Showing posts from January, 2013

Daiho's Personal Retreat & Schedule

With palms together,

Good Morning All,

As many of you know, Rev. Shukke Shin and I have established a routine wherein I practice a personal retreat at the Zendo the first weekend of each month and she does the same in El Paso on the third weekend. My retreat begins on Thursday evening at 7:00 PM and continues through Sunday service. As it happens, then, I will host Zazenkai each first Saturday and lead services on the first Sunday. This schedule will also be our Sesshin schedule at each quarter.

All are welcome to join me at the Temple during my retreat. It is always good to have others to practice with and I would deeply appreciate your company. There is one exception to the schedule below. This Friday I have an appointment to have my motorcycle serviced at 9:00 AM on Friday. This should not take more than two hours. I will return to the Temple after it is completed.

Roshi’s Personal Retreat Schedule

Thursday Evening

07:00-8:00 PM Zazen and Closing Ceremonies

Friday and Saturday


"The Zen of Trauma"

With respect to all,

After due consideration, I have reduced the price of my downloadable Kindle book, "The Zen of Trauma" to $0.99. If you wish to download this book, go to and search for the title. It is a Kindle edition and you may download it to your PC or MAC if you also download the free Kindle software.

I am putting the finishing touches on my next little book, "The Zen of Everyday Life" which will be the second in the series.



Do We Mean What We Say?

With palms together,

This morning I woke at 3:45 and practiced Zazen followed by a short, but fully engaged yoga routine. At lighting my morning incense I had the thought that I was offering this wonderful gift to the universe. The thing is, do I really mean it? When I vow to free all beings, when I open my heart to compassionate living, what exactly do I really mean? Do I include hostage takers, mass murderers, child abusers, and all manner of people who do loathsome acts of terror and violence? These are part of the universe to which I offer the sweet gift of incense, aren’t they? And those who hate? And those who steal?

Often I simply say these words. Often they are just a part of the morning and evening liturgy. To the extent this is true they are, indeed, meaningless. If I vow to develop compassion and work to open my heart just to close it the moment I am confronted with something or someone who threatens me or others what am I?

I am a human being. It’s really that simple. I …

Wasting Trash

With palms together,

This morning I sat outside in our courtyard looking at the stars. It was 28 degrees. Not bad as I was wearing a robe and my running tights. With each breath thoughts arose. I considered the Bataan Memorial Death March and whether I would finish it. I considered the few dirty dishes in our sink. I considered the coffee brewing in our kitchen. And so on. A shooting star caught the corner of my eye. That speck, caught in our atmosphere, flamed out and I was reminded of my age. We each will flame out at some time. I was reminded of a conversation I had yesterday at the café in Mesilla. My friend told me his neighbor had died in his sleep a few days ago. He was 68. I will be 67 next month. It seems as we age we hear such stories and, like the shooting star, we are reminded of the brief time we have in awareness.

In one of the 101 Zen Stories there is a story about a monk who is admonished not to waste his time. Our study group on Thursday considered this. What does …

Empty Cup

With palms together,

There is nothing to be gained from the practice of Zen. So we say. We say that when we have a gaining idea when we come to practice we will miss the mark. This is so when our practice is pure, but not all practices are pure, which is to say, many of us come to practice with a need. We need to be more relaxed, more at peace, less angry, less depressed and so on. Few of us come to practice with the aroused thought of enlightenment. It has occurred to me that to talk of enlightenment is to miss the mark in two ways. First, it is not wise to talk of that which cannot be thought, only realized. Second, and most importantly, it does not address the needs of those in attendance.

The Buddha was a medicine man. He applied skilful means after he made a diagnosis of the ills of the person in front of him. Not all medicine was the same nor was it delivered in the same way. When I look out at the faces in my Zendo as I am about to offer a Dharma talk, it is important that I…

Boundless and Bounded

With palms together,

Zen, what a marvelous, though thoroughly overused and, at the same time misunderstood, word. Zen. It has a stunning and sexy sound. It calls forth images of shaved headed monks in black robes, incense offerings, cross-legged sitting, and austerity: a high bar, although a distorted one. Of late, sex scandals, character, and questions regarding the power of zazen to maintain precepts seem to be in the forefront of those who practice. This practice is a challenge enough and so to have such questions can easily derail a person’s commitment to, and practice of, zazen.

