Showing posts from February, 2013

The Moon & I

With Palms together,

Good Morning Everyone,

This morning early, say around 3:00 AM or so, I sat outside in the cold staring at the moon. During the full-moon part of the lunar cycle I enjoy establishing this union with our celestial neighbor as we reflect together on one another. The early morning is the best time for such intimacy because there are very few noises, one-to-none cars passing by, and the air is often as crisp as the sky is clear.

As the moon and I consider ourselves, our union becomes more and more intimate. We move quickly past the superficial and enter the world of “don’t know.” The moon: she is wise, she is old, and she is nearly always there. Her wisdom is reflected in her reflection of the sun’s light. Like a pool of water, she receives the light, but does not grasp it. She returns the light to the universe and I, a resident member of that universe, receive it. In my mind’s eye, I return it, not wishing to hold onto such a lovely gift. It is a free and easy play …

Engaged Practice and Retreat

With Palms together,

Good Morning Everyone,

Zen is much larger than a Zendo. It is life itself. We move from the wall to the open air, as the Buddha did in his lifetime. When I began this Order I envisioned it to practice in a Zendo without walls. It is certain that wall sitting is important and can be done in our own homes either alone or in small groups. Yet, the mission of Engaged Practice is to actually engage.

I will resume park and street practice shortly and offer to each of you the invitation to join me. I encourage each of you to establish an Engaged Practice in your area serving vulnerable populations, your community, or the nation at large. It’s not that difficult: the need is everywhere; in every city and town and even in rural areas. Homelessness, poverty, death and dying, and violence know no geographic limits. Please consider this.

Be well.

PS. In the meantime, as I indicated in an earlier note, I will hold a Personal Retreat beginning Thursday evening this week. Zaz…

Zendo Closing

With Palms together,

Good Morning Everyone,

It is with regret and deep sorrow that I announce the closing of the Clear Mind Zen Temple effective the third week of April after Hannamatsuri Sesshin. I will ask our landlord to release us from the lease (it ends anyway in August). In accordance with our by-laws, I will retain all ceremonial objects and altars. I will also retain one tan. The rest of the tans will be discarded unless anyone locally would like to have a tan. In addition, I have a number of altars and other objects made by my teacher, Rev. Hogaku McGuire. These are available to any who wish to come and retrieve them. None of his Dharma heirs have chosen to do so, so I am making them available to the public. Whatever is left after 30 days will be discarded. Please let me know if any of you want a tan or to look at what may be available to you to support your practice.

I will be in Personal Retreat at the Zendo from Thursday evening through Sunday afternoon. Remember, Zazenk…


With resprct,

Good Morning Everyone,

This morning at the Zendo we will renew our vows and hold a short memorial service for my brother, Douglas William Hilbert. Doug was a good man and an exceptional father. Doug married early, but due to the presses of building a business, divorced after their second child was born. Even though he was divorced, he cared for his wife when she developed cancer and died. Douglas never remarried.

He cared for our mother throughout his life. He was a Vietnam Veteran who contracted diabetes after returning from his service. As a young man he was an exceptional athlete, developed lifelong friends, built a air conditioning and refrigeration business, and still managed to have time for his children.

While I left home after the war, he remained in Miami. Doug was not an adventurer. He was a family man and lived out his obligations to his family with great care and dedication. I honor him and was pleased that we saw each other one last time last year. While …


With palms together,

Good Morning Everyone,

Someone wrote to me recently and suggested that I might pause to find the joy in my life. It seems to readers, I suppose, that I have been dwelling on the pain and suffering of my life to the exclusion of my pleasure and joy. This is an important point. The truth is, however, I have a tremendous amount of joy in my life, but like many of us, I do not speak of it very often or very plainly. And that, my friends, is a serious omission. Let me recount just three of my joys.

My joy begins and ends (as each day does) with my fiancée, Kathryn, who has brought such light into my life that it is difficult to give it justice in words. I often watch her sleep and in this witness I am reminded of all things beautiful. She sleeps with such innocence and such peace. In the morning I sometimes cradle her until she wakes. As she snuggles closer I feel my heartbeat increase. This is life itself.

