Posted in Zen Buddhism

Deer Park Retreat 2004, Day 5

8:45 AM

Dinner was nice. More good conversation with the roommates before bed. We all grumped a bit about the long, indoor walking meditations at night, but none of us had any better ideas for dealing with so many people.

10:52 AM
Got up this morning at 5:10. I was in the main meditation hall by 5:50. Sitting was good. The monks & nuns are so still, they encourage us by example to take our practice to the next level. The 14 precepts, or “mind trainings” as Thay calls them, were read in Vietnamese. Then we lay people were “invited” to leave. 🙂

The monastic novices took precepts & we went to the dining hall to have them read in English. Then the Order of Interbeing members shared with us what the mind trainings had meant in their lives. Like we cared. They would have been better off answering audience questions. It was way too touchy-feely for me as they passed the mic. Luckily, it was only 15 min.

I found out [Retreatant 1] feels about the OIB like I do. [Retreatant 2] is a member, but I didn’t know until today because she doesn’t wear the uniform (brown jacket & cutesy nametag with dharma name in English, “member since” date, & real name) and she isn’t preachy. [Retreatant 3] is a member, & although she made sure we all knew it right away, she’s not holier-than-thou about it. (“I’m the Serenest!” – Onion article.)

Christine is a retired attorney, member of the CA bar. She worked for Latham Watkins in NY. She is 59 & retired in 1998. She has a NY apartment above the UN & a house in Brittany, France. Damn. Just…damn.

For work practice I washed vegetables with John from Sydney, Elaine from Houston, Edward, Kim from Houston, & a lawyer from a small NM town.

Last night while cleaning up [in the kitchen] after dinner, I asked the smiling monk (there are so many!) for a dish towel. He showed me where they were, stopping what he was doing to do so. “I’m sorry to disturb you,” I said.

He answered in a warm voice, “You are not disturbing me. I don’t get disturbed.” I’d like to cultivate that.

12:20 PM
Just got back from walking meditation. One of the Vietnamese monks led us in Tai Chi exercises on the hilltop. It made me think of my dharma buddy, Stig, who teaches Tai Chi in FL.

1:55 PM
Some thoughts on gender & sense of self. The first day, I met a bald woman with advanced cancer. She told our dharma discussion group that she is dying & that she no longer has her breasts or any female organs. I wanted to tell her that she was still herself, but what does that mean, anyway?

Trish told me that she shaved her head while she was in India. She went around in men’s pants & no make up, and people called her “Sir.” And she had enjoyed it.

I love being female, & simultaneously hate the way I’m treated for it most of the time. I have a love-hate relationship with being a woman. But how much of my identity is tied to my femininity? Would “I” still be “me” if I ceased to be female? If I ceased to be a “lawyer”? If I ceased to be my parents’ daughter?

Who Am I?

What Is This?


[Retreatant 3] doesn’t like the pretentious OIB nametags anymore than I do. She changed her to read simply [her real name].

6:45 PM
I had dinner with four charming gentlemen tonight. Of course, they were all Vietnamese monks, & we were eating in “noble” silence. Here are Deer Park, that only means no speaking. Eye contact & non-verbal communication are okay if it’s not to excess. So we had a nice time. At one point I was trying to scoot forward to let the person at the table behind me out, but there wasn’t enough room. Since our table was at the end of the row, the three brothers sitting opposite me pulled the whole table toward them. There was much smiling.

I spend a lot of time talking & laughing with & listening to my roommates. They are truly amazing women, all.


Ven. Dr. Myodo Jabo (Sandy Gougis) is a Zen Master and Priest in the Five Mountain Zen Order. She began studying Theravâdin Buddhism in 1998, adding Zen in 2003, and Vajrayana Buddhism in 2008. She currently practices in both the Zen and Tibetan traditions. Her Zen teacher is Most Ven. Wonji Dharma of the Five Mountain Zen Order, and her Tibetan guru is Lama Tsultrim Allione of Tara Mandala. In her free time, Myodo enjoys painting, jewelry making, and other creative endeavors.

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