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Showing posts from August, 2011

August 29

With palms together,

Good Morning Everyone,



Yesterday was a wonderful day. Soku Shin entered the Order as a Novitiate Priest, the service and ceremony was extremely well attended (Soku Shin and I had to sit Zazen in the outer room!). We then went to lunch at the Village Inn and after that several folks came to the residence for coffee. The last person left at about 4ish and we were plain tuckered out. We watched a few episodes of “Saving Grace” on our DVD player (we do not have a TV) and sipped some wine.



Sometimes certain events just find a place in your heart, you know. Unsui and Shukke Tokudo are such moments. These are ceremonies where one takes lifelong vows, a very serious commitment. Soku Shin mentioned to me that speaking these vows aloud in a public ceremony was very moving. It is, indeed. To enter the priesthood is to leave service to the self and travel a path of service to the universe. All personal things must drop away. One must open one’s heart and take residence in …

August 27

With palms together,

Good Morning Everyone,



Was awake last night after a few hours’ sleep. I finished a painting I am calling “Eden,” wrote a few quick email replies, and took down my copy of “Realizing the Genjo Koan” translation and commentary by Okamura-roshi. This text is very important as it addresses everyday life as an awakening and awakened person. I say both because we are actualizing both in each and every moment. As Okamura points out, “We are both universal and individual, and this universality and individuality are not two separate aspects of our being: each of them is absolute. One hand is 100% hand. Five fingers are 100% five fingers.”



I write about this fundamental aspect of Zen frequently. It is essential that we realize the truth of holding these two apparently contradictory views simultaneously. Because to not do so allows for sleepwalking on the one hand and quietism on the other hand.



If we are stuck in “five fingers” which is to say, individuality, we are in a …

August 25b

With palms together,

Good Morning Everyone,



This morning I was reading the news and found myself mystified once again at my countryman. Self interest and “blame the other guy” are our apparent focus and mantra, respectively. We don’t want taxes, but we want better roads, warplanes, bombs, rockets, and ships. We don’t want (and are increasingly suspicious of) scientific research, but we want the best medical care in the world. We want somebody else to pay for everything, but we want to determine what they will be able to pay for and where their money will come from, or where it won’t.



Stem cell research is essential to medical research. The choice of abortion is essential to the health and well-being of women. Health insurance is essential to the health of the nation. Roads and bridges are essential to the flow of commerce, to say nothing of the safety of people. Safety nets like unemployment insurance, Medicaid, and Medicare are essential to caring for those who are otherwise unabl…

August 25

With palms together,

Good Morning Everyone,



This morning I am feeling much better after taking a day to rest. Tuesday was a long day at the Temple and three bike rides back and forth. All told, 12 and a half miles. It was good, but the afternoon heat on one ride was a bit much. On top of that, while walking through the Temple foyer, I tripped and broke a toe on My Left Foot. At home Tuesday night Soku Shin taped it, but it is quite sore yesterday. Needless to say, I did not do a run Wednesday morning so Suki had to be satisfied with a quarter mile walk. I don’t think she is happy ‘bout that.



Dogs, like people, are creatures of habit. Whereas dogs habituate, they are also ever alert. We humans habituate our daily routines, but in the process essentially sleepwalk through much our essential activities. Rarely on alert, we give ourselves over to habit and use our brains to assume everything will flow as predicted, as it always does, that is, until something happens.



This week something …

August 23

With palms together,


Good Morning Everyone,



Zen is about disciplined practice and yet, paradoxically, it is this discipline that leads to freedom. What is this freedom? According to Matsuoka-roshi, my dharma grandfather, it is freedom from mind and body and all attachments derived wherefrom. He, like Seung Sahn, used the points on a compass to explicate this. These cardinal points are really markers pointing to the depth of our practice on the one hand or the degree of freedom we have “attained” on the other hand.



At zero degrees we are what some of us might refer to as asleep: living in small mind, attached to name and form. At 90 degrees we see differences in things by varying degrees: we are attached to exteriors. At 180 degrees we have transcended attachment to thinking, attained “emptiness,” but have attached to it. At 270 degrees we attain “imaginative thinking.” We have what both Masters referred to as “Freedom I.” that sense of “I” that is free from the constraints of logic, …

clearmindzen.org

Tweaked the site a bit...

August 17

With palms together,

Good Morning Everyone,



This morning I woke later than usual and, as is the case when such things happen, pressure builds. My morning routine has not been the same for awhile. I feel it, too. Typically, I wake early, say around 4:30. I practice a bit, sit at the computer and gather my thoughts, write, and sip coffee. From there I was in the habit of going for a run, doing a weight workout, shower and get to temple. Somewhere in there I would have some peanut butter toast.



When I wake late, everything is squeezed together. This morning Suki needed to go out right away. I did my run with her, a 1.1 mile jog around Mesilla as soon as I got out of bed. Made a protein shake, espresso coffee and tried to settle into the PC. Of course when in a hurry it is inevitable that things don’t work quite the way you want them to and I needed to re-boot the PC.



So, here it is 7:37 and I am just now settling in to write having not had the benefit of a time in meditation. As I som…

Comfort

realization, just as Dogen understood Zazen. If we are uncomfortable, it is important to face that discomfort not step away from it.







Here are a set of truths: Spiritual practice is a discipline. Every discipline is uncomfortable. Comfort is awakening’s enemy.







