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Showing posts from March, 2011

Dirt

With palms together,


Good Morning Everyone,



In the Vimalakirti Sutra, the bodhisattva Manjushri addressing the Buddha, says, "Noble sir, one who stays in the fixed determination of the vision of the Uncreated is not capable of conceiving the spirit of unexcelled perfect enlightenment. However, one who lives among created things, in the mines of passions, without seeing any truth, is indeed capable of conceiving the spirit of unexcelled perfect enlightenment.



[For] Noble sir, flowers like the blue lotus, the red lotus, the white lotus, the water lily, and the moon lily do not grow on the dry ground in the wilderness, but do grow in the swamps and mud banks.



Just so, the Buddha-qualities do not grow in living beings certainly destined for the uncreated but do grow in those living beings who are like swamps and mud banks of passions. Likewise, as seeds do not grow in the sky but do grow in the earth, so the Buddha-qualities do not grow in those determined for the Absolute but do …

Morning Note

With palms together,


Good Morning Everyone,



This morning I woke stiff and a little sore. I lanced two blisters and taped them. Today was a arm and shoulder workout, which I did with a little lighter weights than usual, and only did two sets each of the exercises in my plan, plus my normal ab workout. After this, Kathryn and I went for a 1.5 mile desert jog. A little light stretching and I am feeling much better.



I went over to son Jason’s and borrowed back my Trek bike, washed and lubed it, and then waxed the frame. It looks pretty nice. Kathryn and I will do a little riding soon.



We sat down yesterday afternoon and looked at some up-coming charity races. We think we will do the “Iron Bunny” (5k) in El Paso toward the end of April (supports ALS disease association) and a Run for Public Health (8k) in May, which supports the Wounded Warrior Project. So, if anyone wants to join Team Zen to benefit these causes, let us know.



At our post race dinner last night we found Student Alice h…

Bataan Race Report

With palms together,


Good Afternoon Everyone,



This morning Student Yubao and I lined up in the chaos of the White Sands Missile Range’s Bataan Death March Memorial race with 6500 marchers. We could not find Student Alice and neither of us had her cell number. The wind was horrible, gusting easily into the 40 MPH range, and steady at 20-25 MPH. It was chilly and dark. The wind made fast work of Yubao’s hat which he bought on our last long hike through the desert.



As the start time approached, after the Star-Spangled Banner was sung by singer Ricky Lee, the announcer did a Roll Call of those Bataan Survivors present and one’s who died over the year since the last March. Three survivors voiced “Here!” There was an eerie silence as the deceased were called out. A fly-over by the Air Force ended the opening ceremonies and the cannon blasted our start.



I felt great. The weather got better as the sun rose over the mountains. The huge crowded field made it seem easy to get through the first…

Dharma

With respect,








Thank you very much Kobutsu for both sharing this insightful and powerful piece of writing, but also for the person you are. Thank you also for taking the time to call me, it is always a moment pregnant with the possibility of awakening to speak with you. Reading this piece reminded me so much of my ten years of work in child protective services, work as much for myself as for the children and families I was asked to work with. How to feel compassion for a perpetrator of sexual violence on a small child? How to understand a family system that produces and allows such behavior?





Such work changes us and also, I think, invites us to examine deeply, the phrases and jargon we Zennists drape ourselves with. Buddha nature is nature and nature is the universe: not all sweetness and light. Stars collide, civilizations brutalize one another, and individuals eat each other for lunch. All dharmas. Life unfolds.







Releasing ourselves from the grip of our thoughts and feelings about s…

The Wholehearted Way

With palms together,


Good Morning Everyone,



The morning began at 2:00 AM with Suki being sick. I cleaned the carpet and walked her. She seemed to feel better, went to sleep, as I tried myself to recover my dreams. Soku Shin was dead to the world. Good. She really needed the rest. So, up again at 4:30, I began with Zazen, did a arms and shoulders weight workout, and followed that with a yoga routine. After writing this note, I will head out into the desert for a 2.8 mile hike. Then return to paint. My afternoon is filled with dokusan interviews. This evening the women gather for their Zen group and I will practice Zazen and yoga at the Temple beginning at 7:00 PM. Such is my day.



