Sunday, November 04, 2007

SNAFU - the nature of my mind

What is it about sitting in silence, with only your breath and your thoughts (damn them!), for ten hours that makes one feel like a blithering idiot? Oh yeah, those damn thoughts.

I spent most of the morning yesterday with my breath, thoughts and my rumbling stomach. In the silence of the zendo, my stomach sounded like it was being broadcast over loudspeakers and I am sure I heard everyone around me mumbling about how they would be sure never to sit near me again, ever. And I was jacked up on rolaids too! Sigh....

After the first 4.5 hours of sitting and walking meditation, we had an oryoki lunch, that is a formal, silent lunch served in the zendo. It has strict rules about how to set up your three bowls, how to receive food, eat, then clean the bowls, fold things up, etc. It is beautiful but often very fraught for me, who is such a novice that I spend at least half the time glancing at my neighbor trying to be sure I am doing the right thing. Who knew serenity could be so stressful?

The second half was calmer--my stomach was silent at least. It was then that I had the chance for daisan, or face-to-face teaching with the Zen master. I look forward to that and I fear it. I so want to appear intelligent when, in fact, I feel like I know nothing about anything. And what is that all about anyway--wanting to appear intelligent? One is allowed to ask one question/session so you really have to think about what to ask, to making it important. This is hard since I have 10,000 questions. Fraught is the word that keeps coming back to me. I guess I have to have faith that, in trying to understand this little life of mine, I will understand some of the bigger things too.

Enter the room, sit, breath. It is, by far, the hardest thing I have ever tried to do in my life.

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