days and months without purpose, I think that it is better [to do this] than to be idle; it may provide an opportunity for the deluded [to awaken], and it will serve the purpose of a place to sit in meditation for the seekers of the Way in the present age.  Still there should be no regret even if a thing conceived and begun is not completed:  if even on pillar is set up, I do not care if in the future they shall see that someone had conceived of such an undertaking but could not complete it."