Zen 101

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Training Fund

With Respect to All,

Good Morning Everyone,

Since opening the topic training with the Silent Thunder Order's abbot, Taiun-sensei, several members and friends of the Order have asked how to help financially. At our Order's bank we have a savings account. I am considering this account a "Training Fund" which will go towards Taiun's travel to and from New Mexico, as well as my travel to Atlanta for training there. Taiun is expected to train with us here in New Mexico in late September. His partner is now obtaining flight information. Fortunately, I am "retired" from the US Army and can fly on military aircraft "hops." So, my travel expenses will not be great. However, I am expected to offer Ango fees and dana to Taiun-sensei. The Ango fees are (at present) $1500.00 for the three months.

I am considering beginning Ango (a three month training retreat) in the first part of 2012 with Taiun's permission. I am working on a budget for myself which will allow me to save money towards the Ango fes and dana. I would personally appreciate any and all assistance I can get from you.

If you wish to support this effort, please make your donation either by check to "The Order of Clear Mind Zen" with 'training' in the memo section, or through Paypal on our website. If you chose Paypal, kindly send me an email so that I know that your donation was intended for the Training Fund as opposed to the general fund which supports the Temple itself.

Since it is the end of one month and the beginning of another, please do consider offering support to our temple. Your donations are greatly appreciated.

May you each be happy and free from suffering.



Wednesday, June 29, 2011

June 29th

With palms together,

Good Afternoon Everyone,

The Dharma is incomparably profound and minutely subtle…so, says the chant for opening a sutra. In fact, the Dharma is as plain as the nose on our face. It is the nose on your face. My face. Every face. No face. Because it is everywhere, it is nowhere. As one of the Ten Ox-Herding pictures suggests, “no thing.”

If it is nothing and it is everything, what is it?

We cannot say, because as we speak, falsehood flows from our mouths. One and all, all and one, yet both and neither. Goodness…we can certainly get a headache with this sort of stuff.

What difference does this Zennish nonsense make? Not much. The Dharma for me is the feel of the pc keys under my fingertips, the heat of the southwestern sun, the sweat dripping from my forehead as I work, or the taste of cold water as I take a sip from my glass. Everything in every direction manifests the Dharma. The flowing stream, once entered, is ours knowing in fact, there is no stream and that “the stream” itself is just a construct we use to assist us in getting in the flow.

So? Just sip some water.

Be well.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

June 26,2011

With palms together,

Good Morning Everyone,

This morning I want to address some rather serious business: our relationship with the greater Zen world. My mission is to bring the correct Dharma into the world. This was Master Dogen’s mission, and it is the mission of all the Buddhas and Ancestors throughout history. This mission has been my life since taking Jukai in 1998. Our Order is growing both in its membership and its public profile. In tandem with this growth is a growing movement in the greater Zen world to create bodies which help seekers determine the authenticity of Zen Teachers and their Centers. And while I personally abhor such bodies, I understand their importance as it is possible for anyone to order a Buddhist robe, print a certificate and call themselves Zen priests.

Our Dharma Grandfather, Matsuoka-roshi, did not register his priests at Soto headquarters in Japan, he streamlined and collapsed much of the ceremonials, rites, and rituals, and made Zen practice centers much more “American” in feel. While this was in keeping with many of the early Japanese Soto priests who came to the United States to teach, few did it as effectively. Moreover, after these early Masters died, second and third generation Zen teachers, not fully matured (in my opinion) relied on Japan for guidance and sanctioning of their lineages. Matsuoka’s line did not to this, but with one exception, Taiun Elliston-sensei, from the Atlanta Soto Zen Center. Taiun has completed formal Dharma Transmission from Okamura-roshi and is now recognized by Soto Shu as a fully transmitted Zen priest in the Soto lineage.

Recently, I have made application to the American Zen Teachers Association. I have had a number of chats with one of its Board Members, James Ford, and at his suggestion, made application. He then suggested I contact Michael Taiun Elliston-sensei from the Atlanta Soto Zen Center.

Taiun and I have had several Skype interviews. At this point, I am seriously considering stepping onto that transmission path with him. This effort would decidedly not be for me, but rather, it would to legitimize our Order (both its priests and lay members).

