Posted by: Zen | November 22, 2008

Winds of knowledge…unfolds petals of floating Lotus

That would be a good name for a Kung Fu move…

or better still in this case…

A Sailing Zen/Kung Fu move. Like hmm… letting out the sails on a beam reach. “stand this way, twist here and lift , maintain your center…” this is called Winds of knowledge unfolds petals of floating lotus. Remember it well young ones, make it part of you. Think of it do not, be it one must…


Kung fu and sailing have things in common, as does, Kyudo and Zen practice, ( kung fu, kyudo, sailing are Zen practice, but that is another story) etc, as I have said on other occasions everything is connected.  That is the way of the Shaolin Chan Mind. One of those connections being that sailing is like most other arts, an onion in nature. Many layers peel to reach it’s core or one’s understanding of it.  Or the Lotus that slowly opens it’s petals, after growing in mud. It is understood in Zen World that lessons come all the time, in many forms , hmmm…like that moment of enlightenment we get on things, that something completely different sets off. Everyone, everything is your Sifu ( teacher ). Every time we sail it is, or should be if our eyes are open, a lesson, an expansion of our ideas, experience.

I had a couple of big ones, “Ah so” moments lately, and while thinking of another one, I got this one…let’s call it, awareness break through. Then, something completely different proved that my flash of insight was correct and valid.

Weds. night I canceled my Kung Fu class, there was an instructor meeting over at OCSC.  With the Autumn slow down in the sailing season I had not been over there much as of late. I wanted to make a point of gong to the meeting to stay in touch, connected and on top of any news, changes, etc.  I did not eat lunch that day figuring, there will be food at the meeting, usually good food…nice.


I arrived at the Berkeley boatyard about 6:40pm,  10min after the social time was to start and the food chow down. I was pleased to see that the Islander-29 in the yard was still there. I’d made a quick mental note to come by with my camera for a few shots of her on the hard for the I-29 project group on Goggle. This has nothing to do with anything here, just a bit of digressing. So anyway, this took only a moment of thought, and soon images of food crept into my mind as I pulled up to the parking lot.

I was surprised to see so many cars in the lot and hear/see and sense a lot more people than at the last  OCSC  instructor meeting. It was more like my first one, pretty packed. This unfortunately meant also that the food had already been set upon… in this case, wiped out. Well all but a small couple of slices of meat filled pizza. Why do meat eaters ALWAYS eat the veggie pizza first?  WHAT Is Up with THAT!?!?! Disappointed I was, as I sat down thinking, bummer. Oh well, a Zen training moment/night I figured and settled down to wait for the meeting to start.

While listening to the meeting I got a flash of awareness about the group. On my first attendance to the meeting I thought, “oh I see OCSC is about good customer service and good sailing, cool. Many of their good points on sailing, the act of sailing were brought up during the…er… brisk verbal exchanges on ideas of sailing, safety and company protocol. Not only did I pick up some good thoughts on some sailing or safety item but I got to really see the passion about how the instructors felt about what they were doing. As well as their compassion, empathy for the students.

A friend took a course there at the school on my recommendation, she was delighted with the experience. She was even more delighted that she had a female instructor for at least part of the training. To her as a female it really helped getting the female view of the sailing/boats and their operation. Yin understands yin, Yang understand yang.

What does this have to do with anything? A couple of things really. I understood that evening why OCSC is among the foremost, if not the foremost sailing school in the area. It is not just because of it’s excellent boat maintenance and campus. After spending time in Japan I have come to see what good customer service is about and how poor it is here overall Also the Japanese pride in what they did, or how they presented their work. I saw that concern also for good customer service at OCSC when I first came there and was impressed with that. But that is also not only what makes them a good place to learn or is it the challenging conditions of being in “the Slot” on the Bay. Nor is it just that they select only quality sailors/ instructors, for the team… The process which reminded me of the old Shaolin Kung Fu movies. Many come to the temple, only a few are chosen…fewer stand the training… All those add up to make it a good school, but another of the layers I saw at the meeting was the concern for the student. Not only do they receive good instruction, good service, but they, the school wants them to have a great experience there at the school, not just the good sailing lessons and boats… the sailing experience there…What makes that all work, come together, is the people that work there. They have the Passion and the Compassion to do things right and they have the Class to pull it off.

In a sense it is a very Zen operation, without the label. They do not have to try to be passionate, compassionate, aware of the non-duality of things, sailing , people, boats, water self, environment, blah blah, they just are. The operation is in keeping with the Buddhist teaching of interdependence.

When we try to pick out anything by itself, we find it hitched to everything else in the Universe.

I need to be in the graphic/marketing dept of such a firm with a “Zen like mind”. Sailing and Graphic/Web design for a balanced company in the sailing field. Ideal job! It be a great job to sail into… LoL …Will need to do some imaging on that…

Sorry digression...

where was I, … er.. .ah…yeah…

It is good to see that “zenness” spirit at all times, but even more pleasant in the stormy seas that we are sailing currently. Sailors, I have noticed, that I have met, for the most part are always, helpful and passionate about sharing that sailing experience to those who wish join the water path of Zen training. The people there at the school live up to that image. I left the meeting, beside hungry, (remember no dinner ) feeling proud and honored to be even a young petal on the blossom of the Lotus that is the training center there. I took away a few good tips to remember on connecting with students, and boat handing on the water, also some other misc items. It was a worthwhile trip. Learned about boats, safety, business and people, and an unexpected Zen lesson it was a evening of substance …even with no dinner :-)

A day later I receive an email apology, from the CEO’s Assistant!! Expressing regret that there was nothing for me to eat at the meeting.  I was shocked! One, that it was cared about, and more so that it was acknowledged…and apologized for…now thats Class! That is what got me to post this whole story, which is only indirectly about my actual sailing. However it does have to do with my education on the “Art” , “La Vida” of sailing and it’s many petals.  I have not been too impressed with too many people’s behavior these days, more so in the pre-voting days. I was impressed with this. There are good people at OCSC and in the sailing world in general. Not that I have met most of them, but reading the stories of others who have traveled to the corners of the world,… good folks are out there…even in these days of being lost in self. Refreshing it is, Yoda would say!

With people like that working there, no way they can do anything but succeed. It is like sailing, with a sound boat and a good crew one can go anywhere. We need more people like that not just in the sailing world, but in life….in office ( can we hope for that).  There IS hope in the world, one can still dream, first Obama’s election’s (a shocker) now,… someone caring, that a not often seen vegetarian did not have something to eat, at packed business meeting ( a bigger shocker) ! Impressive! Now that’s something to blog about. Sugoi !

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  1. Sir, do you ever plan to blog again?

  2. LOL, yeah dude. I have a mini one up coming. However there is life beyond sailing blogs. For example my landblog.

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