50 days of zazen, and the future

I renamed my 100 days of zazen tag to 50 days of zazen. I did the 100 days, and am still going. But I stopped writing after 55 days. I was quite busy-brained throwing myself into a new job. And when I did sit down, I decreasingly knew what to say. I choose to interpret that as a good thing.

My teacher shared a paper she once wrote on taking your zen to work with you. This is the challenge of challenges for me. I’m much more likely to take my work into my zazen. Whoops. But I’ll get there. It may take many years, but I’ll get there.

I’ve been tempted to start another blog because I’m enjoying work, and that inevitably means thinking more about “professional” kinds of things. But if I blog in more than one place, I’m going to lose enthusiasm for one or the other. So I’m not going to do that. I’m just going to use this place for whatever it is I want to talk about.

I’ve always struggled to reconcile the various bits of me. The silly me. The serious me. The creative me. The analytical me. The happy me. The grumpy, sad me. But I’ve been a little bit inspired by the “bring your whole self to work” people. I might start bringing my whole self to blog. I’m all of these things, and it’s time I stopped fretting about the reconciling and just do whatever it is I feel compelled to do now, and try my hardest to be a good person and a nice person while I do it.

thank you, stanley

We said goodbye to our elder whippet, Stanley, a few weeks back. We knew it was coming. Kidneys. Age. He was such a loving and loyal pup. A few evenings ago we scattered some of his ashes on the ridge overlooking the valley. Some were carried in the direction of deer across the valley. He loved to chase deer, if he could. We didn’t let him, of course, but once or twice he managed it all the same. We brought the rest of his ashes home. We will scatter them in the garden when we plant our new dogwood tree.

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thank you, omicron

A positive CPR test, and I’m assuming it’s omicron. I’m assuming it’s omicron because my immunity should be pretty high, and this is the kind of COVID you can still catch when that’s the case. I had COVID last January, have since been double jabbed, but unfortunately was not able to book a booster in time. In fact, I must have picked up COVID around the time I had my booster.

Also the symptoms seem to fit. The main one being extreme tiredness. I could just sleep. And that poses interesting questions around meditating. My teacher suggested lying meditation, and to just sleep if I felt the urge. I’ve been working on the who am I koan since taking the precepts. I don’t know if I’m making progress but I’m yet to “pass”, if that’s the right word.

You pose the question, then meditate on it – gently. Don’t commentate on it. Don’t form narratives around it. Don’t mentally write answers to it. Just pose the question, then, more or less, meditate as normal – with a suggestion of the question perhaps lurking under the surface. At least that’s my understanding of koan study. Could be, then, that omicron – or rather the fatigue that comes with it – could be helping me to not overly-fixate on this question. I guess we’ll find out next sanzen.

There is much writing on meditating when tired and how it can actually help. They also say that more or less everything – especially adversity – is a teacher. So thank you, omicron.

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making space

Hey. I might post in my “stream” category for a bit. This is a category intended for bits and pieces that don’t fit anywhere, and that’s very much where I am right now.

Things I’d like to talk about soon:

  • 100 days of meditation, and why I stopped writing about it
  • taking the precepts (done)
  • adding an 11th prevent (done, thank you, Roshi)
  • dharma names (having one, and what to do with it)
  • beginning koan study, and failing at it

I might also talk about about zen and work and zen and the internet. I’ve resisted that for a long time because that’s not what I wanted this blog to be about. But at the moment I’m not quite getting to the creative stuff I wanted to, so let’s at least do something: I’m happier when I do.

Thanks for sticking with me.

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day 26

Last winter, we made friends with a robin. Jude made first contact. The robin learned Jude would fill the feeders and would begin to sing for her to come. Before long, it would feed from her hand, then all our hands. By summer, it would come to sit with us, even when it didn’t want food. Not for long, but as if to check in. It would even come a small way into the house at times.

We knew the robin couldn’t stay forever, and by midsummer he no longer came to visit. We have a new robin now. Perhaps over winter, when food is scarce, we’ll befriend this one too.

30 minutes afternoon zazen. Discipline: 7/10.

Note: published next day.

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zen stream

Quick announcement: a regular Twitch stream every wednesday at 8pm, UK time. Expect nice sounds and visuals, plus some relaxing natter. Starting out, expect AV-rich video games (Tetris Effect, most likely, for the first few streams). As the library of koan study AV material grows, I might branch out into some shows and mixes rather than games streams – we’ll see. First one was last night – and it felt like a nice thing. Bonus streams might pop up now and again too. Not sure where to announce those, if at all. Look out on Instagram, maybe?

So that’s every Wednesday, 8pm UK time on Twitch. here’s the link:
twitch.tv/koanstudy

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the tao

Quiet. A week busy with other things, but back now I hope.

Want to take a moment to mention JH McDonald. The recent series of posts tagged The Way is inspired by an interest in Eastern Philosophy, and in particular the Tao Te Ching. It is not a translation (I’m not qualified) but a derivative. Contemplation – or perhaps feeling – is as much a source as anything. But it owes an undeniable debt to McDonald’s open source translation of Lao Tzu – some passages more than others – but certainly throughout.

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