On Buddhist ceremonies, writing, and how my life would look from an alien’s perspective.
Villers le Lac, Saut du Doubs, France.
Let’s write down a couple of things for the sake of writing. It is Monday and the seconds week of sesshin has started. There is a stunning full moon outside and I am a bit sweaty from the Fusatsu ceremony. It is special full moon ceremony. Genno Roshi must have prepared it a bit but we, the students, weren’t told in advance. So it came as a bot of surprise after the first period of zazen (zazen is the Japanese word for sitting zen meditation).
The ceremony is intended as a fresher-upper, a cleansing and the creation of a clean slate. We renew our vows. I think it was about 25 minutes of bowing and chanting different sutras and reciting the names of the most important Buddhas and Boddhissatvahs.
To be honest I am not very big on the Buddhist services, the chanting and the ceremonies. For me it is a bit like going to family gatherings: I am not particularly looking forward but afterwards I feel kind of good. Especially in this case, when there was a lot more bowing than normally, I liked it because I feel a surrendering to the rhythm and the movement. Bowing is nice practice, it makes humble and soft if you do it often enough.
I have decided I will start writing ‘my book’ in August (how strange does it feel to say that). I will start creating the conditions. I think I will need some input from people who have written a book before, I guess I could use an editor and/ or a writing coach and I can start meeting publishers. I could use a structure and a support team (friends who like to proof read, brainstorm and confront me) to keep me going. Oh, and a workplace in Amsterdam could be very helpful. Suggestions are welcome (got an idyllic garden house inside the Amsterdam canal belt?).
Sometimes I take a look at myself from the perspective of an alien observing the earth. I think it is a good exercise to observe the self with a certain curiosity and without too many harsh judgments but just as a peculiar phenomenon. I have been doing that here and there during the last couple of days.
What I notice is a lot of harmless but not very functional or satisfying behavior. There is nothing wrong with surfing the internet of reading a newspaper but it doesn’t give a great deal of satisfaction, especially when I use it as a distraction strategy to keep myself from doing things that I consider useful, necessary or meaningful. I find it somewhat scary to say it out loud but there seems to be awakening something inside me that is kind of done with that.
Image courtesy of the author.