Sitting outside in the early morning feeling the chilled, m…


With palms together,

Good Morning Everyone,

"This was the turning point of my practice. I became free of my own practice. I became free of my teacher's teaching and the Buddha's teaching. I just settled down in the reality where I was and practiced as much as possible. This is really peaceful practice. You don't need to compete. Just settle down. If I hadn't had physical problems, I don't think my practice would have changed. I thought I was a great Zen master, but fortunately or unfortunately that didn't happen. Adverse experience gave me a broader view of the Dharma. I am really grateful for that. This is bodhisattva practice." (Okumura-roshi, Living by Vow, p.192)

Okumura makes a wonderful confession in this text. His pain, a result of years of sitting, hard physical labor, and the need to practice begging for food and money in Japan, forced him to assess his practice. He found that his determined practice was itself a desire, a goal, and that w…

Art Practice

With palms together,

Good Morning Everyone,

My easel is empty. I finished the painting I was working on and hung it in our living room, which has become a gallery of sorts. Over the last three days I sold three paintings, a very good thing as I was nearly broke. The three were small paintings and sold for $75.00 each. I find it hard to ask more and my most expensive piece is “only” $250.00. For many today, that is not a lot of money for a painting, for many others (including myself) this is a lot of money. No matter: I continue to paint and occasionally sell something and this process pleases me greatly because I see art as practice and it is so wonderful to see people enjoy my work and be able to afford to buy it for their homes.

I had a short discussion with a retired art professor friend yesterday on Facebook messenger. I wondered in what sort of style he thought my paintings were. I told him I saw my art as “Impressionistic” and wondered what he thought. He told me such labels …


With palms together,

Good Morning Everyone,

It’s a Saturday morning and we will practice Zazen together tomorrow morning in our Zendo. I am concerned that our numbers are dwindling. Zen practice as a Sangha is very important to our development as followers of the Great Way laid out by the Buddha himself. Just as we take refuge in the Buddha and the Dharma, so too, we take refuge in the Sangha.

Over the years I have noticed how practicing Sanghas increase and decrease in terms of Zendo participation. I have noticed how Study Groups come and go and in this I am often caught by the question, “What’s this?” I look at myself. Is there something I am doing or not doing that would account for the dwindling numbers? In truth, I doubt it. I think it is the practice itself and the relative centrality of the practice that is the root cause. Zazen is very difficult and we come to the Zendo often hoping that the practice will make ourselves or our lives better and when it does not or we fail to…

No Cold, No Heat

With respect to all,

Waking early is an excellent practice. The early morning allows me to be without the distractions of traffic, phones, and light. Outside, the air is cool and there are few sounds, save a rooster or two in the distance. I open myself to what is: no eye, no ear, no nose, no heat, no a sense, this is what it is like to have mind and body fall away. Alone in the courtyard, a sliver, of moon with a million stars over my head, thoughts come and go easily. Yet, as I sit on the courtyard tiles, I notice their cold feel. Mind and body return. Life is like that.

The coming and going, ebb and flow of feeling and thought, are my existence just then. Looking at the stars I am with all others who have, throughout time and space, gazed upon them. There is a brief recognition of the infinite reality of the universe: Infinite, finite, and so on.

Cold air seeps in through my robe. I notice my left hand, partially paralyzed by a bullet in my brain so long ago, is getting…


With palms together,

Good Morning All,

This morning I reviewed the headlines on CNN, Huff Post, and Yahoo News, and I must say, the world is still there as it has always been, but why on earth did Monopoly get rid of the “Iron” token? I just don’t get it. Here was a piece that always reminded me of my grandmother’s ironing with one of those cast iron Irons heated on a cook stove. Pleasant memories of a time when people made do, worked hard, and lived in accordance with the natural rhythm of things. How very Zen of them!

For three years I lived like that at my Mountain Refuge, making a fire in the wood stove early in the morning, preparing breakfast from scratch, chopping wood, feeding my horses, and going to bed just after sundown as I had no electricity. Life at the Refuge was slow and in accordance with the natural cycles of the seasons. It was hard, but there was a sweet flow to it as I often spent time on the deck in the mornings watching the sun peak through the pines and havin…

Support for our Temple

With palms together and begging bowl in hand,

It is that time of month that I pick up my begging bowl and ask for your generosity in support of our Temple. Will you please offer something? Donate in person or through PayPal on our Order's website at

Our mailing address is:

Order of Clear Mind Zen

642 South Alameda Blvd., Suite E

Las Cruces, NM 88005

We appreciate the time and money you offer. Thank you very much.