Showing posts from January, 2006

Zen Tango

With palms together, Good Morning Sangha,

This morning I wrote a short note in my Yahoo 360 blog:

We are at the end of the first month of the new year. Most of us have, by now gotten used to the 06, then again, there is me. I am slow to notice the outward manifestation of change. I think that is because I am change itself, mostly dwelling in the moment, not looking at the horizon so much to see where I am. On the other hand, maybe 05 and 06 do not really exist. Maybe it is only this key pressing to making contact that exists, but only for a moment. It is an odd sort of dance this absolute and relative tango.

In Uji, one of Master Dogen's Shobogenzo essays, he uses a boat slipping along against the shore as a way of teaching the interrelation of Time and Being. And there is an old koan that addresses a similar issue: two monks pointing to a flagpole arguing (always two monks arguing). Which is moving, the flag or the wind?

We have talked about the two truths of Buddhism, the absolute…


With palms together,
Good Morning All,

To sit each morning and each evening is an excellent way to begin and close your day. Stillness allows us to gather ourselves, calm our minds and bodies, and form the necessary mind to enter the world and leave the world as buddhas. The act of lighting a candle, lighting incense, bowing, then sitting down on the cushion is a profound act of discipline and dedication. In this small theatre for no one to see, there is just you. Placing attention on our breath, allowing what is present to be present, and accepting the gifts of that moment regardless of their qualities, is of enormous benefit. But even if it wasn't of any benefit at all, we should still sit in stillness.




Sorry that I am a little late this morning with my message. I spent some good time late last evening building a table and chairs for the computer and when I woke this morning my mind seemed to stay on the pillow. Housework and lunch has remidied that and here …


With palms together, Good Morning All,

At the conclusion of the Wisdom Heart Sutra we chant "Gate, gate, gate, paragata, parasamgata, Bodhi Svaha!" Or, Gone, gone, gone to the other shore, attained the other shore having never left, Awaken. Hooray!" Gate, pronounced gah-tay, is the sino-japanaese word for paramita. We translate paramita as "perfection" or "excellence." It is understood to be a reference to attainment. So, this dharani, (short mantra) is saying that attainment is something we already possess, even though we strive to attain it. The "other shore," attainment, enlightenment, is with us right now, right here. It is us. It is the universe.

The combining of qualities and notions such as "shore," "perfection," "excellence," "crossing," never leaving, attaining, etc. is a linguistic way of picking up a hammer and cracking ourselves over the head. All one, yet different. This shore, this …

Oh say (what) can you see?

With palms together,
I read a story yesterday on the Associated Press wire, I think it was, about documents that suggest the US Army took wives and children hostage as a tactic to coerce insurgents to surrender. If this story is true, I am appalled. More than appalled. I am sickened. For so many decades the United States has held itself out as the "good guy" in world conflict. We make much ado about insurgents taking hostages, about our not negotiating with "terrorists." Yet, here we are.

Has our moral compass been so thoroughly disrupted? Are we so fundamentally broken? I am deeply worried about my nation. Our people seem to have lost faith. We have seemingly been sold a bill of goods by our government and the conservative, Christian Right who, evidence would suggest are mean-spirited bigots who will apparently condone pretty much any behavior in the name of their values.

Torture, hostage taking, holding "enemy combatants" forever without trial or cha…

Zero Tolerance

With palms together, Good Morning All,

We have all heard of "zero tolerance" policies. Zero tolerance is a masculine vote getter. It is strong, unbending, decisive. It allows no "wiggle room," no "fuzzy" thinking. It is for communities that "know" what they want, or more precisely, what they don't want. And like art, these communities, "know it when they see it." All of which, of course, abandons thought, dialogue, understanding, and compassion. Zero tolerance disallows forgiveness. It cannot permit gray. It fears examination.

I once worked with a sixth grade child in a Middle School. He was suspended for making a gun out of his hand, as in a pantomime, and "shooting" at another child. He violated the school's "zero tolerance" policy against weapons and violence. Another child suspended for teasingly kissing a girl in the cheek. They were in the second grade. A violation of sexual harassment policy.

