Showing posts from December, 2011


Good Morning All,

This morning I would like to talk about the coming year. I have posted the retreat schedule on the Clear Mind Zen website. We have made some adjustments to our retreat schedules to accommodate to our Sangha’s needs. All of our intensives will begin at 8:00 AM and close at 5:00 PM. These will be either one day or five day retreats and oryoki lunch is included. We will ask for $15.00 per day as a donation to assist us in covering our expenses and we ask that these be offered in advance.

Private interviews are to be conducted either at my residence or at the Zendo. My Jiisha, Rev. Soku Shin will be responsible for scheduling private interviews with me. Her email address is Dana to the teacher is part of our practice of generosity and is greatly appreciated. A bowl is provided.

As this year unfolds I will be focusing much of my attention on my own engaged practice. I have asked Rev. Dai Shugyo to help create a file of practice opportunities,…



The Buddha once said, “Let us rise up and be thankful for if we didn’t learn a lot today at least we learned a little. And if we didn’t learn a little at least we didn’t get sick, and if we didn’t get sick, at least we didn’t die; so let us all be thankful.”

Just as the Buddha, we often associate gratitude with thankfulness. The word gratitude comes from the Latin, gratis, which interestingly enough, means pleasing. I know when I am aware of feeling gratitude, it feels warm and fuzzy inside. I feel it in my chest and face. It is feeling as though I have been given a warm blanket against a cold night. It is, indeed, pleasing.

Studies of gratitude suggest that with an increase in our sense of gratitude comes an increase in our sense of well-being. Gratitude has been associated with improved mental health, improved personal relationships, increased personal growth and positive self-acceptance.

Having a sense of gratitude means that we have been open to receiving a gift. Mor…

Unification Rag

Good Morning All,

Last night was an exercise in practice. I had been working on a new painting and almost had it when I just could not go on… Kathryn and I did what we do and finally went to bed. All of a sudden at 2:30 AM, Suki and Binky were jumping up and down wanting desperately to go out. So, out we went. Cold and wet and dark they were in 7th Puppy Heaven. I, on the other hand, was in the Hell Realms.

After they did what they do, we came in and slipped into the studio where my work was waiting. A stroke here, a stroke there and the painting was painting itself. Meanwhile Suki and Binky were sound asleep on the sofa. So it goes.

At 7:30 we are now up, it is late, I finished the painting, am sipping my coffee, and am about to take the Pups out for a walk before going to the Zendo. Such is life. Hell and Heaven are simply the names we give to the relationships before us. When opposed to it: hell. When entering it: heaven. May we all practice the unification rag.

Be well.

Big Brother Actually Wears A Smiley Face

Good Morning All,

Big Brother Actually Wears A Smiley Face

If I were a member of the elite, I would not want to make sweeping changes to meet my needs, nor would I make changes dark and frightening. I would make them slow and nearly imperceptible, a little at a time, and always with your best interests on my face. I would make my needs your needs. I would make your fears my fears.

You might then say, “Oh, it’s not so bad.” Or you might defend me saying, “We really need to protect ourselves from ‘X’ so if we do ‘Y’ it won’t be as bad as ‘Z’.” Yes, and I would frame all the tiny little ‘Ys’ as nearly harmless and put little happy faces on them all. Much like using Happy Meals® with toys to make fast food not only OK, but downright desirable and affordable.

Yes, if I were an elite, I would be smiling pretty broadly as I go to the bank with bags of money noticing how everyone seems to be thinking maybe sometime it will be their turn to do the same, all the while knowing I have imperce…

Brad Warner

Good Morning All,

We are excited! Brad Warner has agreed to come to Las Cruces to spend some time with us. I spoke with him the other day and we agreed he will do a talk in El Paso, Deming, and Las Cruces. We will host him at our residence. The dates are March 9th through the 11th.

