...reporting for duty.
A former Shasta Abbey monk came to mind, and I wondered about her...used Google, came upon this site. I step on board with some trepidation: I know some of your names, but little else; I was preoccupied when our paths crossed, and I'm preoccupied now. But I'm grateful to have known you, because I learned from you; you helped me. There's plenty here about how the sausage is made--and it's not all pretty.
However, let me say at the outset: I love Reverend Master Jiyu Kennett, and I wrote to tell her so, one Mother's Day, even as I was leaving, or left, my commitment to the OBC, and was bounce-paddling back to the religion of my birth, due to some unkept prior commitments.
And? I love Reverend Master Eko Little, although I never managed to mouth that, and I don't know that it matters. I'd like him to know, but he doesn't need to know. Would it help?
Well, what kind of love is this? Some kind of smarmy jam pot, put me in a good light, there's five kinds of love in Greek and American English slides into the wall on the racetrack of life kind of love? Is it what William Burroughs had to say after he quit heroin, and staggered somehow into Tim Leary's Millbrook experiment with LSD and a commune? "It was all the time: 'Love, love, love' in slop buckets!" No, not that either. It ain't nothing I have to do anything about, I just have it: a strong, even intense, feeling of respect.
"Re-spectare" is the Latin root: to take a second look. I did, and I'm happy with what I saw. They helped me. I was suffering, big-time. I still have yet to put into practice all I learned in my few scrapes with these fine people, struggling their lives forward, and reaching back to lend a hand to me!
And the others--Reverend Master Teigan Stevens who, the first night of his first installation as prior came to the hospital at midnight as my father-in-law died. We were given a funeral at the Berkeley Buddhist Priory, though we were not of the religion. My parents came, my mother-in-law was consoled. My wife of the time was consoled. It meant so much to me to have Rev. Teigan there. My gratitude abides.
And my marriage--after my wife-to-be and the priest of my other religion had some difficulty with the arrangements, we were left having made all the plans, without a celebrant and without a ceremony. Reverend Teacher Kozan Beck obtained permission for us, though we were not of the religion, and presided at our wedding with no strings attached, outdoors at Strawberry Canyon gardens, and no monetary charge. My neighbor saw two doves land on a branch high above our heads and watch us make our vows. It meant so much to me to have Rev. Kozan there, and at our reception at our dirt-poor apartment backyard. My gratitude abides.
It didn't work out, in the long run maybe, all these vectors didn't unify but Lord knows we tried. "The sole cause of all human misery is the inability of people to sit quietly in their rooms." (Blaise Pascal, 1670)
I learned how to sit at Shasta Abbey, and the BBP. I'm not saying I'm good at it. I like Ikkyu's poem at death, in Zen Flesh, Zen Bones. Maybe he wasn't the perfect Zen Master. I'm lived a far less than perfect life myself. But Shasta taught me how to keep from exploding and making a further, worse mess.
"The man standing next to me--his head was exploding/Oh I was praying the pieces wouldn't fall on me..." (Bob Dylan, "The Locusts Sang" on the occasion of his receiving an honorary doctorate from Princeton).
Some of the people here whose names I know: You also I am grateful for having trained with, following your good example. These seem now to be deuterium control rods--but hey you guys, you walked out of the reactor! Is this the same old SOHB story? (sandals on head of Buddhist) We should never have cut the cat in two. We should never cut the cat in one. Why cut the cat? It's bad enough we have to cut the chicken to feed ourselves and if not ourselves, the cat. Anyway, you were there, and I wasn't, so without you there'd have been no there there.
As far as I'm concerned: you are the best. I don't know any better. And since virtually all of you are senior to me--I am obliged by one of the 227 rules not to say as much as I want to a senior, but I've been thinking about you for days, for weeks, for years, for decades, from the time I went from the rock and roll business where I toiled in obscurity to the copy shop, where someone had pasted a poster for the BBC amid the myriad posters on the counter front at Van Ness and Market St./SF...pointing the way to one of the many Buddhas who has appeared in many worlds. (PS. "The kindest Kanzeon is to be found in the deepest hell." 'member?)