Showing posts from July, 2011

July 29

With palms together,

Good Morning Everyone,

Today concludes our three week commitment to Peace Camp here in Las Cruces, NM. Each morning at 8:30 AM we offered meditation training to children participating in Peace Camp. It has been, as always, a joy to do this practice. Children are often the most receptive of students, although, on occasion (as was the case this year) there are a few who are such wiggle worms that they find the practice too much to bear. In their presence, my own mind wanders.

This wandering mind catches me in my complacency and teaches me that I am only as far along the way as the next breath allows. Wiggle worm children became my most excellent teachers, then, offering themselves and their discomfort as questions to be addressed through my practice.

Notice. Let go. Learn. Such a deal!

Today: Peace Camp at 8:30, Morning Zazen at 9:30, and Evening Zazen at 6:00 PM.

A reminder: Zazenkai from 9:00 to 4:00 next Saturday the 6th of August. So far, only one reservation…

July 26

With respect,

Today at Clear Mind Zen Temple we will offer meditation at Peace Camp at 8:30 AM, Zazen at Temple at 9:30 AM, again at 6:00 PM, and Zen 101 at 7:00 PM. In addition, we have a Peace Village Board Meeting at 1:45 and dokusan at 3:30.

Please consider joining us for zazen and the Zen 101 group!

Be well,

July 25

With palms together,

Good Morning Everyone,

This morning we offer meditation training to the youngest of the Peace Campers during week three of our three week event. It is always a joy to offer this training. Children come to it very naturally with much less self awareness and perceived threats involved.

When adults come to it, they often bring with them all the issues that have dogged them through their lives: judgments, worries, and stiff, unyielding bodies.

We can learn a lot from practicing with children. Bring an open and unattached mind, allow your body to unfold and go in the direction of the training, and check your ego at the door. We call this Shoshin, “Beginners Mind.”

Today at CMZT: Peace Camp at 8:30, Zazen at 9:30, Zazen at 6:00 PM, Comparative Religion Group at 7:00 PM.

Be well.

July 24

With palms together,

Good Morning Everyone,

Yesterday was a good day, as days go. We rested, we walked, we visited with friends, and I painted. Practice can take many forms. In fact, all forms are practice. This is not to say forms are practice. Rather, anything we do is a practice when we approach it with an unmoving mind.

When I paint, for example, I let the painting speak for itself. I sometimes wrestle with what it is saying, but in the main, open myself to its teaching. The same for writing. I was saying to Soku Shin the other day that when I was writing plays, the characters took on a life of their own and held lengthy discussions in my head. I simply wrote down what they were saying. Likewise, the paining is in the canvas. It simply has to be revealed. It is the same for all other activity.

So, too, our true nature. An unmoving mind is a mind that knows nothing, only perceives, and allows perception to have its place without being mistaken for the thing itself. It leaves no…

July 23

With palms together,

Good Morning Everyone,

This morning we woke late as we were up into the night. Our wagessa group did well, although there was a degree of nervousness being reported regarding the actual process of sewing. This is an area where Zen practice is extremely helpful. Just a stitch. Just a breath. Nothing more. Our practice is to stay in the stitch and the breath and let all of the rest go. Practice.

Once the wagessas are completed, we will take them to a shop and have the embroidery applied.

Then, when the student is ready, as determined by the Teacher, we will conduct a ceremony and the person will take The Three Treasures and the Pure Precepts as their own.

What comes after is all about one’s willingness to manifest one’s true nature.

Be well.

July 22

With palms together,

Good Morning Everyone,

Today will be a busy day. We have Peace Camp at 8:30 AM, Zazen at 9:30 AM, Dokusan throughout the afternoon, and our Wagessa Sewing Event at 7:00 PM. Our Air Card is supposed to arrive today which will give us 5 gigs of data transfer for Internet services per month. This past billing cycle we used almost 3. So, I will be doing dokusan via Skype today at the Temple while also waiting for the card to arrive via Fed Ex.

The sewing of a Wagessa is a first step in entering the Buddha way. It is offered to those who take the Three Refuges and the Three Pure Precepts. You must have studied for three months with a Teacher in our lineage, completed one Zazenkai or sesshin, and have sewn the Wagessa in order to complete the ceremony. A Wagessa is a single strap that is worn around the neck. It is a miniature Buddha Robe. Compared to a Rakusu, they are easy to sew.

