Showing posts from February, 2008

Forget the Buddha: be yourself

Good Morning All,
Sometimes we can "know" the Buddha too much. We read his words, study his life, and think we have an idea of what it is to be a Buddha. This is the precise moment we should kill him, cut him into little pieces and spread him on the ground to serve as compost.
Keeping the Buddha prevents you from being a buddha. He becomes a mouthpiece only, so you cannot speak, but to mouth his words, dry and stale as they might be, and offering little nourishment to the world. Or maybe he becmes your clothes and you wear him like a talisman on your body. Forget him. Be yourself.
An Offering

Time to get naked.
Time to let yourself come out.
It is you, afterall,
Who is the real Buddha,
Not some dusty words on paper,
Or puke from a teacher's mouth.
When the teacher teaches, run.
Find your own place in the sun.
Then open your self ---
And be.
See ya.

Live or Die: there is no such thing

Good Morning Everyone,

The Buddha taught that we should be very careful to see clearly, in fact, seeing clearly and being completely at ease with what is there, is a sort of code pointing to awakening. If I say "this is a cup" and my mind has fixed itself of "cupness" I am not really seeing the object I am calling a cup. I am seeing with my mind's eye. And if we see someone about to harm us? How do we see clearly then?

In the martial arts, it is very important to develop an ability to make your mind like water. Still water reflects accurately what is around it. It fixes on nothing. In Zen, we do the same. We call this non-attachment. Non-attachment means non-investment. We suffer in direct proportion to our emotional investment in something we perceive we are about to lose.

So, self seems central. Our mind's eye records for the self; it is in service to the self. Unless we re-wire it. Training to let go of self, lets go of fear, and fear distorts, ca…

Seeking Ourselves

Good Morning Everyone,

When we seek something in intangible, we often do not find it. Somehow the act of looking gets in the way. We typically have an idea of what the "something" looks like and we set out to find something that corresponds to our idea. If we are searching for God, the Infinite, or Enlightenment, big problem, as we really have no idea what these look like. We only have our ideas about them.

Now some might say, yes, but these ideas are based on text references, such as biblical sources. Others might say, we we have Masters we can go to who will help point the way. Yes, true, but in both cases, the way is not in the picture the text or the Master presents, but in what unfolds as we seek.

Spiritual inquiry requires us to seek without any real idea as to what we will find. This is why it is so very difficult. In the beginning we have an idea, we want to have God in our lives, or faith, or enlightenment. Somehow these things sound wonderful and maybe even n…

Life's Little Requirements

Good Morning Everyone,

This morning I made a nice breakfast for My Little Honey and me. I fired up the oven and whipped up some biscuits, while frying each of us one egg, over medium, and one fake sausage. Served with butter and strawberry jam, the pups were drooling before the plates got to the table.

Sipping coffee, we are now attending to our individual Internet business, she working on a second novel, me scribbling to you. Pete-kitty is curled on a chair by the window, Tripper is curled on the floor below him and wise old Pepper is sleeping at my feet.

In a little bit I've got to get changed and walk over to the synagogue for Talmud study. After that, I go to the downtown mall for a peace vigil. Its another Saturday and I'm feeling a bit guilty for not having gone to synagogue last night. We rarely miss, but there are times when its best to stay away, and since My Little Honey isn't quite up to snuff, this was one of those times.

Life is like that, you know. Our willingn…

Peace: Let it Begin With Each of Us

Good Morning Everyone,
Yesterday afternoon I sat zazen at the Federal Building bearing witness for peace. It was a wonderful practice period with a few people who have become Wednesday afternoon allies. We practice in virtual silence with an increasing number of honks of horns in support over the last two years I've been at this. We rarely get a negative comment, rarely.
In fact, yesterday we had a press person visit us and do interviews while some attorney stopped by to offer his support for our work. These are not uncommon occurrences. Even the construction workers give up thumbs up as they pass by us.

I think peace is on every one's mind and the only real question is how to best achieve it.

My point of view is really simple, but perhaps I am a simple person, peace comes when we become peace.

Be well.


With palms together,
Good Morning Everyone,

Our Zen is our life, not our rules or precepts or even our practices about our life. It is very easy to confuse the two. Frankly it is easier altogether to create a temple with a nice alter, beautiful Buddha, and fragrant incense, than to walk the walk of Buddhist life. Such a temple makes us feel like Buddhists, but if we are not buddhas as we leave, drive our cars, interact with our friends and co-workers, and go through our day, then the temple is really just a shallow idol we pay homage to, a pretense, so to speak.

Walking the walk requires us to actually make our practice our life itself. The means we must think-feel our way through our precepts and make them living expressions of our Buddha Nature. Sitting like a buddha is not being a Buddha.

We must ask ourselves how is our life informing our practice, how are we actually being buddhas? Some might say we should "just sit" sooner or later a light will go off. Yeah? So what…

There's Nothing to Do!

Good Morning Everyone,

"There's no where to go!" "There's no thing to do!" Any parent or couple married longer than a couple of years has heard these laments. These are the words of boredom. I occasionally feel bored myself. Yet, rather than dive into whine, I prefer to experience myself in the state of boredom. What does it really feel like?

