For the past many years, Clouds in Water starts the New Years off with an Intention and Vow Workshop. It was my answer to the failure, year after year, of my New Year’s Resolutions. Does Zen allow future goals? i.e. if you live in the present moment, can you have a future goal? Concurrently, there … Continue reading Intention and Vow, New Years
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
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?
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
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
After I wrote the long post about the 4 Noble Truths, I also felt that I could answer my son using the idea of Right Intention or Right aspiration or Right vow; all different translations of the Second Limb of the 8-fold Path. Semantically speaking, I’ve trained myself not to use the word “goal”. Goals … Continue reading Face in the Direction of your North Star
From Reb Anderson’s Chapter on “Do not kill” in “Being Upright”: Life does not change into death. death does not change into life. life is just life; death is just death Life and death are not before and after In reality, death vividly and peacefully coexists with the fullest expression of life the ancient buddhas … Continue reading Talk for Carl Myosen’s memorial
There are many analogies to the phrase: “Samsara (the wandering-in-circles world, the world of life and death) is broken” from my previous blog. One that we are currently studying in the Lotus Sutra class at Clouds in Water Zen Center is the story of the Burning House from chapter 2 of that sutra. These stories … Continue reading The Burning House
Where is the inter-being between effort and non-effort? Too much effort and we are tight and constrained. Too little effort and nothing happens. Pema Chodron has a wonderful phrase: “Not too tight, and not too loose.” Practice is walking on the edge; adjusting our effort to meet the circumstances with a flexible mind. Practice Effort … Continue reading Walking on the edge of effort and effortlessness
In Clouds in Water’s new design for practice period, we are emphasizing the spiritual structure of the day. What we do at the beginning of the day, during the day and at the end of the day. We are learning how to practice in the Now. Sometimes in a more gross level, the Now is … Continue reading The Spiritual Structure of each day
My youngest son is going to College for the first time. We leave to take him there tomorrow. A day of packing today. Next week the house will be quiet. No Children. This is a life’s passage. It is a loss, a grieving, a separation. How do I practice with this? I am so grateful … Continue reading Loss is enlightenment – Dogen
You cannot describe it or draw it You cannot praise it enough or perceive it. No place can be found in which To put the Original Face; It will not disappear even When the universe is destroyed. — Mumon As I have been studying the Bendowa and particularly, this past month, the Jijuyu Zanmai, … Continue reading The Original Face
“Self Receive Use Oneness” is one translation of the characters that make Jijuyu Zanmai. It is sometimes translated as “Self-fulfillment Samadhi” or “self-fulfillment and enjoyment Samadhi” or “Samadhi of receiving and using the self”. This is the middle section of the Bendowa by Dogen in Shobogenzo. This section is an incredibly poetic expansive description of … Continue reading Self Receive Use Oneness
Zen practitioners often talk about “Shin” and what is the proper translation for “shin.” The most common translation is heart-mind, though in the earlier days of translation it was only translated as mind. The problem being that in the east the discriminative mind resides in the heart and in the west, it resides in the … Continue reading The one mind is always present
Dogen writes in Jijuyu Zanmai that “when one displays the Buddha mudra or Buddha seal with one’s whole body and mind, one is expressing unfabricated and profound prajna.” The Buddha seal is like a stamp or a seal of authenticity. Our effort to take the posture of a Buddha during zazen is allowing the Buddha … Continue reading Displaying the Buddha seal with one’s whole body and mind.
From Katagiri Roshi: “Zazen is not a means to an end, it does not produce enlightenment. The zazen we do is shikan taza – just sitting. This type of zazen is to just become present in the process of zazen itself or wholehearted sitting. Enlightenment is not something you acquire after you have done zazen. … Continue reading Burning the flame of your life
When I first entered Zen practice, Zen seemed like an enormous project with a very grand result. I was thrilled by the idea that I could leave my suffering life behind, purify myself, and enter some Vermillion Tower in the high distant mountains. I tried very hard. I surrendered to the form and tried to … Continue reading The Manifestation of Simplicity
“The day to day activities in the household of the Buddha-ancestors, is our house, our life and our activity. This doing and not doing, is imbued thoroughly with the total dynamic functioning of moment-to-moment reality. Nothing is left out and there can be great peace and ease in this understanding.” — Dogen Zenji. A friend … Continue reading The household of the Buddha-ancestors is our house.
“Who sweeps the ground and also sees the moon? Holding up the moon, her sweeping is truly not in vain.” —Dogen Zenji from Eihei Koroku Our chores and repetitive actions that are the nuts and bolts of human activity are not simply mundane and therefore inconsequential. These activity; brushing our teeth, washing the dishes, changing … Continue reading Holding up the Moon
Shikantaza (just sitting) and Jijuyu Zanmai (self-fulfillment Samadhi) In order to understand jijuyu zanmai, (self-receiving oneness Samadhi) one has to understand the underlying principle of shikantaza. as presented by Dogen Zenji. Jijuyu Zanmai may be translated ji-as self or in oneself, ju-to receive or accept, and Yu-to use, work or function in concentrated union. … Continue reading Shikantaza and Jijuyu Zanmai