I did end up doing some work today that I didn't do yesterday, because the documentation I was supposed to do yesterday became needed for a work conversation happening over the weekend. But no harm done, I got it done in under an hour, and my boss thinks I kick ass (which I do) even though I apologized for not having finished it earlier.

I hauled my ass out of bed to make kitchari for the breakfast part of the Saturday morning program with the group I've been sitting with. I'm about ready to feel like a part of the group, since I like both the teacher and her students, a rare thing for me. (I'm an introvert, and it takes energy to deal with most people; it's very special to find anyone, let alone a group, that leaves me feeling more energized afterward.) There was that, and then the work thing, and I was feeling a little bit down...but even that was great, because I was just feeling down. I wasn't directing it at anything, or (my own personal poison) feeling like "If X were different, I wouldn't be sad". I was just plain sad, and the purity and centeredness of the feeling lets it pass away.

I ran into a guy at Peet's who I've talked with before, who remembers me mostly because I used to live next to his apartment building and play my guitar on my porch. We've talked many times about large systems engineering, but unfortunately this time I was reading 365 Zen, and he asked me about it. It turns out he's a Tibetan Buddhist, and so he kept bringing Buddhism back into the conversation--"Oh, so of course you believe in reincarnation. You have an affinity for Japan and Japanese culture because you had many previous lives there." "Uh...could be, I suppose." "Right. You might not remember--I don't remember, but I have a friend who remembers his lives there, and he remembers me being there..."

Have I ever mentioned how much I loathe talking about Buddhism? I don't mind explaining Zen to people, but talking about Buddhism with other Buddhists generally drives me batshit. A large part is my own reasons for practicing Zen: I don't need to think more. I'm fully capable of thinking. I've spent my life intellectualizing, and it's not the least bit difficult for me. What I need, what I want, is to calm my mind, settle down, be able to focus on things at will. I want to do. Zen is about the unification of thought and action, and being completely involved with what you're doing, while you're doing it. It's important to think, of course, but not in the racing, jumping-around way I'm used to. So I have difficulty with people like this. I don't have the skills to convey to him why reincarnation is completely irrelevant to me, or why I'm not worried that the world will destroy itself, or that the Bodhisattva vow to "save all sentient beings" isn't really driving me to go be a social worker for a living, and probably never will (though over time I will become involved with other people somehow). I don't really know how to disagree or present my own point of view without causing that uncomfortable stop in the conversation. The ability to tailor one's communication for each individual to prompt their understanding is called "skillful means" (upaya); it's a mark of a good teacher, and I don't have it. All I know to do is put on my mask and slog on through.

This is what I particularly enjoy about the folks in Zen Heart Sangha: they are quiet, thoughtful in their speech, and rather than talk about practicing, they just practice.