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An Ango at Toshoji

Pere’s Experience

Dear friends of Tenborin,

If I were to sum up the experience of my Ango in Japan, I would say that it was an intense, enriching and profound experience, but also a little difficult. I am still digesting it, 6 months after my return.

Two points have struck me, the first concerning the presence, compassionate attitude and savoir–faire of the abbot of the monastery, Docho Roshi. I think about him often, as a reference point for myself, and he has remained in my heart ever since. The second point, the rigour, the respect and the depth of the first four hours of the morning practice in the Sodo ( zazen, kinhin, genmai ) and  in the Hatto ( ceremonies.) To express this in an energetic way, I have to say “everything was perfect.”

The responsibilities both in the Sodo and the Hatto are omplex, long and rich in detail. They would often unfold during a large part of the day. It’s the continual practice of full attention. At the beginning, I found this really difficult, but I gradually became accustomed to the rythyms and forms, to the point where I felt fine with them. I must say that the moment when you feel at ease with certain rituals, that’s the moment to change them, when the time has come to do something else. Now, from a distance, I realise the point to which all this had become important for centering, rooting my practice and for using the understanding, acceptance and gratitude which flowed  from this.

Finally , I would like to express the strong experience of what it means to allow everything to fall away for three months : family, family name, friends, the stimuli of modern life, personal opinions, ordinary clothes, hair, flavours without fat, sugar, only a little salt….

There is no place for identifying with one’s ego. I felt a deep emotional fragility. I had nothing to lean on except the practice and myself. I perhaps still don’t see it very clearly, but I feel in myself a new space of patience and humility.•