Goodbye and thank you
I got home yesterday, and today I spent stuffing cushions and reflecting on my trip.
It was a wonderful, exceptionally rich trip. I walked through Zen temples that have been places of practice for hundreds of years. I experienced a city and culture in which Buddhism is everywhere you turn.
I met so many interesting people. So many Japanese people on the street, Korean monks who are friends with my dear friends, a warm group of teachers and practitioners from a next door center, two American monks training in Japan for 6 months and 50 years, the abbot of a Daitoku-ji subtemple, and a Roshi.
It was inspiring to feel the depth of Buddhist roots in the city and the practitioners I met, and it was with a certain melancholy that I over and over heard and saw how thin the interest in Zen practice these days. That mix inspires me to practice diligently back in our little corner of America, and to deepen my understanding of the Japanese roots of our practice with the hopes of keeping it vital and true.
Thanks so much to the Puget Sound Zen Center for supporting me with encouragement and resources. This was an educational trip in so many ways, and I'm sure will affect my practice and teaching in the years ahead.
More than anything, it was Wes and Sheila that made this trip possible and marvelous. It wasn't simply that I stayed at their place - they made my enjoyment and enrichment the sole mission of their lives for the week. All week I felt cared for like a princeling. They took care of everything for me even though they both caught colds. Wes planned out every day, thinking through the rhythm of the week, working with other's schedules, and making it a trip full of rich experiences without having the feeling of being rushed. Wes and I sat zazen and chanted together every morning.
Here are a few of the meals that Wes created for me, slaving away in the kitchen while I was writing this blog.
And here they are seeing me off into my taxi, just about to wave and watch me go all the way until I'm out of sight.