From a polic…

Just Do It

Good Morning All,
This quote from one of my favorite books and Teachers, is very important to keep in mind as we go through our day. I thank Tricycle Magazine for providing this quote for us today.

I have been attempting to teach this point throughout my career as a priest and therapist. It all begins with a simple choice: be a buddha. Whoah! Too much? OK, well, then, be good. How's that? Still too much? Well then, be good for ten minutes. Still too much? OK then, try a different tack, don't do bad. Too much? Don't do as much bad. Do as little bad as you possibly can.

Here's the thing, when we bring 'doing good' or 'not doing bad' to our consciousness, we are waking up our buddha-nature and giving it permission to exist in our lives. When we think we must "be buddhas" then it is overwhelming and we soon lose hope and go back to our old ways. Recrimination is a poison that erodes our practice.

So, strive. Lean toward being a buddha. Turn your boat …

Scents of Life

With palms together,
Good Morning All,

This morning the sky is cloudy. The grass was wet as I walked the dogs. There was moisture in the air. All of these are fresh and common to my senses. Gray, the seeming dampening of color, is soundless, mute stillness hiding the sun's rise across the sky.

I enjoy such mornings. This morning I went outside with small plastic bags and the dog's brushes. I brushed each of them in their turn. Then picked up all the dog waste in the area. I noticed the scent of the water in the dirt and on the grasses and shrubs. Earth. I noticed the feel of the dog's hair as it came off in their brushes. Doing these little jobs keeps us in touch with life. It is one of the things I miss somewhat about life in the forest. Life surrounded us there. Racoons, bobcats, skunks, deer, elk, coyotes, cattle: each with their habits and scents. There, when the dogs went out, they were on a mission to secure the property boundaries. They had work to do.

I would split the…

Not my America

Good Morning Again,I Just read this article and could not help myself. I felt it was important to post this as widely as possible. This is not my America. It is not what I defended in Vietnam. It is not what I grew up to know about us. This story and the story about the outsourcing of torture by the US as reported by the EU is deeply troubling. We have voices. We should use them.
Be well,
The Other Big BrotherThe Pentagon has its own domestic spying program. Even its leaders say the outfit may have gone too far.
By Michael Isikoff Newsweek
Jan. 30, 2006 issue - The demonstration seemed harmless enough. Late on a June afternoon in 2004, a motley group of about 10 peace activists showed up outside the Houston headquarters of Halliburton, the giant military contractor once headed by Vice President Dick Cheney. They were there to protest the corporation's supposed "war profiteering." The demonstrators wore papier-mache masks and handed out free peanut-butter-and-jelly sandwiches …

The Flavor of Your Kindness

With palms together, Good Morning Sangha,

Each of brings energy into the world. Some bring angry energy, some happy energy, some sad energy, and each of these eneries are expressed through our affect and behavior. It is reflected in the choices we make. People see us and see reflected in us the energy we are communicating. In this way, the energy travels.

It is important for us to understand that which energy is being expressed is a result of the thoughts we have and that these thoughts are based on perception, though in most cases a perception distorted by our memory. Our memory forms a virtual encyclopedia of senses, experiences, concepts; it is our universe and is kept active by a little monkey that seems to delight in stirring the couldron.

The thing is, we have the ability to see directly without the couldron of history. In so doing we see without distortion. We see without our history. In such cases we see exactly and precisely what is there with nothing added; no discrimination,…

Kyosaku: Ford, Greed, Hatred, and Ignorance in America

With palms together,
Good Morning Sangha,

GM is laying off a ton of workers. Ford is laying off a ton of workers. China will be importing a ton of their new luxury cars priced in the high teens. Wal-Mart is opening new stores in China. Our religious leaders get richer and richer and more narrow in their view. Our politicians cannot conduct a dialogue without an agenda or blowing a gasket for the benefit of national television. We have a president that uses 'stay the course' as a mantra for conservative laissez-faire, unthinking, misdirected, we are floating in a cesspool of our own making.

