Zen 101

Friday, August 31, 2012


With respect,

It would appear I am facing yet another major change in my life. Kathryn and I have decided we will no longer live together. I am moving back into the Temple and will take it as my residence. This will mean some reconfiguration of the space, but is possible. I do not want much space and do not need most of the things I have collected.

Its odd how these things unfold. In this case it was a rather sudden and deeply disturbing change. I do not wish to share the details, but suffice to say, it was necessary.

I will share more as I am able and the situation allows.

Be well.

Friday, August 24, 2012

On a Friday Morning

With palms together,
Good Morning All,

This morning we spent quite a bit of time cleaning and organizing the residence.  Clearly I am limited in my abilityand capacity, but Rev. Soku Shin seems to have inhereted genes from the Energizer Bunny.  I did manage to organize the studio/study and re-organize the courtyard funishings.  But this pales in comparison to Ms. Bunny. 

This, as well as some discussions with my physical therapists have taken me aback.  It is becoming quite clear that I will not recover to a state similar to that before I began experiencing leg pain.  I will likely not run again, hike, or even walk very far.  For someone who identified himself as physically active, a marathoner, and so on, this is a challenging reqality.

Yet, every loss has the potential to be a teacher.  Every moment, an oppoprtunity to rebirth myself.  Closing one door, we often say, opens another.  So, here I am with doors closing and other doors opening. The Zen of the Every Moment lies in this: the very existential view that our remaking ourselves moment to moment demands our adaptaion to impermanence.

Yesterday no longer exists, tomorrow is simply a fantasy: it is in the eternal now that we reside.  May we each live as fully as possible.

Be well.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Clouded Sky

With palms together

Good Morning Everyone,

This morning I woke at 3:45 AM. I fell asleep at 9:00 PM. So I managed to get a bit over 6 hours of sleep. Anyway, I went outside into the courtyard and sat looking at a solitary star (which, I am certain, was a planet). There were no other visible stars as the sky was filled with clouds masking them. The stars of the night sky were there to be sure, but I just could not see them. Our everyday life is like this. The universe we create with our mind is like the clouds hiding the stars. Remove the clouds and the actual sky appears.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

No Hot, No Cold?

With palms together

Good Morning Everyone,

The sun just rose over the Organ Mountains, offering both brilliant light and searing summer heat. We in Las Cruces are desert dwellers. Our environment is typically hot and dry. We are now, however, on the back side of the rainy season, although not much rain has come our way, still, the air is wet and the heat creates a sauna within which we sweat. Those of us with refrigerated air are prone to stay inside; those with swamp coolers, well, let’s just say swamp coolers are not at all effective in humidity. People who live with swamp coolers in a humid environment suffer. Yet, refrigerated air also brings suffering. When we stay inside and our bodies adapt, our ability to go out of doors is compromised. As with Old Tozan in Case 43 of the Blue Cliff Record, “How do we escape heat or cold?”

In either direction, there is suffering. Life is like this, with every in-breath there is birth and the construction of our world, with every out-breath there is death and the destruction of our world. How can we escape it? This question reminds me of another koan, Case 83, “The ancient Buddhas and the pillar merge --- what level of mental activity is this?

Yesterday morning I sat in the courtyard witnessing the sun rising over the mountains. I began to sweat. I felt my body giving up its water. And then, I saw the sun in a sweat drop. The sun was -- and was not-- in the sweat drop. There was heat and not heat at the same time. Heat and cold are words we use, they point to something we add to a given moment, just as by suffering we mean: things are not the way we think they should be.

Can we enter a stone pillar? Can we abide in heat or cold without being hot or cold? Can we encounter our daily life as it presents itself and appreciate it fully?

Of course we can, but will we?

Only our practice knows.

Be well.