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Showing posts from October, 2009

Death

With palms together,
Good Morning Everyone,

One of my Disciples, Rev. Kajo, wrote to the Zen Living list about her experience dealing with the recent death of her father. I am sending my reply to her this morning as my daily message. Below my reply is her original post.

Daiho Roshi

__________________

Dear Kajo,

Personal pain and personal suffering are different, but equally difficult for others to address with the one in pain and suffering. You have experienced the loss of your father's presence in your life as a physical being. You have experienced your family's insensitivity in not informing you immediately. Pain, yes. Suffering, well that is yours. We suffer as we hold on to thoughts and feelings, stringing them like beads on a necklace. Care needs to be taken not to allow this necklace to become a choker chain.

We experience, through our practice, the fact that there is no birth or death, only this moment. How can this help? The thought of it does nothing. The practice of …

Is the Point Necessary?

With palms together,
Good Morning Everyone,

This morning is a wonderfully cool morning. My chess was a little better last night. And I began reading a great little book recommended by Rabbi Citrin on the Bible called, simply enough, "Who Wrote the Bible?" It offers a background on text criticism which opens a whole other dimension to Torah study. Agenda in writing is the sleeper to the story. As in most of life, don't we seek to know "the point"?

When we try to transfer something from ourselves to another, duality is created. Other is separated from self. You arises. In this separation, a point arises. Why? Why would you give me that? Why are you talking to me? Why would you take that away? Why would you tell the story that way and not this? What does why mean? Is is really is? :)

Zen Judaism asks us to be our relationship with the Infinite. We don't become it. Why questions cause separation. What questions offer exploration. When we explore our live…

Where's God?

With palms together,
Good Morning Everyone,

Honestly, I do not know why I study through the day each and every day. I've been considering this question (and another) for some time as it consumes a great deal of my time. I suppose the best answer is that when I study, I find connections. Text is my community. The more the better, it would seem. The two major areas I study are in Zen and Judaism, particularly what I like to call contemplative Judaism. [Whenever I come upon the word 'mystical' in a Jewish text it almost always refers to a pointing to something non-dualistic. Must be mystical if it brings us closer to the Infinite, I suppose. In the modern era, mystical sounds, well, too mystical :) ]
Every once in awhile I find texts in the two traditions (actually, more often than not) which say the same thing or point to the same thing, and this leads me to believe that in both cases, the practice is to collapse the self into the Infinite. In other words, to join Big Mind…

Loori-roshi

With palms together,
Good Morning Everyone,

This morning I went outside to eat some raisin toast. While doing so, I feed the birds and picked up things. Granddaughter Livvie has a tent set up and it is full of toys. As I'm picking up, I notice a bird swoop down to snack on my toast. Sharing is a good thing.

The passing of someone like Rev. John Daido Loori-roshi is one of those inevitability's none of us look forward to. The man was a pioneer of Zen in the United States. His monastery, books, dharma talks, and photography stand as a testament to a life well lived in service to others and to the dharma.

I met him once in California at the 800th birthday of Master Dogen. He walked with a slow deliberateness and slightly hunched back. There was a slight smile on his face and seeming twinkle in his eyes. He taught through himself: a manifest buddha. Yet, also, was challenging. His teaching was as historic masters, the kyosaku and a word or bell were always present.

We use his…

The Paradigm is Cracking

With palms together,
Good Morning Everyone,

Last night after a pair of classes at the Temple I came home and read the Responsa assignments for our "Jewish Issues" class. A "responsa" is a rabbinic assembly's consideration of a question put to it by someone regarding Jewish life. In Reform Judaism, Responsa do not hold the force of law, but are considered informed opinions about situations that are meant to offer guidance to local congregations.
One of our reading assignments/discussion topics involves Jews who convert to Christianity, apostasy & synagogue honors. I read this and felt for all "sides". Conscience, faith, and belief on an individual level is always in tension with "group". I remembered another responsa I had read some years ago now on the question of whether or not a Zen Buddhist priest could become a member of a Temple congregation. The responsa declared he or she could not. The issue hung on the assumptions around &quo…

Moving

With palms together,
Good Morning Everyone,

The morning air is moving swiftly over the desert up from Mexico. I am reminded of the koan regarding the flag and the wind. Some might say the flag is moving, others say the wind is moving, still others say mind is moving. In truth there is no "moving". And from the point of view of the Infinite, clearly this is so. Buddha Mind is unmoving. Yet, the clock still ticks as we measure our day and if we don't get to the bank on time, our checks will bounce. What is important about the lesson regarding "moving" is that we learn both are true at the same time: relative and absolute. The Infinite is infinite. It renders all concepts both full and empty. Only No-Mind can grasp this.

Be well.

Noise

With palms together,
Good Morning Everyone,

Quiet pervades even in the midst of a cacophony of noise. How? Ask, what is noise? Concordant, discordant, no matter. Noise is nothing but a sensory event we assign meaning to. Some meanings are wonderful; others, not so wonderful. Yet, when we set aside our meanings and exist with the 'noise', when 'noise' is received and accepted, enfolded into ourselves, 'noise' ceases. This is stillness. This is serene reflection meditation. This is Zen. It is without religious assignment, yet is the heart of all religion.

Be well.

Vows

With palms together,
Good Morning Everyone,

Vows are inside out. We don't take a vow, we manifest a vow already there deep within us. Like a seed planted by the Infinite, life's various twists and turns till the soil around it, water it, offer it light and warmth, and there...it opens to our view.
I have manifested only a few vows in my life. A vow to serve and protect the United States. A vow to follow the ways of Torah. A vow to be a partner to My Little Honey. And a set of Bodhisattva vows. I like to think these are consonant and not discordant.

It is so: the core vow is that of waking up. Being present, and seeing with a clear mind, resolves all illusion of conflict as conflict can only occur in a deluded mind, a mind divided.

I experience buddha-mind in every moment. We are beings united without separation, yet there is you, and there is me. The golden net is our heart. It is our heart-mind, "shin", that is the source of all vows. Understand, in Zen, heart an…