Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Floating Zen: Field Day

CZC hadn't posted photos from its fundie by today as I'd hoped, so I snatched this equally fun shot from here. Be sure to visit the CZC website photo album in the near future to see what all the fun was about!

Just around the corner from our new home is a grand park. It's got a playground, ball field, ball court and water-park; and it's got an elementary school adjacent to it, the soccer field of which is nearly always full of kids. Well, this past week it was especially so, as the children celebrated Field Day. Potato sack races, running, hopping, jumping and throwing of every description... and, the joyful noise of it filled our neighborhood. What a delight!

And, as it turns out, what symbolic timing, as my two excursions for Floating Zen for the month of June were nothing short of a field day for my 3-year-old son.

No sooner had that final ref's whistle blown on Friday, our little family gussied up and headed over to the Cambridge Zen Center for a fundraising event. We had visited CZC a few weeks before, myself for the first time, but a return trip for my husband, who took refuge in the late Zen Master Seung Sahn's lineage many years ago. CZC is in the Kwan Um School of Zen, which is a Korean tradition. We'd taken a little tour of the house and grounds, and it felt very comfortable and familiar. And, I realized a little wryly, it had been at least two years since I'd stepped foot in a dedicated, monastic zen setting! The smell of incense and effort from years and years of celebrated, concentrated practice was lovely and reassuring. I'm hoping to make it over there to practice "for reals", and perhaps even with my husband, for an introduction to Korean-style zazen. But this was for play and hopefully meeting some new friends in a zen community. Only, it didn't quite happen as we'd planned...

The CZC community was wonderfully vibrant and evidently cohesive. The entire even was well-planned and really well executed, and fun. There was an ease-of-being there that suggested to me that I was witnessing a well-established and joyous community. Not without its problems, I'm sure; but really, there was such great diversity in age and background that I found myself very much hopeful to include myself as a part of what was going on.

Only, there I was with a little maniac toddler...

Having a child certainly separates you from the wider world. One's focus becomes narrowed as a parent-- decent childrearing really rather demands that of you. Especially the kind of childrearing that keeps the parent focused on the child not harpooning all those lovely koi with a well-pointed stick! There were other children at the event, all ranging in their ages from very recently born to 9, and there were loosely organized activities for them. But as the evening went on and most parents inside focused on the auction taking place, chaos erupted as a wily children's tribe took over the once-peaceful garden. Bubble-blowing turned into bubble-bathing; face-painting turned into a all-body free-for-all color extravaganza. The poor young woman who had been in charge, once vibrant and assured, was at her wit's end as a pillow-fight karate-session erupted in the craft tent. Ah, me! But who decided it would be fun to break out the hose? Swiftly we took our son out of the equation, and ended our night early with an earnest thank you to the hostess.

Overall? I'd describe Cambridge Zen Center as vibrant and alive, cohesive and wonderful. I really look forward to spending more time-- quieter time-- there.

Our next Buddhist field day event took us to the Cambridge Insight Meditation Center for their Little Buddhas program. Begun about 3 years ago by Rebecca Lavine, a mom herself, Little Buddhas is geared for children from age 3 to 9 as an introduction to family mindfulness practice in the Theravadin insight meditation tradition. Really, there are just not enough good things I can say about this program-- it was really well run, nicely organized, spacious, mindful, fun and a truly spot-on introduction for my child to Buddhist practice. We began at 10-ish a.m., with families gathered in a circle of zafus and zabutons. There were so many in attendance! We began with a quote for the parents, and introduced ourselves to the circle; we listened deeply to the ring of a meditation bell; we practiced walking mindfulness, and lying-down body-awareness. The theme of the day's meeting was anger and aversion, and so much was discussed about what anger feels like, or how aversion is experienced. We ended at 11:15 with a story about letting go of anger (for the little ones) and a play (put on by the older children), and a snack.

How curious it was for me that June's Floating Zen centered around my little boy and the notion of family practice, as all last week I embarked on what I called a Home Retreat, which I documented here. How fitting that I should end that effort with my family in two distinct and well-established practice centers!


Barry said...

Oh, I have loved my time at Cambridge Zen Center. It's my fantasy home...

Pilar Teishin said...

It is indeed a wonderful place! Very good energy in that spot, as they say.