Reciting sutras

‘If practice and realisation were two things, as it appears to an ordinary person, each could be recognised separately. But what can be met with recognition is not realisation itself, because realisation is not reached by a deluded mind. In stillness mind and object merge in realisation and go beyond enlightenment’ (Jijuyu Zanmai)

Recently I have revived a long-standing habit of mine and begun reciting sutras in my head as I walk around the city. Over the years, by dint of repetition, and in some cases applied learning, I memorised most of the Zen Center chant book, and found that bringing different chants to mind as I walked on Market St or elsewhere in San Francisco not only kept them fresh in my mind, but also changed my relationship to what I was passing through and who I was meeting on the way.

On Saturday I was on my way to the Mission, for the first in what I hope will be a regular series of sittings at a live/work space run by someone who used to come to Young Urban Zen. It had been raining, suddenly and heavily just before I left, but the strong wind had moved the clouds along, and as I cut across Dolores Park, with the above phrases in my mind, the newly laid paths across the slopes were gleaming wet in the bright sun. Green grass, blue sky.
On my way back across the park I was feeling a buoyancy from having  sat for an hour and met people who had been most receptive to the instructions. For the third time in as many outings around town, I came across someone I knew through Zen Center, and was further buoyed by the sense of connection out there in the world.

A different view of Dolores Park on one of the rainier days last week

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