What is Zen, and most importantly, zazen, its chief practice? Does it have any power? Is there a relationship between the practice of Zen and moral conduct? All of these are very worthy questions and all are very challenging to address and yet, impossible to answer. I think, superficially, we can describe zazen and even paint a picture of Zen itself, but in my opinion, such questions cannot be answered …

Life and Death

With palms together,

In her forward to Daido Loori’s “Eight Gates of Zen” Rev. Bonnie Myotai Treace quotes the text at the entrance to Zen Mountain Monastery: “I come here realizing the question of Life and Death is a vital matter…” And so it is. Yet, how many of us reach this important question before we actually face death? For me, that moment came on May 29th, 1966 when in a fierce firefight with the North Vietnamese Army I came face to face with death. That was almost 47 years ago and the moment has yet to leave me. On the contrary, it is part of my everyday experience.

It is odd to face death at 19 years old. I had shot and killed many men by that time, including I believe, one of our own. That night I both endured getting shot in the head and also the moral anguish of combat itself. Over the decades since, the questions regarding the morality of my behavior have haunted me. My cushion is not a refuge, but rather a gate to these questions. I approach it often with a degree of tr…

A Simple Thing

With palms together,

Good Morning All,

Its about 30 degrees outside, maybe a degree or two cooler, and I’m preparing to do a ride as part of the Combat Veterans Motorcycle Association’s (CVMA) effort to support Rolling Thunder’s ride to the Truth or Consequences Veterans Home. I am our Chapter's chaplain and CMVA’s motto is “Vets Helping Vets.” This ride is to do just that. The veteran’s home is a nursing facility for veterans. I’ve been there before. When I was a practicing psychotherapist I often visited there to talk to vets housed there who were depressed and suffering from PTSD.

Nursing homes are lonely places in general, it seems to me, and sad places as well. One who takes up residence in a “home” is acknowledging either voluntarily or not, their end of life. It would be better if all of us could face that in the arms of a loving family, yet in our world today, this is often an impossibility. Or so we politely tell ourselves. For those in “homes” their truth can be a sens…

Fitness Training

With palms together,

Good Morning Everyone,

This old body requires attention: a little background. Back in 1990 when I was 43, my step-son, Jason, told me I was getting a belly. It happened that he saw World Gym had a 2 for 1 membership sale. He thought it would be great if we joined together (of course Dad paid) and we could work-out together. So we did, join that is. After a week or two, son Jason could not seem to find the time to go. But I continued and after a couple of months of 3 times per week full body workouts, pressed on to a split routine working two body parts per day, then eventually went to a double split routine going to the gym twice a day working one body part in the morning and another in the evening. I went from 143 lbs to 175 lbs of muscle mass within a year. In 1994 we moved to New Mexico. I built a gym in our garage and continued my workouts.

Attention to diet, adding an aerobic workout, and beginning meditation in a serious way, led to a leaner body still. I …


With palms together,

Good Morning All,

Someone asked if I might one day address the relationship between the teachings of the Four Noble Truths, the Six Paramitas, and the 16 Precepts. At first blush this sounds like a very tall order and, I suppose if I were to go through the developmental history of each, it would be. Yet, I don’t think it is history that this student wants, but rather a teaching on the spiritual relationship of these.

From my perspective, these teachings are one and they arise from the first of the Three Treasures, buddha. Please notice that I did not capitalize this treasure as it is not the person of “the Buddha” that I am referring to, but rather, the true treasure, the state of being awake. When awake we see the universe in a wholly different way. The Absolute and the Relative are one, yet two, simultaneously. We experience the deep, interconnected and interdependent nature of the universe. We experience without a “we” at all. The ability to see in this way gi…