Living at Bodhi Manda Zen Center, Part 1

I’ve been wanting to make another post, one of a more philosophical focus, as I mentioned previously. I have been more or less busy in this new environment for the past week, and although I have begun working on that post, it is not complete; the more I write, the more I realize it is going to be quite lengthy — or be split into multiple shorter posts. Though, I think I would rather just make it longer and give you a comprehensive explanation of the concept I wish to convey: The Law of Attraction, what it is and how to use it, and how to use it even more effectively by understanding simultaneous time theory.

So, in the meantime, as I continue working on that, I wanted to publish something about what I have been up to and where I have been.

Backstory

In January of 2017 I drove from New York to Albuquerque, New Mexico to study hypnotherapy at the Hypnotherapy Academy of America. While there, I heard about Bodhi Manda Zen Center and made a few day trips on the weekends to relax from my studies. I really felt at home there, and before I left New Mexico I decided that I would return sometime later.

Two tears later…

I have returned! I completed four of the five available training modules at the HAA in 2017, and now, in 2019, I returned to complete the fifth, the focus of which is natal, interlife, and past life regression therapy. It was very intensive and I learned very much about my self and why my life is the way it is today, from a karmic perspective. After completing that module, I arrived at BMZC an hour away on April 1, as scheduled.

First week

I was given a day or so to relax and settle in. It was a Monday, and Mondays and Tuesdays are given to the staff to rest and tend to personal affairs. I quickly — more quickly than usual — settled in, finding a proper place for all of my things, many of which I intend to donate before leaving here to align myself more with my present minimalist values, and the next day I was given some work to do. I did that work happily.

There is something very different about doing this kind of work here at BMZC, compared to doing quite the same kind of work at, say, the hostel at which I was employed one year ago. I am still doing cleaning work in- and outdoors, washing dishes, cleaning the kitchen and bathrooms, making food for myself and cooking with others. The activities are very much the same. The feeling, however, is not. I am not being paid for this work. It is a part of living here at the center. We are expected to bring a certain kind of presence, of mindfulness, to all of the work we do here, so to not only do our jobs most effectively, also to improve our own practice of awareness and mindfulness. All in all, it feels very wholesome and enriching. Plus, I love the chickens.

The chickens

The abbess asked me to focus on tending to the chickens: letting them in and out of their coop at morning and night, feeding them, cleaning their pen, and fetching more food for them when available. I along with another resident here cleaned out the coop on my third day, and that was a good time. We shared excellent conversation about life and all that jazz.

One of the chickens tended to get out of the pen often — until I placed a big rock over the hole in the fence — and it was fun to pick her up and return her to the coop. This is something I have never done before, chase a chicken.

Meditation practice

Every day except Monday and Tuesday, we meditate for about two hours in the morning and two hours at night. This is zazen, sitting meditation, as according to the Rinzai Zen tradition. I am enjoying this practice very much, and the balance it is bringing to my awareness. Meditating with others in a place specifically intended for this practice it very catalytic, and the energy here is very supportive of deepening one’s awareness. It just so happens that the weekend after my arrival was scheduled to be a two-day silent meditation retreat, called a zazenkai.

My first zazenkai

This was not my first silent meditation retreat. I attended a (silent) ten-day Vipassana retreat in 2014, and a year before that a three-day silent meditation retreat while I was in Peru. My zazenkai experience was nonetheless unique and enlightening.

There were about fifteen guests, and I was asked to help the attending cook prepare the meals, which I agreed to happily. For this reason I was in the zendo (meditation room) for less time than the others, though my overall experience was very beneficial and led me to deeper understanding of myself, and a feeling of letting go of something which has been preventing me from moving forward.

All of the meals were served formally, such that we adhered to traditional Rinzai practices. These include using a personal set of three bowls and a series of cloths to cover and clean them in a particular way, giving blessings to all the hungry ghosts, and giving thanks for all who took part in preparing this food. Also lots of bowing.

There was an early wake up and we were expected to be in the zendo to begin the morning meditation at 5AM. Breakfast was served at 7, followed by more meditation. Then work assignments followed by some personal time before more meditation, then lunch at noon. After lunch was more meditation and then one hour of assigned work around the center grounds, followed by personal time and more meditation, then dinner at 5PM and more meditation. I think I am remembering all that correctly; at this point it all seems like a blur…

One of my favorite parts was the silence. I wasn’t totally silent, as I had to communicate with the cook and some others when assisting them. Still, it adds a lot of depth to a personal practice. Another favorite part was ending the silence and speaking with all the guests afterward. I met some very interesting people who will perhaps remain connected in the future.

The hot spring

And of course, the hot spring is very nice, especially on a cold night under the stars. Not much more to say about that!

. . .

So that about sums up the major events of this past week here at Bodhi Manda Zen Center. There are many details left unmentioned, and I may get around to telling them at some point. Honestly, I would rather avoid using any electronics altogether, but I felt it would be good to make a post. I look forward to the rest of April and wonder where time will take me next.

. . .
In Benevolence,
Devin The Mindful Mage

2 Comments

  1. Devon you mentioned being in benevolent service of the cosmos which made me think of Ted kaptchuk’s description of Qi: Qi is more than cause. Qi is the cause, process, and all activity in the cosmos. Qi is the ceaseless throbbing, the substratum of the cosmos. The universe can affect a human being because a person already contains latent forms of the cosmic Qi.
    The elements within the microcosm correspond to elements with in the macrocosm. Each person is a cosmos in miniature. (Paraphrasing and added to)

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