Such a path would mean some great degree of hardship and I would need the support of this Sangha, its priests, and my partner, Soku Shin to complete it. First, we would need to bring Taiun out here to meet and practice with us for a Sesshin. Second, I would need to go out there to practice a 90 day Ango (extended retreat) with his Center. There may be other requirements in terms of sewing, travel and hosting, but these would be the main elements.

Once I complete the practice requirements, and meet with the approval of Taiun, he would perform a Dharma Transmission Ceremony and I would be accepted by Soto Shu as a fully recognized transmitted priest. This would mean our Order would be among the recognized lineages of Soto Zen. We would then be considered part of the mainstream and no one would be able to question our legitimacy.

To explore this further, I will invite Taiun to join us here in Las Cruces in August for a five day Sesshin. The dates are not set, but I am writing to ask him this morning. With this visit, we will together explore the implications, requirements, and benefits of such a move. We will have to purchase a ticket for Taiun. We will host him at our home and have him visit both our Temple here in Las Cruces, and our Sangha in El Paso. I am asking for donations to support this initial visit. Please be as generous as you possibly can. Or if any of you have travel miles you would be willing to use to obtain a ticket, please let me know.

As to the American Zen Teachers Association application. I will have further discussion with board member James Ford in a few days and will keep you informed. Due to Matsuoka-roshi’s contentious relationship with Soto headquarters, his line is not held in high esteem by many of the “powers that be”. I am told I have less than a fifty-fifty chance at acceptance even with my background and our extensive practice, training, and experience.

I am willing to undergo this training process, but only if the Order and its members support it.

Please give me your feedback as soon as possible.

As to Moving!

We have moved into our new home. Well, we should say, we have put all of our stuff in the house. Moving in, actually moving in, will take some time. Still, the place is wonderful, large, spacious, and very uniquely Mexican. As we get things put away, we will take pictures and post them. We hope to have an Open House sometime soon. Thanks to all of those who made this possible.

A bow to all,

Friday, June 24, 2011

June 24

With respect,

Good Morning Everyone,

Up front: We have cancelled the Zen Discussion Group. Our on-going Educational Groups are Comparative Religion, Introduction to Zen, and Women in Zen. Each meeting at 7:00 PM on their respective weekday evenings.

As you know, we are moving our new residence tomorrow morning. We would love to have your assistance. Please consider joining us at 6:30 AM at 2190 Mars Avenue, Unit 6 to begin. My phone is 575-680-6680. I will take calls.

Throughout next week, we will be attempting to settle in there. We will continue to operate the Temple in the Alameda Zendo. I will office there and we will conduct all Temple functions there.

Moving is always a chore, it seems. More than a chore, it is a psychological and emotional deconstruction. Very, very Zen. We read in the Shobogenzo, that it is essential to "leave home." Yes, we must leave what we know and step into the light of the living moment. I have said once too often, "this is my last move!" Who am I kidding? We practice so that each breath is a move, each step, a step into the present, leaving no trace behind.

May we each "move" today.

Be well.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

June 23, 2011

With palms together,

Good Morning Everyone,

This morning I woke feeling good. Our move to our Mesilla Zen House is on schedule, things seem to be coming together, and the Temple on Alameda is doing well. Moreover, we have a start date for the implementation of our J. Paul Taylor Correctional Facility Contemplative Practices Program and we are certainly looking forward to this experience.

Over the last few days I have been sitting Zazen at the Temple for many hours. I have been considering our Order and its future. Ever since I was a novice professional Social Worker, I have believed in the value of supervision. Even with a Ph.D. and an Independent License, I still maintained a supervisory consultant, a peer-to-peer sounding board, if you will. As many of you know, my teaching relationship with my root teacher, Hogaku, has come to a close. I have been exploring options toward establishing a peer teaching relationship with another Zen Teacher. I am still in that process and will keep you informed. But this has little actual bearing on the Order of Clear Mind Zen, except that I want each of you to be aware that I know it is important that the head of an organization seek council from time to time.

As I see it, our Order is seriously beginning to unfold itself. Our mission is to practice Engaged Zen. We have three main venues at this time: hospice, corrections, and bearing witness for peace. We have established a Membership Council, a new and very rigorous daily practice schedule, and have been hard at work tweaking our website. In addition, we have improved our advertising in the Bulletin and added a banner ad on SweepingZen.com Traffic to our website and blog is on the rise.

