The practice period ended and sesshin ended. Half of the residents that were at Green Gulch when I arrived have left. Let the change continue. It never stops.
Nowhere in the world can you be and avoid change. What is nice (and challenging) about living here at Green Gulch is that there are less places to hide when you want to avoid the difficulty of change. In fact, you are encouraged to face it, look at it and work on knocking out your usual defense mechanisms. You can’t go get drunk somewhere, you can’t go eat a bunch of pizza or ice cream (unless you keep a stash in the student freezer, and if it’s desperate someone always has sweets they’ll share), you can maybe watch some TV on your computer, you can’t really go shopping (you can do some internet shopping but that is anticlimactic as the goods will arrive after the moment has passed).
I met some wonderful people and they have gone. Now the garden apprenticeship has started and it’s like getting settled in all over again. A group of about 10 young new apprentices have arrived. All excited and fresh and trying to find their way. It is strange that I am a part of that group but we are not exactly starting in the same place since I have already been here two months (it feels like freaking forever!) or even ending in the same place. I feel more like I am settling in for a while, making this my home. I also need to be careful. It would be very easy to set myself apart as someone who knows things. To come off as someone “special.” That’s not always a good thing when trying to be part of a harmonious cohesive group. A very popular sentiment in Zen is “don’t set up standards of your own.” That blending in is a good thing. That’s a tough notion to embrace when we live in a world that rewards individuality and capitalism. The downside to those things is that usually they come at the expense of or on the back of someone else. The competition for fame and personal gain just seems to divide and we'll never survive that way.