What am I aiming at (at antaiji)?
there are existing two antaijis: the concrete antaiji in the mountains east of hamazaka, and the antaiji in my mind and in my heart - and i can't clearly separate between the "real" antaiji and the one that lives inside of me.
as i have explained already in a former yearbook, it was not through a friend or a book that i discovered "antaiji" - but by googling on my laptop.
walking up the hill to antaiji with my backpack in the spring of 2005 was already like breathing fresh air - leaving wife and daughters behind for the first time since years, leaving work and "career" behind, leaving any concrete plan behind for the time to come…
all i knew was: i wanted to get back to "practice".
i had experienced "practice" before - for the first time in eiheiji in 1978, than in a rinzai-monastery on the east-coast of japan, later in some zen-centers in the west - similar to my search for "mind-expanding" experiences in india, in the deserts of north-africa, in the jungle of amazonia, and also in my adventures with lsd, mescaline and the like.
sorry, mr. police: i can't say that i regret any of those roller coasters, though it was terrible to see how disastrous it ended for some of my good friends, and i wouldn't advise it to anybody as a "way".
anyway - as all of that searching inside and outside obviously hadn't brought me really anywhere, meanwhile 55 years old - i guess what made me walking up the hill to antaiji was may be desperation, but definitely something without clear intention or goal.
getting up at 3:45 in the morning, enduring the always too long first hour of zazen, picking stones in the ricefield, helping to repair some of antaiji's desolate machinery, sharing a simple life equally with men and women coming from here or there for this or that reason - the antaiji-everyday-life itself was enough to make me feel fully alive and glad to enjoy moment by moment... sneaking out the backdoor during sesshin to smoke a cheap cigarette behind a bush during kinhin-time (no other cigarette-smoking can be as joyful like those puffs), lying to docho-san when he asked what i did there behind the bush, "i had to pee…", afterwards feeling ashamed that i had not the guts to say: "i was smoking the best cuban cigar anybody could imagine!"
i guess antaiji will not turn me into a "good zen-monk", or turn all of my foolishnesses into "wisdom", but these first weeks of working and sharing the sangha's zazen-silence with sometimes seemingly unbearable pain in my knees & back & ass (& mind) has done something to me that is definitely beyond words to explain and keeps my inner antaiji wanting to go back to the real antaiji whenever i can.
it's not that i would want to leave my companion ayako and our daughters sayo and lina behind, it's not that i would want to give up my work as an artist and moviemaker - all of this lives together side by side in my inner antaiji.
so, what am i aiming at at antaiji?
let me answer with a quote from joshu that goes like this:
"something good is better than something bad, but it's not as good as nothing."
how to aim at nothing by doing something?
let me end with the words of my good old friend robert lax, the poet, who died 85 years old in 2000:
"i ought to be able to say it better than that.
by not trying?
i'll try not to try. i'll try to say it the way it is, the way i see it. but i won't try too hard. trying too hard gets me off the track. i know where i am now. i know i can get some part of it said. i can, if i don't try too hard."