Showing posts from December, 2005

Clear Mind Zen

With palms together,
Good Evening All,

Today I met with the priests that comprise most of the Board of Daibutsuji. We discussed many things, schedules, sangha needs, etc. But most importantly, we agreed to establish our own school of Zen Buddhism in America, severing our links to Sotoshu in Japan.

Our school will be called, "Clear Mind" and our focus will be on the development of Zen as an everyday practice. Our hope is to redefine religion from its western sense of worship of a diety to a sacralization of daily life.

We will practice from a Soto tradition, but not be limited to it.

Zen in America must become a uniquely American experience and practice. To do so means we must leave Japan to the Japanese and walk our own path.

I look forward to this experience and would appreciate your thoughts.

Be well,

May All Beings Be Free From Suffering

So Daiho-roshi
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City Life

With palms together,

Good Morning All,

It is a sunny morning here in the desert southwest. Morning zazen is done. A breakfast of noodle kugel and sour cream is done. The dogs have been out. Shortly we will walk over to the gym and lift weights, run, and walk on the treadmill. Then it will be time to return some things, eat lunch, pick-up some groceries and come home.

Life in the city is so much different from life at the Refuge.

Last night we had guests for dinner. The night before we had guests for dinner. We rarely had guests at the Refuge: too difficult to access.

At the Refuge we planned our trips to the store as a trip to the store was a trip to town and was a trip of six hours or more. Here in the city there are many jewels to attract the eye of desire: books, household things, people. At the Refuge, the jewels were just there, like a breath: the trees, the sun, the animals, the silence.

It is rather like living in Big Mind and Little Mind. We must se them as essentially the same. Nav…


With palms together,

Good Morning All,

This morning as I opened my eyes the desert sun was rather high. I vowed to see with clear eyes and reduce violence, then got out of bed to make the coffee, walk the dogs --- who were very patient --- and begin my day.

There is something very beautiful about routine. Routines, everyday rituals, are the hangers and organizers of our everyday. In one sense they make everyday events special. In another sense we recognize their everydayness.

When we are young we want to press against the everyday, breaking it, no smashing it, on the ground of change. Our goal is to experience our limits and push them. Not bad. We expand our minds and bodies. We grow stretching toward the light of day.

As we age, we shift our gears little by little, wanting to have a break. We begin to view change as a threat sometimes or at the least an inconvenience. We begin to delight in the common. We take comfort in the sameness of daily routine.

As we age more, we look back. Sometime…

Pause and Be Still

With palms together,

Good Evening Everyone,

In the middle of everything it is important to pause and be still. This morning I woke aware that today would be a full, but delightful day. We cleaned, started the afternoon meal, and put the finishing touches on things. I left for the Zen Center in my robes. It was a beautiful morning. Rev. Dai Shin had tea water ready, as well as the alter. She and I talked a bit and then sat in silence in the zendo.

As I sat, I was aware of the stillness enfolding me. The wall, so white, opened and there I was, just there. Two priests doing what priests do all over the globe. Afterwards, we bowed to each other and left the zendo.

Returning home, I vacuumed as Judy finished the dinner preparations. The rest of the day was spent with friends visiting from El Paso. We had a wonderful afternoon meal. Great conversation, lots of laughter. and planning for other adventures together. The day concluded with Hanukkah candles and a gift to each other.

There was a sort …

Just Be

With palms together,

Good Morning Everyone,

The recent comments regarding reducing violence have been floating around my mind over the last several days. This is neither good nor bad. When we have something on our minds, in one sense, means that we are paying attention to something. Yet, in another sense means we are being distracted by thought and, therefore, not seeing clearly.

Thinking about reducing violence and being peace will not make it happen, just as thinking about enlightenment will not bring it to your mind.

Practice realization, as Master Dogen points out, is just practice. One thing already containing the other, but (in a very special sense) in motion. There is no thinking about peace. There is just peace. There is no thinking about reducing or eliminating violence, there is just being the elimination of violence, period.

We accomplish this through being these things.

Just as in any other aspect of our practice, right understanding provides a clear framework for all that follo…

The Clear World

With palms together,

Good Morning All,

In the clear world of nothing added, I taste sugar. I taste salt. I taste hot. I taste cold. I do not taste the words. The words are something added. So, when these things come to my tongue and are just there. I am in the clear world of nothing added. I am experience without the "I am." If I say, " I like sweet!" Or "how awful, soooo sour!" I am in the world of something added, and no longer in the experience.

