Showing posts from May, 2009

Float Mode

With palms together,
Good Morning Everyone,

This morning I got up at 5:00 and began picking up, dusting, and polishing. We did most of the other stuff yesterday, the floors, sweeping, etc. Today we will host a party for Olivia (Livvie). We plan to have a pony here for her and her friends to ride. It is going to be a major effort to remain in float mode. :)

Zen is about float mode, so to speak. There's the choppy water float. There's the serene water float. All the while paddling toward that shore we are already standing on. Some of us have a need to flail around in the water, cursing the choppy when we seek serene. Yet serene is within us at all times.

Even with screaming children.

Here's the thing. When we are awake and aware of our oneness with all things, we easily feel the tension rise as things begin to go south. We breath into it, embrace it, and let it go with our breath. When there is too much and the storm is overtaking us, we walk away. We take a break. We pr…


With palms together,
Good Morning Everyone,

This morning I will practice streetZen at the Southwest Environmental Center at the open air Downtown Mall from 9:00 AM to 10:00 AM. If you are interested, please bring a cushion and join me.

Followers of the Buddha Way have practiced this sort of practice since the time of the Buddha himself. streetZen is practiced in mindful silence. A dana bowl is used. In the past, Buddha taught we should walk, approach a home, and simply stand with our bowls. In the USA no one would have any idea what we were doing and we would likely be arrested. Better to go to a public venue and practice Zazen. The benefit is the witness of serene reflection meditation.

I invite you to do this practice.

Be well.

knock, knock

With palms together,
Good Morning Everyone.

With the rising sun
I hear the universe knocking.
Or is it my head pounding at its door?
Who knows?
Who cares.

Silence is thunder.

Be well.


With palms together,
Good Morning!

My Dharma Grandfather, Matsuoka-roshi, was fond of shouting "Silence is Thunder!" and, in fact, there was some talk of using this as the name of an Order of his dharma heirs. When we are silent, what happens?

What is the sound of one hand clapping?

If silence is thunder, then what is thunder? Words?
Silence decidedly is not in-action. Remember, because we have silenced a person does not mean we have converted him. Sometimes (more often than not) actions are shouts and words, mere whispers.

When spoken to, there is an expectation of verbal response. When it is not forthcoming, what? Silence is loud. It creates open space. It is a deep and dark canyon, be careful!

So, what do you think Sensei Matsuoka meant by this 'silence is thunder'?

Be well.

Here a Star, There a Star...

With palms together,
Good Morning Everyone,

This morning brought cool desert air across our skin as we hiked our nearly three mile morning trek. It was glorious, though. I love desert walks. The air always seems to fresh and, after a rain, verdant.

Today I would like to address a few lines from the Great Heart of Wisdom Sutra.

O Shariputra, remember, Dharma is fundamentally emptiness, no birth, no death. Nothing is pure, nothing is defiled. Nothing can increase, nothing can decrease. Hence: in emptiness, no form, no feeling no thought, no impulse, no consciousness; no eye, no ear, no nose, no tongue, no body, no mind; no seeing, no hearing, no smelling, no tasting, no touching, no thinking, no realm of sight, no realm of thought, no ignorance and no end of ignorance, no old age and death and no end to old age and death. No suffering, no craving, no extinction, no path, no wisdom, no attainment.
This section is a core teaching and reveals the koan of life and death that is at the base of …

Memorial Day

With palms together,
Good Morning Everyone,

In the US it is Memorial Day. Our attention is directed toward those who gave their lives in defense of their country. I have known a few. I have listened to their cries as they died. With this in mind, please accept the following.

There is a grave danger in over sentimentalizing soldiers and their sacrifices. The danger is that we separate them from ourselves and somehow put them on a pedestal., rather like Madonnas. Moreover, we tend to glamorize warfare in the process and by touching the heartstrings make it far easier to recruit soldiers for and initial new warfare.

I stand opposed to warfare. I oppose soldiers doing warfare. Just as I stand opposed to domestic violence and oppose perpetrators. I have often said we should not confuse the war with the warrior, but it is equally important not to give warriors a free pass. It is a volunteer army, afterall, and people elect to prepare themselves to use deadly force. They should share respons…

A Harrowing Experience

A Harrowing Experience

May 24th, 13:33
With palms together,
Good Morning Everyone,

So, My Little Honey decides she and her friend are going to the Refuge early on Wednesday for a planned Religious School Retreat that would begin on Friday evening and go through Sunday morning. The problem was that a thunderstorm began to roll in and by Friday developed into a freak severe weather event. Her friend left early Friday so Judy was without a car. People planning to attend began cancelling and by Friday afternoon, the event was officially cancelled and a deluge was upon the Refuge creating major flooding and turning the only dirt road into a river.

