Well, this is it. Today I go into retreat. In a week from today, I'll be shaving my head and being ordaining as a Soto Zen Buddhist priest. People keep asking me why. Why am I doing this? What does it mean? I try to answer. I talk about how profoundly Zen practice has helped me and changed me. How I want to share this practice with others. I talk about the importance of transmission of knowledge and forms, and about how I want to help by being a link in this lineage. I talk about how I've lost my parents and have no children or close blood relatives, and about how my Japanese grandparents were Zen Buddhists, so in a way I've inherited their traditions and am carrying them forward. I talk about the importance of sangha to my psychological health, and the importance of meditation to my writing practice. I talk about my profound gratitude to my teacher, Norman Fischer, and how much he has inspired and helped me. I talk about all these things, and all of these are good reasons, but the final answer to the question of why is simply, "I don't know." I don't know. I may never know. The truth is, I just have a feeling. The feeling has grown stronger over the past ten years of Zen practice. This feels like what I should do, and I'm okay with not knowing exactly why.
So, if you happen to think of it, on June 25th, please take a moment and send me some nice, steadying thoughts. I'm sure I'll be nervous about shaving off my hair. I know I'm both scared and excited about taking vows that will last for all lifetimes to come (especially given that don't really "believe" in reincarnation) but anyway, here goes. I'll let you know how it turns out.