Wednesday, November 10, 2010
Well, not that I think many folks noticed my absence, but if you were one of the few and you thought I died and gone to heaven you’d be close. I just returned from a 5 day retreat at Sanshin in Bloomington, not that I typically think of Indiana as heaven – although it can be pretty nice if you don’t mind flat.
The retreat was something I’ve been looking forward to for nearly a year since I first discovered Sanshin while browsing through the Antaiji website. Not only does Okumura Roshi ofter Antaiji-style 5 day sesshins there, but he also offers Genzo-es (studies of the Shobogenzo) at Sanshin and various other places around the country.
It was a good match. The topic of this Genzo-e was the Shobogenzo’s Genjo-koan. Rev. Okumura presented the material with more transparency than I thought possible. Before the retreat I had imagined writing a few posts about what I learned, but, in all fairness, since Okumura Roshi lives off of dana and much of the material is covered in Realizing Genjokoan, I’m going to suggest you buy the book (if you haven’t already) or attend a Genzo-e instead. (Don’t worry, I’ll cover the Genjo-koan with more than a haiku or two sometime, just not while this is so fresh in my mind.)
A few other notes:
Okumura Roshi managed to get through all his lectures without directly mentioning the framework of (1) idealism (2) materialism (3) action and (4) reality, which, to me anyway, was refreshing. The framework is useful, but its only one way of looking at things and in that sense is a bit of academic idealism.
I managed to pick my own copies of Realizing Genjokoan (yes, autographed), Shobogenzo zuimonki, Eihei Shingi, and Dogen’s Extensive Record. Maybe I didn’t need to do that (because who knows when I’ll have a chance to read them) but I couldn’t resist.
Okumura Roshi, at one point, admitted that he’s more of a fan of Ryokan than Dogen these days…
Even though Antaiji was a great experience, it was without doubt challenging, so it was reassuring to feel peaceful and comfortable at Sanshin.
Last but not least, How do we best reflect a beautiful and boundless reality within a limited life or self? (paraphrasing Okumura) The answer I've gotten so far is: Smile. As far as the rest, we've got the rest of our lives to figure it out... one moment at a time.