It is our practice to stay as much as possible in one world and not the other. Our world is the world of the direct and present. The other is the world of expectation, valuation, discrimination. One is non-dualistic where everything is one. the other has an "I" separating ourselves from our experience.

At the same time it is also very important to recongnize and understand that both worlds are one and there is no two. The world of nothing added is pure, direct, "thus." The world of something add…

Sit on your butt...Not!

With palms together,

Good Evening All,

Our Zen is not a sit on your butt and do nothing Zen. When we sit on our butt we are doing something; we are being buddha-nature. When we stand. we are doing something, we are standing buddhas. When we are walking, we are walking buddhas. When working we are working buddhas. So our Zen is a Zen in motion. Our Zen is a pure form of being in this world, not separate from it. Our Zen is Buddha himself.

No wobbling allowed. We exist in the world. We see something. We do something.
To do without thinking requires a clear mind that sees clearly what is there. It requires a complete union with buddha-nature, There is this, there is that. They are the same. An I-Thou of the infinite.

Compassion comes naturally to those who live in the world. When we live outside of the world, compassion is much more challenging. Living in the world, we see, feel, taste, smell, the suffering of others. We suffer with them as we are with them. Living outside the world, in our t…

In the Center

Sitting quietly
in the center,
the universe all around:
no center, no universe.

Hero Zen

With palms together,

Good Morning Everyone,

Yesterday was a challenging day for us here in Cloudcroft. Dharma Mountain Zendo sits next to a log cabin tucked up on a mountain. Friends of McGuire-roshi's and ours, who live in El Paso, own this delightful little cabin in the woods.

The day before yesterday, Ken and Fern Roshi were leaving the zendo to go to Alamogordo. As they passed the log cabin they noticed a car with a trailer was just leaving the cabin with a bed and other items. They called our friends in El Paso and discovered no one was supposed to be there. Ken Roshi chased the car and blocked it at a cattle guard. But the driver, a woman in her 40s, slipped around him in her car and Fern Roshi jumped out of thei car and ran across the meadow to block the driver. The driver refused to stop and ran over her as she stood in front of the oncoming vehicle.

Our friends from El Paso came up, they called us yesterday afternoon to help.

We immediately drove over to the Zendo. The Sherrif…


With palms together,

A week or so ago, a Vietnam vet was executed. I think he was the 1000Th person killed by the state since the Supreme Court lifted the ban on capitol punishment. Tonight another vet will be killed, though he is a different sort of vet. He is a veteran of the streets. A killer, gangster, no doubt. Perhaps reformed, I don't know.

War does funny things to people. Hell, life does funny things to people. We pride ourselves in our ability to understand our world, learn from our mistakes, grow as a culture, and yet, here we are, living out vengeance.

These executions should cause us to at least take a breath and pause for a moment.

What are we doing?

Retaliation, it seems to me is a mark of a primitive mind. It is criminal behavior. It is what we expect of gangs and barbarians.

An eye for an eye, people say. Really? When was the last time the state blinded a person or knocked out his tooth. Jews made it nearly impossible to execute someone when convicted. But this "Jud…
With palms together,

Good Afternoon,

We are preparing to leave the refuge for the winter months. We have leased an apartment in Las Cruces and will be moving there next weekend. This comes as a sort of acknowledgement, I suppose, that we are not interested in dealing with the harshness of the mountain winter this year. There is a freedom that comes with this decision.

I would like to talk with you a little about this freedom.

Our thinking, as I have suggested to you before, often gets in our way. We all too often over-think things, stumbling this way and that, in our effort to get things right. And sometimes the thinking gives rise to great fear, greed, or hatred: the poisons that paralyse us or push us to do and say that which we would not otherwise do.

In the Zen tradition, we try to think in terms of "right" or "correct" thinking, action, speech, and so on.

Correct thinking is that which allows us to do what the situation call for. To have correct thinking, we mus…
With palms together,

This morning is the 8th day of the twelfth lunar cycle of the year: rohatsu. On this morning the Buddha looked up at the morning star and had a profound realization. He clearly saw that all things in all times are one, of one substance, interdependent and infinite, eternal, and always changing. But then he stood up and took a long walk.

He didn't go anywhere. There is no where to go. He was simply present, fully present with whoever he was with and in each moment, there was no difference between he and they. He saw clearly.

We know from his example and from the multitude of buddhas, before and after, that this kind of present moment living is possible even today. With practice and right understanding each of us are buddhas. Some of us are buddhas-in-waiting, but all of us are already buddhas.

As we take our next step into the new year please avoid making big plans. Have a place and live within it as fully as you possibly can: seeing clearly, tasting clearly, smell…