Here's the thing. Not every citizen "deserves" two or three cars, a four bedroom house, five televisions, three computers, riding lawn mowers, a few Blackberries, several telephones, and a pear tree. Not every citizen "deserves" a college education. Not every citizen "deserves" several credit cards, several loans, and a few home equity lines of credit. Don'…

Meeting your self

With palms together,
Good Morning All,

Yesterday I had the honor of visiting a Zen Center in El Paso Texas and there met a young Zen Teacher from Maria Kannon Zen Center in Dallas. She teaches from a different Zen tradition than I am from and so it was interesting to learn from her. Her tradition integrates Rinzai and Soto schools. It is called Sanbo Kyodan, and was transmitted by Yamada Koun-roshi, the same teacher as taught one of my personal heros Robert Aitken-roshi.

We sat in stillness for several periods beginning at 8:00 AM. Then broke for a short work meditation (samu) period. As we sat again, Rev. Valerie began a wonderful Tiesho regarding one of the koans springing off the poems contained in the Platform Sutra. This is Case 23, "Neither Good Nor Evil" from the Gateless Barrier. This koan invites us to begin to see the power of Right Effort as we discover what Ven. Ananda discovered over 2600 years ago: just stop struggling.

There are so many "gates" to the…

[Zen] Unity in spite of differences.

Good afternoon All,

This message was posted to the Zen Forum at Yahoogroups by my friend Al. I wanted to share it with you because I believe he hits the nail right on the head. When did it become cool to be so mean, rigid, and unwilling to listen to a diffeent point of view?

My wife and I chanced upon a few minutes of Jerry Springer the other day. My goodness. And the "discussion" by the t.v. news talking heads isn't any better.

I hope we can dig our way our of this craziness.

Be well.

Al <> wrote:
To: <>
From: "Al" <>
Date: Sat, 21 Jan 2006 08:32:16 -0500
Subject: [Zen] Unity in spite of differences.

This PETA & Cat Zen discussion has really illustrated something to me. It
all started with news about a guy who tried to kill a rat and it burned down
his house.

It has continued with some interesting information, but also a lot of folks
demonstrating deep feelings or hardened …

Moving Practice

Good Morning Everyone,
There is Zen of Stillness and there is Zen of Movement. In the Zendo we practice both: zazen and kinhin. There is a reason for this. We talk so much about the ideas of Zen. We talk about the paramitas, the precepts, sitting zazen, etc. In spite of all the words, Zen is not about them. The talk is about walking the walk. In this case, the walk is literal.

Today is the last day of my modified training schedule which includes a longish run/walk. Also today I will work my legs with weights. Beginning Monday morning my workouts will change, upping the volume to several sets of heavy weight Monday through Friday each day targeting a major muscle group: chest/back, arms/shoulders, legs, chest/back, arms/shoulders. I will do a short treadmill run following each of those workouts and on Tuesdays and Thursdays go outside for a longer run. Saturday will be rest and Sunday will be my Long Slow Distance run day.

Daily hard and vigorous exercise is a good Zen practice. We enter…


With palms together,
When we open our eyes in the morning and get out of bed, we are not necessarily awake. We might be thinking of what we have to get done this morning or what we must do this afternoon or this evening. We might be feeling a bit tired or grumpy or our muscles might need a stretch. We might smell the coffee in the air or the car exhaust as we leave our homes to go to work. We might see a flower and say to ourselves, that's an awfully pretty flower!

But this is only awake to our thoughts, feelings, and sensations. It is not being awake.

Being awake is being before the thoughts, the feelings, the sensations. Being awake is seeing directly with a clear mind reflecting only what is there, and in so doing becomes us. Thought is just thought. Feeling is just feeling. Smell is just smell. Flower is just flower.

If we open our eyes like this, our Buddha-nature opens with them. Our Buddha-nature and the thought is one. Our Buddha-nature and our feeling is one. Our Buddha…

Ten Ox-Herding Pictures: Stage Ten


He closes the thatched gate to his hermitage
so that even the thousand sages do not know of him.
He buries the light of his own knowing
and goes against the tracks left by former sages.
Carrying a gourd, he enters the marketplace; holding his staff, he
returns home,
Bestowing Buddhahood on barkeeps and fishmongers.

