Travel back to the States was drama free. Trains in Japan, as usual, ran efficiently, flights were on time, and Tamami was waiting for me when I arrived in Albany, NY. My rule of thumb for travel between Japan and Canaan, NY, door to door, is that total travel time is about 24 hours. We are often so disturbed by delayed flights, the six-year old seated behind us kicking our seat, the cattle herd feel of boarding a jumbo jet, mediocre (or worst) meals, etc. that we forget we are traveling almost 12,000 miles in a day’s time. I don’t know how many times I’ve made the trip in both directions and I still find it miraculous.
It was 4 AM when I started writing this. The jet lag is always worst the second and third day after long flights. I do all the things that chronobiologists recommend to readjust my sleep patterns. I get plenty of sun in the mornings after arrival, stay away from alcohol drinks in flight, drink coffee soon after arising, go immediately to the wake and sleep pattern I choose to be in, etc. the Tendai Buddhist Institute Gyo begins on Thursday morning, the 23rd. Since we rise at 3:30 AM during gyo I’m setting my sleep pattern to that schedule rather than the one we normally keep at the temple, waking at 5:30 AM. The quiet between 3:30 to 5:30 AM is nice.
Among the things I missed most while away was the environment in the Northeast. The peonies in bloom, the mix of bright and dark green vegetation, the hundreds of colorful, musical birds, the chipmunks and turkeys, all remind me of why Shumon and I chose this area to make our permanent home. It is important to integrate oneself into whatever environment one lives; to explore the assets and rewards of the specific place. The natural and man-made environment is important, and so are the people.
Seeing everyone at the mediation service last Wednesday evening was heartwarming. I can’t express how much I miss everyone when away. The pot luck dinner was also amazing, salads, pasta, breads, eggplant parmesan, I lost track of the number of pies. What a reintroduction to the American pattern of eating. By the way Chip, each of the strawberry shortcake servings was sufficient for a small family, not that I’m complaining.
Let me take this opportunity to publically thank all the people who pitched in, lead the discussions, conducted the services and kept things going on Wednesday evenings while I was away, especially Mushin who coordinated the process. Jisen Bob Haver was very gracious and saw to it that the blogs were appropriately mounted when I had a glitch in the technical end of the process. Koki kept the things rolling along at Tendai Buddhist Institute while both Shumon and I were away. Also let me thank all the people whose good wishes I could sense. When we step back at times like this, one can in fact see the Buddhist community of good friends that comprises the Tendai Buddhist Institute. Thank you all for your dāna (generosity), kshanti (patience), and virya (diligence).
Gassho . . . Monshin