Perhaps as a result of these efforts, we are experiencing an increase in attendance, drop-in activity, and an increased interest on the part of the general public as to who we are and what we do. It may be time to seek volunteers to staff our Temple a few hours a day. If anyone would care to volunteer to staff the Temple an hour or two on any given weekday, please email me.

Lastly, many thanks to Student Tamra and friend Artie for securing a door to our office so that Dokusan will have a more private feel.

We will be moving Saturday morning. If you can help us, please contact Soku Shin.

Be well.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Our Work

With palms together,

Good Morning Everyone,

The days are being filled with new and exciting people. The first two days of this week, which included our new schedule, were very full. We had a number of drop ins, several new visitors at our Zazen periods, and an apparent excitement about our simply being there. At our six o’clock Zazen periods, we had eight practitioners, not including myself or Soku Shin, who was on her way to El Paso to practice with our Sangha there. Very nice.

Our weekday schedule includes Morning Services at 9:30 AM, Zazen at 3:00 PM, and Evening Services at 6:00 PM. People are welcome to join us for these practice periods. If new to the practice or the center, we ask that you arrive a half hour early in order to be given instruction.

Our Order is working hard toward defining itself as an Engaged practice organization. Several of our members are entering Hospice Training programs, entering Prison Work, and doing a variety of volunteers jobs to assist those in need in our communities.

We will be offering Staff Development and Training in Contemplative Practices at J. Paul Taylor Correctional Facility on the 28th and hope to begin our work there on the following week. We are now about to enter our third month of a “Year of Solace” the Hospice Training Program offered through Camille Adair at Ambercare, and we have sharpened and settled into our own educational and practice programs at the Temple.

I wish to announce that Student Tamra has accepted the position of Tenzo for our Order. She brings with her thirty years of practice in the Maezumi White Plum Asangha tradition and was a student of his in LA. I am also thankful that Student Steve has accepted the role of Jikido in our Temple. He will act as our Temple Attendant, correcting posture, ensuring our offerings of incense, light, and water are continuously refreshed.

Lastly, my own jisha, Soku Shin will enter the priesthood as a Novitiate in July. Her ceremony is tentatively scheduled for Sunday the 17th at Clear Mind Zen Temple.

As is always the case, we look forward to seeing you in person at our Temple. In lieu of that, we are always available through Skype. Consider arranging a Skype interview in you are interested in working with us. Simply email me at clearmindzen@yahoo.com.


Sunday, June 19, 2011


With respect,

OK, we discussed the temple schedules during the discussion period after Zazen this morning and I took in a couple of replies from members at large upon returning. Below please find our tentative new schedule for both the Temple and the Priests. At this point there are two of us who will be practicing the Priest's schedule. You are welcome to do so at home if you wish or join us at the Temple. There are some important changes. Please let us know if you will attend any of our functions. Yours,

Clear Mind Zen Temple Schedules

Temple Schedule

New! Monday through Friday:

Morning Services 9:30 - 10:30

(NOTE Mesilla Sangha Meets Tuesday/Thursday Morning 9:30 – 11:00 AM)

Evening Zazen at 6:00 - 7:00 PM, Closing Services at 8:00 PM

Sangha Activies

Monday at 7:00 PM - 8:00 PM Comparative Religions Group

Tuesday at 7:00 PM - 8:00 PM Zen 101

Thursday Women in Zen 7:00 - 8:00 PM

Friday Zen Group --- Cancelled

Saturday: CLOSED.

