On this « last » day of our retreat, I’m wondering how everyone is doing and what everyone is doing, what you have experienced this week, with the vows you made and all the rest. If we were sitting here together in Montreuil, I could ask you. But we’re not. So the best we can do is sit where we each are with these words, as I wonder how and what you are doing.
Actually, saying that’s « the best we can do » makes it sound like there is something « better » to do. But there isn’t! That really is the best: stay local, start where you are, work with the ingredients you have at hand. You are always in the heart of your practice and your life. Every wild flower is exactly in its place. The perfect way isn’t difficult, a Zen poem goes, it just dislikes picking and choosing.
That is something I have learned (and keep learning!) throughout years of « Zen practice » in thousands of different places and circumstances: a zendo (meditation hall) is not some particular place; it’s where you are. Practice is not some particular activity; it’s what you are doing.
And yet here we are nearing the « end » of our « retreat. » But we won’t really be ending anything except a formal grid that we established to give us some support. But neither life nor the practice is the grid.
This week, I’ve tried to keep the Genjokoan close to my heart, in the heart of my life. What does that mean? It means that Zen includes all the activity of our life. For me, the week has been full of football (like Céu, gosto de futebol), immigrant children being separated from their parents, summer’s arrival, la fête de la musique, my old cat’s arthrosis in her hips, work on texts, planning and organizing for future activities, sitting, studying, writing here, doing laundry, cooking, cleaning the shower, answering emails and more and more and more. That’s been my practice, that’s been my life. Living in every moment. That’s Zen, that’s life.
Now I’m looking forward to hearing what you’ve been doing, living every moment, always in the heart of your life.