Shoeless and bare-chested he enters the marketplace;
He is daubed with earth and ashes, and a smile fills his face.
Making no use of the secrets of gods and wizards,
He causes withered trees to bloom.
So Daiho:

When we are buddhas there is no need for the signs and symbols, the shoes and the robes, of the Buddha. There is no need for sticks and whisks, special words, or bells and incense. Transformative process is like this.

Our presence is enough. The way we open a door. The way we smile. The way we invite. The way we say no. Each speaks as silence is to thunder.

When we are buddhas there is no Zen apart from …

The Other Side of One

With palms together,
Good Morning Sangha,

This morning I awake to see I killed an old man last night. Strapped his ass down and filled him full of poison. I also stood outside the death chamber as a silent witness. And slept in my bed, comfortable and thoughtless as to what I was doing.

When we say we are one, what do we mean? When we say we are all buddha-nature waiting to crack out of that vast emptiness we could call a cosmic egg, what does this mean?

If we are all one, then we are all killing, all witnessing, all crying, all starving, all sleeping, all fucking, shitting, eating, and whatever else we human beings, mice, worms, cats and dogs do. So, then, what is our responsibility?

When you get up this morning, that question is your practice.

Be well,

Ten Ox-Herding Pictures: Stage Nine.


It is originally pure and clean without a speck of dust clinging.
He observes the flourishing and dying of form
while remaining in the silence of no-action.
This is not the same as illusion; what need is there for striving or
The water is blue and the mountains green;
he sits and watches phenomena take form and decay.

Having come back to the origin and returned to the source,
you see that you have expended efforts in vain.
What could be superior to becoming blind and deaf
in this very moment?
Inside the hermitage,
you do not see what is in front of the hermitage.
The water flows of itself and the flowers are naturally red.

So Daiho:

The bodhisattvas whisper in our ear. We see poverty. We see war. We see cruelty and illness, sickness and death. We see our neighbors stealing, lying, cheating, and swindling. We see the world manipulating as if it is OK because we are, afterall, just putting a positive "spin" on things.We see this …

Ten Ox-Herding Pictures: Stage Eight


Ordinary feelings have fallen away, thoughts of holiness are all empty.
We should not linger where there is Buddha; we should pass quickly by
where there is no Buddha.
If we do not stick to either, it will be difficult for a thousand
eyes to perceive us.
For myriad birds to carry flowers is a shame all around.

Whip, tether, person and ox - all are empty.
The blue sky spreads out far and wide, it cannot be communicated.
On a red-hot oven, how can there be any place for snow?
Having come this far, you understand the intention of the patriarchs.

So Daiho:

We chant the Wisdom Heart Sutra, all bowing with the sound of the bell. We adjust the flowing robes and sit facing the wall. We rise and walk, feeling each footfall, each stiff muscle relax. We sit again. We sip our tea so graciously served. We listen to the Dharma, incomparably profound and minutely subtle. When we do this awake, there is no room for even a single thought, not a single feeli…


With palms together,
If I am originally water and I gradually become wave, what do I do?
If I am then sky and I suddenly become bird, how do I see sky?

Ten Ox-Herding Pictures: Stage Seven


In the dharma there is no duality; the Ox is the foundation.
It may be compared to the rabbit and the snare;
it is expressed in the difference between fish and weir.
Like gold coming from ore, like the moon emerging from behind the
The Single Way of cold light has been shining
ever since the time of Ion beyond the kalpas.

You have mounted the ox
and already reached your home in the mountains.
The ox is gone and the person has nothing more to do.
Though the morning sun has already risen three bamboo lengths,
he dreams on.
The whip and the halter, no longer of use, are hung up in the stall.

So Daiho:

Opening my eyes this morning, I thought of you. My dogs, Tripper and Pepper waited patiently, the coffee was made, bows made, the incense was lit. Nothing here is apart from one another. You, I, dogs, coffee, incense, and all of the actions are the same without any distinction. Distinction is an illusion of mind.