Sunday: Formal Zen Service 10:00 AM – 12:00 PM

Priest's Weekday Schedule


5:00 Wake (residence)

5:30 Zazen (residence)

6:30 Breakfast (residence)

7:30 Morning Business and Exercise (residence)

9:30 Morning Service (Temple)

Includes: Sanpai, Robe Verse, Atonement Verse, Refuges, Heart Sutra, Zazen/Kinhin/Zazen

10:30 Contemplative Practices (Samu, Engaged Zen, Dokusan)

12:00 Lunch (Oryoki)

1:00- 3:00 Comptemplative Practices (Samu, Engaged Zen, Dokusan)

3:00 -3:30 Zazen

3:30 - 5:00 Contemplative Practices (Samu, Engaged Zen, Dokusan)

5:00 Dinner (Oryoki)

6:30 Zazen (Temple)

7:00 Sangha Activity (Temple) (Educational/Discussion Groups)(Meetings)

8:00 Closing Service (Temple)

Includes: Shin Gyo, Four Great Vows, Incense Offering, Fueko

9:00 Retire (Residence)


Daiho Hilbert-roshi, OCMZ


Sunday Questions

Good Morning Everyone,

Today I would like to ask you about our Sunday practice. It used to be that Sunday mornings were the times that the entire Sangha gathered together to sit. Out Temple has not coalesced in that way. Instead, we have people that come on Monday, some on Tuesday, others on Thursday, and a few on Friday. But a single day when all of us come together has not been happening. I am wondering why. Perhaps it is because we are meeting at 9:00 and 9:00 is too early? Perhaps if we moved the Sunday service to 10:00? Perhaps there are just too many things at the Temple and people need to select one or two? Maybe we should roll all of our educational groups into one Sunday morning curriculum and just have weekdays be for straight Zazen practice?

Just a thought. Let me know yours,


Saturday, June 18, 2011

Schedule and Sesshin

With palms together,

Good Morning Everyone,

I would like to change the schedule to make it more consistent across the week. Please consider 6:30 – 7:00 PM Monday through Friday for Zazen. Our Monday and Tuesday Groups would then meet at 7:00 PM, while the Women’s Group meets at 5:30 PM on Thursdays. It appears there is waning interest in the Friday Group. I therefore suggest we cancel it.

So, our proposed schedule:

Monday through Friday Zazen at 6:30 PM

Comparative Religion Group Monday at 7:00 PM

Zen 101 Tuesday at 7:00

Women in Zen Thursday at 5:30.

Lastly, regarding the implementation of a morning schedule. I would like to consider Monday through Friday Zazen at 9:30 AM. The Mesilla Sangha meets on Tuesday and Thursday, in Old Mesilla, at this time for Zazen. I suggest we replicate this at our Zendo on weekdays.

Please offer some comments on this.

July 8, 9, and 10 will be our Summer Sesshin. It will be held in our Zendo on Alameda. Please email me your reservation. We are limited to ten registration. Sesshin will begin at 7:00 PM on the 8th. And close at 12:00 PM on the 10th.

Yours in the dharma,


Tuesday, June 14, 2011


With palms together,

Good Morning Everyone,

This week many things are happening: We have scheduled a meeting with the Superintendent of J. Paul Taylor Juvenile Corrections Facility for tomorrow morning to discuss implementing a Meditation program there. We are looking forward to establishing this program and hope that it will change the minds and enhance the lives of those youth incarcerated there. We will also meet this week with Claude Anshin Thomas and his jisha, Kenshin, via Skype to discuss a series of workshops to be offered here in November. Disciple Shoji, in California, is meeting this week with the gatekeeper of the prison chaplaincy program at Folsom prison. Lastly, our Ambercare Hospice training program, Solace, is in its second month. We are coming close to having a need for someone to offer their skills at Program Development on behalf of the Order. I would like to see someone volunteer to interview members in order to gather information about service and program needs or possibilities. From my point of view, these areas should include, but not be limited to, practice with vulnerable populations such as those dying, those ill, homeless, poor, and survivors of violence, including veterans. What is yours?

Our Comparative Religion Discussion Group was very well attended last night. We had two Muslim men and the daughter of one of them, attend as guest speakers. We also had three new guest participants. The discussion was far reaching and lively. It was wonderful to see members of such a rich faith tradition speak about their faith and its practices. We would like to seek out and invite members of each faith tradition we encounter along the way. If anyone knows a few Christians well versed in that tradition who might offer their understanding to us next Monday evening, please invite them and let us know if they accept.

Tonight is Zen 101 at 6:00 PM. Please consider joining us for our discussion of the fifth Ox-Herding picture!

