i'm thinking this evening about how my role as a zen monk causes some people to see me as an authority, and how important it is that i never see myself that way. there are things i consider to be true beyond any doubt, and yet there are people who feel the same, think the same, about things that seem ludicrous to me. to think what i see is real and what others see is not real is both delusional and dualistic. there can be no wisdom without humility (yes, another view!).
i don't know how old this tree is. fifty years ago, i played on it as a small child. i left the city and the country for many years, and since returning am happy to find it's still here, still alive, and so am i.
it has rained all night, and i've been watching it from the window of our 10th floor flat. my spouse is asleep. i watched a pale shape moving fast around the nearby football pitch, and i thought it was a dog running around, but after a while i realised it was a plastic bag blowing in the wind.
we're in the second month of pandemic lockdown. i'm grateful we have a home to shelter in. gratitude to the spirits of this place; may all people, human and other, be safe and well.
snow is falling on the city tonight, and we're in full lockdown, but i'm happier than i've been in nine months, because my spouse arrived back in the country on christmas day. the quarantine lasts two weeks, so i've been staying at a friend's place, but on friday i go home.
most zen monks in the west only wear their robes for ceremonial purposes. but i've found that when i'm on my way to or from the zendo and wearing my robes, strangers in the street will approach me, wanting to talk. it's not usually that they're interested in buddhism, it's that they're lonely and feel isolated and need someone to talk to, and the robes give them an invitation, or maybe just an excuse, an icebreaker.
i live in one of the city's most deprived areas. loneliness is as dangerous as any virus, and i'm coming to think it's important for clergy of whatever religion to wear robes or habits when out and about, to show our availability to people in need of comfort.
my spouse is in another country, and has been for more than six months. flights home keep getting cancelled because of the plague. we're grateful that this is happening in a time in which tech allows us to talk and text every day. it's not so long ago that all that would have been available to us is expensive phone calls on a land line, and letters that took weeks to cross the ocean.
like me, my spouse is a zen monk. sometimes we meditate at the same time, one of us in the desert, the other in a small flat on the 10th floor of a tower block, together.
yellow weather warning today, so i think i'll be staying indoors. it isn't cold enough that i need to turn on the heat, but there's enough of a chill that it's a pleasure to wear thick socks, fleece trousers and a hoodie as i sit in my chair and read or write, or sit on my zafu and meditate.