Once or twice in his Dharma talks throughout the pandemic Roshi has said that on Zoom there’s no edge to our practice. Many mornings I have crawled out of bed five minutes before a sitting and sat in my pyjamas. Many evenings I have declined an interview with a teacher because I told myself I had no questions to ask (which may have been true). Although I have spoken a few times after a talk it’s easier for me to stay muted and hidden in plain sight whenever Roshi or other teachers invite the sangha to share our thoughts and feelings on a given topic. On Zoom I have been anything but close to my edge.
There’s a difference between sitting alone and sitting with a camera pointed at myself knowing that someone on the other side can see and hear me. Knowing that there are eyes on me even though I can disable my camera at any time compels me to sit upright and, at the very least, look like I’m meditating. In our Hope St zendo or on retreat I don’t dare fidget or, on occasion, break wind because I know someone will scold me for it. But at home, on mute, what’s the harm?
If there is such a thing as quality in sitting, I feel the quality of mine has diminished or at least it’s not as strong as it can be since the zendo closed. I’m responsible for my own sitting but there’s something irreplaceable about sitting in person with others. Zoom comes close but in reality I’m still in my bedroom with my iPad.
Now that most of the country has been vaccinated and we can soon reunite and sit together in person I feel Zoom has lost its charm although I’m sure it will continue to come in handy down the road.