This groundlessness is the only ground there is

📸by  @flintsparks

Ten years ago this month I left the monastery.

Ten years of building a life. Of marriage. We own a house. I'm 6 weeks out from earning my PhD.

And yet . . .

I still believe monastic life is the best life.

For someone who is committed to the dharma. For the one who would like to wrap themselves in the wisdom mind of the Buddha and, as Dogen says, "drop off body and mind ."

Also just for wholeness. Life in the secular world feels fragmented and shallow to me: a lot of running around and getting stuff. For what?

And yet . . .

I couldn't stay in the monastery.

Isn't it strange?

Something wasn't happening for me there. I was stuck, stalled, no longer growing.

And of course when you get a bunch of people together you get the sum total of those people's limitations: the power problems, the personalities--humanity in all its uncomfortable refractions.

Now that I'm finishing my PhD, for the first time in almost a decade, I can do what I want. What will I do now? What will Devon and I do now, together?

Well, we'll go on retreat (separately) for the fall. For me, it will be three months alone in a cabin.

Then we'll join up for four months of semi-retreat above the temple in Ashland.

Then there's this book tour . . . 120 days of driving around the country in a van, meeting people, having conversations . . .

The funny thing is there are no final answers. Which seems such a banal thing to say.

Still, the conceptual mind reaches out looking for something to hold onto. But there's nothing to hold onto.

More and more I feel I need to stay with this. Just this. Dogen again: "Take the backward step and turn your light inward."

This groundlessness is the only ground there is.

Craig Hase