Joyful Effort

Last weekend I spent time at both temples: on Saturday I offered the zazen instruction at City Center, and had a much larger crowd than I thought would be the case for a holiday weekend. The Buddha Hall also filled for the talk, which was given by Norman, and I recognised a few of his long-time students. I did not stay, as I had to get some food in for the weekend, and turn around to get to the roam around the Presidio in the afternoon, which was also well attended, and another very enjoyable occasion in mostly warm sunshine.
I might have been more tempted to stay had I not had an inkling (correctly it turned out) that he was also giving the talk at Green Gulch on Sunday. I had an appointment with Fu, and had every intention of being early enough to attend the talk as well.

Having made the appointment a few weeks ago, I did not suspect that I would be needing to wear my favourite winter cycling jacket for a journey at the end of May: as it turned out, there was wind and rain forecast for Sunday. The wind woke me up the night before, and since, unlike the Zen-a-thon ride, I could not be guaranteed any company to cross the bridge with, I decided early on that I would take the bus over to Sausalito (having discovered that the ferries don’t run very early on Sunday).

As I started riding on the bike path north of Sausalito, there was just a hint of rain, and clouds loomed over Mount Tam, but there was also blue sky to be seen, and in the end it was a dry ride. Not without frustrations though: as I started the climb out of Mill Valley (on the back roads, rather than Highway 1), within a couple of minutes one driver had passed me at speed, another too close, a third while looking at his phone and a fourth while drinking coffee… this is the kind of thing that makes me glad I can also find car-free stretches of riding, such as I took on Friday along Crystal Springs south of the city.

Norman spoke about his new book (I assume the publication had been timed so he could do his speaking tour after his three months at Tassajara). He told some wonderful stories, but the detail that stuck with me was him talking about virya paramita, which I have usually heard translated as diligence or vigour. I have written elsewhere about how this particular practice resonates with me, and I still have Daigaku’s calligraphy on my wall at home. He translated it as joyful effort, and that very much struck home.

I mentioned this to Fu afterwards, and she had also taken note of it, as well as agreeing that what are we doing this for if not joy? It was good to check in with her again after a few months, and to catch up with people at lunch, including, as always it seems now, people I had not expected to see back in the temple.

IMG_0330.jpgAlcatraz from the window of the bus, crossing the bridge, with heavy skies.

IMG_0340.jpgMount Tam from Richardson Bay, as it was almost raining.

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