Practice of a Tenzo at Yokoji

Henrike Jishin ReefArrival on the last day of January 2010.
Slippery road, cold and snowy times,
Bed on the floor in the hogan,
Wood stove warmth.

Cold kitchen, warm reunion with Simon.
Endless cutting of veggies,
endless thinking about food;
Feeding hungry monks from all over the world.

Learning to bake wholesome bread,
Needing a larger recipe repertoire,
Nutrition, protein, grains, vegan, gluten free,
Spices, textures, colors, tastes.
What a creative joy!

Training period.
Being officially the Tenzo.
Kitchen, Buddha hall, hogan,
kitchen, Buddha hall, hogan.

Walking up that hill again,
Tired heavy legs,
No energy.

 Wanting to serve the world,
with love and compassion,
and relieve suffering.
So much work, always tired, no time,
Resistance, doubts,
Feeling lonely.
What am I doing here?

What does it look like to serve?
What is love and compassion?
How do I relieve suffering?
Does the practice here serve my goal?

Another training period coming up,
Feels like a big huge mountain to climb,
I CAN NOT do it!

I don’t want to let Roshi and Yugen down.
Decide to just do it,
Not knowing how.

A voice coming from heaven: ‘RELAX!’
‘Relax in everything that you do!’
Instead of worrying about,
Having too little time to rest,
And instead of resting,
Worrying about not having enough time.

The first week.
A miracle.
I CAN do it!
I can relax in everything I do.
Even when I’m not relaxed.

Surrendering to what is in front of me.
Feeling complete, at peace,
Big Love, Big Joy!
Being one with my life.

The second week.
Burn-out around the corner.
No matter how relaxed I am,
not taken enough breaks to rest.

Serving with love and compassion,
not only the world,
But also me.
Only when I serve my self as well,
I can serve the world.

The third week.
New try.
‘Reorganize your activities’,
‘Take more breaks’.
‘Bring more balance in taking care of the world and yourself’.

Ongoing refining practice.
Yokoji’s intensive schedule,
no escape possible,
exactly what I need.
It does serve my goal.

Serving the world and myself with love and compassion.
Right now this is feeding people and hummingbirds.
What an inspiration, what a joy!

Yokoji Zen Mountain Center, September 2010