Today I did what I’ve never done before: left before walking meditation was over. There wasn’t any question of my staying for the whole 4 period half-day retreat anyway…It was the third Sunday and I was going over to Los Gatos to help out with the autistic kids. I did a second circle picking up what appeared to be a piece of glass from the Zen Hall floor before leaving. (It was a tiny “jewel” that had fallen off someone’s blouse.)
I’ve always wondered about why walking meditation turns out the way it does at Chung Tai SV. First, 1/3 to 1/2 of the rear ends present stay on the cushion, unlike in Japanese Zen, where “all sit down, all get up to walk, all go to dokusan” etc. So, in effect, we tread past a bunch of people who “don’t need” to walk or stretch their legs after 40 min. of sitting in lotus. Next this: I was taught (here) “Keep up with the person in front of you, start slow, don’t run, keep your meditative samadhi, and this is a group activity.” Does this happen? No, no, no and no. The monk with the wooden block supposedly regulates the speed of the the walking: slow and easy, since we are stiff, then slightly faster, normal walk pace and rapid walk pace. But we routinely start too fast, and the littler the people are the faster they seem to want to walk, so they are dodging around and among the larger people, as if they are trying to escape from a flaming movie theatre.* We are also told: make two circles. On the inside, the slower walkers and on the outside, the faster. Does this work? Nuh-uh! Then, of course, there’s the one person who is operating in slow-mo. Now think: all of these adult people drive. Would they tackle a crowded freeway of total strangers like this? 30 different speeds, weaving in and out, etc? No. They would go with the flow of the traffic, because driving is a group activity, and walking with the Sangha is likewise a group activity. You make it an ego activity, you will trip over or slam into or get in the way of the other meditators who are likewise lurching along like Frankenstein’s monster.
Now frankly, I don’t know how to attribute this situation–I blame no one. It just puzzles me. Why does this walking chaos come about? Is it because we’re soooo individualistic here in California, America, Silicon Valley?
*Well, speaking Buddhistically, maybe they are! lol