Yours, Daiho

Thursday, June 09, 2011

Let it be

With palms together,

Good Evening Everyone,

Master Fuke travelled around saying, “If a clear mind comes, I let it be clear. If a deluded mind comes, I let it be deluded. If the wind comes from all directions…I let it be a whirlwind. And if a space comes I will strike it again and again.” Upon questioning, Master Fuke said, “Tomorrow there will be a formal dinner in Dai-hi Temple.”

This makes perfect sense to me. The first part points to being completely present in the moment, the second part is the same as saying, “Three pounds of flax!” when asked, “What is Buddha?”

Life offers us a variety of possibilities, doesn’t it? We can feel perfection and be completely calm and serene on one day. On another day, we might be hurried, frustrated, and crazy with worry. Special one day, common the next, we encounter each moment and respond according to the state of mind we are in. We may seem to be a slave to this “who knows what will happen next” mentality, but our practice reveals that we are not.

Zazen teaches us to accept that this is this and that is that and in this state of being we are to do what is in front of us to do with equanimity. Crazy is buddha. Serene is buddha. Full is buddha. Empty is buddha. Release yourself, as the Beatles crooned, “Let it be.”

Be well.

Tuesday, June 07, 2011


With palms together,

Good Morning Everyone,

Last’s night’s Comparative religion group was well attended and enjoyable, but clearly, we struggled with the religion of Islam. The behavior of many of its adherents leaves we in the West feeling anxious, if not downright hostile. We have to wonder what it is all about. The thing is, it’s as plain as the nose on our face: submission, which is the core meaning of the word, “Islam” itself. Westerners are not grown up to feel particularly in need of submitting. We stand on our own authority, or like to believe that we do.

Our two faith traditions, Zen and Islam, are very far apart. We speak very different languages and have very different core assumptions. While Islam, like Zen, does not hold humanity is essentially sinful, Islam does hold that humanity is disobedient to God. Whereas Zen, holds that humanity has separated itself from the Universe, this separation is not understood to be malevolent or even necessarily “sinful,” but more a simple by-product of our neurophysiology.

The starting point of Zen is a cosmological view that we are all one, deeply and completely one. So, an “individual self” is a delusion. The starting point for monotheistic faith traditions is the separate nature of God and Man. From a Zen point of view we might say that God is a delusion, man is a delusion, and that, at bottom, there is “just this,” as Master Baso points out in Case Four of Master Dogen’s Shinji Shobogenzo. This “just this” is the true reality.

Releasing oneself, letting go of self, and surrender, are Zen practices, which on the surface appear to be similar to Islamic submission, but the tone, aim, and internal sense are worlds apart. We practice to surrender our ego to the cosmos, a weave of living processes, recognizing our illusionary nature in the process. Islamic submission seems to be the act of a self, retaining the idea of self, and surrendering that self to Allah, a separate and superior sentient being. The feel is, I imagine, much like that of a serf to a king.

I would like to know more about Islam. If for no other reason than to understand a faith tradition that is rising and asserting itself in no uncertain terms on the world’s stage. Our group decided to find and invite Muslims to our discussion in order to gain a better understanding.

Be well.

Monday, June 06, 2011

Comparative Religion Discussion Today

With palms together,

Good Morning Everyone,

Today at Clear Mind Zen Temple we will practice zazen at 7:00 PM and host our Comparative Religions discussion group at 7:30 PM. The Temple will be open for open zazen at 2:00 PM.

The chapter on Islam will be our focus this evening. I do not expect us to get through the entire thing in one or even two sessions. This is an open group and anyone may join us. So, invite your friends and lets study together.

Be well.

Sunday, June 05, 2011


With palms together,

Good Evening Everyone,

A question came up today at the Temple. It had to do with the nature of dokusan in our Order. I tried to answer, stumbling as I am prone to do on occasion. I thought I would offer a more comprehensive answer this evening.

Dokusan is typically a private interview between a student and his/her teacher. In the tradition, the general term is sanzen, and it has three types. The first deals with listening to the teacher’s lectures in a group, the second is the private interview, and the third is visiting the teacher “in secret.”

My former teacher held dokusan in his office which was a small room that acted as a connection between the two bedrooms of his house in the mountains. It had a door on one room entrance and a set of swinging louvered doors on the other. I have done dokusan in my small Zendo in my residence. This had a door. At the current temple, we do not have a door on the office entrance, although I have asked the landlord for one. When we move into the new temple, I am hopeful we will have an office where we could do dokusan in a more private context than we have at this time, if we chose to do so.

