Here follows the account of my days in Puregg, an inspiring place located in the mountains of Salzburg, Austria.
The Journey. After a long train ride from Graz to Saalfelden, I barely managed to get on the right bus towards Puregg. Unfortunately I got off too late: Dienten instead of Filzensattel. This would make things a lot more complicated…
The Ascension. I was told at the tourist information that an “average wanderer” would take about 20 minutes to Puregg. Thus with my unnecessarily heavy luggage I started ascending the mountain, passed a cowherd, took some rest, refilled my water bottle, crossed endless woods, almost passed out, and after an eternity (of about 90 minutes) I eventually beheld my destination: Puregg. What a relief!
The Arrival. Pepi, the woman who has been running the whole place for the last 10+ years, greeted me warmly and showed me around. Then, with her sharp mind and gentle voice, she gave me a crystal clear and irresistible instruction: “After you have unpacked and made yourself comfortable in the guest room, you can come over to the house and help me cutting sage leaves for some tea.” Indeed, soon afterwards we were sitting on a bench outside, cutting sage leaves while talking about life and Buddhism.
Zazen. The days in Puregg have a certain rhythm (5:00 to 21:30), including several meditation periods of 45 minutes each. This was my first “non-homemade” meditation experience, and my first practical encounter with Zazen (“just sitting” meditation of Zen Buddhism), Kinhin (walking meditation), the Zendo (meditation hall) and all related customs. Now I was sitting: almost motionless, with eyes half opened, trying to still my ever-busy mind. In vain? Not entirely! However the difficulty of such a task, never before learned in all my life, is evident.
Thus ended my first day in Puregg. :-)