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Showing posts from December, 2006

Peace

With palms together,
Good Morning All,


This morning way before sunrise, I woke to go to a local church as I was invited to participate in an International Prayer for Peace. The air was chilly, 28 degrees. The church had a fairy large number of people there for a 5:00 AM service. I dropped my cushion on the floor at the back, bowed, and took my seat. Only the minister saw me enter. I enjoyed my small anonymity and listened to the various prayers as they were recited one after another: Muslim, Hindu, Jewish, Jain, Christian, Nichiren Buddhist, even a Native American prayer. I was asked to close the service with a few remarks. The prayers were beautiful. Most beseech God for peace and asked for a world of compassion and understanding. So much desire for peace in that room. I could feel the people's need for serenity, it was almost palpable. In between each prayer a bell was invited to ring. I sat with complete attention. When it came time for me to speak, I felt myself get up off my …

A Change

Good Morning All,

Recently, I have decided to not blog daily on this site. I will be posting different sorts of posts, more like commentaries, I suppose, on Zen practice and Buddhist Sutras. I will do these as I can.

I have been writing this blog daily for a year now and I really need to break away from the habit of going to the computer first thing in the morning to write.

I still blog at my Yahoo 360 site, however, and those notes are more of a personal, day-to-day nature.

If interested, go to Yahoo 360 and type in my Yahoo ID, buddhist99

Be well.

On Being Alone

With palms together,
Good Morning All, Another Friday. Hmmm. For those of you about to leave for work and those already at work, please enjoy your day today. Remember each moment is what it is; it is we who add the good or bad of it. Last night before bed, I was studying a short sutra on being alone. The Buddha was teaching in this scripture that literally being alone was not necessary, nor was it a particularly good practice as seeking this way places our attention on the "I" of the equation. There are some who prefer to be alone. I was one of them. I rationalized this by romanticizing the thing, you know, mental pictures of a seeker away from the crowd, treading the road less traveled, and so on. Yet, this was a form of delusion. It is a trap just as wickedly poisonous as that of seeking a crowd for approval. The truth is, I was uncomfortable with people, insecure in myself I relied far too heavily on their opinions of me for my opinion of myself. The Buddha taught that…

The Life of Buddha

With palms together,
Good Morning All,
Last night at Zen Center we held a "Movie Night." A Sangha member, Joshua, brought in a DVD projector. We sat on our zafus against one in the Zendo and projected the film on the other. I had brought in bags of party mix and some soft drinks. We had a very nice evening together. The film was "the Life of the Buddha." It was a French made film, circa 2003, a documentary in English, and was beautifully photographed. It was essentially a anthropological and sociological study of the Buddha's life. The filmmakers interviewed countless Indians on location in India, and followed the archaeological investigations into the Buddha's life. Religious teachers from various traditions told the stories of the Buddha's birth, training, seeking, enlightenment, teaching, and death. These provided the necessary thread through the film. In the end, however, after all is said and done, we should know that even such a one as the Buddha,was…

Faith, Belief, and Practice

With palms together,
Good Morning All,

Practice of the Buddha's Way requires our diligence and constant attention. In fact, these are the Buddha Way. In the morning, we open our eyes and consider the universe with compassion. We embrace our lives and embrace each other. This is our life.

One does not believe in Buddha. One does not believe in Dharma. One does not believe in Sangha. There is no dogma, no doctrine, no belief at all. There is just the practice of noticing, the practice of loving, and the practice of embracing.

In all of this, the core practice is faith: not in a God or a set of beliefs, but in ourselves and the universe. Such faith enables us to trust silence. It enables us to trust others. It is these that are the most challenging aspects of our practice.

Be well.

All in a Day

With palms together,
Good Evening All,

This morning was different...I did not feel like posting. My apologies. After morning practice, My Little Honey and I went for a walk with our dogs. Then she went a-knitting and I went back to the Zendo. It was good to be there. Regular zazen at the Zen Center is a wonderful, priestly task. I enjoy puttering there, taking care of little things, like watering the plants or replacing the toilet paper and candles.

Susana from Juarez, Mexico joined me at the afternoon practice period. It was good to see her. She is such a good practitioner. We sat upright, then talked over tea in the kitchen until My Little Honey stopped by to pick me up. I rode my bike to Zen Center and it was pretty nasty outside on my ride in, but the weather had taken a turn for the worse since. We left the bike at Zen Center and headed home.

