Posts

Showing posts from July, 2008

Sitting Still

With palms together,
Good Morning Everyone,

Last night our small group of dedicated meditators sat Zazen at Temple Beth El. We sat upright, focusing our attention on our breath, and were simply present. The sanctuary has its own sounds. Temperature changes as the sun goes down cause buckling sounds to crack and pop slicing through the silence that otherwise pervades the building.

Two periods of Zazen, one period of Kinhin. I talked about moving our Zen mind from the cushion to our relationships, how self arises to defend, agree, or parry our partner. We talked a little about how thoughts seem to race sometimes, teasing us almost, to break away from our concentration. It was an open and easy discussion. Then we went into the social hall for tea and cookies.
Earlier in the afternoon, with the sun blazing and the temperature at about 100 degrees, I sat Zazen holding a small umbrella on the sidewalk at the Federal Building. I propped my small placard, which simply reads, "PEACE&quo…

The Zen of Relationship

With palms together,
Good Morning Everyone,

This morning Judy, Eve, Allen and me hiked through the desert, a desert saturated by summer rains. I have never seen our desert so lush, green everywhere. There were grasses growing on the desert floor and flowering plants in bloom everywhere. We took a trail we don't take very often and then went up an arroyo. The arroyo was a wide swath cut wider and deeper by the recent raging water coming down from the Organ mountains. From the arroyo we bush whacked across the ridges to get back to another trail that would take us to our starting point. By the time we were done, we were really feeling the effects of rugged hiking. After a breakfast of cold cereal we talked extensively. Judy and I do this from time to time. Sometimes its pleasant, sometimes not, but in the end, we feel closer together for it.
How does Zen fit into our relationships with each other? Buddhists are often accused of being self-absorbed naval gazers. Zen is often pr…

Getting Through

With palms together,
Good Morning Everyone,

This morning I see the sun shining in through sporadic cloud cover. We have been flooded with rain over the last three days beginning Friday. I hear the Rio Grande is close to cresting near El Paso. A news story suggested we had nine inches of rain in the Sacramento mountains which includes Ruidoso and Cloudcroft. Our Refuge is in the mountains east of Cloudcroft.

We shared the weekend there with two other couples, close friends of ours. Who knew it would be such a weekend! Sheets of rain all day and night over two days left the dirt road a river. We spent the weekend reading and talking, cooking and eating. One set of friends had a camper, the other set, a tent. It turns out both camper and tent sprung leaks. The second night we spent together inside the refuge. I practiced much meditation, the non-apparent kid. Sitting in a recliner focusing on just being present. I read through Thich Nhat Hahn's wonderful little book on The Ene…

Three Prnciples of Zen

With palms together,
Good Morning Everyone,

This week I go to Peace Village again to offer meditation instruction and practice to the younger children. I have found that young children can practice Zazen very well for short periods. They have open minds and are willing to learn. This openness is key. It is awareness itself. To be open with no closed openings is to allow everything to flow. One of the principles of Zen is open-mindedness.

A second principle is the principle of moving from inside out. We begin our practice, that is, come to Zen, with an interest in ourselves. We wish to improve, remove an obstacle, solve a problem, find happiness. As we develop our practice we discover our deep interconnected nature, we release our interest in ourselves and open ourselves to an interest in others. We come to an awareness, a recognition, that we and others are actually one. Taking care of ourselves is taking care of others: taking care of others is taking care of ourselves. The univers…

Stillness

With palms together,
Good Morning Everyone,

Its a gray morning this morning. Although the temperatures are lower, the humidity is higher, and things feel close. At 7:00 AM our neighbor, who just recently moved in, rang our doorbell. She held her kitty in her arms. The cat was dead, killed by accident in her garage door. We invited her in, listened, and helped by calling until we found a local veterinary clinic that was open. We took her and her cat to the vet to have it cremated. Life is so unpredictable.

From there, Talmud class and a discussion surrounding issues related to "times of danger" when Jews were vulnerable to having their newly wed wives deflowered by local rulers. Was she obligated to kill herself or submit? Legal discussions blend with morality and ethics, culture and culture clash, through a long history closely documented and richly discussed.

And now, at home with a cup of coffee and dogs sleeping at my feet, I am looking forward to being still for awhile.…

Zen Buddhism

With palms together,
Good Morning Everyone,

Zen Buddhism is the practice of the Middle Way. A way between extremes, the practice informs us, teaches us, and frees us from greed, hatred and delusion. It is, and isn't, a religion, a philosophy, a way of life. Its a way of being in the world.

We practice Zen Buddhism in order to be at peace. We practice Zen Buddhism to be present. We practice Zen Buddhism to live.

What do Zen Buddhists believe? Whatever they want. Zen Buddhism is not about belief or worldview or cosmic conflict: its about residing in peace.