So, Judy is alone. She is anxious. I ask her if she wants me to come to get her. She says no. Son Jason and family, who were going there anyway for the retreat, decided to go Friday evening. I thought Jason's SUV was a 4-wheel drive vehicle, but apparently it was not and Jason got stuck after missing the Walker Canyon turn. It was ne…

Brad Warner Zen

With palms together,
Good Morning Everyone,

Well, we got a good drenching here in southern New Mexico and west Texas yesterday afternoon and evening. I was sitting in El Paso at Pho Tre Bien Vietnamese restaurant with Zen Master Brad Warner and Students, Bobby HenShin Byrd and Rev. Bonnie Bussho Hobbs (Student Rev. Celia Kajo Villa was delayed and would meet up with us later). The rain was so thick we could not see through it. I drank a Chinese beer, then sipped espresso. We waited, talked, but mostly watched the torrents.

Brad Warner is an unassuming young man in his forties. He dresses simply: a t-shirt with a monster movie character, a simple long sleeved print shirt, and plain cotton pants. No beads, no robes and hair on his head cut in shaggy strands. I enjoy his presence.

When we got to the El Paso UU Church, it quickly filled. People seemed eager to meet this anomalous Master. Rev. Bussho and Rev. Kajo assisted by setting up books to sell and preparing to video record the…

The Word for World is Balance

With palms together,
Good Morning Everyone,

Water is a wonderful metaphor. It yields, yet is so strong it erodes mountains into canyons. It remains water as it moves from liquid to vapor and back. Water reveals its essential nature in its visible life cycle for all of us to see and, in this, it is a wonderful teacher.

As I look out my bedroom window, I see heavy clouds. They seem pregnant and the weather site suggests they will give birth today. Water is so necessary, rain is the seed of life.

I consider Mars, the angry planet, and understand it is bereft of water. A thin atmosphere, distant from the sun. Anger burns away love. When we are angry, we cannot nurture. Where there is anger there can be no life.

Venus, clothed in heavy clouds, close to the sun, thought to be a metaphor for love. Venus teaches me that to be draped in heavy bonds may be lethal. While love can nurture, it can also suffocate.

We have the beauty of residing on a planet where the metaphor is balance. Too little …


With palms together,
Good Morning Everyone,

This morning I am alone in bed looking at the morning light open a view of the Organ mountains out my window. Judy is at the Refuge. Pepper, my old dog, is beside me in Judy's place, and Pete Kitty is at my feet. This morning I plan to attend a breakfast meeting of a clergy group. We will meet at Mesilla Valley Hospice. From there, its on to Breakfast with the Boys. I will try to eat only one breakfast :)

Tomorrow evening I will attend a presentation by Brad Warner, that renegade sort of Zen monk who writes odd, but refreshing books, such as Hardcore Zen. This will be the second time I have met him, though we have corresponded a bit. While I enjoy his innovation and his thorough grounding in Master Dogen's work, I have often wanted him to mature some. Perhaps he has with his new book, Zen Wrapped in Karma Dipped in Chocolate: A Trip Through Death, Sex, Divorce, and Spiritual Celebrity in Search of the True Dharma. We will see.

As …

Walking and Talking

With palms together,
Good Morning Everyone,

Friends Allen and Eve just finished hiking a 2.8 mile out and back desert trail hike with Judy and me. Allen and I walk together, while Eve and Judy pair off, and we tend to talk about a variety of issues. I have found this to be a very cleansing habit, one that when I fail to go, I miss very much. There is much to be gained by opening one's heart to others. Of course, the other obvious benefit is in the walking itself. While I also enjoy runs alone and biking alone, long walks with a friend are of a wholly different order.

Zen, on the other hand, is a quiet, introspective practice. We sit facing a wall in silence. Talking is discouraged. Of course, this is an excellent practice, as well. It is quite possible we Americans talk entirely too much. The conversations that occur on long walks are of a very different variety. These are conversations that uncover and release; conversations that bridge and unite; conversations that deepen the bo…

On Pebbles and Boulders

With palms together,
Good Morning Everyone,

Many of you have privately asked about me, both in person, and via email. Thank you for your thoughtfulness and your sensitivity. I am well. Of course, life has offered both its typical and atypical stones-to-boulder's in the road, but that is to be expected. My Little Honey and I celebrated our 28th wedding anniversary yesterday. My son Jacob is in treatment for both emotional and chemical issues, the dream of a family restaurant collapsed and laid bare. We are struggling to keep the pieces and values of family together. Bronchitis and allergies haven't helped. Still, I say I am well.

Our lives are what they are: a gift to us. This gift is perfect regardless of what we think or feel about it. Every facet is a teacher, every turn, a lesson. Our challenge is to be open and present each moment.When we are willing to see this way, everything is an opportunity

This is difficult. Life can wear us down. I often want to withdraw to my Zendo…


With palms together,
Good Morning Everyone,

The dishwasher is changed out
and the kitty litter replaced:
everyday chores, everyday Zen.
The Zen of the Everyday
is the highest and the lowest
form of practice.
It is ubiquitous.

Wake up!

Unfold your mind
and open like a flower in the morning light.
Wrap your self in extinction
and the universe is your Teacher.
This dish wounded, this one fine:
make no distinction,
only wash the dish
and put it away.

Be well.