This poem by Hakuin stands on its own.
Oh young folk-
if you fear death,
Having died once,
you won’t die again.
This humorous, well-written post takes a number of twists and turns on the subject of attachment. I hope you enjoy it – we did. – Doen
A Spring Walk, Attached
Daniel spoke recently about attachment. He said that when many people begin studying Zen, they misunderstand attachment and think it means we’re not supposed to care about things. Especially “things” like Jaguars, or huge diamond rings, or yachts. He explained attachment this way: it’s fine if you own a Jaguar that you enjoy, that you can afford, and that doesn’t cause you problems in other aspects of your life. If, however, a rock chip on the windshield of your Jaguar prevents you from being in the present, that’s attachment.
So does this mean that when I stroll down my lane with a glass of lemonade on a lovely spring evening to pick up my mail — and immediately become irritated that the local gym has sent another advertisement showing a woman gleefully contracting her shiny flat abs, and I start to ruminate about what a waste of paper this is and why do we always have to think about our abs — is this attachment? And if so, is it attachment to the trees wasted in the ad, or to the glistening abs? Or am I attached to my disdain?
Being on the topic of wasted trees made me dart a glance at the Zelkova tree that I so adored when I planted it three years ago. It certainly has grown rather spindly and disappointing in its habit. I wade through the brush sloshing my lemonade about and drop the mail on the ground in order to test some of the twigs to see if they’re dead or alive. Mostly alive, but not very vigorous. Then with a scowl: “Were those caterpillars that were eating the leaves last spring? I may have to consider spraying it this year though it goes against my principals. I’m clearly attached to organic gardening principals but that’s good, right? Why I planted this Zelkova here amongst the oregon grapeholly bushes is a mystery to me.” (I yank at a few of them.) “You can’t even see it from the lane anymore for all the bracken that has grown up around it. Why don’t the caterpillars eat the bracken? These woods are going to want a major trimming this year, but not until after the wood hyacinth are finished blooming because we’ll just crush all of them if we start dragging limbs around.” This makes me remember the tree butchers we hired one year who mistook my fernleaf beech for a bloodtwig dogwood and hacked several feet off the top. I can only just now look at that beech without getting pissed.
I suppose one could make a case that I’m attached to the trees I’ve planted, but don’t they give me so much pleasure?
I begin gathering up the mail with the abs model and, in a bit of disgust for my poor placement of the Zelkova and for garden help in general, I shiver and notice that although it is a fine spring evening, it’s still a bit chilly and not at all suitable for sitting outside this weekend when our friends come to dinner. I had really looked forward to sitting outside; it won’t be nearly as festive inside, and I suppose this is what Daniel calls attachment.
When I finally got back to the house to read the mail after pausing to inspect the bird feeders — why are they so messy? — I see that my lemonade, which was just perfect at the start of the lovely spring evening, has now become watery and flavorless. A little vodka and mint is what it needs, but the mint isn’t up yet.
Surely I’m not attached to mint.
Photo by Dead Air
Doen Sensei discusses the differences between learning from a living lineage and learning from a book.
Better Than Good
Boulder, Utah June 26-28, 2009
We are returning again to the beautiful alpine meadows and red rock desert of Boulder, Utah for the Better Than Good workshop this June. Although we have had many Lost Coin retreats, this one will be different. It will emphasize the core training of Lost Coin Zen. Participants will come away from the workshop with tools to apply to their daily lives. These tools are contemporary as well as deeply rooted in traditional practice and are part of the emerging paradigm Lost Coin embraces and Doen Sensei refers to as the “age of amplification”.
We will sit zazen, have talks and interactive group trainings. As always, Doen Sensei will conduct daisan (individual interviews and koan study with students), and we will also have time for solitary walks in the beautiful desert surrounding Boulder Mountain Lodge.
Please plan to arrive on the evening of June 25th to settle in. We will start zazen at 9:00 a.m. on Friday, June 26th. Our sitting area and the patio where we do kinhin (walking meditation) have lovely views of a pond that is also a bird refuge.
Boulder Mountain Lodge has very comfortable accommodations and an on-site restaurant, Hell’s Backbone Grill, which is known nationwide for its innovative cuisine. We often share lively (and delicious) dinners at Hell’s Backbone. Other options for lodging and dining are available, including nearby motels and camping sites and one restaurant within walking distance. You are welcome to share rooms at the Lodge to reduce costs and enjoy each other’s company; if you are not a member of Lost Coin and would like to ask about room-sharing, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
We have reserved a block of rooms; please call and make your own reservations. Rates vary by type of room, and more information can be found at the Boulder Mountain website (www.boulder-utah.com). When you call, please let them know that you are part of Lost Coin.
Please bring your own zafu and zabuton-and if you’re coming from Utah and have extra zafus or zabutons, please bring them to share so that people arriving by plane do not have to pack them in their suitcases.
The tuition for this retreat/workshop is $250.
If you have any questions, please email email@example.com or telephone Rebecca Long Okura at 801-550-8805 or toll-free at 800-731-5061.