On Saturday I took a break from weight-lifting to go to the Kwan Um School of Zen’s Dharma teacher retreat at the Providence Zen Center. During a semester where my days are overloaded with the mundane details of college teaching–classes to prep, papers to grade, emails to answer–Zen teaching is a welcome respite, something that requires no preparation, only careful attention. On Saturday morning, my longtime Dharma friend Ji Hyang and I led a workshop on “Zen & the Arts,” which we planned about five minutes before the session began. In college teaching, flying by the seat of your pants is a neglectful thing. In Zen teaching, it’s all but expected.
Although I had to leave before my fellow Dharma teachers started telling jokes, the half-day I spent in the company of other long-time practitioners reminded me why any trip to PZC feels like tapping into a mighty power source. Being prepared is a good thing, but sometimes it’s necessary and proper to drop the reins and trust yourself to the wide open meadow of your own creative mind.