Showing posts from June, 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…

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 …

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…

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 mov…

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 …

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 ne…


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…

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,


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 limite…


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 …

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…


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 sim…

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.


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. W…

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.

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.…


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 t…


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 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





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 pra…