The Disadvantage of Being an Old-Timer

"The Disadvantage of Being an Old-Timer" number 83 of 200 from Robert Aitken's book Miniatures of a Zen Master.

In this miniature there is the problem of familiarity. As the routine of the dojo embeds, the surprise and mystery of dojo activities wanes. Old-timers have to be on guard for this. This is where a certain amount of forgetfulness is helpful. This is the students perspective, teachers see things differently.

I go to sesshins with the Three Treasures group from Seattle. The whole time it has been just about the same people doing the same routine in the same place (some of them in the same beds). We eat the same meals, go on the same walks, see the same sights. At the Wednesday evening meal we get the same chocolate chip cookie, the only sweet the whole week. Same, same, same.

This fall sesshin will be different. The group is experimenting with a new location. In the mountains instead of on the beach. Camping instead of sleeping in dorms. The whole thing will be shook up.

One of the big disadvantages of being an old-timer is seeing the lack of first-timers. I'm seeing a influx of people at our weekly sittings and book discussion groups. I'm encouraged by this.

Any error or confusion created by my commentary on
Miniatures of a Zen Master
is solely a reflection of my own delusion and ignorance.
Any merit generated by this activity is solely the result of
Aitken Roshi's clear teaching and is dedicated to
all Buddhas and Bodhisattvas throughout space and time.