Sunday, January 20, 2008


I was in an all-day retreat yesterday, 8 a.m. until 8 p.m. I played the usual games to convince myself to go: “Oh, I’ll just stay a couple of hours...maybe I’ll leave after lunch...or during the afternoon.” Of course, the story kept changing as the day progressed and I wound up not leaving at all, which is what often happens. Funny how I have to fool myself that way. For some reason, I can’t just tell myself I’m staying all day and leave it at that.

It was a good retreat, and much-needed. I have been sitting daily since the beginning of the year, but nothing beats an extended period of quiet. Also, our Zen center is about to move to a new space, so this was our last retreat in our beloved old location. (Real estate costs in New York are forcing us to downsize to a smaller space, fortunately in the same building.)

A challenging element of yesterday’s retreat: One guy there was an absolute knockout. I’d never met him before. You have no idea how hard it is to meditate in a room where desire is embodied so perfectly by someone sitting nearby! It put an interesting twist on things. Of course that desire, that infatuation, is just another product of the old "monkey mind," ceaselessly looking for something to keep it busy. (I did talk to him during a break, though!)

Today I have a very light agenda: A trip to the gym at some point, a walk to photograph some graffiti I saw this week, finish my Robert Kaplan book.

(Photo: The Apple Store, Fifth Avenue, Jan. 2008)


  1. Excuse me, but desire is not a product of monkey mind, it is the stuff that makes the world go around, our chance to embody the passion that keeps the sky so in love with the earth, the moon so in love with the night sky, and all of us so in love with each other.

    How cool to have some sexy guy sitting nearby all day. No wonder you didn't leave after lunch!! YES!!

  2. Well, the desire itself is an honest enough response, but clinging to it, being infatuated, is definitely monkey mind.

  3. When I have been on retreats I have had to trick myself into staying.

  4. that guy must have smelled good too.