Showing posts from April, 2009


With palms together,
Good Morning Everyone,

Today I would like to talk to you about the Dharma. What is this thing we call "Dharma" anyway? The term has become popular to the point that there was a TV show with Dharma in it's title. Dharma comes from the Buddha's mouth. Dharma comes from the Buddha's heart. Dharma surrounds us. Everything is Dharma. Yet Dharma is nothing. It is a finger pointing to the moon.

One meaning is that Dharma is the teaching of the Buddha transmitted either 'mind to mind' or in oral history or in scripture. Another meaning of Dharma is that it is the unadorned, absolute truth. Still another, is that it is reality itself.

Dharma just is. We discover Dharma as we unfold our minds and hearts to manifest it, to receive it, and to transmit it.

Again, keep in mind, all dharmas are empty. This is to say that even the truth, even reality itself, even the Absolute, has no permanence. Everything, every idea, every thought, feeling, sen…

Everyday Buddhas

With palms together,
Good Morning Everyone,

The dawn is stealth personified. Light shows itself ever so slowly, nearly imperceptibly, as dark recedes. Zazen can be like that. We sit with attention. We witness the world around us. At some point, imperceptibly so, the world and we are not the world and we, but one experience. We take this understanding from our cushion into the everyday world.

What's this?

Being in this 'world is One' state is not the final step.

What is the next step? The step that takes us back into duality with non-duality eyes.

What's this?

The dishes, experiencing no separation. The laundry, experiencing no separation. Making breakfast experiencing no separation. What is Buddha? The laundry, the dishes, the breakfast.

Dishes, laundry, breakfast are one in the same: awakened life.

We take refuge in this "awakened life", this state of non-duality.We call it Buddha Nature, and those who live it, buddhas.

This is what it means to take refuge in…

Religious Meaning

With palms together,
Good Morning Everyone,

Our lives are filled with ritual: "religious" or "secular". Ritual is empty unless we imbue it with meaning. To imbue ritual with meaning means we live meaningfully. To live meaningfully means we must live mindfully.


Most of us in the US just finished one of two holidays: Passover or Easter. How did we live these out? Were they meaningful? What did they mean to us, if anything?

In Judaism, there are tons of ritualistic rules regarding Pesach: no leaven for a week, no work on certain days, a Seder or two with a "haggadah" to tell us the story of Exodus. In Christianity, there are the ceremonies regarding the death and resurrection of Jesus, Easter dress, egg hunts, and so on.

Do these really mean anything to us? Or do we do them because we are supposed to do them? Have we actually made them not just a part of our lives, but a meaningful part?

Zen is not exempt from these questions. When I practice Zen, I l…

Open Hand

With palms together,
Good Morning Everyone,

How beautiful! The sun just broke over the mountains and lit up the valley below. It is so bright! The desert seems to yawn in its presence, roll itself over, open up, and warm itself. The birds are at our feeder. And I see a wonderful blue sky. It is supposed to become windy today. Of course, it is spring and in the desert southwest, that means windy days.

My son Jacob is in town. He is a chef, for those who don't know, and he may be moving back to Las Cruces. We are excited about this possibility. Granddaughter Sami is also here. We are thoroughly enjoying our Passover.

Yesterday we drove to White Sands and were sand-blasted. It was really interesting to try to climb the dunes in blowing sand. After a strenuous hour, the picnic lunch we brought looked terrific and we ate in the cover of wind-blocking shade canopies that cover each picnic table.

Zen is about going with the flow with a certain attitude. That attitude is openness. …


With palms together, Good Morning Everyone, Change. Goodness. First we are going to the Refuge for the weekend, then we are not. I am a duck floating on the water. Its a good thing...unless there are pirates or hunters about. Then I become an eagle and open my wings, puff out my chest, and scream. I began a short study of Master Dogen's Genjo Koan last night using a version and commentary by Hakuun Yasutani-roshi, translated by Paul Jaffe. I asked Student Komyo to tackle this essay and we will talk about it next week. Anyway, as I was reading last night, I was struck by the bold strokes of Yasutani. I am reminded of the old saw that says, "When sitting, sit; when walking, walk; above all, don't wobble!" It is vital to know yourself intimately. It is vital to have total congruence. When a duck, float; when an eagle, scream! A small mind might see this as in-congruent, but Big Mind will see the whole. This is what is meant by whole-heartedness. We take each step in…

Life and Death

With palms together,
Good Morning Everyone,

It is still dark outside. My Little Honey woke me at 4 something looking for our portable DVD player. She couldn't sleep. I found the player, made the coffee, and looked over my email on my iPhone.

After a cup of coffee, I decided to come talk to you.

Tomorrow morning I will offer a talk on "Caring for the Buddhist Patient" at the Mesilla Valley Hospice. I am not sure how one differentiates a dying Buddhist from a dying Jew or a dying Christian. At such a point in life, it is this dying that points us to our commonality: all beings die.

Each religion seems to have an idea of the meaning of death. Each offers some solice with some understanding of life after death. This life usually entails communion with a Creator God. The Buddha Way, when looked at as Buddhism, does not share a view of a Creator God. A Creator God might exist, or might not, but a Creator God is not essential to following the Buddha Way.

So, what does a follower of …


With palms together,
Good Morning everyone,

The morning opens, as we open, slowly, with a stretch and maybe a yawn. It is important to be present in this process. We witness the sun rise over the horizon, (in my case, the Organ mountains) and as we do, we appreciate the wonder of creation. It is there for us to appreciate, if only we pay attention.

What is the currency of this payment? A willingness to slow ourselves down. Multi-tasking, while sounding as if we can accomplish much in little time, disallows appreciation. It takes us away from being present, from delight, and from seeing deeply. The focus of multi-tasking is on the ends, not the means. Yet, it is our means that contain our intention. Without a focus on intention, there is little human meaning in an activity, little quality, and certainly, little appreciation.

As we slow down, we allow ourselves the joy of being rather than the hope of becoming. The hope of becoming creates idols in the mind. Smash them. Cut them loose. …