In my short life as a Buddhist, much of what I have come to understand has been like serendipity. I remember coming to services rather reluctantly at first, partly because of my not being Japanese, and partly because of my ignorance of Buddhism. I rationalized coming because of the boys, and because Christianity had left me unfulfilled, I was curious. As I began to hear the teachings, I was attracted by the emphasis on compassion towards all creatures, not just human beings. I also began to see that Jodo Shinshu Buddhism focused on taking a good hard look at oneself. That part is difficult when I see my selfishness, ignorance, anger, and other weaknesses. However, on the up side, with the realization of confronting these negatives, there becomes room for growth. But I really needed and still need to make the time for this to occur.
Having been born a baby boomer, I grew up watching endless hours of TV (Popeye, Bozo the Clown, Howdy Doody, Sheriff John, and violence via Tom and Jerry). Television showed me what to buy, what to eat, what to wear, who was popular, and what to believe about myself and others. It also taught me that taking shortcuts was good, and so we use microwaves, computers, VCRs, cellular phones, fax machines, instant meals, drive-thru fast food restaurants, and other such things to try to save time. But just how are we using all this time we've saved with the use of all these conveniences? Do we have more time to do the things that are important to us, or are we just cramming more work into the freed up time? Perhaps now is the time we should cash in all those saved moments and be a little "selfish."
The gift of time is what we all owe ourselves and our families. What better way to get away from it all and spend it with some friends learning the Dharma. Going on a retreat is an investment toward a stronger Sangha as we question, explain, share, and laugh together. Every burden or moment of joy is lightened when we speak with openness. Before another great labor-saving device catches your fancy, before you can save any more time, make the time to get away from it all.
I remember getting ready at home for our first retreat. We were doing laundry late at night and trying to pack. It seemed like so much trouble. I wondered if it would all be worth it, and even the boys said they'd rather stay home. But we had told Rev. Mishima that we would be there. What a wonderfully meaningful, eye-opening experience that turned out to be. For me, the Dharma started to become a living experience from then on, and Sangha members became more like family instead of friends and acquaintances. Even the boys didnt want to go home. It was worth the time, and so we continue to participate whenever we can.
Take the scenic route to San Luis Obispo and gain more than time. Save and share a little of yourself, and make your link bright and strong. By the way, on your ride up to the retreat, there are many fast-food places where you can save a little time and still have it your way, too.
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