Dear Reverend Master Mugo,
You have asked me to consider writing a regular contribution to your Jade Mountains. With some nervousness, and as usually seems to be the way with these situations, something is saying yes, ok; and then I’m trying to work out what it is I’ve said yes to, and if it is good to do then why is it, and how can it work for us? I know you better than to ask exactly what it is you were thinking of, so here is my go at what might work for me.
The first thing to say is that this clearly can’t just be an opportunity for me to tell people who read your site what I think about things. If I was going to do that then I’d be setting up my own site and doing it directly; and I’m not. So if not that, then what?
Well, I started to wonder what you think might be missing from Jade Mountains as it currently stands. And I came up with a couple of possibilities.
The first is that you’re a monk – and a very well established one at that: however understated about it you may be, you are a Zen Master. It follows that your life and experience may not express many aspects of what Buddhist training might be like for people who aren’t monks – although your honesty and humanity in what you write go a long way to showing that this difference isn’t as great as we sometimes might like to think.
Secondly, and perhaps more deeply, for me a great deal that is important in our training is about the dynamic between ‘teachers’ and those of us hoping to learn something and receive support in our practice. Zen in particular seems to be so much about someone asking a question and an answer coming back – often not the answer we were looking or hoping for but an answer that cuts to the core of what is being asked. Quite a few of your postings reflect this with you sharing some of the letters people have sent you and your responses. And wouldn’t it be interesting to see if some of the dynamic of how this continues over time could be illustrated by me sharing my thoughts, worries and questions with you, and through you with your readers?
So these thoughts led me to wonder – how about me writing to you on a regular basis through your site? Often it could be that no actual response is needed from you – there is something about the act of opening up and asking and sharing that frequently just by itself resolves the question.
When I look at your original request for me to contribute in this light then I can see a possibility of me writing about training and how that impacts everyday life without it being me expressing my opinions, or trying to inform or teach. It would really just be a continuation and development of what we have been doing for years.
You have been around and deeply involved in all of the nearly 20 years I’ve been training in this practice – from being the scary visiting monk who used to come to our home when we were running the London Meditation Group; through the years when you lived in the mobile home in our yard here on the farm; and with our ever evolving relationship with the OBC and the Lay Ministry. This seems like another opportunity opening up – perhaps unorthodox, but I suppose you often seem to find some particular energy in new approaches to things.
As ever I am left wondering maybe it will work? maybe it won’t? and cutting through all this nervousness echoes one of the hallmarks of your particular teaching – let’s get up and try it and maybe we’ll find out.
Does any of this make sense? Is it the sort of thing you were thinking of?