A new student and I have been studying the Bendowa, an essay by Master Dogen on the practice of the Wholehearted way. I consider this often through the day. Am I wholeheartedly present? Is my mind divided? I notice, that often it is, and I gently bring it back together in a simple breath with my shoulders ope…

Morning Practice

With palms together,


Good Morning Everyone,



This morning we rose early. It feels good to get up early sometimes, but then again, it feels good to sleep in on occasion. This morning I went through my morning yoga routine feeling ever-so-tight and feeling as if springs were uncoiling in the process. Yoga when done slowly and mindfully is such a centering, contemplative practice. I followed this with an easy leg workout with weights: squats and calf-raises, then for abs, crunches and knee tucks. In a week or two I will increase this day’s workout to include lunges and much heavier weight.



Last night at Temple we explored a few fragments of Master Dogen’s “Fukanzazenji.” It was a good discussion, I thought, about coming to experience what is true and already present within us: our buddha-nature. Once this unfolds and we see it clearly, everything in our lives has the portent of teaching and learning: from downward facing dog to making coffee in the morning to typing such a message as thi…

A Day

With palms together,


Good Afternoon Everyone,



This morning I am still nursing a blister on my left foot’s Big Toe…I need it to heal for Sunday’s race at White Sands Missile Range. So, I have not walked but a half mile or so over the last two days. Kathryn (Soku Shin) and I did go down to the Rio Grande where we biked two miles the day before yesterday. (It was very beautiful at sunset!)



What I have been doing is yoga twice a day and weights. This morning I punched up my weight routine, pulled out my old workout log, and re-did it to reflect a few changes. As it stands: Monday and Thursday are Arms and Shoulders, Tuesday and Friday are Chest and Back, Wednesday is Legs, Abs are daily. Yoga is twice daily. Tai Chi Chih is Wednesday. I am going from three sets of 8 reps heavy, building to five sets of 8 heavy.



On the aerobic side: After the Bataan Death March on Sunday, I thought I would move back to running, since I think I have solved the foot issues (at least temporarily) so Monday …

A Peaceful Nation

With palms together,




Good Afternoon Everyone,







This morning we woke in good time, a few stretches (I wouldn’t call it yoga) a few reps of the dumbbells (I wouldn’t call it a weight workout) and a trip to the Temple to don the vestments, open the service, sit Zazen and then leave to join Rev. Gozen-sensei, my former disciple, as he gave Shukke Tokudo to one of his disciples, Rev. Kim Vajramanas Pries. After the festivities, we regrouped at the International Delights Deli for a wonderful lunch. Rev. Dai Shugyo completed the service in my stead at the Temple and Dharma Teacher Zen Shin offered a talk. Afterwards, Soku Shin and I took Suki for a walk in the desert, albeit, a short walk, as MY DOGS are tired and still sore. Now resting, I have some time to write to you.







The wars of the United States seem to keep increasing, all very legitimate I am given to understand, yet wars, none-the-less. I am wondering where our resolve to find peaceful solutions to conflict went. What? Oh, excuse m…

13.1 Today

With palms together,


Good Afternoon Everyone,



Students Yubao and Alice and I finished our last long training hike this morning in preparation for the Bataan Death March Memorial race coming up this Sunday, the 27th. I left them at a corner about a mile from my apartment and when I walked in the door I had done 13.1 miles. My toes were killing me. A cold bath helped, Aleve helped more! And now, after lunch, a cold beer is topping off a wonderful morning. Soku Shin and I are planning a trip into Old Mesilla today. She wants to look at a proposed biking route. I think we will rest after that…or at least I know I will!



Be well.

Morning Note

With palms together,


Good Morning Everyone,



Today is a full day. Walking this morning with friends, Allen and Eve, Peace Village Board Meeting at noon, a birthday greeting for a friend at 1:30, several dokusan interviews this afternoon, and the evening’s Zazen and yoga tonight. I have been quite busy for a retired guy who is a monk.



We have put together a small team for the Bataan Death March: I will join students Yubao and Alice on the March. Yesterday I ordered special t-shirts for us to wear. On the front, Clear Mind Zen with our Order’s logo. On the back, “Stillness in Motion” with “Team Zen” underneath.



