Friday, October 16, 2009

Never Say "Too Late"

Fall is for firsts: first falling leaf, first day of school, first pear of perfection. For me, this fall marks my first visit to the San Francisco Zen Center. About 2 weeks ago, I joined Denise and her daughter, Eva, for a Saturday morning lecture at the City Center on Page and Laguna. After we respectfully slipped off our shoes, we went into the sun-filled room to find our seats. The seating options were as follows: sitting on a chair, on a bench, or zazen on a cushion (closest to the front of the room, hence closest to the lecturer). Being my first time and all, I let my timidity get the best of me and chose the bench. Denise and Eva took zazen and I immediately wished I had too! Mostly because I'm trying more and more to meditate properly and I think it would have been good practice--to sit in that position (cross legged, straight back and still) while listening to somebody speak, rather than in silence. Oh well, next time right?

The speaker was Yvonne Rand. Thoughtful and kind in tone, she is a meditation teacher and lay householder priest in the Soto Zen Buddhist tradition. She spoke of compassion, specifically the compassion of her teacher Susuki Roshi. She told stories with lessons, some of them fable-like, some of them present and modern. As I assumed they would, these teachings stuck with me. For example: to have no regrets. Never say never, we all know. But she advised, as did Susuki Roshi, to never say "to late." It's never too late to do anything. I liked that a lot. I also liked hearing her speak of compassion--a feeling we often feel for others but not for ourselves. Whenever things aren't going right, I trust that I have forgotten something. And that something is compassion for myself. Lacking compassion for oneself makes it more difficult to act compassionately towards others. She said it most articulately and all of it off the top of her head, I might add.

I recommend taking 30 minutes of your day to listen to Yvonne's lecture from that beautiful morning. I will most certainly be going back for another one. Maybe I will sit zazen. Or maybe not. But I definitely don't regret sitting on the bench. From my seat, I had a full view of the space. I saw everyone come and go through the doors, bowing gracefully upon each quiet move.

Another picture from Woodside on the Djerassi property. I cannot get enough of that place.


  1. The view reminds me of the Wave (aka Flying IUD) at Porter College, UC Santa Cruz.

  2. sit zazen...but do not try, just do it and feel anything you feel as you do. that's meditation. really there is no "real" way. sissy! i love your blog! i'm so glad you birthed it. it's so beautiful and i love your ways.

  3. Hmm...that's an idea. I may go sometime. I always used to drive by it with John. I must admit that I often lack compassion for myself and I can feel the negative effects reverberate.

    P.S. Go, blogger, go!