A relaxing Sunday.
Let's tackle this last question, then enjoy the day!
If this hadn't been the last question, I would have saved it for last anyway.
"Since you're Deaf - why are you here, since you cannot do much of the participation?"
In Deaf culture we lean toward the frank. Sometimes it's shocking to the newcomer interacting with the Deaf. As I was raised hearing, it has taken me time to get used to this. It sort of goes beyond culture, because, I myself, am sometimes taken aback at my own newfound frankness. I seems to be a natural characteristic having ASL and other visual technique as a primary way of communicating. It's both economic, and bonding, at times.
So the question stirred up a bit of emotion in me. Here at Zen Center, folks are hearing and tend to use more wordy, less frank ways to ask sensitive questions. It was very refreshing at the same time, have that lobbed at me like a grenade. It it had been flowery, I might have had to dig for the deeper, more accurate, answers. That night, they just popped up!; powered by the emotional trigger.
Why emotional? I ask myself this very question all the time. And the answer changes often. It is also a litmus test for me - am I moving forward? Being true? Sometimes we "hole up" when things are too hard. Not wrong for an initial reaction; "until the bleeding stops", but eventually we must resume function, and do what needs to be done.
So then, why AM I here?
I am a Zen Priest! Where should I be? I suppose if there were a Deaf Zen temple somewhere, I would visit it, and start a relationship with them. Maybe even transferring in time. There is only one Deaf temple in the world, at this time. A Buddhist temple in Thailand. Thai Sign Language? Hmmm... well, it's thought, but Soto Zen is my path.
The bond I have forged with you all did not disappear when I gained Deafness. It's taken a beating, however. So at this time, my task is to explore how I can gain new connection. And see where it is lost for good - then to see what we have. Always checking for the need for course changes, be it tweak of a degree or two; or a "hard about" maneuver.
This is a perfect time for me be Shuso, and I am very grateful. Shuso usually marks an intention to permanently walk this path. We pass from Novice Priests to Shuso Priests. The beginning of "Full Priest" training begins now. (Always beginning - never quite arriving - know what I mean?) But what about the Deafness? The incompatible areas?
This is a good and legitimate question! The answer is "I don't know". So often, in our competitive culture, we are expected to make long range plans and commitments, and to anticipate the answers in advance. Goals should support intention. Intention has life-like quality that allows it to grow and change for the better.
In Zen, we hold intention like flashlight at Tassajara. You can't really function without one!
So, I am here, with my intention. Yes, the lack of participation is tough. Zen Center has arranged for CART (captioning), and ASL interpretation for vast areas of my participation in the Practice Period, as Shuso. This covers nicely, the point of my direct contact with the Sangha at large: giving and listening to talks & classes. It's gloriously uplifting, and tearfully joyful to participate again!
This is illuminating two sign post up ahead:
- How much is the connection and participation actually increasing?
- What will the end of the Practice Period bring when these accommodations are reduced or cease?
Since things and questions like this, are our teachers, part of me is looking forward to this too, to the intensity of practice it will bring. We get such an opportunity for information with these kinds of things. Since I am the resident expert on all things Deafened - and I don't know the answers, I welcome the new information this is all bringing.
I can't lose if I am always asking: "What needs to be done next?" This was Shasta's version of "What does practice ask of me now?", and it's a welcome habit.
When I was only 11 years old, I heard a quotation that made me cry with the joy of hope, and made me into a life-long seeker of the way...
"All shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of things shall be well".
-Julian of Norwich.