Dharma in January 2020

Dear Zen Friends
1)         February   Sesshin:     from  02/07  to  02/11
            March Sesshin:           from  03/06  to  03/10
2)  “Shobogenzo in Snow Country” is going on Sunday mornings.
I have had really a good time while reading Genjokoan this winter.
We will read the paragraph about firewood and ash next Sunday on, while burning ash tree in a stove.
3)  in the past two years, I have visited hospitals more often than in my whole younger days. I had to see doctors, surgeons, pharmacists, therapists, acupuncturists, and even interpreters for various symptoms.  Things are changing.
Firewood in Genjokoan is life, and ash is death. I could simply think how to burn firewood until two years ago. I wished to sit and die. A doctor talks about life and health.
Now the reality pushes me to think about life and death, firewood and ash. Gradually my plan has changed to sit, read, write, and die. I asked a doctor to care how a patient would die. How many medicines a 90 year old man should take for restoring health? Formula for living are not simple anymore.
We usually have a model for living. We might have a model for dying, too.  My favorite model for dying was Han Takehara, a dance teacher. She was teaching Japanese dance at ninety five years of age. One morning she did not wake up. Students saw her breath stopped. Her face did not show any pain, her body did not fall into disorder.
Uchiyama Roshi also was a great model. Roshi was elaborating his writing to his last day and collapsed.  In his last book, he never gave up hope, while saying the unpredictability of life.
I am sure I cannot copy these great models. As long as alive, though, I’d like to do my best.
Eishin Ikeda
Valley Zendo
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