Monday, April 16, 2018

Jisha's Teacher

No sooner had I decided that I'd be my sister's Jisha (attendant) than someone said that would make her my teacher. And Zen teachers say that there is no separation of giver, gift or receiver. It is like when you aren't minding your p's and q's while doing electrical work. If you get shocked, the shock, the electrical wire, and you become one. They can't be separated. Any interaction is like that, including a kiss. Kissing occurred. That's it.

I thought I was just going to serve my sis. It seemed implausible and selfish to attend to her for a teaching. Thinking a little more about it, the teacher, the student, and the teaching really are one at the moment of the shock. That is what occurred when a Zen patriarch was enlightened after his teacher tugged on his robe. It is called "instantaneous enlightenment" and also "transmission" though it might have taken 1000s of lifetimes for the patriarch to get enlightened/transmitted from a tug (or from any other of the chance occurrence that did the trick).

At. Pasadena's Target store yesterday I had an argument with the young Jewish checkout clerk. He had a yarmulke (aka kippah) on his head. A fun diversion: yamaka in Buddhism refers to that part of the Pali Canon that are the real teachings of the Buddha. In any case, after I checked out he said "have a nice day." I asked why and he said that it is better to have a nice day than a bad day. I told him that all days are good, even the bad ones. He told me I was wrong. But we know that the customer is always right, so I repeated that all days are good––even the bad ones. I hoped he'd remember that.

I'm reminded over and over again of my childhood friend's father who had to have his feet amputated to save his life. Being a brilliant theologian, he repeated a number of times with much gratitude that it simply was the best of the alternatives. In Buddhism there is the koan where the disciple enters the room and says, "How is the venerable master today?" Master Ma answers, "Sun face Buddha, moon face Buddha." My sis is moon face Buddha these days. Yes, if she had a sun face light switch, she'd click it on. But still she's riding high in the saddle, despite having a body that needs some serious repair, and having a house with a clogged drain even after two plumber visits.

Hopefully the last of the clogs will be freed up this morning with plumber visit #3. As for my sister, she might not have a good day today, and that will be alright.

Thursday, April 12, 2018

Still Gail

I guess people want to know how's Gail. When I came here 3 days ago, I was more concerned whether there was still a Gail as I have known her for 71 years. And she is absolutely Gail, which renews my faith that she isn't being altered by her circumstances.

I kind of wished that she'd be more accepting of my Zen stories. Fortunately, she is no different on that accord that in the past, which contributes to my conclusion that she's the sister I've had and loved all these years.

Luckily she is able to advocate and organize her treatment. This involves shots, medicine, calling doctors, and eating, sleeping etc. We talked about those unfortunate souls who are not able to do this, and also those who don't have a husband, a brother, friends and two terrific grown children to look after her.

Our parents were convinced that life wasn't worth living if you weren't able to walk, play tennis, and be independent. I think Gail is not of the same elk, which isn't surprising since she was never the obedient daughter. I'm thankful for that, because not only do I still have the same self-directed sister I've always had, but she has been an encouragement for me to not do as I am told. In fact, I've prided myself on never doing as I'm told—which somehow has worked out except in the Zen temple.

Friday she has a new cat-scan and then possibility some radiation along with the chemo. Her attitude is great as she just sees this as the job at hand.

Someone sent her a giant bouquet of flowers. Some of the petals are falling off. Several times a day I pick them up off the table and floor, and enjoy the endless abundance of remaining flowers. That is Gail. Still an abundance of love and beauty, yet with a few of her petals falling to the ground.

Who's in the world?

Xiushan said, "What can you do about the world?" Dizang said, "What do you call the world?"