Are there articles of faith? No. There are instead principles of practice. The focus is on experiencing the truth of your life as it is in this moment.

Zen Buddhism does not focus on the past or the future.

The principles of practice are simple. On the interior, be stillness. On the exterior, stop doing evil, do good, and work to bring about good for all. How hard is that?

Be well.

Making Peace

With palms together,
Good Morning Everyone,
This week I go to Peace Camp each morning to conduct a morning meditation with the children attending. I am looking forward to this. It is a delight to sit with children. They are always fresh and interested in something new. Peace Camp is hosted by the Unitarian Universalist Church here in Las Cruces, but is supported by several other churches, the synagogue, and Clear Mind Zen Sangha, as well as many local organizations and businesses.

So, we will sit in the sanctuary and be still. Starting the day with attention to our breath. We will make a vow to bring peace into the universe by making ourselves the very peace we desire.

I encourage each of you to sit in peace this morning then to get up from your cushions and make peace in the world.

Be well.

Life As It Is

With palms together,
Good Morning Everyone,

To practice Zazen is to practice enlightenment itself. We take our seat with complete deliberation. We sit down, gather ourselves together, assume he cosmic mudra and remain present. This being upright, being present, is the heart of practice. It is life itself. In this practice there is no reliance on anything but your own willingness to stay in the moment. No text, no sutra, no mantra, no mandala: just this: life as it is.

In this presence, everything opens. The mind is not processing, appearance comes and goes. Sounds come and go, as do feelings and all other senses. Nothing gets stuck, everything flows.

When we look back on this experience we see its cosmic implication. If we are willing to set aside the "I", life itself can be seen clearly for what it is, a continuous, unfolding process. Our "I" is like a dam constructed to halt the flow. We want to keep this slice of the process, this life as it is. But stopping…

Everyday

With palms together,
Good Morning Everyone,

This morning I woke to the need to drive to the store to buy coffee. It seems we used the last of our coffee last night. Early morning store runs are always interesting. The grocery is just opening, few shoppers, clean floors, the beginnings of hustle and bustle. I chose a dark roast by Folgers, something called Black Silk. I am no coffee expert, clearly. I like ordinary coffee and avoid Starbucks altogether. We'll see how this new stuff tastes.

When we lived in the Refuge and made coffee in a stove top percolator, the aroma of the cedar woodfire seemed to add something to the coffee. And for the longest time we used a small French press here in the city, but my son recently bought us some sort of super duper coffee maker and now we are in the modern age.

I am not so sure the modern age is all its cracked up to be. Labor saving devices make us fat and lazy. Further, and most importantly, they take us away from the nature of the proces…

Enjoy the Everyday

With palms together,
Good Morning Everyone,

We so often look for wonder in the big places, the edge of the Grand Canyon, some mountain peak, the completion of a grand dream like running a marathon, and while these are wondrous to be sure, to seek wonder solely in them often blinds us to the wonder in the ordinary. We often here people say, 'what's so special' about this or that. We hear people talk with dreamy eyes about planned adventures, sometimes to exotic places, and I feel good for them, but at the same time, sad.

Each and every day has its wonder. We wake in the morning to see a sun rise. We see the darkness turn to light. We hear the world wake up. My Little Honey brings me a cup of coffee. It tastes really good. I watch Tripper as he dances in dogged excitement waiting for his turn to go outside and smell the world. Ordinary wonders.

As we sit in the stillness of Zazen, we begin to notice the details of the moment. These details are often obscured in everyday li…

Just Zen

With palms together,
Good Morning Everyone,

The sun rises over the mountains in Las Cruces, New Mexico. I often sit with it as it does. Its a marvelous transformation of night into day, sleep to awake, and stillness to motion. We appreciate both the stillness and the motion. Eventually we come to realize they are one.

The Zen of stillness is the Zen of being seated while the world swirls around us. The Zen of motion is the Zen of being the world swirling. Awake we know there is just Zen.

Be well.

Libertarian Food for Thought

With palms together,
Good Morning Everyone,

I just read a study at livescience.com which reported that happiness in the world in increasing. The happiest, Denmark. The unhappiest, Zimbabwe. The United States ranks 16th.

The researcher, Ronald Inglehart of The University of Michigan, says, "The results clearly show that the happiest societies are those that allow people the freedom to choose how to live their lives."

In a survey released last week, pointed to one reason the US is not closer to the top: Baby Boomers are generally miserable compared to other generations.

The livescience articles adds, "Further, a public opinion poll released by the Pew Research Center in April found that 81 percent of Americans say they believe the country is on the "wrong track." The response is the most negative in the 25 years pollsters have asked the question."

Link

Maybe we are finally getting the point that an open society is a living, dynamic, and happy thing. Effort…