Deer Park, Day 12

Our trusty mulching work steed

Wednesday February 19th, 2020
Day 12

Bad dream, 3am
Unable to just forget
My body heavy

3:30am (tearoom)

All is well, save for a terribly bad dream that woke me at 2:30am. It rattled me so much, I was unable to get back to sleep. After some reading and relocating, the swell is starting to subside. But I feel the bad dream still clinging on; my body heavy; my mind still caught by it.


Later on. Switching.

How to be a full-time lay practitioner outside of the monastery (insert smiley face here):
1. Go to sangha.
2. Participate in sangha.
3. Cultivate relationships in sangha.
4. Sit in meditation a little bit (most) every day.
5. Engage with the Dharma (books, talks, videos, podcasts).
6. Attend retreats regularly and on-goingly.
7. Be creative in your approaches to practice.
8. Don’t underestimate the foundational elements of the practice; work with them diligently and often (mindful breathing, mindful walking, smiling, body awareness).


“Zen is the “spirit of the valley,” not the mountaintop. The only Zen you find on the tops of mountains is the Zen you bring there.” – Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintanence


How does my practice improve my everyday life? This is what matters. Form is meaningless without spirit.

6:45am (Dining Hall)

The thread continues.

How does my practice inform my quality of life? My overall sense of well-being? The well-being of others? If I’m not becoming more skillful and kind, what is the point? To keep always these questions in mind is of the utmost importance, otherwise I situate myself at risk of getting caught and lost in form over function; intellect over heart. Who in blazes would care that I’m physically doing the practice if it doesn’t equate to improving upon my own capacity to generate more skill and care and kindness?


The 7am Westminster clock chimes, stilling the chatter coming from the kitchen. I plunge into the absence of human voices like falling into a warm bath at the end of a long day. As soon as the chiming is over – and I mean as soon as it’s done – the loud chatter resumes and I smile (reluctantly and strained) at my own mind’s grasping to the Noble Silence we’re supposed to be observing through until the end of breakfast.


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Warmth and Flicker

There’s a sigh of relief that only a campfire can foster;

a certain person we become – or rather return to – in the company of its flames;

and a unique opening of the heart that is only possible in its warmth and flicker.


Having gone to bed a little earlier than usual last night, I woke naturally just after 4am this morning. It was 47 degrees outside, as I sat on the back porch, bundled up in a hoodie and blanket, sipping tea, and writing by lantern light. This is what I penned in my journal:

Quietude is more than the slowing down of surrounding sounds. It is an internal settling of our mental chatterings, too. Of course, each is affected by the other, but I reckon it is more realistic – and often more beneficial – to take charge of the latter.

To still the din around us is typically not a matter of choice. We can dampen it. We can ward it off for a bit. We can tuck into the woods and perhaps leave it behind for a while. But the clamor of living, sifting beings will be there to greet us upon our return.

There’s a quietude that can remain, however, amid even the noisiest of places. There are skillsets we can develop and hone, which will enable us to stay accompanied with a calm that is not easily tossed out to sea when a siren wales, or we find ourselves smack dab in the middle of a throng of people.


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