Kuden Paul Boyle

‘Before I started a practice period at Green Gulch Farm, I asked Sojun Roshi if he had any advice about how practice in a residential practice period. He said, “Follow the schedule completely.” This turned out to be great advice. When I was at Tassajara I tried to follow the schedule wholeheartedly, noticing whenever my mind asserted a notion of “my time.” Eventually, it became easier and easier to give up that notion of “my time.” It turns out that what we take as “our time” is really only an idea that we superimpose on any moment. Monastic practice is an excellent way to bring clarity to this process of dividing up the moments in a day. When we follow the schedule completely, we don’t need to bother ourselves with these conceptions. For me, there is a sense of relief at letting go of these conceptions.

Giving ourselves over to practice means, letting go of the “me” centered agenda. So, when the han begins to sound, it reminds us to let go of our conceptions of “I, me, and mine.” To let go of finishing my cup of tea or coffee, or that moment of my quiet time on the back porch.’ (from the Chapel Hill Zen Center website)

I did a practice period at Tassajara with Paul years ago; it is great to see my peers taking the dharma seat, and, in his cases, leading their own centres now. This is a teaching I totally relate to; coming to terms with the lack of ‘my time’ in the Tassajara practice schedule was a major learning for me.


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