Okay, our little sangha has been going now for a good two and a half years. But, our name, Blue Cliff, was also used by another group, and so we decided to avoid confusion we should change ours. That led us to renaming ourselves Empty Moon just ahead of this sesshin.
This was our fourth retreat, the third at the lovely Pine Mountain Zen monastery in the Ventura mountains above Ojai. But, also, our first as Empty Moon.
It was a powerful experience.
Much of the drive up from Long Beach was through driving rain. Rain is something we don’t see a lot of in SoCal, and especially not in Long Beach. And it is a near three hour drive. So, a bit on the exhausting side. But we did it. And it was fun enough, good companions, all old Zen hands, and in some ways the retreat was already under way.
As we turned off Highway 33 to Lockwood Valley road the rain had abated to a drizzle. But, almost immediately we came to a flooding across the road at Reyes creek. As that “creek” is mostly a dry bed they didn’t even have pipes running under the road. Instead they reinforced the downward side with large rocks held in place with concrete, and figured the water would do what water does.
For us, however, in our Prius with three Zen practitioners, personal luggage, and some Zen liturgical gear, zafus, and zabutons, it was daunting.
The water rushing across the road looked pretty serious. It was getting toward dark and we couldn’t be complete sure what the right course of action should be. But, we’d already driven nearly three hours. We were really close. And, well, foolish or whatever, we drove deliberately and maybe fractionally too fast across. The water rushed up over us, muddy and fast, and pretty much as soon as the window wipers did their job, we were across.
Some might find a Buddhist metaphor in there.
Minutes later we were at the monastery and not long after sesshin had begun…