Was relieved to be preceded in by a white 40ish couple, and greeted by white 40ish laymen, and could handle the bowing pretty much, and went to the upstairs room and bowed to the altar and sat in the back row where there were seats. The room was quite full, thereby mitigating a chronic source of anxiety-- What if no one else comes?. Truly, potential embarrassment for the people putting on these things has always been a major component in my reluctance to go to them, a mindset I've had since childhood and still can't shake. The relief at discovering that Noh plays don't require an audience but can be performed in an empty theatre was indescribable; it allowed me to attend Noh plays happily in half-empty theatres, where people kept wandering in and out at will.
Anyway. So there we all are in our upper room with its three gold Buddhas, and the priest enters and sits at the front, and. Well, and. There we all are, sitting in silence. Somehow I'd thought there'd be sutra chanting or something. Um, no. Because it's a Zen temple, and sevices begin with what, in the event, turned out to be half an hour's meditation.
Followed by a-- err 'profession of faith', I suppose-- repeating in unison the priest's affirmations, accompanied for me by that chronic 'first time in someone else's religion' thing, of the weather eye on when, in this case, to bow. (Buddhism is easier in this respect than Catholicism, or the Catholicism of my youth, with its stand for the Gospel, sit for the Epistles, kneel for the consecration and sit for the eucharist unless you're partaking nado nado.) Then there was brief chanting in, I must assume, Korean, this being a Korean temple; then a sermon and the priest clearing his throat every third word, which was what I'd wanted to do during meditation: allergies are bad this year. This was followed by the blessing of the babies, which I'd have stayed for with pleasure, but my limit for new experiences was at an end and I left.
Interesting, whatever. Maybe I should try the Tibetan Buddhist place next week.