These things were always the…


Sitting seiza our hands held in gentle repose, the heart and body settles as we open to the universe. Seiza is a traditional knelling position. Often used by women and used in Tea Ceremony, it possesses great elegance on the one hand, and positions the body in a receptive form, allowing a gentle face to emerge, on the other.
To sit seiza, simply kneel. Pleace your hands in the Cosmic mudra, keep your shoulders straight and open, tuck your chin slightly.

You may use a zafu on its side for support or a specially constructed seiza bench.

I find sitting this way is an excellent tool in assisting me to get in deep touch with the feminine within. It is difficult to feel aggressive feelings in this pose. Much like gassho assists us in opening ourselves to compassion and releases anger, seiza opens us to receptivity and relaxes defenses.

As always, when you sit, sit with dignity.

Ten Ox-Herding Pictures: Stage Six


The battle is already over, gain and loss are also empty.
He sings a woodcutter's rustic song and whistles a child's tune.
Straddled on the Ox's back, he gazes at the clouds.
Though you call him he will not return;
though you try to catch and hold him, he will not stay.

You mount the ox and want to make your way slowly home.
A barbarian plays the flute in the red glow of sunset.
Each measure, each tune is filled with ineffable tones.
Among true intimates, what need is there for words?
So Daiho:

Mind comes and goes like the clouds in the sky, as do all things, when we attain oneness with them all, in whatever form, we are on the Ox. We are pure joy. We have attained the realm of emptiness and see ouirselves as having arrived. All things are meaningless. All things are fleeting. Since we cannot kepep anything, there is no need to value anything. Then 'among true intimates, what need is there for words?' The sea talks to itself in de…

In the middle of normal

With palms together,
In the middle of normal, today:
Zazen, breakfast, banking,
grocery shopping, laundry,
house cleaning,
writing and emailing.
The laundry is folded,
hung, and otherwise
put away.
The groceries
are put away.
And our Shabbos dinner
is being prepared.
I have incense lit
in the Zendo
with the door open
so that the fragrance
of sandlewood
moves through the rooms.
Countless smiles:
Life is stillness in motion.

Be well

Ten Ox-Herding Pictures: Stage Five


Once thoughts rise up even slightly, they are followed by other
Through enlightenment, they become true; in delusion, they become
It is not due to our surroundings that they are there;
they are only produced by our mind.
We must pull the Ox firmly by his tether and not allow any doubts to

Whipping does not depart from the body at any moment.
Lest he follow his own whim, entering the dust and dirt.
If you devotedly tame him, he will be pure and gentle.
Without bridle and chains, he will follow you of his own accord.

So Daiho:

I learn unevenly: trying to learn to walk again, I often stumble. Learning to be a therapist, I sometimes fail to listen. Learning to be a human being once again and not a hunter of human beings, I sometimesa see myself kill.

Images are the worst: coffee spoons, cigarettes, motorcycles, medals, beads, long hair, beard, no beard, shaved head; badges of this and that. Like mud they stick to my boots and cause me…


With palms together,
Good Morning Everyone,

There is a cold front moving through the desert. Yet the sun warms the air quickly. Just so, sitting facing the wall.

Zazen is a burning practice. It melts away the self. And as it does, all things become cool springs, welcomed, often devoured as they arise.

We simply eat.

To sit Zazen on a regular basis is to stregnthen our effort. It is a practice of the Excellences and the Eightfold Noble Path all rolled into one cucumber sitting upright on a bed of lettuce.

We simply eat.

Soon it is time to rise. Just as when we fill our bellies at the table, we should rise slowly. We should continue holding our mind in everpresent stillness, a sort of stillness in motion, that takes us through our day, concluding once again on the great cushion.

Please enjoy the warmth and the practice it yields.


