‘Ummon addressed the assembly and said, “I am not asking you about the days before the fifteenth of the month. But what about after the fifteenth? Come and give me a word about those days.” And he himself gave the answer for them: “Every day is a good day.”‘(The Blue Cliff Record, case 6)
I was sitting in the bath after the last Roaming Zen, and Ian Dury’s classic song came to mind (it is worth listening closely to the words closely, even if some of the English slang might be impenetrable); I won’t go so far to claim it as a Buddhist song, though I have thought that about the Jam’s That’s Entertainment (this version has the dense lyrics helpfully spelled out), which I performed at a Tassajara skit night back in the day, and which also crossed my mind as we roamed alongside Stow Lake with its plentiful ducks and other water birds.
The attendees on the roam were regulars, and we were eager to get going in the warm, low afternoon sun, so I dispensed with my usual little pep-talk at the beginning. I had been wondering what to say; it would have been something about taking the opportunity to let go of thoughts, and to trust in the experience of the sense in each moment, meeting and letting go, warm sun and cold shade, quiet hollows and crowded thoroughfares.
As with the Michael Stone post of last week, this kind of quiet reflection should not be forgone even – especially – when times are tough. The important guideline for any activist or worker in compassion is to avoid burnout, and one way to do that is to continue to find moments of beauty and tranquility wherever we can, not to ignore the reasons to be cheerful when we find them. Days don’t have to be good to be good days.
Stow Lake a few years ago. It hasn’t changed much.