Tonight I sat at home in my home Zendo. I lit a stick of incense, bowed, and sat down. The time was short, but the sitting was just pe…

Mountains and Rivers in Morning

With palms together,
Good Morning All,

The silence of the early morning is broken by a siren in the distance. Like a bell, it brings me back to myself as I sit here to write to you.

Morning is not delicate. Open space, it receives sound and light. When through the day, such sound and light is everywhere, morning is still morning. Morning, an equivalent of zazen, does not require silence.

Just as a mountain sits as the rain pounds it, the people trample on it, or fire burns it, so morning opens to the day. Mountain does not require separateness. Morning and mountain are the same as zazen.

The river flows through the valley and as it flows it does not care whether a tree falls in it. It embraces the tree. Eventually the tree and the river become one. The river does not require a path. Morning, mountain and river are the same as zazen.

Sometimes it is our view of a thing that blinds us to seeing it.

Be well.

Time

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With palms together, Good Morning All, My goodness here it is Sunday once more.  Have you noticed how time is so relative to age? When we are young and imagine all the benefits of being older, we so look forward to the passing of time that it slows.  And as aging people, we are not so looking forward to the end of days and time just becomes a torrent! Life is like that. The lesson is to not seek, but to be present. The relativity of time is teaching us this lesson and when we are ready to receive the teaching it is very good news. Being present is timeless. Being present is being as it is.  Our discriminating mind, doing what it does, takes us away from this and thrusts us into the relativity of judgment, recrimination, and, expectation.  This mind must be mastered, but to master it is not to control it, it is to passively witness it. Going back to an image I frequently use:  the motor is racing, but you don't have to put the car in gear. Let it race.  And as it races, you are seren…

Making Light

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With palms together, Good Morning All, Last night was so delightful.  We went to the synagogue for Friday evening services which was a children's service and Hanukkah candle lighting.  We had a dozen or so menorahs on a table and before we ate the children recited the blessings over and over as they themselves lit the first night's candles.  Such traditions are as  important as they are beautiful. This season is a time of light.  Menorahs, Christmas trees,  and in the Buddhist tradition, the light of the Buddha's Enlightenment itself.   To bring light into the world is an act of creation.  It is not hope, faith, or charity.  It is the thing itself.  It is dark, we make light. We light a candle, we turn a switch, we dress a tree, but as human beings we make light by cracking out of our shells and unfolding ourselves to the universe. From a Zen Buddhist perspective, light and dark are literally of our own creation.  We do good or we do bad, and these things are judged more from…

Hannukah and XM Satellite Radio

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Good Morning All, For those who celebrate Hanukkah, and for those interested in Jewish culture and tradition, XMSR Channel 108 begins this evening 24 hours per day broadcast of ail things Jewish through the Hanukkah season. Be well. 

Rev. Harvey So Daiho Hilbert, Ph.D. 
May All Beings Be Free From Suffering
On the web at: http://www.zencenteroflascruces.org
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Daily Message

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With palms together, Good Morning All, One way that Zen differentiates itself from other religions, even from Buddhism itself, is on the issue of belief. Zen Buddhists are nothing if not iconoclastic. (An iconoclast is a breaker of icons).  There is a famous saying, "If you meet the Buddha on the road, kill him!"  While this should not be taken literally, it should be held closely. Buddhas, images of Buddhas, stories of Buddhas, miracles of Buddhas are all fictions. We create these images and stories, and then use them as yardsticks against which we measure ourselves.  This is wrong-headed. When we break the images, burn the stories, and tear up the scriptures, we are on our own and must confront ourselves.  This is the heart of Buddhist practice and it is not for everyone. We sit facing a wall.  Our bodies upright, our eyes open, our attention on everything present.  No belief.  No doctrine. No dogma. Just this. So, this morning at the Zendo, I lit a stick of incense, bowed an…

