Sonoma Mtn Zen/Kyudo – retreat…day II

21 05 2008

Day II

I am feeling lousy today!! I did not sleep much last night. I am not use to going to bed at 9:30 p.m.. Folks snoring… and SOOOO bloody hot!!. The wind pickup major last night most of the shade stuff we set up yesterday in the lower range was blown down today. It took a lot of repairs and re-setting to get things back to a usable place.

I got up at 4:20 A.M.!, ( yeah that is O-dark: 20) the others got up at 4:45a.m. We had Zazen at 5:15am !!! Sugoii ! sigh , ok, this is training…

It was LONG maybe 40 min zazen, then walking meditation, then another 30 min of sitting. Next chatting and prostrating (my least favorite). Things seemed to go on forever. YUK!!! I was feeling bad, hungry, tired and , even a little sick. I could relate to the Buddha being attacked by demons Yuk!! Again.

All this time the wind is kicking! As bad as it was and was going to be for getting things setup , it did help with the heat. I could tell already it was a going to be another day of being forged like the tip of a war arrow.

We had breakfast @ 7:00 am . Finally finally, However…All I had was a fruit salad. I do not like hate Oatmeal and eggs, So I passed on all but the fruit. Alright so here was another challenge. Make it to lunch time with only a big bowel of fruit to eat, and walking up and down mini mountain. We had short break after breakfast. Afterward we had to reset all the handy work, targets and shade we setup before on the lower shooting range, Let’s call it Lil Kyoto. Hot and in a valley of sorts. Everyone pulled together and we repaired and reset the handy work also put up the second shade for shooting Distance targets. The upper level, “Lil Edo” was for short distance, Makawara shooting. Lil Kyoto was for distance.

Finally Around 10:00 am we got ready for Kyudo…Wha hooo!
We all changed into our Kyudo gear and made our way to Lil Edo for the opening. It looked to be some 15 of us. Some new faces I had not seen, which means nothing and the old faces. Mostly everyone was friendly or at least cordial. They are a good group.

After bowing in and a couple minutes of settling the mind we began. She who does not speak was called for the first demo, whilst Onii-san gave a short talk.

Everyone got their gear on and ready & we had it.

I got a few shots in to activate the memory cells. It is a matter of constant body checks at this point for me. Remembering corrections, advice, breath, shoulder drop, expand chest, emptiness. Being “there’ being connected, yet being unattached. Flowing from yin to yang, yang to yin, big to small…release

The sun was still a bit low for the sun shade to fully cover the morning shoot area. It could have been worse. One had shade on most of the body but not on one foot, which got smoked. Anyway after a few shots, I gave up my spot so another could get a turn.
The master in Japan had said learning is part practice and part watching. I had heard “D” Onii-san say a similar statement. I found a shade spot and threw myself zen-mindfully into the watching practice part…did I say it was getting hotter?

The wind was still up, but it helped because it was HOT again today! 100 degrees or so by the end of the day. I came up with a good idea, brilliant idea of using a old windex bottle filled with water as a mister, that was nice!! A few gave me looks, and a chuckle, but then when I misted them, the smirk turned to ahhhhhhhh 🙂 that feels good!!! Do me again!
I took it easy as did most people. Everyone was moving slowly, drinking lots of water & cool ( sort of) barley tea. I was wishing for some nice cold green tea. I also took advantage of the fact the bath house was the COOLEST place to be located. I took a short much needed nap on the bench in there during a break…simple pleasure, can hold great joy.

I felt grateful to locate it. Gratitude is part of the Zen Tao. So I accepted the gift of the space and as with Zen principals, I enjoyed it fully and was grateful. It was not that comfortable sitting there and even more so laying there, but much more comfortable than roasting in the Tent ( oh, called a Yurt) or some other location that I knew of there. Most other resting places were like mini ovens. Especially the Tent! Good grief! There where several who took multiple cool showers during the day. I had even for a brief moment considered, bring my sleeping bag here or at least a cushion where I could sit and type this stuff.

Another LONG Zazen session tonight. Of course that is only in my mind, because I have not over come the “time” thoughts, or heat. I really do not like those long sessions… yet any way. Tomorrow I will not wear a robe to meditation. A shirt will give me one less distraction to deal with while sitting, and not cook so much. Bummer I did not bring my light robe. It did not really matter to anyone, but me. I did not feel proper dressed for here. I got over it. Clothing, robe, no robe, like standing or sitting, legs crossed on a cushion or hanging off a chair it does not matter. This part is about the spirit.

The style of Zen practiced here is more religious in form than I care for personally. Very ceremonial, which the Japanese love to do. So when in Rome Nihon… , I got comfortable and flowed into the local favors.
The chanting can be cool. I can get into the rhythm of the chants. I do have to remain mindful not to do a harmony and trip around with counter notes. It is a Musician thing.
During walking Zen period I did a modified Tai Chi walk. It felt like the the place for it to me. The mind is the same though the body maybe different, yet as all things are connected, it fit. I wonder if that is waht is was orginally a part of Tao Mo’s 18 motion zen drills. I have now taken to look at the posturing as another form of motion Zen, body Zen practice, up and down, up and down, breath…

It is cooler tonight, a bit! The temps are suppose to get down to 65 degrees, NICE I can sleep…hopefully! I was going to go to the Bath house and write this tonight… but… It is already cooler somewhat and I’m beat, the heat drained me, walking up and down the hill. To do anything, to go anywhere, once must embrace the mountain!

Coming from a Shaolin Zen foundation, we have the mind , body , spirit balance thing going on, or try to. Here in this training it is more Mind and Spirit. However, they have I decide, their own body training path here… the Mountain. Having to walk all over it, IS the body training another from of motion Zen.

Sooo sleep time! Even if I wake up later in the night. I’m thinking to myself as I turned in @9:00pm!

Just as I thought correctly, I did awake several times. Not because of the snoring that sounded like it was right at the head of my bed. Not because of the major pain in my shoulder and back, I’d been having for a month, nor having to go to the loo from so much warm water drinking all day. Nope, … well all of that plus…I was still adjusting to the “newness”

I had however made it through 2 days. I am getting a little better controlling monkey mind jumping to the how many more days left count down. Yes, as Shisuk would say, this is training, it is not suppose to be fun. However , I think, with a Zen mind it can be… perspective! This is what I am thinking when I’m suffering. As any Zen master would say, there is no tomorrow, next week, there is only NOW…this shot, this arrow. Anything else is a delusion. Stay connected, but not attached… The biggest hurtle to shooting, to relaxing into the flow of things is the Heat. Did I say it was hot again today?




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