With palms together,

Good Morning Everyone,Smiling is very good practice. Even when we are sad, we should make an effort to smile. Our world has enough pain and suffering, frowns and crying faces. Our practice is to add joy to the universe and we do this with a simple smile. Each day practice smiling. Each day behave as if you are a smiling buddha. In reality, you are, regardless of how you feel that day. When you take on the smile, the universe smiles with you, even if it is in a lot of pain.The dog barks: smile. The postman brings a bill and you have little money: smile. Someone treats you with disrespect: smile. Such practice displaces bad feeling. New, good feeling then has an opportunity to grow. Pie in the sky, you say? Hmmm. I like pie.Be well,

Ten Ox-Herding Pictures: Stage Four

Ten ox-herding pictures
Verses Composed by KAKUAN Zenji

Stage 4
Seizing the ox

For a long time he has been living in obscurity in the countryside;
today you have met him.
Because he enjoys his former situation so much, it is difficult to
drive him out.
He cannot stop loving the fragrant grasses;
his stubborn will is still strong and a wild spirit remains.
If you wish to make him pure and obedient, you must apply the whip.

You have exhausted all your faculties to take hold of him.
Because his spirit is strong and his strength abundant,
it is difficult to rid him of his habits.
Sometimes he goes to the top of the high plain.
Other times he resides in clouds and smoke.

So Daiho:

Orgasm is like that, so is riding as motorcycle at 90 mph without the headlights at midnight.

We sit in silence and in a moment everything is nothing.
Our eyes flicker.
Pulses are just pulses.

Impulse and impatience are the great teachers subverting themselves.
In the end, we must grab them by their short hairs and sp…

Morning Donut

With palms together,
Good Evening Sangha,

We are returned from Mexico. At the border we were asked to pull around the back of the Inspection Station and exit the truck. Then this rather massive machine was driven past our truck. Apparently, it was a large X-ray machine that scanned the truck for illegals or whatever.

Another couple was standing next to us. There was a baby in a carrier sitting on the pavement next to them. We took a peek to see a most beautiful little baby girl with lovely dark eyes and black hair.

Once the Very Large Machine passed us, we were let go. About a few miles up the road we were stopped once again and inspected. A nuisance, but I suppose it is necessary to keep us safe from all those dangerous migrant laborers.

Entering the dentist's office we were confronted by the heavy antiseptic scent of cleanser. The office was just openning and the cleaning crew was just wrapping up. The receptionist who doubles as a dental technician wanted a donut. Fortunatel…

Ten ox-herding pictures : stage three


If you attain by way of sounds,
you will encounter the source of all seeing.
The six sense organs are each no different from this;
in all actions, the head is revealed.
It is like the salty taste of the water,
the binder in the paint.
Raise your eyebrows,
and this is nothing other than THAT itself.

The bush warbler sings on the branch.
The sun is warm, the breeze gentle,
and the willows on the riverbank are green.
There is no place you can escape from him.
That majestic head and horns could never be painted in a picture.

So Daiho:

In all of the women, books and chess, there was still something missing yet demanding to be found. I often found myself sitting on one of the keys waiting for the sun to come up. Fascinated with morning light. Angry. Hurt. Wanting o blame G-d, men, and country.

Such wounds as the wounds of war are forever open.

The sea was rolling in and out. The jobs came and went. So did the wives. Is this all there is?

No. A shadow.

I me…

Ten Ox-Herding Pictures, One and Two

Anu, a friend from Africa, recently asked us to discuss the Ten Ox-Herding Pictures on our Zen Living Yahoo Group. I am posting each stage and my response here in my blog.

Anu writes: It appears that all that is known about the author of the verses to the ten ox-herding pictures, master kakuan shion, is that he was a disciple of daizui genjo [1065-1135] and the twelfth in the line of master rinzai. His dates of birth and death as well as other information are unclear.

Stage 1 :Seeking the oxIncessantly you brush aside thick grasses in pursuit;The waters are wide, the mountains far,and the path leads on without end.Sapped of strength, exhausted in spirits,knowing no longer where to search,You only hear the sound of the evening cicadaschirping in the maple trees.

So Daiho:
May 29th, 1966. The Central Highlands of Vietnam, near the Camnbodian border. It is night. Very dark. The jungle is quite wet. I have just been in a fire fight with a whole lot of North Vietnamese solders. They h…


With palms together,
Good Morning Everyone!