So far each evening we are chanting the Heart Sutra for our brothers and sisters in Japan. I have few moments in the day where that nation is not on my mind. Such suffering makes my worries seem thoroughly insignificant, even embarrassing. The Japanese have much to teach us, I suspect, about handling adversity. No looting, no craziness, just a determination to do what needs to …

Change

With palms together,


Good Morning Everyone,



Many thanks, and nine bows, to the individual who offered a new Buddha statue at our Temple’s gate. And for the care given to our plants along the side. It was a delight to arrive yesterday afternoon and discover these gifts.



Last night’s Zazen was powerful. Just before the bell rang we got an update on the tsunami/nuclear plant catastrophe. So the loss of life, devastation, potential for even greater devastation, and great suffering of the Japanese people were foremost on our minds. Our Robe Verse, Verse of Atonement, Three Refuge Chant, Heart Sutra and Four Great Vows seemed especially meaningful and suggestive.



A glance at the news pages this morning revealed death and destruction, war, wanton killing, and environmental crisis. On a student’s Face Book page, I saw a video of a young woman thanking God for answering her prayers by raining down destruction on the “atheists” in Japan. Soku Shin and I saw a documentary about a new craze in t…

Stillness

With respect,


Good Morning Everyone,



Yesterday at Temple I spoke about seated Zen practice, about how we often think of discipline incorrectly and thus push against it. There is a source of strength deep within us. I know it is there; I have tapped it in Vietnam, on long motorcycle trips, in Sesshin, in Ango, and on long runs. The conventional wisdom to developing endurance is that we push ourselves to tap into it. Wrong. This strength resides in stillness, in the heart of our being. To push to touch it actually pushed it away.



In our struggle to achieve something, say running 26.2 miles or say, sitting in zazen for Sesshin, it is our goal and push to achieve it that forms a barrier, or resistance, to its actual achievement. Our practice is a gentle way, but a resolute way, none-the-less. Our practice is to release ourselves into our practice.



Sitting in zazen we often want to move, we want the period to be over. We say things to ourselves, we say things to the timer, and we sometim…

Dharma Gates

With palms together,


Good Morning Everyone,



There are mornings when the air is just right. This was one of them. We went out for a short desert walk (my long walk is tomorrow), and we had the top down on the old Saab as we drove over to the trailhead. The air was crisp and delicious. Out of the car and on the trail, we could feel the morning sun warming the air as we walked. Suki, of course, was searching for rabbits and quail, crossing this way and that, but always keeping us in view.



Sand, sun, stones, cool desert air, these are dharma gates. I struggle at times to keep myself upright in them, especially with others along the way. Mindfulness is clearly required while hiking in the desert or for training of any kind. Concentration, for me, often disallows conversation while exercising. Focus is critical. Its like my brain will not allow stereo, everything has to be monaural.



So, we often walk in silence, though at times I say a word or hear Soku Shin say a word or two, we do not …

Buddha Nature

With palms together,


Good Morning Everyone,



Suki has taken to sleeping on the top of the back of the living room sofa. From this vantage point she can both sleep and scan. In the car she sits upright on the center console. Suki is awake. If a dog has buddha-nature, what does it say about the nature of that nature?



Is it still buddha nature when not realized? And what exactly, would that say about the buddha nature, if it were, or, on the other hand, if it weren’t?



One aspect of buddha nature is that it is inherent in everything. It pervades the universe and some argue it is the universe itself. We might think of it as a Buddhist form of panentheism. It is in everything, but is not the thing itself.



Another aspect of the buddha nature is its manifestation. I have said the buddha nature is essentially universal process, a sort of infinite, in all directions and all times, metabolism. We might say that whatever it takes to support this metabolism is an aspect of the manifestation of it…

Wisconsin

Strike.

Be Resolute

With palms together,


Good Morning Everyone,



I have been meaning to write this for some time now. It is about our practice...or more accurately, our relationship to our practice. Please take it in the spirit it is intended, that of a support to our practice, a reminder of what we are about.