Dokusan has a long and varied history in Zen. It is typically a brief encounter where the student is essentially asked to show their true nature, their understanding, or offer something about their practice. Many of the stories throughout the history of Zen are a result of such encounters, although these do not usually take places in offices, but rather on walks, during work, or on some other off-hand occasion. Offices, we might say, are a fairly modern and, I believe, “western” comfort.

I have not often used an office for dokusan. It reminds me too much of being a therapist, and a Zen teacher is decidedly NOT a therapist. My private interviews are much more conversations than tests of a student’s understanding. I see my student’s practice as witnessed in Zazen, kinhin, oryoki, and samu, as its own best “test.” I might say that dokusan is a moment to moment experience of practicing under the teacher’s eye. For scheduled dokusan, I like to see it as a personal dialogue, typically using a text to compliment the process.

There are times, of course, when I might go directly to a student’s understanding. It may be at a time the student least expects it and it may feel uncomfortable. Zen is a practice that often takes us out of our comfort zone. This is a good thing. Comfort zones have become our contemporary places to hide in plain sight. They allow us to decline anything that will challenge us and, as a result, we decline possibilities for growth.

I would like to invite any of you to ask for time with me. This is a first, “out of our comfort zone,” step. I will be happy to see you. We can talk in person or via Skype video conferencing. The procedure is to go to our Temple calendar, find a time, and then email Soku Shin for an appointment. She can be reached at clearmindzen@yahoo.com.

Be well.

Stepping Off

With palms together,

Good Morning Everyone,

While yesterday was a challenging day,

Today blossoms like a morning glory.

Standing on the petal’s edge,

I step off.


Each moment’s breath is an awakening: Breathe in, aware that I am breathing in; breathe out, aware that I am breathing out. I feel my heart beat as my toes grip the floor. I feel the muscles deep in my bottom stretch as my left knee crosses my right and settles there creating a sort of mountain with two crossed leg shins forming slopes. The sound of the morning doves, the clacking of laptop keys, and the taste of espresso on my lips: these all are the poetry of everyday life. As Student Bonnie M pointed out, Zen talk is like poetry. It is important to notice that. Few words, but words filled with meaning, nuance, and nearly electric in their ability to open a ready mind.

Let’s step off together.

Be well.

Saturday, June 04, 2011

When Anger Knocks

With palms together,

Good Morning Everyone,

This morning I am working on myself. It is difficult to feel angry and hurt. The experience is unpleasant. So, such feelings are important practice opportunities. For this post, it is NOT important who or what brought about these feelings. What is important is how I encounter them.

I spent the night last night considering these feelings. I avoided by playing online chess. I engaged in several ways. I wrote several letters I did not send. I talked with Soku Shin. I talked with a colleague. I practiced Zazen. I have decided this morning to take the high road.

What does this mean? To me it means not picking apart the one that hurt me or assailing him and hurting him in return. It does mean engaging my desire to do just that and processing it in ways so that it can be released and the negative energy integrated. It means I must be willing to see the suffering of this individual and see how we might share the same suffering at different times.

I practiced a giving and receiving practice, using the poison of his anger to counter the poisonous hurt arising in my heart. As my hurt transforms into compassion, albeit very, very slowly, I release it and offer it to him.

I wonder, though, selflessness in practice leaves the traces of us vulnerable to further injury. I tell myself to let that concern go. Yet, I have set myself aside in service to this individual for years and received his injuries over and over. I must work to obliterate the traces.

The most troubling aspect for me is that this person has no clue as to the harm he does. He appears arrogant. He appears self-serving. He seems unwilling to learn for himself about himself. While I have learned much from him, my lessons have been the lessons of reflection on the feelings evoked in his presence. May I work to put these to the best use possible.

Be well,


Friday, June 03, 2011


With palms together,

Good Morning Everyone,

The precepts are a mainstay of our conversation as Zen Buddhists. The manifest themselves as a deep and abiding aspect of our humanity, I believe. They are not written in stone as were the Ten Commandments, but rather are living aspects of our True Nature as human beings. They begin with generosity. The Buddha taught this by simply standing with a bowl in front of homes. The dana bowl has become a symbol of this paramita as its presence touches our heart and opens it.