Over the weekend we had many wonderful things happen. Saturday I spent the day in meditation at the Zen Center. Sunday I did meditation at Zen Center on Sunday morning. And in the afternoon we were given a welcome to Las Cruces party at a friend's home.

We are settling into our community here. It is very different from our life in the mountains. I am finding myself struggling a little to get into a routine. I love routine. Routine grounds me. I take great comfort in it.

Here in the city, there are so many competing interests: bookstores, movies, grocery stores, the Zen Center, the Temple Beth El, friends, theatre. I want to run. I want to workout. I want to get more involved in the local peace movement. I want to be inservice to others.

And there it is: I.

For a moment, relaxing would be a good thing. Taking a nice deep breath. Noticing the beauty and wonder of this very moment, of this very edge. There is nothing to do but to take the…

A day in the life of a priest

With palms together,

Good Evening Sangha,

We began this new week today with zazen services at the Zen Center. I arrived a little early, carried in my little Dirt Devil hand vac and cleaned the cushions. I also washed the tans with wood cleaner and generally enjoyed being in the Zendo alone.

The alter ready, and the hour came, I invited the bell to ring.

Zazen is a wonderful process. Hardly just sitting, it is a dynamic interaction with the universe. But then, so is cleaning the wood and sweeping the cushions.

Tea service, a few bows, and we were done. The work of saving all sentient beings on its way. Stepping out into the New Mexico sun, my black koromo heated immediately. I walked slowly to my truck, not really wanting to leave.

This afternoon we went to a friend's home. It was a "mutiparty" celebrating his 72nd birthday, his dog's second birthday, and our welcome to Las Cruces. Many of our friends were there. My friend, Ken, seemed happy. It was good to see him…

Cleaning the Zendo

With palms together,
Good Morning Sangha,

Yesterday's Zazenkai was a good practice. We sat three periods in the morning, walked a half mile to have lunch, returned, sat again two periods, cleanerd the Zen Center, sat again two periods and went home.

There was nothing special about this day. The opportunity to mindfully refill the lamps, dust the butsudon, sweep the floors, was ordinary. Sitting on the cushion was ordinary. Bowing was ordinary. Lighting incense was ordinary., Chanting the Heart Sutra was ordinary. Reciting the Four Great Vows was ordinary.

We just did these things, as they came time to be done. When we go through a day like this we are buddhas.

A reminder: Sunday Zazen begins at 10:00 AM this morning.

Be well


With palms together,
Good Morning Sangha,

Last night was troubling. For the last three years we have lived without television and now we have one sitting in our living room. I found myself watching it.

So many words. Such silliness. Mindless laughter over stupid behavior. Violence framed as the pinnacle of drama. The pictures of people happy over the illness of a person are disturbing. Fundamentalism in whatever arena is disturbing. Pat Robertson is disturbing. The people who seek counsel from him are disturbing.

Yesterday on our drive to Mexico, we listened variously to CNN, Fox, and the BBC on our XM Satellite Radio. Interesting the dramatic difference between the American stations and the BBC. We are fortunate, I think, to have access to the BBC. And to PBS and to NPR.

Still, the silence of the Refuge is so appealing. Few words. No phosphorescent dots on a screen reflecting or distilling a violent, obsessed world, always attempting to sell through misery and our perverse need to see…

A second cup of coffee

With palms together,
Good Morning Sangha,

This morning was delicious. The sun is up and the sky is delightfully blue. Our dogs, Tripper and Pepper have enjoyed their morning walk. The coffee is made.

Last night I sat in my zendo late in the night. The stillness was just wonderful. There are times on the cushion that time itself disappears. I look over and the sticks of incense on the alter are gone. Where did they go?

I have not yet read the morning news. Not yet read of another death in Iraq or another killing, rape or robbery in my country or the world. I have not read about the stock market or the state of healthcare. I have not read about this natural disaster or that made-made disaster. Just now, I sip my coffee and see you in my mind's eye.