Our Zazen practice is best not done as a solitary experience, nor is it one done as we please. Zazen is a disciplined practice. Zazen is not a practice we can chose to do or not do on a whim or to quit doing for any reason. For buddhas and bodhisattvas, Zazen is our life. We should set a time, set a length of time, and set a place: then follow our schedule. Practice alone is a weak practice: It allows for far too many bad habits to develop and continue.



Zazen is also not a practice that allows for wiggling, hesitation, bathroom going, water sipping, or other activities that reveal our lack of concentration and discipline. Zazen is seated meditation where our eye is steady and our resolve firm. We …

Adaptation

With palms together,


Good Morning Everyone,



We woke up a bit later than usual with a degree of stiffness related to the weekend’s training both in Zen and in Half Marathon. The combination of seated Zen, hiking, and bike riding, coupled with some yoga, was a bit much…not over the top, but enough to push the muscles to adapt.



Adaptation is part of our evolutionary process. In Zen we call it “unfolding.” We always begin where we are and take a step. As a result of the step, especially if it is outside of our comfort zone, we are stressed a bit and essentially forced to adapt. This is not unlike the koan process John Daido Loori discusses in his edited text, “Working with Koans.” Nor is it unlike the shikantaza of Soto Zen. In either case, our practice is to go deeper, go deeper, only to come to who we are, which is essentially universal adaptation or universal change.



Accordingly, it is against our nature to try to remain the same. It is against our nature not to let go and adapt. I fe…

Zazenkai

With palms together,


Good Morning Everyone,



So, it is 4.7 miles from the apartment to the Temple, more or less. I say more or less because it depends on the route. As a pedestrian or bike rider, we add 3 tenths of a mile because we must loop around a sweeping and complex intersection to get to a tunnel which takes us under I-25 in order to continue down Main Street. Main Street itself is a poor example of pedestrian or bicycle –friendly traffic. The sidewalks are sporadic and the bike lanes, if they exist, are in serious disrepair. I noticed, however as I went along, that these “flaws” became generous teachers along the way.



Anyway, yesterday was Zazenkai day at our Zen Temple. We began at 10:00 and closed at 4:00. It was wonderful. We had four Zen participants, including myself. We added two more as the day passed. Then in the afternoon, two women walked in with a small child. They were interested in what we were doing. At the point they came in we were in the middle of a study grou…

Westboro Baptist Church

With palms together,


Good Morning Everyone,



The news this morning assures us that the US Supreme Court stands with the First Amendment of the Constitution, even when that speech is loathsome. As abbot of the Order of Clear Mind Zen, I offer my response to the Rev. Phelps below:



The Order of Clear Mind Zen responds to Rev. Fred Phelps, Westboro Baptist Church, Topeka, Kansas.



Dear Rev. Phelps,



I have just read that the US Supreme Court upheld your right to free speech. I am thankful that they did so and, personally, I want to thank you for offering us the opportunity to work on compassion and to practice forgiveness of your hate and the great suffering you and your Church inflict on human beings in the midst of their own great suffering. It is a challenge to offer you love, I admit. The suffering you cause in the name of your faith is very great. My first instinct is to want harm to come to you, to want you to suffer with the rest of us. But your anger and your pain are evident and I…

Notes

With palms together,


Good Morning Everyone,



Today at the Temple we will host Zen 101 at 6:00 PM, practice Zazen at 7:00 PM, and practice Yoga at 7:30 PM.



After two months or so meeting at 3:00 PM for Yoga and rarely having anyone come, we have decided to move our yoga practice to 7:30 PM Monday through Thursday, following Zazen at 7:00. Each practice period will be approximately 30 minutes in duration.



If anyone should wish to practice yoga, t’ai chi chih, Zazen, or have a personal teaching interview at anytime in the day, please call me at 575-680-6680 for an appointment.



Tai Chi Chih continues to meet at 6:00 PM on Wednesdays.



Our Friday 4:00 Zen Group will continue to meet and is followed by Zazen at about 5:30 PM.



Lastly, we will conduct Zazenkai this Saturday from 10:00 AM to 4:00 PM. Please call or email your reservation. A small donation of $10.00 would be appreciated.



Be well.