June 18, 2006 Charlotte's Way From Abbot's Journal vol 54

by Norman Fischer | June 18, 2006 at 7:22 PM

June 18, 2006 Charlotte's Way From Abbot's Journal vol 54

I'd heard G. has ALS so I called him up. He sounded weaker, more subdued than usual, but quite lucid and appreciative of what he's going through. He says being sick makes him embrace every moment of his life — so he's got quite a bit of pleasure, more than before, when the Zen teachings about "being in the present moment" sounded philosphical. He's much closer to his wife and to his friends, who now talk to him with much greater depth and honesty. In telling them that he was at first depressed about his diagnosis and was on anti-depressant drugs, he found that many of them admitted to him that they too were on anti-depressants. He's now got the impression that most of the country is on these drugs. Sounds true. His reaction to his illness is very much like Will Huben's, who died of it a few years ago, having been courageous and inspiring till the end. I'd given him a small wooden Buddha to look at when he could no longer move at all. It sat on his altar and he was cremated with it. 

June 19, 2006 Samish Island From Abbot's Journal vol 54

The big changeable sky of Samish Island. Tall clouds. High fog and rain. Bright sun in blue sky full of whole universes of clouds.

Dream last night. It has to do with something but I don't know what. I almost know but not quite. A Japanese ceremony of some sort, it's a transmission ceremony I think. Not clear whether I'm part of it or am just a hovering observing presence. Men in a circle, very tight and enclosed, performing this ritual. Can't see, because I'm outside the circle. But then I'm inside it, the circle's open (by virtue of my being in it it is revealed and therefore open) and it's three or four men, some tall, some short, not sure what they're wearing (robes or not) and in the ritual (as they explain) they're banging their bare foreheads on a flat drum (like the ones Ed Sarath had us playing in Kalamazoo). They explain that this is the ritual, much reduced from its full expression, due to modern times. But they are very sincere about it, and it seems to require a certain amount of effort. This dream somehow relates to my reading of McRae's book "Seeing Through Zen."

Riding to the airport on Friday, the sun was shining, with some clearly-etched clouds in the pale blue sky, the water of the Bay bright and the hills green and fresh. The quality of the light in California still amazes me after all these years. Few places on earth are this beautiful, express so profoundly the planet's possibilities. Here at Samish there are herons constantly in the air overhead, on their way to and from the rookery. They honk like geese. Yesterday afternoon walking to the zendo two ravens high up on barn roof, just at roof's peak, scratching around for something, jet black with the sun directly on them. So many rabbits on the pathway. They seem to become tamer every year, don't seem even to consider running away as I pass by.


Norman Fischer