Precept Paramita is our innate Buddha Heart/Mind arising and opening in the world. It is our moral center. As we wrap ourselves in the robe of liberation, whether figuratively or literally, we step forward with the Heart of deep compassion and care. Morality is the heart of ethics and ethics is right conduct among beings.

Precept Forbearance, often thought of as patience, is the quality of standing in the stream with a solid heart. We know things change, we bear witness to this change by being upright in its midst. We are in no hurry to make things happen, while we mindfully engage in change itself. We are standing buddhas.

Precept Perseverance is the manifestation of concentrated energy in the direction of practice realization in any arena of life. We practice to persevere in the face of hardship. We sometimes refer to this precept as diligence because it is with a diligent heart/mind that we set ourselves on the path and continue taking one step at a time even as the path becomes a challenge. Life is like that.

Precept Zazen is our practice of living life awake. It is the upright practice of being in the world with an attitude of open heart, open mind, wrapped in complete awareness. It is the aim and being of our life.

Precept Prajna is that which we see in the completeness of the universe. It is the embodiment of the cosmos. We practice this paramita by manifesting great faith in the cosmos as we unfold with it each day. It requires perspective. This is gained by reflection through time.

When we live allowing these perfections to manifest themselves in the universe, we are timeless buddhas. We are stillness in motion. Be well.


We will host Zen Discussion at 4:00 PM today followed by Zazen at 5:15 and Gathering Meal at 6:00 PM all at CMZT. Please join us.

Thanks to Sangha Members Tamra and Shelley, we have found a large, affordable, monastic residence in Old Mesilla. We will be moving in on the week after July 1st. The Order’s Temple will relocate there, as well, and we will attempt to find ways to be released from the lease on the current building. This move will allow us to consolidate our expenses and live more appropriately as monks. We will not need to use automobiles except to grocery shop and the like and will likely use our bicycles to get around town. The building is walled, with a gate. It has several large rooms, and will accommodate Zazenkai and Sesshin and the possibility of a small residential training program. We will provide more information as we are able.

Thursday, June 02, 2011


With respect,

I must practice begging this evening. It is our custom to ask for dana, which is to invite those in front of us to touch their own generous heart and make an offering to the Order. This money goes toward supportingthe Temple building, offseting the costs of communication, and helps to supply us with incense, candles, coffee, tea, and all manner of consumables. We have a beautiful wooden bowl on the foyer alter. We also have a donation button on our Order's website at http://clearmindzen.org. Please consider offering a donation to our Order. We are a New Mexico Non-profit corporation established to offer Zen Buddhist service.

It is traditional that the begging monk recite the Hanya Shin Gyo while doing this practice. Since I cannot do this for you here, I am sending you the text:

m m m Ma-ka Han-ya Har-a-mita Shin Gyo


















Wednesday, June 01, 2011


With palms together,

Good Morning Everyone,

When practicing Zazen, sit upright. I have taught this from the beginning just as all teachers before me have done. What does it mean, though, to sit upright?

Spine upright, crown of head touching ceiling, bottom touching the floor, shoulders open, chest open, chin tucked and, as Master Dogen used to say, “eyes horizontal, nose vertical!” This is our position, the position of all buddhas. But these instructions are also a metaphor for our attitude toward living our lives, and this is the most important point: serene and unmoving, we take each step making ourselves in the world.

We cannot think that we are practicing Zazen part-time or at home or at a Zendo. We cannot “think” we are practicing Zazen. Our practice is ontological, that is to say, it is “being.” Zazen is not separate from our moment to moment life. Zazen is complete, unexcelled, mindfulness: always aware, always present, always taking a step with deliberateness. This is our practice.

How many of us sleepwalk through our day? How many intoxicate ourselves with television, radio, CDs, DVD’s, Internet? Tombstones for eyes, hardly alive, we stumble through a day and wonder at night where the time went. I am as guilty as any of you. My one saving grace, so to speak, is my dogged diligence in noticing and bringing myself back to the world as it is. I make this paramita my first and last. When we are Zen practitioners this is our work. It is a work that has no start time and no end time. It is our life.

Be well.