2.10.11

SITTING WITH EARPLUGS IN

Well, I am back onboard the USS Essex.
Re-learning all those lessons about sitting at sea.
Grateful for my small but private space.

I have been sitting with earplugs to try and help diminish some of the
ship noise, but it doesn't really help much. Sitting at sea is like a
new experience each time I go out. The whole body mind explodes into
revolt due to the myriad things going on around it, from the noise, to
the swaying of the ship, to the lighting and to the ventilation, to the
smell... etc. All five senses become fully engaged in rejecting just
sitting still. And in the back of my brain housing unit the line from
the Fukan Zazengi on an infinite loop playback "A quiet place is best...
A quiet place is best... A quiet place is best... A quiet place is
best... A quiet place is best... A quiet place is best... A quiet place
is best... A quiet place is best... A quiet place is best... A quiet
place is best... A quiet place is best... A quiet place is best... A
quiet place is best... A quiet place is best... A quiet place is
best... A quiet place is best... A quiet place is best... A quiet
place is best... A quiet place is best... A quiet place is best... A
quiet place is best... A quiet place is best... A quiet place is
best... A quiet place is best..." ad nausea. Exhale with a smile,
repeat.

I was happy to be joined by a young person in the Chapel Lounge for
Sunday Zen practice, unfortunately about five minutes into our time
block the ship had a drill, and well we had to get to our designated
areas. But still, it gives me some joy when I run into a sincere
inquirer.

Not much else to say... The chow is fine.

7 comments:

Mike Haitch said...

"a quiet place is best"
Maybe
For some
Sometimes
Wherever you are is truly best
'Quiet'
'Noisy'
Judgements of mind
Optional.
Carry on sailing!

Mark O'Leary said...

The other night at the weekly dharma talk, a student asked the Zen master about a problem she was having while sitting early in the morning. It seems her upstairs neighbors have noisy sex every morning during her zazen. The ZM said zazen is not about sitting with peace and quiet. It's about sitting with what is, even if "what is" is people fucking.

I have never been on a US Navy ship at sea. I have no experience with the situation you describe. But the advice I have always heard with regard to dealing with noise and distractions seems applicable: as the poet John Milton said, "The mind is its own place, and in itself can make a Heaven of Hell, a Hell of Heaven." (Paradise Lost)

Good luck, anyway.

Jordan said...

Mike,
Something
appears
wrong
with
your
formating.

Mark,

Mark,
A child of 5 can know that, but it's a little more difficult to put into action.

Milton brings back memories. Thanks!

Robin said...

I sympathise with your situation, Jordan. As a fellow mobile monk, I too have often had to sit in noisy places, sometimes day after day for months. But you know, I kind of like it. Not that I wouldn't choose a quiet place if I had a choice, but when I don't, I kind of welcome the old flow between the ears, and the intrusion of reality into my gosh-I'm-so-Zen practice. Maybe it's not "the same," but it's still good.

I deeply admire your active-duty practice, brother. And actually, hasn't this surface sitting become a little too easy for you these days? I think you should put in for a submarine cruise. Just so you don't get all soft from sitting under that flight deck.

Gassho,

Robin

Rusty Ring: Reflections of an Old-Timey Hermit

Jordan said...

Thanks Robin,
There is lines from some Chinese poem they used to and probably still do recite at the temples that start something like: Look at the leisurely one…" And then goes on to instruct us how to go in that direction or something. When I think about how would the one who has thus come and thus gone and got the t-shirt sit on the Essex? I can only answer: Like this.
But it is not “I’m so Zen” it is just that the direction that seems reasonable right now.
As an aside I totally know those “I’m-oh-so-zen” moments and am pretty sure those are the times that while I might feel peaceful and content in that moment, it would only take a fart to blow me across the sea in a rage. I try to keep an eye turned inward to look out for that.
Thankfully, the opportunity for submarine practice will likely not come up for me, not that I would seek it out or shirk it if it did. But at least they call that “The silent service.” But this month makes 20 years; I am eligible to retire as soon as I finish my time on Okinawa. My claim to fame as being an active duty zen guy will come to an end, and I will be just another zen schmo with a blog. Maybe then someone will adopt me as their dharma heir and then I can have dharma battles like all the cool zen masters do. Whoopie!

gniz said...

Jordan,

"As an aside I totally know those “I’m-oh-so-zen” moments and am pretty sure those are the times that while I might feel peaceful and content in that moment, it would only take a fart to blow me across the sea in a rage."

Haha, I love that sentiment and it's so true for me. Sometimes when I feel so "blissful" in my meditation I can actually be angrier than ever if confronted with the smallest problem or obstacle! It makes one feel ridiculous, as well it should.

Staying present and being able to weather the various things that being on a ship away from your family brings--this is not something I could do, and even when you are struggling I suspect you're doing a site better than many of us would in a similar situation.

Best luck in all your travels.

aaron

Jordan said...

Thanks Aaron.

Thanks for looking!