Meeting with a Remarkable Being

Sesshin at Dai Bosatsu in the old lodge. The mid-morning sitting had just begun and everyone was in the zendo. I was in the kitchen preparing lunch. My menstrual period unexpectedly began. I went to the bathroom upstairs over the kitchen and since there was no one else about, I left my underpants to soak in the sink. Suddenly, Soen Roshi came through the kitchen, went up the stairs and closed the bathroom door. There was nothing to do but continue chopping the vegetables. An interminable fifteen minutes passed. With neither a word nor a glance in my direction, Soen headed back to the zendo. I belatedly raced upstairs to clean up. The pants were washed and hung up to dry! “Acting appropriately in the moment.” Many teachers and much teaching live in the context of ‘do what I say, not what I do.’ With Soen, his presence was the most profound and true teaching.

His presence was also an irresistible introduction to joy, delight, and gratefulness. All these were absent in my life before the incredible opportunity of hanging out with him. Yes, hanging out. He was magnetic, and I would hang around as a child might on the chance of occasionally being invited to join in. He was for me spiritual father, kind and loving grandmother, and magical and imaginative playmate. Always totally present and spontaneous, in the zendo he could be mountainously powerful and formidable, and in every-day life settings, joyfully available for whatever ‘this moment’ offered.

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