Dream of: 01 September 1997 (2) "Rusty Meditation"
I was at the Dallas Zen Center, the old red-brick house where I had lived for nine months in 1987. I was sitting on the floor in the living room, with a score of other people also sitting on the floor. No furniture was in the room. It felt strange being back there, I hadn't been there for so long. I sensed that a couple people in the room were from the same group that had practiced there when I had belonged to the Zen Center, but most of the people I had never seen before.
In the corner of the room, across from me and to my left, was the person apparently in charge. I couldn't tell if the person was a man or woman, young or old. Seemed to have all those qualities. Finally the person asked, "What do you miss about living here?"
I thought he or she must be talking to me and I started to answer, but I suddenly realized I had something over my head, something like a nylon stocking, and I had to take it off before I could speak. It was difficult to pull off, and by the time I had it off, a meditation session had begun and everyone in the room had begun meditating.
I was already sitting in a meditative pose, although not my normal pose. Instead of sitting with my legs crossed in front of me, or in a lotus position, I was sitting with my legs bent back under me so that my feet were under my butt. I knew this was a novice position and that I was much more proficient at sitting than to sit like this. But at the same time I knew that I was rusty, that I hadn't been meditating lately, and that the lotus pose might be a little difficult for me. So I thought this position would be fine for now.
I was already sitting straight but I tried to make myself even more so. However to my dismay I soon realized I was having trouble maintaining my balance. I could only sit for a short while before I would start to topple over to one side or the other, and I would have to straighten myself back up. Other people were sitting close to me, and I knew I was irritating them. One fellow behind me, in a huff, even moved. Nevertheless I wasn't particularly concerned with what the other people thought; I knew that despite my unsteadiness, I was quite adept at meditation, and that if I was having difficulty maintaining my pose, it was only because I was somewhat out of practice. Finally another fellow who reminded me of a fellow named Peter Lamborghini, who used to be part of the Zen Center, walked over to me and stood right in front of me. He straightened me up and straightened out my back even more. It seemed to help. When he walked back to sit down, I seemed able to maintain myself better.
I began feeling quite peaceful. I noticed that my hair had become quite long. It seemed to reflect the way of the world which I had adopted since leaving the Zen center. When I had lived at the Center, I had shaved my head bald. But now my hair hung down in my face and along my sides. I knew the long hair also set me apart from the type of people who meditated at the Zen Center. And yet I knew that despite the long hair, I still retained much of what I had learned at the Zen Center.
I knew when the meditation ended I would answer the question which the person in the corner had asked. I knew I was going to say it was the meditation that I missed most. As indeed it was. When the session ended and people started to get up, I looked across the room at the person in the corner and I said, "The thing I miss most about living here is the meditation."
I added that I still meditated, but that I didn't have the structure of getting up every morning and meditating. I added that of course even when I had lived at the Center, I hadn't gotten up every morning and meditated. That had been extremely difficult. But I didn't say more as I didn't want to impose a speech on everyone.
Having said my piece I stood up. As I prepared to leave, someone living there showed me a computer print-out of a list of books which had come over the Internet which were supposed to be in line with the philosophy taught at the Zen Center. The person said the books would have to be checked out by their leader.
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