Wednesday, 13 June 2012

I Survived A Sesshin And All I Got Was This Bib-Thing...

An unfinished rakusu like mine 
Sesshins are lovely, uplifting and worthwhile. Sesshins are also awful, heartrending and gruelling. On this sesshin, I took the Bodhisattva Vows. The decision to do this both came out of nowhere, and was something I've been chewing on for a couple of years. I've always felt funny about officially joining the gang, even to the point of not wearing a kimono, which is standard garb whether one is ordained or not. It just always felt extra to me. When I did put one on, my lovely girlfriend said that she felt it put distance between us, which is exactly what I was worried about. Part of the ordination training guided us through the lineage, and it was amazing to trace back through all the Zen people over hundreds of years, and infinitely weird to picture my own name at the bottom of the chart. A cosmic sense of responsibility welled up in me. And again, a sense of separation from others who aren't in the gang, as it were. This is something I need to get  my head and heart around, to remember that yes, taking vows is special and at the same time, totally ordinary and really just an affirmation of what-already-is. To people who know me and may be concerned: I haven't joined a cult. Or maybe I have. But it's a really good one, and it's not expensive and the teachers don't have gold Rolls-Royces or if they do, I haven't seen them. I also will not become a Buddhism-spouting religious geek (apart from on this blog of course). What I have done is to officially welcome the chance to try and live by certain precepts, the most fundamental of which go like this: 1) Don't do harm 2) Do good 3) Do good for others. This just shows how slow I am on the uptake that I even need to be told this stuff...but I do, and need also to be regularly reminded of it.
Despite all the strangeness going on in my head, the experience of the Bodhisattva Ordination was pretty cool, and everyone was very supportive, especially lovely C my girlfriend. Also, because my sewing is slow and bad, I was given a rakusu that had come all the way from Argentina, so thanks to those unknown South American seamsters.  I have to say that I haven't mentioned all this to everyone that I know, because I still feel some strangeness around it. But it feels like I did the right thing, taking the Buddhist plunge. Onto a life of practice then, I guess. Ha! Sounds funny even just saying it!

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