For those uniformed, Brad Warner received dharma transmission from Nishijima roshi in Japan while he lived, studied, and worked there. Brad has written four books: Hardcore Zen, Sit Down and Shut Up, Zen Wrapped in Karma Dipped in Chocolate, and Sin, Sex, and Zen. He has also edited with Nishijima-roshi a translation and commentary of the Fundamental Wisdom of the Way by Nagarjuna. He hosts the blog, Hardcore Zen, and is featured in an interview in this month’s Tricycle magazine. Brad is always refreshing.

We would like this visit to be a practice driven event and not just a public talk. So, each center, we are asking that we coordinate a practice period with a dharma talk by Brad Warner. In addition, we …


Good Morning All,

This morning I am ashamed to say that I lost my patience with someone on the Tricycle Community last night. I spent a good deal of time after I deleted both his and my comments thinking about what had happened. My conclusion is that I didn’t exercise good judgment and that I let the fever of concern regarding the political issues of the day cloud my heart/mind. In the end, the man referred to me as a “pathetic old man.” This sort of stuck. I rather think he was right-on.

In any event, I happened to have a review copy of a new book sent to me by Tarcher/Penguin entitled, “Patience: the Art of Peaceful Living,” by Allan Lokos.($14.95, paperback). So, I began reading. The book is an excellent study on the practice of patience, something I am apparently not as good at as I had assumed.

Lokos says, “…the development of genuine patience requires introspection over time so that we can come to the root causes of our impatience” (p. 21). Yes, agreed. So, I began to consider…

The Sand

Good Morning Y'all,

It is 0'Dark-Thirty here in New Mexico and we are awake sipping coffee and reading the news. I see that our Senate passed legislation allowing the US Military to arrest and indefinately detain US citizens without trial. Is it time to pull our heads out of ther friggin' sand yet?

I wrote a letter to our President and to my senator for all the good it will do. There is just something wrong with this legislatiuon and the irony is it was signed on the annual celebration of the signing of the Bill of Rights to our Constitution.

Here's the thing, suppose we gave another war. Suppose we are in severe economoc hardship. Lots of people out of work with little real hope. Suppose we have a population who cannot read much more than the instructions on how to operate a video game or turn on a big screen TV and who is mesmerized by the fundies in Black & White Churches who support capitalism to the brink. But their congregants can no longer afford to shop…

The Self: is it real?

With respect to all,

a preliminary exploration:

I have heard Buddhists argue there is no “self.” They argue that mental activity and the constructs derived thereby are an "illusion.” Not so. They confuse the Sanskrit Anatman, translated as “no-self” with no self, as is understood in contemporary English, but in fact these are two different things. The Buddha’s teaching on Anatman was directed at dispelling the idea that there was an independent “self,” or “soul” that might transmigrate. It was the springboard for his discussions of dependent co-arising, that frame that says everything is deeply interconnected and inter-dependent. He also tried to separate the material from the ideal, which is to say that our idea of something is our idea of something and that we ought not confuse the idea of something with the thing itself. But to say this does not deny the existence of the idea, only that idea and material are separate. So, if we say the self is an aggregate and it is impermane…

Outside Lessons

Good Morning All,

The sky is gray, overcast with wet clouds hung low and the air is cold and damp. I do not really want to go outside, but the dogs think otherwise. For them, weather is never really a factor (other than snow, which they initially love, but which quickly turns to serious discomfort as their feet get cold). Rain and damp mist? No problem! The scents abound for their noses to enjoy. What do they care if the humans they are walking are miserable as they follow along behind them? So, in a little bit we will tether them to our hands and go out the door for them to play. Oh joy.

I am happy that we have our dogs, Suki and Binky. They demand that we live. Their walks are important to them and to us as they force us to get a grip, get dressed, and go out even if we don’t feel like it or that it might be unpleasant to do so. And, you know what? it is almost always a very good thing. Along the way we begin to feel better, more alive, more awake, more….present in the actual world…


I shave my head that I may

See how by freeing

Myself from attachments

I am released from suffering.

Thus I begin this morning's activity at 4:00 AM.

