A grey, moist day today, though not especially cold. My mind has been wrapped around an effort to gather permissions that would allow a small book, "Remembering Soen Nakagawa Roshi," to be published on the Internet.
The book consists of recollections (text, art, photos) from students and friends of the late and some say great Zen teacher. It was produced as something to send to the temple at which Soen was once abbot, Ryutaku-ji, and for the enjoyment of the contributors. Though there were unsuccessful efforts in 2009, when the book came to fruition, to get a publisher interested in a hardcover version, now the idea is simply to get it on the Internet.
I like the book, not least because, when I first conceived an interest in Zen Buddhism, I felt somehow reassured to read second-hand accounts of one teacher or another ... accounts from people who were more recognizable as being 'like me.' 'Like me' meant hopeful but uncertain. 'Like me' meant full of sometimes cranky reactions to the strictures of Zen practice. 'Like me' meant not especially good or holy at a time when the 'teachers' and 'masters' glowed in my mind with goodness and holiness. 'Like me' meant diving into an occasional swoon over the directions and perceived profundities of Zen practice. 'Like me' meant appreciating the fact that 'ordinary' people -- as distinct from pulsating icons -- were involved in daily life, daily confusions, daily passions ... it was as if my mind there were a voice saying, "Thank God I'm not the only crazy one!"
Gathering up permissions from people who already gave permission for use of their works sounds pretty straightforward. But what a thing 'sounds' like and what it is can be pretty different.
Strange to see that, when submitting "Soen Nakagawa Roshi" for a Google-images search, how few pictures there are of him and how many there are of people whose lives he touched.
Anyhow, that's what has been filling my head.