Namo amitabha Buddhaya, y'all.
This here's a religious establishment. Act respectable.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

The Big Sit

Meters swum today: 1450
Playing on the iPod: Rob Whitesides-Woo, from "Miracles"

It's that time in the Buddhist calendar year called the ango, when we all quit wandering aimlessly about the countryside, teaching and giving advice, and come back to the holy city of Sarnath, where we hang out for three months until it stops raining. Well, okay, this being the modern world and all that, and me typing these words on a computer and not writing with a dip pen, I guess it's that time in the Buddhist calendar year when Tricycle Magazine gets up to something spiritual and issues some grand challenge to all Buddhists everywhere. Last year there was a 28-day meditation challenge called "Commit to Sit," which spawned quite a lot of enthusiastic letters and, eventually, a book. This year they're going one better and launching The Big Sit, a 90-day variation on the theme.

I know I've said this before, but Tricycle Magazine intimidates hell out of me. I'm a pretty smart person. I'm a member of Mensa, I have a degree in English literature, and I work with a bunch of adult geeks in a law firm that specializes in construction defect litigation. That's the area of law where we argue about why buildings leak, collapse or otherwise inconvenience their owners (and more important, whose fault it is). One of the reasons they hired me was my science background and my ability to grasp certain principles of engineering and physics. Smarts. I has dem. Yet, Tricycle Magazine makes me feel like a rather stupid five year old child. It's one of the few things I've ever had to read with a dictionary in one hand and a Sanskrit/English phrase book in the other. And while Zen is simple ("things just are"), it's by no means easy ("and what are you going to do about it?") It's kind of an intellectual exercise where intellect does not help you, if that makes any sense.

All the same, I'm gonna try this Big Sit thingy. I've pretty much established a solid habit of meditating 20 minutes a day. I'm going to try to kick it up to 30. I'm also going to try to do something radical like get in bed by 10:00 on school nights and show up on time to the pool in the morning. There are weekly Dharma talks on a piece of writing called the Genjokoan, which is one of the odder couplings of sentences into paragraphs that one will ever read. Here's a sample:

  • Those who have great realization of delusion are buddhas; those who are greatly deluded about realization are sentient beings. Further, there are those who continue realizing beyond realization, who are in delusion throughout delusion. When buddhas are truly buddhas, they do not necessarily notice that they are buddhas. However, they are actualized buddhas, who go on actualizing Buddha.

To which I say, "Huh?" Good thing there are weekly Dharma talks. Best of all, there's an online monastic community. Kind of a Facebook for would-be Buddhist monks. If you were to go there, you would find one "Jen of Dallas" floating around. That would be me. Anyway, check it out. It's fascinating.

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