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Buddhadharma : Winter 2010
19 winter 2 01 0 buddhadharma: the practitioner’s quarterly Roger Hillyard, a student of Victoria’s, has served as her jiko (assistant), since the end of April. “I remember the first time I saw her because it made an indelible impression on me,” recalls Roger. “I’ve been studying yoga for a long time and I went to Davies Symphony Hall for a tribute to B.K.S. Iyengar. This woman came out on the stage dressed in Buddhist robes and simply said to him, ‘My tradition salutes your tradition,’ and did a full prostration. Later, when I began to get involved in Zen practice here at City Center, she came down the hall one evening with a plate of brownies and offered me one, smil- ing. That sealed the deal.” He described one morning when he was taking Victoria to a doctor’s appointment. “I was driving past Tartine on Guerrero and Vicki said, ‘Let’s stop there!’ and I thought she wanted to get herself a pastry. We found a spot right in front and she went in and came out with a box of pastries to give to her doc- tor. I’ve been to hundreds of doctor’s appoint- ments in my life, but it never occurred to me to bring along a gift.” From the sanGha-e newsletter oF the san Francisco Zen center, auGust 2010 a Plastic red rinG In an original submission to First Thoughts, MuMun Algernon D’Ammassa of the Kwan Um School of Zen shares his delight about his son’s curiosity and affection for everyday things. My son Gabriel puts the entire universe in his mouth. He is eighteen months old and vora- cious with curiosity. He treats every object with absorbed attention, but also with some- thing that would best be called tenderness. It begins with a fascination with all the sensory information he receives from them. He com- pares the relative weights of different objects, explores their shapes and textures, evaluating soft versus hard, and investigates the sounds things can make (the latter, he does with par- ticular enthusiasm). Different objects become his favorites for periods of time: a plastic toy screw, a stone, one of mama’s slippers. He cherishes these kimscafuro artifacts, pulling them out and examining them all over again in loving detail, tracing them with his fingers, smelling them. Zen Master Seung Sahn’s view of the Diamond Sutra was that when appearance is viewed as nonappearance, the view itself— the simple perception—is our true substance. The objects are not special—Gabriel himself will move on to some other object as soon as this evening. An adult mistake is to think the object or icon is special, but that’s not it. “It” has to do with the transmission of this tenderness for life. It just happens that a plastic ring may serve as a reminder. So might a wedding band or a gift from a loved one, but the object is incidental. This is also true of people. A person is no more special than a red plastic ring. Our forms are here for a while, moving and chang- ing before passing on like clouds. Still, a per- son can remind us, for at least one moment, of our original connection, of the wholeness of life and all its beauty. Today, while I was at work, I felt some- thing in my back pocket and discovered a red plastic ring that is one of Gabriel’s favored objects lately. In an instant, I was overcome with the same tenderness Gabriel shows to things just as they are.