When I most appreciate my practice is when I’m facing a personal difficulty, particularly when it concerns my health. It seems like ill-health brings up my worst fears and anxiety. Especially it brings up that inevitably fact that human beings die. My ego and thought patterns particularly don’t like that. My ordinary mind thinks of … Continue reading A “Health Sesshin”
Here is a terrific quote from Dogen Zenji on being in the present moment: “This is a splendid opportunity for buddha-dharma to enter into mud and water. If you do not realize the fruit at this moment, when will you realize it? If you do not cut off delusion at this moment, when will you … Continue reading A Splendid Opportunity
We have about three weeks left of the Clouds in Water Practice Period. This is an individualized at-home practice period of our commitments in spiritual life. It is a revision of what the traditional practice period was like. Traditionally, the practitioners would commit to a certain schedule that would be done communally, all together in … Continue reading Mid-Practice period – Refinement
Ken McLeod has always been one of my inspiring teachers. He has a great e-newsletter and website. Check him out at www.unfetteredmind.org. In his February newsletter he wrote about a practice tip: Find peace and clarity in the confusion, not by getting rid of it. He takes us through a process of taking a tradition … Continue reading Practicing with Confusion
Two weeks ago while on vacation in Colorado skiing, with many exhilarating moments, i had one moment of a crash with resulting consequences. I broke the head of my humerus which is the part of the upper arm bone that goes into the shoulder and secondarily, contusions on my knee and ankle. Thankfully, i didn’t … Continue reading Haikus for broken bones
I have been studying the Four Noble Truths lately in preparation for writing a piece about them. I found this very interesting interpretation to the three desires of the 2nd noble truth. The classic three desires in Buddhist teaching are: The desire for sensual pleasure The desire for being. The desire for non-being. Greg Kramer, “Insight … Continue reading Greg Kramer’s hungers
Usually we answer the koan, “What is your original face?” with an emptiness response. It is a koan used to help Zen practitioners drop the stories and structures they believe as “self” and enter into a connection with ultimate existence. Sometimes, it’s even supplemented by saying, “What is your original face before your parents were … Continue reading What is your original face?
Over the holidays, I recited the Lankavatara Sutra. This sutra is often said to expound the hallmark of the Zen school and very important in Early Zen in China. It seems to be a synchronistic occurrence that after studying the Gate Gate Mantra, I would stumble across this sutra, which really explores even more how … Continue reading Three modes of Reality
Just got a beautiful card in the mail. A quote from Joan Sutherland, a Zen Teacher in New Mexico. Here is what it said: “Let’s have tea. Let’s have galaxies, let’s have earthworms, let’s have sorrow and tenderness, and let us pour and receive the bottomless mercy that life has for us in our foolishness, … Continue reading Having Tea Together
What is the difference between gone beyond personal identity and gone beyond individualized consciousness? Personal identity has to do with our psychological responses to life based on our desire system of pleasant, unpleasant and neutral. It is also holding on to our karmic stories as if they were solid and permanent sense of our identities. … Continue reading Gone Beyond Individualized Consciousness #6
What does it mean to be awake? To truly be in the present moment where the truth happening place resides? Awareness is to be present in each moment and to accept each moment exactly as it is. In order to do this, your mind has to be tamed. You place your mind and mindfulness to … Continue reading Awakened Awareness gone beyond individualized consciousness #5
This blog is about the section in the Gate, Gate, mantra which says: going beyond constructions of time. In the past few years, I have practiced a lot on breaking open my “idea” of linear time. This practice has been one of the most powerful for me in terms of letting go of the obsession … Continue reading Beyond Constructions of Time #4
Continuing my series on gate, gate, paragate mantra. If you are new to this series, look at the two previous blogs for the overall translation into English of this mantra. Beyond personal identity means that we stop living our life and our motivations through the screen of our personal desire system. This is corresponding to … Continue reading Beyond Personal Identity #3
During rohatsu sesshin, I worked with the gate gate mantra. I got this explanation from Dan Brown who is a Tibetan teacher and i have really enjoyed contemplating it: Let’s work with “beyond thought”. this is part of the three bases under samadhi. Learning to concentrate is one of the essential tasks. Can we … Continue reading Beyond thought.#2
I received this translation of the “gate” mantra from Dan Brown who is a Tibetan Teacher: From the end of the Heart Sutra: Gate, gate – beyond thought Paragate – beyond personal identity Parasamgate- beyond constructions of Time Bodhi – awakened awareness gone beyond individual consciousness Svaha – ohh, ah, wow! I went to … Continue reading “Gate, gate, paragate, parasamgate” #1
I went to the Soto Zen Buddhist Association (SZBA) conference this past October and the keynote speaker was Paula Arai. She is the author of several books – Women Living Zen and her latest book, Bringing Zen Home – the Healing Heart of Japanese Buddhist Women’s Rituals. Her message of the importance of rituals in … Continue reading The healing heart of at-home rituals
There is a new Women in Buddhism book out now called, “Seeds of Virtue, Seeds of Change, a collection of Zen Teachings” edited by Jikyo Cheryl Wolfer. I think there are 27 Women Zen Teachers contributing. Some of them have big names like Jan Chozen Bays, Eijun Linda Ruth Cutts, Joan Halifax, Wendy Egyoku Nakao, … Continue reading The Authentic Tea Bowl Before Birth
My family has really enjoyed the movie “Chef.” Yesterday in my car, I was listening to one of Linda Ruth Cutts’s lectures from SFZC and she used examples from that movie to demonstrate what Zen work is like. Since it seems that Clouds is embarking on the voyage of moving to a new building, there … Continue reading How to turn a cheese sandwich on the grill.
I gave a talk at Clouds on sunday about Work practice, Sangha and practice period. Something I said has been lingering in my mind. I said, “Zen is not a philosophy, it’s something that you do.” After all the books, scholarly study and the hundreds of Zen books in the libraries, how can that be … Continue reading With which mind do you eat these dumplings?
I am in Ireland on vacation with my family. I have been taking what I call a well-deserved vacation. I have been busy with other aspects of my life since around the beginning of August. What has surprised me the most is that after about 6 weeks of “other things” besides my work as a … Continue reading Ireland, Sept 2014