Showing posts from November, 2012


With palms together

Good Morning Everyone,

The following is our sesshin schedule. Please consider joining us as much as possible. We ask for $5.00 donation each for Thursday, Friday, and Sunday, and $15.00 for Saturday. You are welcome to stay in the Temple Friday and Saturday nights. Bring a sleeping bag, pajamas, bathroom necessities and a willingness to practice as often as possible through the night. Remember, sesshin is silent.

We will serve snacks on Thursday and Friday evenings after closing ceremonies; breakfast, lunch, and dinner on Saturday; and breakfast only on Sunday. It is important that we know if you will be attending and what meals you will be present for. Please confirm your reservation with Rev. Soku Shin ASAP.

Be well.

Tentative Sesshin Schedule:

Thursday PM

06:00-09:00 Welcome. Opening Ceremony, Recite Three Refuges, the Heart Sutra, Tea Service, Dharma Talk, Zazen: Three Periods

09:00 Close, Recite the Hanya Shin Gyo, the Four Great Vows.

Friday PM


The Buddha Way

With palms together

Good Morning Everyone,

It is said Master Bodhidharma sat in a cave for nine years. He taught that Zen was a way beyond words and letters. He was pointing to a fundamental truth, the world we perceive is a perception, a construction of our mind, and the actual truth is not the perception. Thoughts are about something, not the thing itself. Concepts are our thoughts about our thoughts. Constructs link these together to form an understanding. It is easy to see that all of this, our construction of reality, is not reality itself. Understanding is just as false.

The fundamental truth, the absolute truth, is not to be conceived of, but actually experienced. Bodhidharma said, when asked who he was, “Don’t know.” When we “don’t know” we free ourselves to directly experience without the chimera of thought. So, we say, “just sit.” It is not the sitting that is key, but the “just.” When in a state of “just” or rather, in that place just before thought arises, the thinker i…


With palms together

Good Morning Everyone,

So, today our thoughts are to turn to giant sales and spectacular savings as we rush around the giant Turkey which has become the sales symbol of the season. Store ads are relentless. Internet sites with pop-ups remind us that we are missing out unless we HURRY to Wal-Mart or K-Mart or some other Big Box store waiting anxiously to soak up our money, providing us with the delirious joy of spending that which we really don’t have.

I, like the infamous character in Melville’s short story,” Bartleby the Scrivener,” would prefer not to. Instead, I would prefer to struggle through the process of uncovering that which I am grateful for. It’s not easy, you know, to see that which we take for granted. What does it take to see the invisible, the commonplace?

I believe the place to begin is in our own heart/mind. Sitting quietly at this keyboard, I realize how much I depend on the many lives and hands that makes it possible to have and use such techn…

Compassion and Mindfulness

With palms together

Good Morning Everyone,

For whatever reason, I went to bed very early this evening and now woke at 11:00 thinking it was morning and feeling as though I had slept the night. Oh well, I’m sure if I slip back into that nice warm bed sleep will once again grace me with its restorative powers.

A student has been writing a lot about compassion and mindfulness. A good thing, as we all need to bear in mind that being present and being compassionate are true gifts for all beings. From a Zen point of view, compassion and mindfulness naturally arise from our non-dualistic state of being. When in a state of duality, sympathy is the more likely experience. If I practice mindfulness by saying, “picking up the cup, I am aware that I am picking up the cup,” I am practicing mindfulness, but not being mindful. In a true state of mindfulness, there is no separation between the “subject” and the “object” of our practice, there will be just the direct and intimate experience of the …


With palms together,

Good Morning Everyone,

Waking early this morning I had an opportunity to experience the weather change from stillness to windy. Not a good day for a motorcycle ride, so I will stay home or nearby, paint perhaps, read perhaps, and practice Zazen on my cushion.

I’ve been writing about teachers lately, so perhaps it is an opportune time to write about students. How should a student relate to a teacher? What should a student do to be a student? What are the expectations of a student held by a teacher? How does one end a teacher/student relationship?

First, it is important to say from the outset that there are as many Buddhisms as there are teachers, centers, and temples. Each led by a teacher who has his or her understanding, often gained through years of practice with their teacher. So, any answer I might provide will, of necessity, be mine and my teacher’s, his teacher’s and so on. There are definite differences.

In Zen, there is a long history of teachers saying…

On Teachers, Part Two

With palms together,

Good Morning Everyone,

Recently, I’ve been caught up in the questions of what it means to study Zen, what it means to become the student of a teacher, and what it means to train for the priesthood. These are important questions in the world of Zen. And they are challenging due to a variety of factors.

First, one does not “study” Zen. For Zen Buddhists, Zen is not a subject to be read about; it is a practice to be experienced. Reading too often fills student’s heads up with “ideas and concepts” and these actually get in the way of true study, which is the study of the Buddha Way, the study of the self. Yet, we read, as reading is what we Westerners do. We want to “know” something. We Google, go to Wiki, read books, journals, and magazines. We watch YouTube videos, movies, and documentaries. But the result is not true “knowing.” Such knowing is shallow and superficial; it can impress, but not sustain. True knowing is something else again. It is eating the waterme…