Today I finally found myself at the Lotus Zen Temple on 19th & Ryons Streets, just one block south of South Street. The temple is in a lovely two-story arts and crafts style home. I have been intending to go for quite some time, but today I was finally successful. I arrived a few moments before ten thirty and sat with a young man named Patrick in a living room full of art, books, a piano, and a stately old organ. A few other people arrived and after a bit Fa Jian, the master of this particular temple came down and ushered us up into the second floor meditation room.
We sat in the Zen style, around the perimeter of the room, facing inward, on zafu and zabuton. I sat uncomfortably on a zafu, leaned back against the wall, and tried not to let my nagging back get the better of me. A period of sitting meditation was followed by a period of walking meditation, the daily blessing, offering incense, and a Dharma talk. Fa Jian is a tall, gray-haired, gray-bearded man with a soft German accent and rimless glasses. Since there were a few new people that day he spoke about restlessness and meditation posture, which are good topics no matter the audience. Afterward we adjourned downstairs for tea in the cozy kitchen and the lady who appears to live in and care-take the house, Lisa, joined us. So did Ozzie, her gray faced Australian shepherd.
During meditation I sat between a young woman with a round, bright face and beautiful black hair, Kelsey, and a young man, still gangly and thin, Jeff, who had the shaved head and wore the bib (proper word?) of a committed Zen student. Afterward, Kelsey, Fa Jian, Lisa, Janet and I chatted on one side of the kitchen, while another gentleman practiced tai chi movements with Jeff, while two more students watched, on the other side. We spoke about language and travel and generally introduced ourselves. Kelsey is, like me, a student at the university and addicted to travel. She just returned from five weeks in Spain. Fa Jian teaches Latin and Greek for Lincoln Public Schools and confesses that after thirty years here he speaks English better than German. Ozzie soon learned he could count on me for a good solid skritching, no matter how much fur flew from his thick coat.
It was a good group of friendly people. A difference I notice from other sanghas I have met is that this group seemed very calm, open, and low-key. Not lax in any sense of the word, simply unfussy. In a way, they seemed very Nebraskan.
My thanks go to Jeff who shook me out of my self for a moment. He graduated from high school early and has been taking classes at Southeast Community College, but he wishes he could have remained in high school longer. I reassured him that I, too, had skipped out on much of my senior year and he wasn't missing anything.
"But think of all the education I didn't get and I'm going to have to know this stuff anyway!"
I bit my tongue on my inner smart mouth just waiting to point out high school has nothing to do with education. Have I really become that cynical? I wondered instead. No, I already was that cynical, especially in high school, but maybe I aught not to have been. I hope he never looses that.
I think I shall go back next week.