Mt Baldy Zen Center Newsletter
February 17, 2009
MBZC recently completed its 2/8-14 Dai-Sesshin retreat, wherein we were beset by several challenges by way of a stomach virus and snow. The Joju end of camp was active in receiving and caring for students, monks and oshos knocked out from a powerful stomach virus that left its victims feverish, nauseous and occasionally vomiting. The virus hit hard, but fortunately its duration was brief, and those afflicted were in and out of the infirmary within two to three days.
The first several days of Dai Sesshin also brought some snow — exactly how much, I can’t recall right now, as a post-Dai Sesshin storm beginning two days ago has added close to four feet to this existing layer. We have abandoned our typically stern adherence to form and custom and are bending the schedule to the demands of the weather, eating informal, protein-rich meals in the dining hall and working around the clock to make the grounds navigable for the upcoming retreat starting this Saturday. This includes shoveling walkways and roofs, and praying for the arrival of Evan Chapman, a local with a very large snowplow. (I told him that we would greet him like the French greeted the Americans at Normandy.)
Roshi is not on camp right now (though he’s been checking in with us by phone, concerned as he is about the weather). He’s down in LA getting a cortisone shot in his lower back to mitigate some deep leg pain. He was quite robust this past Dai-Sesshin, and an Osho noted that he seemed to be pacing himself. Nonetheless, a senior Inji made a point of letting me know recently that Roshi’s body has indeed changed in the last few months, something I’ve noticed in his increased use of a wheelchair to travel to and from the sutra hall. As I was sitting before Roshi the other day in sanzen, clueless (as usual) but inspired, it occurred to me that each sanzen with this teacher is like a piece of fruit from a very rare and precious tree that is the last of its kind. Once he’s gone, the world will never experience a living embodiment of ancient wisdom quite like this one again. It was about then that he rang me out, of course, leaving me to querulously ponder why our numbers are so low for the final Dai-Sesshin of our winter season (low 20s). Let this be a call to arms, then, for those of you still on the fence about this retreat! Over four feet of snow, icy paths, grey skies, endless white in the mountains and valleys, as well as a 101 yr. old Zen Master await you here at MBZC. BYOB — bring your own boots — and RSVP ASAP.