In spite of my bold declaration in the past of trying zen or nothing, I’ve stopped going to the Zen temple I visited recently.1
As a temple in its own right, I still think it was a good temple. The head priest was a very nice fellow, the temple had good leadership, the community was solid and without petty factionalism, and people did try to help me adjust to the Rinzai rituals and ways of doing things. But the monthly dues were pretty expensive, and I couldn’t devote the time to weekly sesshin retreats. As a father who’s raising little kids (one coming soon), I couldn’t make it work. Also, I was really hoping to find a community that had more connection to contemporary Japanese community. Lastly, I found that unlike my experience with the temple in Arizona, I just didn’t really “click” with some people there even after a few visits.
However, going there made me realize who I was as a Buddhist. My first real experiences with Buddhism other than books, were through my wife, visiting Kyoto, and through people like “John L” who helped show me all the wonderful temples and communities that were outside of tourist areas. Because I’ve experienced many positive things through “Asian Buddhism”, I find it difficult to separate the culture from the religion, and I guess I just like it that way. It’s always been one of the biggest reason why I started (and still maintain) this blog: sharing all these things with westerners who want to know more.
Also, as a lay-person, I realized that it is probably easier to be a Pure Land Buddhist exploring Zen (or Shingon), than a Zen Buddhist exploring Pure Land Buddhism. Hope that makes sense.
So, I guess I’ve come full-circle. For now. But, I have other ideas I’m still entertaining though. One shouldn’t be complacent. 😉
1 There is one other Zen group here in Seattle, but their schedule is a little more difficult to work with, but I might still try going on Friday mornings before work. Thanks to “M” for the suggestion. 🙂