My blogging will be non-existent until at least Monday. I’m leaving tomorrow on what has to be one of the most exciting trips I’ve ever taken. Holly and I will be driving to Mt. Tremper, New York to attend a retreat at the Zen Mountain Monastery. This is something that I’ve wanted to do for going on 10 years now. Something would always get in the way: lack of money, lack of time, getting married, having children, laziness. One of my holiday gifts this year was registration for both of us to go. Best gift since the motorcyle in ’78. We leave at “0 dark thirty” tomorrow morning.
Zen Mountain Monastery is a monastic training center which provides traditional Zen training with a Western twist. I’ve always been drawn to the place for some reason – without ever having been there. I’ve read about them for years and also get their journal “Mountain Record” (another gift from Holly – so much in my life seems a gift from her). Recently I’ve been listening to their WZEN podcasts and find them helpful as well. There just seems to be something very authentic and real about the teaching coming out of this place.
I contemplate politics a great deal – no surprise to anyone. I also contemplate spiritual matters as well. Problems arise when I contemplate them both. It’s a problem for me. I began blogging as a struggle to fight against things I perceived as wrongs – injustices in our state and country. This set me up for that which you are to avoid in Buddhist practice: duality. Us versus them. Good versus bad. Progressive versus Conservative. I have been unable thus far to overcome it. See the post just before this one – LOL!
I’ve been reading an essay in what is fast becoming my favorite book of the year (another gift from Holly – smile) “Mindful Politics“. The essay, “The Widsom in the Anger” is by Rita Gross and she discusses these issues in the context of her struggle with Buddhist practice and her political activism as a feminist. Needless to say this essay coupled with our upcoming trip is going to give me plenty to think about – and plenty of time to do it. Except in zazen when I’m supposed to be thinking non-thinking. Right. It might even change the way in which I approach political activism and blogging.
I’m not sure about camera rules in attending retreats, but will try to take some shots while there. Either way I’ll most likely be writing (on paper for once) about the experience and my thoughts on how to best combine my Zen practice with my political activity. I have no idea where it will take me but feel quite confident it is the direction I need to go.
Check back in after the retreat. Have a great weekend!