Sunday, 7 June 2009

This morning's zazenkai and the avoidance of an ego trap.

There were very few at this morning's zazenkai, only five including the monk. Still and with all, we had enough to fulfil the drum and gong duties and afterwards we had a good chat and looked at the monk's photos of his pilgrimages to India, Tibet and Nepal to the various Buddhist centres.

It was particularly pleasant in the zendo with fewer people there. We all sat spaced around the place so I'd no-one sitting beside me and it was easier to relax and fidget when the time started taking its toll on my legs and back. It's a beautiful summer day here, but not as hot as it can get. We opened the main doors and let the breeze come in and the hall filled up with the sound of birds singings in the trees around the temple.

There were various lay people working around temple from quite early. The strange thing about this place is that very few lay people will be zazen practitioners. Those who were there this morning were working the gardens and the graveyard and probably wouldn't have known what we were doing in the zendo. I saw it in my home country, people getting some sort of solace from getting close to the forms of a religion, the clergy, the buildings and locations, the ceremonies, but not actually getting themselves involved in the personal, spiritual practice. I once heard it being referred to as people seeking respectability, rather than personal spiritual transformation and when I saw those I knew who were far from spiritual turning up to church on Sunday dressed in their best clothes and behaving piously, yet being very un-Christian during the week I could see what was being described. While I'm not saying that anyone there this morning falls into that category, it's true to say that Soto Zen is an establishment organisation here and there are those who seek respectability by being seen around it. It is a ego trap we can all fall into and one we must be very mindful of.

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