Those who were in attendance at the Rakusu class decided they wanted to sew a Wagessa…

July 21

With palms together,

Good Morning Everyone,

Last night we received word that our daughter in law, Lynda, who just gave birth to grandson Evan, was hospitalized due to a cardiac issue as yet unspecified. Son Jacob and Baby Evan are doing well, though Jacob is feeling very stressed and is very worried. I offered to go to them to assist. He will let me know soon if that is necessary.

When our children suffer we suffer. We are invested in their health, happiness, and well-being. Our suffering is most acute as we realize our complete powerlessness to resolve their suffering. We move into ”what if” thoughts and create all sorts of awful scenarios thereby, mentally experiencing our powerlessness. In truth, though, there is much that can be done. We can lessen the grip of our attachments by understanding that we are not at all in control of life as it unfolds. We can turn our attention to the teaching that life is now offering us. We can cut-off the thoughts that create the suffering. We ca…

July 19

With palms together,

Good Morning Everyone,

This morning I wrote a note and thoroughly bored myself with my own words. Zen words are boring. They are often sophomoric. Zen words are empty and too often without real world connection. Words. Just words. Like dead leaves on a concrete floor.

I have been writing Zen words now for over ten years on my blog. What arrogance. Maybe I had to do that to get here. Enough.

I think it would be best if I just wrote about my life as it is and as it unfolds. Maybe there is the best, high-class Zen in that. Forget the Zen words. They get you into trouble.

This morning I woke to love.

This morning the moon was high

This morning Suki needed to go out early while still dark.

This morning we walked along the irrigation canal.

This morning mosquitoes had their breakfast on my calves.

Is there anything more that can be said?

Time for peanut butter on toast and espresso coffee.

Be well.

July 16

With palms together,

Good Morning Everyone,

Lately, I have been thinking about our mission. We say we are an Engaged Zen Sangha. People who have filled out membership forms have said they would like to find ways to make our practice socially relevant. We have practiced at parks and on the street. We have taught meditation at yearly Peace Camps for five years. We have sporadically volunteered at the local soup kitchen. And, recently, we have reconnected with the J. Paul Taylor Juvenile Correctional Facility to offer meditation to the youth incarcerated there. Members of the Order are volunteers at hospice. One member is going through the initial stages of accessing the Folsom prison network. Moreover, our Temple has opened itself to examining religious diversity and women’s issues through our groups focused on these areas.

With few exceptions, these are often individual projects, not accomplished as a community together. I wonder about that. We are a small group, spread out, that come…

July 15

With palms together,

Good Morning Everyone,

We conclude this week with Peace Camp at 8:30 AM, Morning Services at 9:30 AM, and Evening Services at 6:00 PM. It has been a full week with Peace Camp each morning back to back with our Morning Service, and on Thursday, our effort to bring Zen to the youth at the Southern New Mexico Juvenile Corrections Facility. Soku Shin co-led Peace Camp, Student Steve assisted with the Corrections Facility, and we are now looking at a day of rest on Saturday.

Sunday we will offer our weekly Zen Service with Tea Service and Teisho. We will follow this with a discussion of our recent Sesshin. We will provide coffee, tea, and muffins for this discussion’s refreshments.

We have ordered two copies of the Heart of Being and two copies of the Eight Gates of Zen, texts used in our two discussion groups. The order was delivered somewhere yesterday, just not to us. Amazon has shipped overnight another order. It is supposed to arrive today. We will see.

Lastly, w…

What's What?

With respect,

Good Morning Everyone,

Work with what is in front of you. Sometimes we don’t like our work, the book we are studying or the person we are within the moment. It’s all understandable and our first inclination is to change work, texts, or people in order to make a better situation. This is relatively easy to do, but is it the right thing to do?

In Zen we are asked to work with what’s presented to us. We are taught that everything has value, everything is our teacher and/or a dharma gate. This is a very important invitation as it offers us a teaching or two. First, everything is, indeed, a dharma gate, and everything is, indeed, our teacher. Second, our response to these things is also a practice point. The nature of our relationship between things is critical: do not overlook it. Is it hierarchal or horizontal? Are we “knowers” or “learners”?

How can we appreciate our lives if we cannot appreciate our actual life? As we practice not to live in a dream, to see “things as it…

Sewing the Buddha's Robe

With respect,

Those interested in attending a rakusu sewing group for Jukai Ceremony, please reply to me via telephone or email. Soku Shin has volunteered to lead this group. Our first meeting will be Tuesday evening at 6:00 PM before Zen 101. We will then do a closing service and practice period afterwards. The sewing group is open to any who wishes to learn about the Buddha's robe and how one is made.

Be well.