Our Hurt

With palms together,
Good Morning All, So many of you have written to ask how we can forgive and move on! It makes me think that perhaps we are taking ourselves way too seriously. People are people, we each seem to live in our own world made of our own thought and feelings, yet we somehow expect others to not only understand us, but perceive within our worldview. This is like asking two hurt puppies to nurture each other. Will addressing the person who has hurt us make it better? Sometimes. It is doubtful. Only if we possess extraordinary listening skills would this be advised, in my opinion. Getting something "off our chest" is too often for our benefit, yet we go around rationalizing that it is for the benefit of the other. In fact, it actually amounts to 'dumping' our load on someone else's shoulders. If someone has hurt us, perhaps we should look deeply into the hurt. Often hurtness is more about our expectation of another's behavior than anything else…

Forgiveness

With palms together,
Good Morning All,

A friend asked me about forgiveness. I thought it would be nice to say a few things about it. Yet, this thing we call forgiveness is very tricky as it points to the fact that we, ourselves, are holding on to some pain inflicted on us by another. This causes us to suffer. Sometimes the person we wish to forgive hasn't a clue the he has hurt us in the first place. So, at first blush, we might think that forgiveness is about absolving someone else and letting them off the hook, in truth it is we who are hooked by our anger and hurt. This is one of those curious little scenarios in life that can actually demonstrate to us just how deeply interconnected (and often clueless) we are. It is that very interconnectedness that makes forgiveness truly possible. And our cluelessness that makes it possible for us to suffer for so long. When we think of how another person hurt us, then look inside and see how we are being just as hurtful against ourselves,…

Foundation

With palms together,
Good Morning All,

Those here seeking wisdom and knowledge are welcome, however, it is important to orient yourself to how this process is understood in Zen Buddhism. Wisdom and knowledge are often thought to be something that exist outside of us, that can be imparted by one person to another. That is a dualistic notion and is incorrect.

Wisdom and knowledge are innate: we all possess them. We practice to see what is already there within us and before us. We practice to eliminate the proscenium that separates the actor from the universe.

So, if you are seeking something from me or others, stop. Seek it from yourself. How? Create a time each day to practice zazen. Practicing zazen regularly is a gate to understanding and realization. Let nothing get in the way of this regular practice. It becomes your spiritual foundation, literally.

Then post your experience. Posting is a process of self examination and awareness. I ask replies be explorations rather than fingers…

Careful!

for Joshua

With palms together,
Good Morning All,

In Zen we practice to see our True Nature. Be careful!

Our True Nature
is the Universe
and the Universe
has nothing
to stand upon.

So, what happens when we confront our Self? See our impermanence, our absolute emptiness? Maybe we say "Eureka!" I think not.

Most ordinary human beings, those Dogen calls mortals, require something to stand on. they require a reference point, something to define themselves against: like form and space in a painting. But with our True Nature, we see these are ever in motion, nothing substantial, everything like the clouds in the sky.

Seeing our True Nature, we step into the world of the Buddhas: immortal where each breath is a manifest opportunity, each touch, the creation of kindness and compassion, each step a walk into infinity.

Be well.


Kindness requires patience. Patience requires generosity. Open your heart to yourself and embrace the universe.

Where's the Beef?

With palms together,
Good Morning All,

As we awaken we say, "This morning I vow with all beings to see the world clearly as it is and to end violence and bring compassion to all beings." In the evening we say, "This evening, as I go to sleep, may all beings rest and be renewed through peace and love."

In this way we open and close our day by placing our attention on our true purpose in life, to nurture and support all beings. It is not that we are instruments of these things, rather, we are these things. Being the instrument of something creates a separation between the thing and the tool, as if they were not exactly the same. Being an instrument of compassion is not the same as being compassion.

We each have work to do through each day for the rest of our lives. The paycheck of this work is immediate. When we open our eyes, there it is. Both work and reward are the exact same thing: a manifestation of our true nature.

Be well.

As zero and one do their dance, infinity h…

The Silence of the Lion

With palms together,
Good Morning All,

The day is unfolding slowly, as Saturdays do. There are clouds in the sky and the air is cool. I am parked under a down comforter with Tripper at my side. My Little Honey is talking to our daughter and getting ready to leave for Knitters Guild. I will be alone with the furboys for the morning.

Whatever will I do?

Setting aside the obvious dog walking, breakfast eating, meditation, and writing, nothing special. This is as it should be. Life lived as one page to the next where our focus is on the page we are reading is best. Other pages are what they are and will turn as they may, but this very page is us.