There is the sense of being trapped, the sense of numbness, the sense of pure flatness, or the sense of restless despair that sometimes masks itself as boredom. We often lack the language to deal with such states and feelings, as dealing requires a naming of sorts, a dialogue -- even if it is just interior dialogue.

More importantly, though, is the need to be aware What is it? What is it!

Too quickly we rush to answer our feelings: we rush to label or we rush to solution. Delay here is a wonderful strategy. Feel. Be the feeling. Experience yourself as uncomfortable as it might at first be.

In the process, we lea…

Two Fires, One Flame

Good Morning Everyone,

This morning I sit at my desk in my little home Zendo surrounded by relics. On one wall are three enclosed bookcases. In the bookcases are large sections of books related to Zen on one side and Judaism on the other. Under the enclosed cases are various framed photographs, various menorahs, my begging bowl, a ceramic bearded Jew with a talit over his shoulders, a seated buddha kitty statue, and a brush set for calligraphy.

On another wall, a silk painting of a Hanoi street I bought in Vietnam.. Across from it is a photograph I took of a Vietnamese village in the central highlands of Vietnam. My desk sits under it crowded with several potted plants, my laptop, and the books and notebooks that are in my present moment.

Then there is my small rough-hewn wooden alter table. On it a statue of Buddha, a statue of Jizo bodhisattva, a water offering, an incense offering and a candle. Mt cushion sits in front of it, inviting me daily to practice.

All of these are true re…

Being Everything

Good Morning Everyone, Someone on a blog this morning suggested I was rather narrow in my themes.  I thought it a curious perspective.  Admittedly, I write mostly about religious/spiritual themes, but I try to talk about them in a very wide spectrum of applications, anywhere from teacups to space-time relativity.  In any event, the comment gave me pause and I reflected for a bit on it. Most of us tend to compartmentalize our lives: this is religion, that is cooking, this other thing is sports, and over here is work.  My consistent point of view is that this is not only false, but spiritually dangerous. Its part of the reductionism that was epidemic in the 19th and 20th centuries.  It even has lead scientists to try to find a God spot in our brains, for goodness sake. Spiritual life is a whole life.  Its about seeing everything as our life, our breath, and our intimate connection to everything else. We are not separate, but completely one.  When we talk about being a Christian, or a Jew…

Extraordinary Book!

Hello All,

My Little Honey has just completed her novel, "The Extraordinary Magic of Everyday Life" available through as a paperback book or ebook download.

Please consider taking a look!!!

Rev. Dr. So Daiho Hilbert-roshi
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Enter the Storm

Good Morning Everyone, For one who is one with the storm, there is no storm. Separating ourselves from the storm, resisting it, makes the storm strong.  If we practice relaxing into the storm, peace. We oppose it, become an oak tree, unbending, rigid, we will be uprooted. Not resisting the storm we are like a palm tree in a hurricane, bending and yielding to the wind, we become the wind itself: storm and we are one, no problem.  Do storms cause damage?  Of course.  Should we not prepare for them?  Of course.  But our attitude and willingness to be present determines both the extent of the damage and most importantly, our experience of the storm itself. Zen teaches us to be free and easy in the marketplace.  Open and accepting of difference, we become adaptive, we struggle less, we are interested in the world around us for itself as opposed to its use-value. There is an old Daoist concept of going to the low places. By this is meant relaxing into the world around us, like water does, for…


Good Morning Everyone,

We should have faith in our practice. As we sit in serene reflection meditation or manifest the precepts through mindful living, we trust that the fruit of these practices is actually in the practices themselves. Each time we recite a mantra, a sutra, or a prayer, we affirm our faith in our practice on the one hand, but actually manifest it, on the other hand. This is ' instant Zen.'

People new to Zen sometimes have the understanding that they came to Zen for their health, to reduce stress, or to learn to manage their lives better. These may be accomplished through our practices, we think, eventually, but it takes a skillful and open eye to see that they take place immediately. It requires faith on the one hand and a great deal of diligence on the other hand. Yet if we relax into the practice, let go of the worry, and forget the search itself, we see that it is right there before us.

When I place my palms together, bow, and then look directly at the per…

Making Life

Good Morning Everyone, It is cold enough outside that our heater clicked on this morning sending warmth throughout the condo. I have mixed feelings about this as heat costs and money is in short supply. Our refuge in the mountains was a bit simpler though more difficult.  We chopped wood for the stove, built a fire and in an hour or two the house began to warm.  The differences, aside from the obvious, were in the deliberate nature of life. Living wasn't automatic.  If we wanted clean dishes, we washed them by hand with water collected from our roof and pumped up to a tank on the hill behind the refuge so gravity would send it back into the house. If we wanted to cook, we made a fire and waited for the cookstove to get hot enough to cook. When we needed something from the store, it was a day trip.  Nothing happened on its own.  We were intimately involved with living. Here in the city, we live much more in our heads as our bodies do very little and are, comparatively,  far less inv…