July 12

With palms together,

Good Morning Everyone,

From the outside looking in:

If we spend our day in silent illumination it is possible to begin to see every breath as life itself. Our breath is our life. Breathing in, we allow the universe to enter us; breathing out, we enter it. And in time, we discern there is no inner or outer and that flow is actually just present moment awareness. Then, there is no breathing.

Wave actualizes water. Two depends on one.

From the inside looking out:

We notice we are born in every breath, a birth that separates us one from another. Over and over we ask ourselves “who is this” which notices anything at all? And what does “notice” imply? The moment “we” notice, we create a division: this notices that. I am breathing.

Water notices wave. One depends on two.

“What are the teachings?” Master Dogen asks, the elder Tenzo replies, “One, two, three, four, five.”

Everything is both separate and not separate simultaneously. Thing and no-thing simultaneously. Throu…


With palms together,

Good Morning Everyone,

With the morning light comes hope for a day with less coughing and less runny nose events. My joints are no longer achy, but my nose keeps flowing and the cough is still there, though not quite as bad. I think I can actually speak in a near normal voice, as well. The sad news is that Soku Shin seems to have caught this from me. Being ill is no fun. Yet, it does bring a few benefits if we are willing to accept them.

First, being ill is a clear reminder that we are not permanent. We are of the nature to get sick. Sooner or later we will naturally succumb to illness of one sort or another. Second, illness slows us down. It is good to slow the pace from time to time. In such a slow pace it is easier to assess where we are and what we are doing with our lives. With slowness comes the third benefit of illness, appreciation. We are much more inclined to appreciate things when we are deprived of them for a time. Illness deprives us of energy and d…


With palms together,

Good Evening Everyone,

Our Summer Sesshin was very good, if not quite challenging for those who had to bear the sound of me with a nasty cold. I could barely speak and was in considerable distress, but sesshin is a potent and important cornerstone to our practice. We had several members of the Zen Center of Las Cruces participate, as well as three people from our El Paso Sangha. It was a packed Zendo.

Tenzo Tamra was superb in her practice. Meals were delicious and served properly: all meals were Oryoki style with our three bowl Oryoki sets. Jisha Soku Shin was our Zendo Jikido who provided supervision in the Zendo. Steve was our Doan who kept the time for Zazen and Kinhin. Rev. Dai Shugyo, our Ino, kept things going even in the midst of confusion which was, thanks to all, kept to a minimum. I was very thankful for the support of Rev. Gozen-sensei, abbot of the Zen Center of Las Cruces, for his willingness to co-officiate this event with me. I am also thankful f…

Summer Sesshin

With palms together,

Good Morning Everyone,

The Order of Clear Mind Zen will retreat into Summer Sesshin from today at 7:00 PM through Sunday at 4:00 PM. We will be joined by members of the Zen Center of Las Cruces and the Both Sides/No Sides Zen Sangha in El Paso.

May you each practice to be awake and thoroughly present in this moment.



July 6

With palms together,

Good Morning Everyone,

With the excellent care of Soku Shin I am feeling a tad better. Not that I am going to be all springy and everything, but better. Thanks to those who wished me well.

Our little temple seems to be thriving. We have had drop-in visitors, several new people who had scheduled appointments, our groups, and dokusans, all in addition to our regularly scheduled daily Zazen. I am so grateful for the opportunity to be in such service. It is hard not to be there when I am not well. This suggests that perhaps some of you who are in Las Cruces might commit to opening the Temple at least in the evening on a certain day of the week. I would then not be as concerned if I knew we had coverage in the event I am otherwise occupied. It would be your opportunity to take ownership of your temple. Let me know if this is something you would be willing to partner with me about.

Dharma Teacher Zen Shin had a good idea about Sunday. I agree going to a restaurant is a…

CMZ Temple

With palms together,

Good Morning Everyone,

It is early in the morning. I woke at just before 4:00 AM. I enjoy the early morning hours very much as they are usually quite quiet and cool. The weather here in New Mexico has been exceedingly toasty with daily temps over a hundred degrees. The good news is that this should change as the rains come beginning in July. Mornings, as a result, are cooler and in the quiet provided, I am able to sit in reflection about the coming day.

About the Kitchen:

We have been hard at work in the Temple this past week. Tenzo Tamra has revamped the kitchen, did a deep cleaning, and is now ready to assume her duties for the coming Sesshin. Please honor her work and be respectful of the Temple by washing any cups, glasses or other dishware you may use while there. Also, if you make coffee or tea, prepare food, or something of the kind, please take care to clean up after yourself.


A few words regarding our Order and the Zendo:

Please do not interrup…