Friday, 26 February 2010

Sitting alone.

I went to the temple 6:30am today to sit. It has been a grey, wet morning throughout, but the winter temperatures have left us and it's lovely and mild. I usually wear track bottoms and a top in winter, with several layers underneath to keep the cold from penetrating through to my skin, which it always manages to do, but from today I have started wearing my samue again, loose and light, very easy to sit in.

Normally before the Sunday zazenkai I strike the bell and drum to signal its commencement, but I didn't do it today. I thought about doing it, but seeing that it was only me, I thought maybe I shouldn't. I thought about what the temple monk would think and if he would say to me afterwards that I shouldn't strike the bell and drum before and after sitting, and also I was aware that my ego would enjoy people seeing how 'devout' I am sitting alone every morning. Therefore I just entered the zendo, lit the incense and sat for 40 minutes. It didn't feel right, however. There is a formality about sitting in the zendo and I didn't follow it. So I have decided that tomorrow morning I'll strike the bell and the drum to mark the beginning and end of the sitting, and my ego can think what it likes. It is not my master. If the monk asks me not to, then he will have asked me not to. If anyone hears the bell and drum, they may know there's a sitting happening and they can join me.

When the time was up, I went over to the temple to recite the Heart Sutra, but the main buildings were closed, so I returned to the zendo and sat in seiza in the tatami room in which we gather before and after sitting, and read the sutra there. My reading of sutras leaves a lot to be desired. I can read the Japanese scripts, but my reading fluency is terrible. I cannot keep up with the others on Sunday mornings. I hope that this practice will help me develop reading fluency.

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