02 October 2011

Why I Like My Job So Much

There are days when I think of what a miscegenation this "Buddhist priest" business is, but whatever else there is to say about it, I'm very happy that it's not coextensive with "Zen teacher."

I got to spend some time today with a Dharma sister and then have lunch with a Dharma brother that I don' t think would have gone the same way if I were the teacher in the room.  In fact, I've had a lot of really good conversations with a bunch of Dharma brothers and sisters over the past year or so that I know wouldn't have even gotten off the ground if I were a teacher.  I've walked away from all of them a richer man, and I thank all those people for their kindness in spending some of their day with me.

It has always been the task of any bhikkhu to make the Dharma available to those who request it, and I can take my place in that long noble line of homeleavers without having to get caught up in confirming people's insight or passing them through the koans.  I get to present, as skillfully as I am able, the truth of dukkha, its cause, its end and the path to its end, without the trappings of teisho seat, kotsu, hossu and the rest.  My props are iced tea and coffee, knives and forks and chopsticks, park benches and front porches.

All the same, I can welcome men and women into the family of the Buddha with the precepts, and I can invoke the aid of the bodhisattvas when those same men and women take the great leap with their last breath.  I can lead us all – myself first in the line – in repentance for myriad forms of unskillfulness and torpor. 

And I get to do the great grunt work that makes a place of practice possible, from stocking and cleaning and wiping and emptying and swishing and scrubbing to raking and shoveling and digging and hoeing and lugging and mowing. 

I bow in deepest gratitude to all Zen teachers here and elsewhere, but I have to say, I'm glad it's them and not me!

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