Wednesday, December 12, 2012
I Vow to Cultivate a Big Strong Heart
With the sound of a stone hitting, yesterday the 60th Practice Period of Green Dragon Temple officially closed. Two months of dedicated practice, spending most of our waking hours with the same 35 people, little free time, no leaving the valley, and looking at all the deepest (and sometimes darkest) sides of ourselves. The period ended with a 7 day silent sesshin (meditation retreat). It wasn't one of those retreats that's soft and relaxing. This was a little more...raw? Basically you sit still in one seat from 5am-9pm with an hour break after each meal and each meal eaten at our seat in special ceremonial fashion of serving and receiving. It was intense and wonderful and will never happen again exactly as it did. It is rather inconceivable, all that happened, all that I felt, learned, and thought. But I think it will move around my mind, body and heart slowly over time and trickle out in surprising ways.
What the end of something often means is that people leave. Today I had to say goodbye to two of my favorite people and over the next few weeks I will say goodbye to some people I have gotten very close to. I had this flash, as tears welled, that I would be here at Green Gulch for a long time and I would have to say many goodbyes to people I love. At dinner, in the dining room, I heard someone saying that they felt like they'd kind of hardened to the whole people leaving thing and that they maybe don't get so close to people because they will leave. So I vow to cultivate a big strong heart so that I can love people with an open heart that is strong enough to say goodbye. And then do it again. And again.