Sunday, March 7, 2010


Coming off the peace picket line after its one-hour run yesterday morning, I was walking towards where the car was parked when I heard someone calling out behind me. A couple of women caught up with me when I stopped. They had noticed the Zen Buddhist robes and ... well, they were saying hello. One runs a place called Zendo on Main Street here and the other, dressed in Japanese-cut, Zen street/work clothes, seemed to be a friend of hers.

It was a pleasant chat from my point of view -- just a trio of puppies wagging their tails and sniffing and wagging some more. The one who runs the zendo, Anraku I think she said, asked what lineage I was part of. Usually the question makes me balk since I have always felt a bit like the wag who suggested he would never join any club that would have him as a member.

But the question didn't hit me that way yesterday. It just felt like someone trying to get her bearings and so I told her my teacher was Kyudo Nakagawa Roshi and we just chattered along from there.

The other woman, whose name promptly went out of my head, said she didn't recognize the color of the robes I was wearing. Usually, Buddhist schools or lineages have the same uniform and you can tell Yale from Harvard or cops from firemen. And I told her I had gone to a nearby cloth store a number of years ago, found a material I liked, and sent it off to be made into a robe.

The conversation was spiced with names all three of us knew -- Aitken Roshi, Suzuki Roshi, Eido Shimano, Soen Roshi and probably some others I have forgotten. It had a nice feel to it ... just running into people in the street and finding a connection in conversation and perhaps experience.

In the past, I have had the feeling in such conversations that everyone was doing their damnedest to underscore the importance of Zen or the profound and subtle meaning of such meetings -- and perhaps that was my fault -- but in this case, it just seemed easy and friendly and I enjoyed it. I gave an old and somewhat ratty Black Moon Zendo card to Anraku (I only had one left), and that was the end of that....

Puppies wagging their tails. A very small, pleasant meeting.

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