Emperor Wu asked Bodhidharma, ‘I have built many monasteries, and supported many monks in their practice. What merit can I attain from these acts?’ Bodhidharma replied, ‘No merit.’
It is a commonplace to speak of the current age of narcissism, that we so readily promote ourselves through social media, just for the sake of promoting our selves. Seeing this illuminated manuscript page in the New Yorker recently, I was struck that here was the medieval version of the same phenomenon, that those with the money to commission such a work (Les Tres Riches Heures du Duc de Berry come most readily to mind) would want to make sure their good deeds were recorded.
I had to check back to see when I actually started this blog; I had the idea for it when I was living at Tassajara over that summer, and it took a couple of weeks to get it off the ground. The first posts are almost hesitant, though they were a selection of my favourite quotes from a summer of extensive reading. It took me a while to get up to speed, and right now I am perfectly happy with how it is going. As I mentioned a while ago, my ambitions are somewhat limited; if there is any benefit to people as they follow their own path of practice, I am glad. Keeping the blog up has been a key part of my practice this past year, as I negotiated the shift from a rigourous daily practice schedule to a life out in the market place. While I have not been sitting as much as I used to – though I feel this is shifting now – I have been reading widely, so as to have daily pieces to offer.
One thing I have not done publicly is thank people for their help in this past year and more. Once I start to think of them, many names come forward: Abbot Ed for his encouragement and thoughtfulness; my peers and teachers Tenku, Konin, Jamie, Christine, Liên, Djinn, Zachary, Siobhan, Mako, Caverly, Michael, Yasmina, Lirio and Ann for illuminating advice and help; Dana, way back when, for encouraging me to start the Ino’s Blog, which forced me to get to grips with expressing practice online; Mike B for pushing me to get a domain name, and to network myself better; Leslie and Thomas for their ongoing generosity; Shalamah, Mackenzie, Tal, Nick S, Nick H, Alex, Lynn, Phil, Mike F, Connie, Stacey, Lydia, Helena and Drew for wonderful moments of meeting and teaching; everyone who has attended a roam, or my other teaching offerings this year; those people, some anonymous, who have bought me a coffee – or several- via the button on this page, and of course everyone who reads, likes or follows what I have been posting. I expect to keep going.