Practicing Alone (Or Am I?)

In a week, I will be holding Jeweled Tree’s first live service on Youtube. Frankly, I’m a little nervous because I’m not sure if anyone will show up.

I’ve been in this situation before when I held services at First Unitarian Church of Baltimore. At that time, it was helpful to remember my late friend Hoin, a Zen practitioner of Burning House Zendo.

Candle, Light, Candlelight, Flame

Hoin was a very gentle and practical guy who was a natural teacher even if he wasn’t officially recogonized. He helped me learn to sit for the long periods of time required by the group’s practice sessions. He was always very warm to new folks and always encouraged people.

He was also known for his commitment to practice.

According to some of the senior zendo-goers, Hoin was just as happy to practice by himself as he was to practice with others. He would arrive at the zendo and, if no one else came in, he would hold service anyway. A few folks said that they would find evidence of this the next day. They weren’t specific to how they knew but I suspect it was a change in the arrangement of cushions.

His commitment helped encourage my individual practice. When I approach the shrine in my house, I sometimes remember Hoin, and then also remember that it’s important to practice the forms as best I can whether anyone is watching or not.

It really doesn’t matter if one is the only person making the offerings. At Amida Mandala, it’s considered important to keep practicing so as to hold the space for others.

At the same time, however, we are never alone in our practice, especially when we are in the presence of the Buddhas.

Namo Amida Bu

Photo from Pixabay

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