I was thinking of you in Orlando. I really liked the hotel so much--a perfect refuge of order and quiet. I should go back more often. I was invited to be a guest speaker at a literacy conference nearby, and I said, "Yes, if I could stay in the same hotel." The woman thought I was joking. I was not.
I am scrambling to finsish the negotiation book by Thursday so I can go on retreat next week. I hope it works. I think I could write this book in my sleep, but I haven't had much sleep lately, so the last 50 pages are undone, still.
I write these books to get paid to think about things, in one or two long sittings of uninterrupted thought.
I ate lunch with my meditation teacher today and we discussed the practical interface of the two practices I'll be doing next week--three days of each one. In the end, though one is Mahayana and one is Vajrayana, they are the same--water inside water.
"Why do you say that?" I asked. "Because the Mahayana and the Vajrayana are the same," he said. Of course. We sit down, unsuspectingly, to do what appears to be the simple self-improvement project of the Mahayana and we find that our entire world view changes, particle by particle.
In both paths, we work with what arises in front of us--thinking that in the Mahayana we are responding to the 'real' world, and in the Vajrayana, a constructed reality--only later to discover that the line between the constructed world and the so-called real world is finer than we thought--if there is such a boundary at all.
Some dharma friends' relatives lost a 5 month old baby this month when the mother and father left it in a car (each thinking the other had taken it in and put it in its crib). They found the infant dead two hours later, still strapped in his car seat in the mid-day sun. Imagine the grief!
I'll be doing a week of retreat for that tiny being, on his way to Next and Again. I am unspeakably grateful for this opportunity--this roaring blaze and fierce wind rattling on the stage of his passing. I am grateful to him for appearing at all, and in the scope of my awareness, so I can make some progress on the mountain of obstacles that keep me from seeing things as they are.
I will leave a small Jizo statue on the woods near the retreat cabin in his name. It will join the dozens of other statues left by parents and friends of other children in passing. I will make a small red bib and a red hat to clothe him. These are not Tibetan ceremonies, they are Zen. But their essence is Staying Right Here, which transcends tradition.
I am grateful for this movement, and for the stillness that opens when I even consider the good fortune of being able to witness something so profound and lovely as life and death.
I guess that makes this a thank you note, doesn't it?