I see my sangha, I see my neighborhood. I see my country. I see my world. I see my universe. I see my ancesters and my descendents. Last night as I sat on that cushion, I breathed in violence and breathed out peace. My small contribution to th…

Does a Dog Have Buddha Nature?

With palms together,
This morning I sat in my zendo and stared at the wall. My dog Tripper was having none of it. He brought in his toy, a piece of fluff that looks just like him, and laid next to me on the zabuton. He stared at me. Then grumbled. Then whined. Then barked.

He decided to wrestle with my sutra book in its cloth case. He decided to invite the bell to ring with his tail. He climbed on my lap and licked my cosmic mudra.

Barking, growling, wrestling, bell ringing, licking: just wind against the chimes.

A deep bow

Morning Coffee

With palms together, Good Morning Sangha, I pour the coffee. I cannot pour the coffee. I just pour the coffee. Depending on your understanding, each statement makes sense or doesn't make sense. We should not mistake our words for true nature. Words are just thoughts as sound. We live with words.  They assist us to communicate.  Yet they often distort or destroy our communication. Coffee is not coffee.  Pouring is not pouring.  Yet coffee is coffee and pouring is pouring. Our practice assists us in not mistaking coffee for coffee. Our practice helps us see coffee as coffee. Clear Mind Zen. Soto Zen. Rinzai Zen. Korean Zen. Vietnamese Zen. Chinese Zen.  Words.  All the same or different? If you say they are the same you are mistaken.  If you say they are different, you are mistaken. Just pour the coffee. A deep bow,      

May All Beings Be Free From Suffering

So Daiho-roshi
On the web at and! Photos
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With palms together,

Good Morning Everyone,

This morning after sorting out my pharmacy for the week (a seemingly endless job anymore), I have been busy writing some changes to our websites, giving instructions to create a new website in honor of Matsuoka-roshi, our dharma grandfather, and thinking about Clear Mind Zen.

But thinking about is not good.

Thinking about takes us away from clear mind and brings us to thoughts, feelings, and other clouds over the water.

Instead, we should just be clear mind.

Vowing to see things as they are, I rise and engage the world. This means I vow to engage myself as I encounter myself in the world through my interactions with others. Each time we encounter another we are facing ourselves. We see something of ourself in the face in front of us: love, need dislike, anger, fear, whatever. Each is an opportunity to practice and make our world a better place.

This afternoon my Teacher, Hogaku-McGuire-roshi and his wife, Shin Getsu-roshi will visit us for dinner…

Re: [ZenLiving] Authenticity

With palms together,

This is an interesting editorial on Antiji's website regarding this very issue:

Buddhism for the dead
Ten years after Aum (Part 7) Japanese Buddhism has turned into a service industry that offers funerals and memorial rites for money. The Buddhist organizations, including the Soto Zen school, function like big corporations with the aim to gain profits, while the temples themselves have turned into the home of the resident priest's family, who act as the local representative of the "funeral corporation". The Rinzai and Obaku school remarks during their symposium that even the parishoners who support the temple - that used to be the center of the activities of the local community until one or two hundred years ago - do not feel welcome there anymore. They say that the reason for this lies in the fact that the priests started to marry after the Meiji restauration (in 1868), and that the wife performs a central function in the temple. That means that th…


With palms together, Zen is neither Japanese or American, Chinese or German, Zen is just Zen. We should leave all such distinctions aside. We are about practice.  We practice to discover our true nature. We practice to be buddhas.  When we come to Zen, however, a Teacher and his or her Zen Center practices with a set of clothes, a language, and a set of customs, if you will.  It is these clothes , languages, and the assumptions that go with them that create "American Zen" or Japanese Zen" or some other "Zen."  When I say we are severing our ties with Soto Shu, I mean that we are setting out on our own, walking in our own authority, and not being tied emotionally, financially, or in any other way, to Soto. My Teacher's Teacher (my dharma grandfather) Matsuoka-roshi was a Soto Zen Bishop.  He was sent to America to establish Zen Centers and bring the dharma here to the US.  He was assigned here by Sojiji, a training center in Japan.   He was a poor monk, not cle…