Pete-kitty sits
like a small lion
staring at my fingers
as they press these keys.
Silence unfolds.

Be well.

Our Morning Star

With palms together,
Good Morning All,

Yes, the earth has clearly tilted. Cooler temps, snow in places, and a cloudy sky this morning. We hustle just a little more in the morning and wrap ourselves with layers of clothing. I try not to give in so much to this temptation. Cold can be refreshing. Just as heat can be soothing. Yet, too much of either and we are in trouble.

Today we should recognize the Buddha's achievement. He worked so hard for so many years only to discover in an instant that what he sought he already possessed, as do all of us. The most profound teaching, I suspect, is to stop seeking. This stopping, this deep abiding in silence with self allows for our release of self, paradoxically, and the concomitant discovery that there is no abiding self.

Let us each witness the morning star in the same way.

Be well.

Our Own Authority

With palms together,
Good Morning All, Someone wrote to ask me to speak more on the notion of walking in one's own authority. Since today is December 7th, the day Japan attacked Pearl Harbor, perhaps this is a good day for such a comment. Brian Victoria wrote a book entitled Zen at War and in it he reveals the behavior of Japanese Zen monks during World War II. Apparently, many were fervent nationalists, anti-Semites, and other such very un-Buddhist things. The question arises, then, how could this be? First, a monk's vows do not exempt a monk from his or her civic obligations. We should all be good citizens. The question is, what does that mean? My sense is that a good citizen is a buddha. This means a person whose eyes are wide open, who lives in non-dualist terms and can easily move in the relative and absolutes that make our universe. Walking in one's own authority requires inside information, so to speak. This inside information is a realization of our true nature,…

Appreciate

With palms together,
Good Morning All,

We talk a lot about being present. Yet thoughts of pleasant things take us away as well. Thoughts of quiet beaches or retreats in the mountains or just a walk along river at dusk. One wonders what it is that is so challenging about this very moment in our lives.

Perhaps we do not know how to appreciate what we have and perhaps we are lead to believe by advertisers that what we have is never enough. Our culture is a consumer culture, sadly. Because consumers eat their surroundings rather than participate in them. Surroundings are for our pleasure, our toys are for our amusement, people are to meet our needs: we are the center of the universe.

Being present means being a full participant in life as it is.

My Little Honey has a wonderful habit of finding the value in whatever she has and in whatever she is doing. She has some old yarn, she makes something with it. Everything has its value and she finds real pleasure in each thing. She can giggle at the s…

What's Your Moment?

With palms together,
Good Morning All, This morning is different. I was up late last night and fell asleep in the Zendo. My Little Honey slept in the bedroom. My dogs slept in the Zendo with me, as did Pete-kitty. So this morning My Little Honey crawled onto the futon and found a place amid all the little heart beats. Of course, Tripper was very unhappy that he had a rival for my attention. Rather than unfolding, this folded into an awakening experience for me: all hair and wet tongues and heartbeats. So, I got up and made the coffee, decided I had enough enlightenment and sat down in the living room to clear my head of the fur and hair that can be my life. Since the coffee is made, My Little Honey has decided she should join me, and all the other heartbeats followed. It is said that wherever we go, there we are. Life is like that. No escape. So, what can we do? We enjoy the moment by shifting gears, as is said today. We let go of our expectations and enjoy the ride as it is. When w…

Living and Learning

With palms together, Good Morning All, Our Rohatsu sesshin was a powerful one. We were completely full and on Sunday, had several people sitting in the kitchen and two in the foyer of the Zen Center.  Soon we will need a larger building, I suppose. A deep bow of gratitude to each of you in attendance! We all sat zazen very well. I must say, though, that our silence was broken late Saturday afternoon when one of the participants,Jeremy, requested the kyosaku and as I went to smack his shoulder I missed, hitting his neck!  As I bowed and apologized, the whole Sangha erupted in laughter...this is what sitting hour after hour will do to you! Sesshin should not be tense. Neither should zazen.  Neither should life.  These are experience.  Experience itself is neutral.  It is what it is. We add to it our various spins.  We like this, we dislike that.  People should be this way, not that way.  And so on. It is this discerning mind that takes us away from Buddha Mind.  Buddha Mind appreciates lif…