Ever since I started practising Zazen in Japan almost 10 years ago, I’ve been attracted to the idea of becoming a Zen monk. In 2009 I went for a week long retreat at Throssel Hole Buddhist Abbey in Northumberland and upon my return realised that a) I could never become a monk and b) monks have got it right.
To encourage myself to focus more on my Zen practice, I saved up for 6 months in 2009, bought myself a camper van, and moved to Devon…
Undeceivable – Moonraker Zen.
Everything in me goes out to Pascal who I met briefly when he visited Throssel. There he is in his VW Moonraker, parked on the side of some wild and windy Devon road and sitting Zazen. He is doing what most of my generation, including me, dreamed of doing.
You asked about what a monk does when she goes on retreat as I am at the moment. Much the same as you Pascal in spirit at least ‘though not in form. Living each day, facing the conditions that come before me, responding to them best I can. Remaining fully committed to staying with changing circumstances. Knowing that each day is a life changing day and going with those moments even when they don’t make sense – for example go out and buy a bag of chips…or whatever. Toffee Crisp wasn’t it?
There is planning ahead. There is organizing in the micro and macro sense. And then there is what happens. There is, as happens for me, a playfulness in living which can so easily get lost in the corridors of convention and expectations.
This post has been slightly edited, particularly the last paragraph – 15th Feb. 2010.