Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Retreat and advance

I attended a retreat at the local Zen dojo weekend before last. I dig the dojo for several reasons, one of which is that the focus is entirely on practice and not at all on doctrine or philosophy. That's not to say that I don't read books on Buddhism, but only that the local Zen group doesn't perform its didactic function in the same way to which we Westerners have become accustomed in settings like church and temple. The high point of this particular retreat was a bodhisattva ordination, during which a practitioner vows to comply with the precepts of Zen Buddhism. The ceremony was very nice and quite Japanese.

After I got home, I started thinking, "okay, now, what did I get out of this?" but realized immediately that such a line of inquiry kind of defeats the purpose of the Zen "no gain" frame of mind. So I stopped analyzing the whole thing and got on with what has turned out to be a very hectic couple of weeks. I can say that I took away from the retreat a sense of calmness that helped in addressing a family health issue that arose shortly thereafter.

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