The Order of Clear Mind Zen is fairly simple with straightforward practices. Few frills. We offer Sangha membership, Zazen, and study groups. You may use a chair after it is determined that you cannot sit on a cushion or use a bench. If you cannot sit still we will invite you to practice harder. Our building is air conditioned and we do not have access to the thermostat. We have a small fan and use it when the Zendo is full. All of this, though, is window dressing. When you come to a Zen Center you are coming to practice Zazen. It is a practice that can be challenging. This is where the commitment to a disciplined practice comes in. The Buddha referred to this as the development of kashanti, (patience or forbearance) a word we …

August 13

With palms together,

Good Morning Everyone,



Yesterday was a challenge. After moving all of the books and finally getting the bookcases moved to the residence, my old SAAB got sick. I am not sure what is wrong with her, but she will not start. On top of that, I seem to have misplaced the keys so I cannot even try to start her again or look to see what might be the trouble. I think the keys may be at the Temple, as Soku Shin drove us there yesterday when the SAAB had her issues. Then there is the painting I am working on. It is not doing well. It seems drab and lifeless. Lastly, at bottom, I am completelt broke. So, what was to be done?



Last night we sipped a glass of wine, ate brown rice and lentils followed by a portion of salty potato chips. We watched a DVD, cuddled, and fell asleep.



When I woke this morning I decided I would do what is there for me to do. It is Saturday, my day off, so I will enjoy this day. I will take Suki for a run. Perhaps Soku Shin and I will go for a bike rid…

August 11

With palms together,

Good Morning Everyone,



Today at Clear Mind Zen Temple we will sit Zazen at 9:30 and again at 6:00 PM. Soku Shin will lead our Sewing Group at 5:00 PM. If you are sewing a rakusu or wagessa, or want to, please consider joining her.



Sewing the Buddha’s robe is a deep, contemplative practice. The Buddha’s robe is a manifestation of morality. It is done slowly and with great reverence. With each stitch is offered a reminder that we are one with the buddha, awake, and deeply practicing to end all suffering. So, it is your effort to bring morality into the universe. It is a manifestation of your true nature.



The original robes were made from cloth coverings of bodies in charnel grounds. These rags were washed and dyed, cut into strips, and sewn in the pattern we have today. Each member of the Buddha’s Order received three robes. These, along with a begging bowl, were pretty much a monk’s sole possessions. To become a follower of the Buddha Way at that time meant a co…

August 8

With palms together,

Good Morning Everyone,



Recently, I have had the pleasure of listening to a few conversations regarding subjects near and dear to me. These conversations regard the brain and perception. My clinical training and experiences, relationships, and other issues, have added to the context of these conversations in my mind’s eye. I would like to comment now.



To use the arcane language of the ancient sages, in the mortal world, categories and divisions are erected in order to understand things. In the world of the Buddhas, which is to say, in the Zen world, a world of “Oneness” and “Interdependence,” categories are obstacles to understanding. In the soft sciences, “systems theory” has helped us see the interrelated nature of all things, that systems are composed of subsystems and all of these are completely connected with one another. My understanding at this point is that physics is coming to a similar place. The Buddha himself taught this with his sutras addressing depen…

August 6

With palms together,

Good Morning Everyone,



In the months prior to August 6th 1945 the United States and its allies fire-bombed 67 cities in Japan. These were attempts to seek the surrender of Japan, Japan refused. So, this morning 66 years ago, the United States dropped the first of two atomic bombs on cities in Japan. In an instant between 90,000 to 166,000 men, women and children were killed in Hiroshima. On the 9th, another bomb was dropped, this time on Nagasaki, another 60,000 to 80,000 or so people killed. On August 15, Japan surrendered.



It is difficult to imagine these explosions and the great pain and suffering they caused. It is not so difficult to imagine the desire to make them happen. We were a world desperately seeking an end to war. We were a world filled with hurt and anger. We were a world which had systematically de-humanized the Japanese people.



Lessons:

Attachments to anything, including peace, can lead to great suffering.

Hurt yields anger.

The ignorance of …

Memorial Days

With palms together,

Good Morning Everyone,



Today at Clear Mind Zen Temple we will prepare for tomorrow’s Zazenkai (Day of Meditation) which coincides with the annual Hiroshima/Nagasaki Memorial Day. In Japan this day is remembered as “A-Bomb Day” and participants often light lanterns for those ancestors killed by the atomic bomb strikes on these two cities near the end of World War Two. During our Zazenkai we will mark these catastrophic events by lighting two candles and reciting the Great Compassionate Dharani, a chant that evokes the that aspect in us we call compassion to act in the world..



War is never a good solution to conflict among nations, just as violence is not a good solution between individuals. We have these marvelous brains able to look into the deepest realms of inner and outer space, unlock the mysteries of the genome, and even travel in space, yet we cannot seem to think our way out of using bombs and guns to solve our conflicts.



Events such as memorial days ho…

August 4

With palms together,

Good Morning Everyone,



Yesterday afternoon we had a surprise call and delivery of furnishings from my former teacher's Dharma Mountain Zendo in Cloudcroft. He has retired and has dismantled his Zendo. We now have elevated tans along each wall. We had to remove one of the partitions in order to accomodate these beautiful and classic Zendo furnishings. We also received a chest of drawers used to keep incense and other ceremonial objects. We will spend the next two days getting the Zendo back into shape from everything being moved around in order to be ready for Zazenkai on Saturday. My thanks to Ino Dai Shugyo, Jiisha Soku Shin, Tenzo Tamra, Sangha Member Marcos, ZCLC Members GoZen and Pierre, and friend Artie who helped move everything, tear down the partition, and otherwise assisted in this unexpected process.



We have one remaining seat available for Zazenkai. If you are interested in attending and practicing with us this coming Saturday from 9:00 to 4:00 PM,…