Next is washing my face, then brushing my teeth, then putting on my robe, then taking my seat in the Zendo. Of course there are a variety of other chants and practices done before, during, and after each of these, but in the main, mine is a simple, straightforward life of coming to attention.

This is Rohatsu and I take it very seriously. It is the culmination of my year of practice and I dedicate myself to doing it with great diligence.

In our tradition, we just sit. But this "just sitting" is not at all about simply folding one's legs and facing a wall. It is far more than that. Just sitting is all encompasing, pervasive, and foundational Buddha Nature made manifest through our relentless activity of just sitting. It is, as Master Dogen refers to it, jijuyu zanmai, the self creating and living out the self wholeheart…


Good Morning Everyone,

Over the last few days I have given some thought to operations at the Order of Clear Mind Zen. We are lacking a few things organizationally and I am moving to address them. First, I have asked Shelley Tenborin to become our Public Relations person. She will handle all media on our behalf which will include press releases and our minimal advertising. Second, I have asked Rev. Soku Shin to once again act as my executive assistant. She will handle my calendar. If you wish to see me, please call or email her directly. Third, the appropriate venue for asking questions about your practice is in private interview with me. Please, if you have a concern about your practice, make an appointment through Rev. Soku Shin to speak to me. Her phone is: 644-8673. Her email is:

There is some confusion about our hours. I ordered cards before we decided to change our practice times to 10:00 AM Monday through Friday. So here is the Temple’s schedule:


Cold and Warm

This morning comes

whether I like it or not,

and how I face it

is up to me.

The cold wet air

finds a place to rest

on my cheek

and is warmed

by the blood

flowing through my veins.

We resist each other

Or we care for each other.

May my heart/mind embrace them both.

Be well.


Good Morning Everyone,

Yesterday afternoon we met with the director of Holloman Air Force Base’s Outdoor Recreation program. They have a resiliency project intended to help airmen deal with the stress of deployment. Rev. Soku Shin and I have volunteered to offer a contemplative practices piece in this project.

It is always interesting to me to see my response to being on a military installation. I am at first pleased to see so many young faces engaged in service to their country. This is followed by remembrances of how my own young face aged so during combat and after when I was one of them.

Resiliency, like endurance, doesn’t come without cost. All of us today are encountering these costs. The prices of gasoline, heating oil, food, and medical care paired against tighter credit, lack of insurance, lower wages, and fewer and fewer meaningful and productive jobs: these are the everyday bells of mindfulness demanding our adaptation in today’s world. Are we taught how to encounter and…

Nothing to Say

Good Morning Everyone,

This morning I look at the blank screen of my notebook and see the blinking curser. More deeply, I see there is nothing to say that will help you. So I think I won’t say a word. Instead, I will invite you to practice Zazen with us on Sunday at 10:00 AM. I will invite you to practice with us each weekday morning at 10:00 AM. I will invite you to practice at home as you can.

Be well.

Rohatsu Sesshin

Good Morning Everyone,

Our Rohatsu Sesshin begins Tuesday (the 6th) at 10:00 AM and closes Saturday (the 10th) at 2:00 PM. I have included the schedule below. We have decided to try something new and allow participants to enter and leave sesshin through the week. This will allow participants to come at certain hours through each day if they have the time for practice. We have created a schedule that is in two hour blocks with ample break time where a person may go home to check on pets, etc. This is a very flexible schedule and sesshin orientation designed to maximize the potential for participation. Rev. Tamra Kobusshin, Rev. Soku Shin, and myself will participate during the entire week. Rev. Bobby Kankin Byrd will join us on Thursday. Please consider joining us during the week.

Opening Day

10:00 – 12:00 Opening Ceremony, Recite Three Refuges, the Heart Sutra, Tea Service, Teisho, Zazen 3@25

12:00 –01:00 Lunch

01:00 – 02:00 Break

02:00 – 04:00 Zazen 4@25

04:00 – 05:00 Samu

05:00 …