Year End Things..

Dec 7th, 2017

Image copyright: Daria Nepriakhina

I think being accountable and transparent is an important part of being ethical and devoted to healing.  So much of my life and livelihood is supported by so many in such varieties of ways, that I am certain to not be able to speak to them all here.  After all, causes and conditions are innumerable and unknowable.  This is a basic tenant of Zen practice.  This shouldn’t stop us from investigating this though.  This moment is brought forth due to innumerable forces for sure, and we can be accountable to some of them at least.

I have managed to pay my bills on time this year.  I have had enough food, and my medical needs have been provided for.  I honestly look at my financial statements for the last year, and I am surprised it happened.  Granted, there has been around $560 in dana contributions this year.  I receive enough from Social Security to pay most of my bills, and this $560 has mostly gone to pay for groceries, and incidentals.  I am certain that there are gaps in what I actually received.  I continue to look around my home amazed that I have all that I have.  Most items that I contact day to day came from friends and supporters.  In those moments I feel isolated, or uncared for, I simply have to look at anything in my house, and remember how it came to me.  It may not erase these thoughts, but it does add something to the mix of the story to diffuse it.

I want to express my deep gratitude for all of you who have made monthly or one time financial contributions via Patreon, Paypal and in person.  I want to thank everyone who has contributed talents and time to support me.  Most every morning I do a well-being ceremony, and include all those who have made offerings.  There is a beautiful chant before dinner at Zen Center, which I often chant in gratitude.

We reflect on the effort that brought us this food

                           and consider how it comes to us.

We reflect on our virtue and practice,

         and whether we are worthy of this offering

                  We regard it as essential to keep the mind free

                           from excesses such as greed.

We regard this food as good medicine to sustain our life.

                  For the sake of enlightenment we now receive this food.

I want to live in such a way that I don’t just apply this to food, but to every aspect of my life and livelihood.  To continually reflect on my virtue and practice, and whether I am worthy of the offerings.  To continually regard it as essential to keep my mind free from excesses such as greed.  How does this play out in my day to day existence.

I have managed to either teach, or perform some other priestly function at least once each month.  August seem to have been the busiest in this regard with 3 things events.  I hope to increase this in the coming year, and find more ways to be available, and more ways to express the Dharma.  I also hope to do more writing here, both as an offering, but also to clarify some ideas I might be exploring.  I struggle against the idea that I am a better orator than I am a writer, which is a long held story, and I think the best way to do that is to write more.  I also continue to look for right livelihood.

I have decided that doing CPE (Clinical Pastoral Education) is probably not in my best interest right now.  I have spent the last 10 years or so thinking of myself as a chaplain. My journey into school was in service to becoming certified.  A lot has changed since I started to pursue professional chaplaincy and now.  I am not saying it won’t ever happen, merely that it might be better for me right now to seek some other form of employment.  I am not sure what that is.  Changing directions is hard after such a long process.  I may or may not be right.  Like most things I can only wake up each day and do my best to move things forward.  Responding to what is right in front of me, and the possibilities I see there is what it is to practice with this.  At least right now.  If enlightenment is an appropriate response, I hope that for right now this is an appropriate response.

I hope to continue to try and figure out my relationship to institutional Zen and how it is that I want to relate to the broader context of Buddhism in the United States.  There is an ongoing question of whether I can or want to continue my training as a priest, and if so, where?  If I don’t what does that do to my teaching?  This is an ongoing question and something I am not sure how it will work out.  I am trying to stay upright, and close to my vows with this and not be dragged around by anything, but to develop an appropriate response.  There are those who say once you are a priest, you are always a priest.  I see this as true, and there is some question about the forms and formalities which I am not so sure of.

I am grateful for all that you are doing to bring about justice and liberation.  I am grateful for your support of me in big and small ways. I am grateful for all that has brought me to this moment, be it positive, negative, and neutral at the moment or in future investigation. I am at once amazed, humbled and grateful for this life.



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