Well, my friends;
It looks like our Practice Period is over, and it's time for me to say farewell to a great many of you.
I've enjoyed our time together, and learned things beyond the books. No matter how many "ah ha's" I get listening to the talks, or reading the sutras, there's nothing like turning a corner and finding that piece of learning put to the test; and if we're lucky, it leaves it's mark in the form of experience. Somehow we begin to own another piece of our understanding and practice. It's starts to show traces in our bones and marrow.
A lot of effort was put forth to make this whole affair happen. people and resources were brought to bear, and the communication was made. The talks took place; teas were had, and the Shuso got a good grilling, and had fun to boot! I must confess, I fully expected to slip out the back door someday, years before I ever would have to allow something like a Shuso Shosan to happen. As time passed, that attitude was set aside in practice. Still, about 2 hours before the ceremony, I has an anxiety attack of the likes I have not had since I was a young adult. So what could I do but sit. Not to get rid of it, or feel better, or to enable me to "go on"; no, Paul didn't spend all that time with us, just to have us use the old habits and motivations. I was looking for the lesson; but it only appeared after the fact. So, I got up, joined the procession, and took my seat.
The anxiety disappeared completely; and we all had a great experience. Some of my fears came true, but it did not matter. It was not a miracle, or magic, or some divine intervention. When the time came, there was nothing to fear. That's all. The fear was the delusional part! How often have attributed overcoming something to some outside source, when in fact the fear was inside us, and just faded away because it had no basis in reality? Quite a lesson.
Now, I'll welcome the wall again, and I have a much deeper appreciation for those that face-outward in service to the Sangha. There is a certain sacrifice when even your Zazen is done with one eye open, so to speak, by facing outward. While we relax, and surrender to no-sight. Deep thanks to the Dragon's and Elephants.
Deeply bowing to you all...