I woke up this morning realizing that a colleague had been overbooked for two important appointments. I am not sure why that clicked at that moment for me, and I'm not sure exactly why that woke me up. Though I understand how it got that way - there wasn't an awareness of how time needs to be allocated. But probably he's making the right decision to not attend one of the appointments.
And so it is with myself and the "Buddhist Geeks Conference." I'll be in China that week. Perhaps my apprehension of the "emerging face of Buddhism" will have a international and intercultural than at the conference in California. Regardless, I'll be spending some long-overdue time with my family. And that's good. I am hoping, in addition to long overdue visits with in-laws to be able to visit another of the temples in China that are as much or more an emerging face of Buddhism as at the conference in California. As I'd mentioned previously much of the Chinese evolution of Chan Buddhism is unknown in the West. My Mandarin is practically nonexistent (thankfully - hey, this post is getting Buddhist geeky! - I can write Hànzì via my knowledge of Japanese & my iPhone in real time, which served me well negotiating with a cab driver in Xi'an). Others have had more success than I in discovering this practically unknown treasure . (Unknown that is to non-Chinese Buddhists in the US - where's an Angry Asian Buddhist when you need one?) But in the conversations I have had, I have been highly impressed with both the parallels with other Buddhist practices I've known and with the depth of practice in China.
Buddhist practice is emerging, to be sure. In the corners of the world where I live, which increasingly is a life lived in different times at different times in different places thousands of miles away from each other, it is where I find it. It's at home. It can be on the streets of Wenzhou. It can be in Kobe, not far from the place reputed to be Yamaguchi-gumi headquarters. It can be in Little Italy, not far from the streets of Ground Zero, or in Flushing, where religious freedom was born in the United States, or in Elmhurst, where Chan practice continues in the US via Sheng Yen's lineage. It can be in Europe. Mostly though, it is with those with whom I am highly privileged to share my life, wherever we find ourselves. It can be trying to teach my son to maintain equanimity in the face of those who want to convert him to their religion. It can be cleaning up someone else's mess. It can be sitting with the early March rain pouring down outside. It can be writing report after report after report. It can be endeavoring maintaining my own equanimity in the face of others' frustration which erupts as anger. (Ah, that can be an endeavor.) It can be on-line. It can be in a politician's town hall meeting, or at the county fair. It can be the moment when a fundamentalist Christian tries to "witness" to my wife's friends at the local Chinese New Year festival. It can be anywhere, really. But it requires showing up. It's time for me to show up, with great faith, great doubt, with a mindfulness that is neither too taut nor too loose.