Wednesday, June 13, 2007


I just returned from my second amazing retreat at the Indianapolis Zen Center (IZC)! Our teacher, Linc Rhodes, told me to give his best to my friends, Margaret and Christina a couple of times. He told me about how amazing it was to see a herd of buffalo on the Konza Prairie during his last visit to Manhattan. I'm sure it's an amazing experience for anyone, but for a dyed in the wool Easterner... Also, Chris, who has sat with M & C in Indy, Chicago, Providence, and Colorado sends his love and says he's trying to think of how to kidnap them and take them home to Alabama with him.

During the circle talk at my last IZC retreat, someone mentioned how nice it was to have four guests from Kansas who knew the chants so well that the group didn't just sound like Eddy (a local Dharma Teacher) and his back up singers as usual. Well! They have been practicing! The chanting was amazingly enthusiastic, confident and downright inspiring. Only 3 or 4 people needed chanting books at all, and no one used them during the Heart Sutra. For someone like myself who practices alone most of the time, this enthusiastic chanting was absolutely inspiring. I found myself taking big gulps of air at times in order to get it around the lump in my throat. Practicing alone is necessary, but the opportunity to practice with a Sangha means partaking in what is deservedly one of the three jewels of Buddhism along with Buddha and Dharma. Keeping a practice going on my own has proven to be very difficult, especially during times of stress and anxiety when I (and the world) need it the most. But, the inspiration and support one derives from sitting, chanting and walking with others of like mind and direction provides the momentum and helps with the considerable discipline needed to keep it up. When thinking about Sangha I'm always reminded of what Garrison Keiler says about Powdermilk Biscuits on his radio show. “They give you the get-up-and-go to do what needs to be done.”

Interviews with Linc were wonderful (of course). We talked mostly about impermanence as it applies to getting older and to jobs and relationships whose natures are always changing. He pointed out that I have real life koan to sit with in order to help my situation. I found this very helpful. Of course, just sitting for two and a half days was an immense help in toning down my stress level.

The drywall is up in the IZC Dharma room as they continue to convert their two year old Zen Center from a residential home. Linc stayed through Monday to lend his carpentry expertise by putting up the trim in the Dharma room. A bunch of other folks, inspired by Linc’s presence were taking off of work to help out. Again, there’s Sangha at work.


1 comment:

Margaret said...

Richard, I am so glad you were able to practice with our sister sangha in Indianapolis. I look foward to reading more of your posts. Kwan Seum Bosal. Margaret