Saturday, October 12, 2013

chanting exits

During my twenty years working for a newspaper, I got in the habit of chanting as I drove the 20 miles home after an evening shift. Twenty years of the Heart Sutra and the Ten Clause Sutra and whatever all else along the darkened highway.

And then one night, driving home, something seemed to be missing. What was it? Had I left something in the office? I scoured the mental terrain and found nothing. And then it hit me: I had completely forgotten to do my chanting... I was most of the way home and I had completely forgotten to chant. Something within was flabbergasted.

But more than the surprise at such forgetfulness, what really left me wondering was the sense that this was precisely the way things were supposed to work: Practice hard and ... forgetaboutit!

I never chanted again on the way home from work.

And last night, it happened again: Perhaps because it was late and perhaps because I was tired, I climbed into the shower and realized, somewhere between soaping my pits and feet, that I had forgotten to chant, a habit I had followed for years ... the Heart Sutra, various dharanis, etc.

And again, it felt apt and appropriate and naturally lighter ... and vaguely delightful.

It wasn't willful. There was no particular effort at all. I didn't decide not-to-chant. It was if all those chants had decided to go on vacation to Tahiti and lord knew they deserved a respite.

I'm not saying good or bad or do it or don't do it here. Just reporting what happened and wondering vaguely if that isn't some sort of naturally-occurring vein in a disciplined spiritual adventure: After the party, good friends go home.


  1. ..... you are old father William.....

  2. It's part of ritual, when no longer needed, one drops it!

  3. 'How is your son doing?'

    I guess my point is, if chanting is a ritual, and a distraction from being, it is actually a bad thing

    Enjoy the ride home. Never know if it's going to be the last one. Hug your kids. Feed the birds. Make love to your wife.