Showing posts from April, 2013

Sequester Values

With Palms together,

Good Morning Everyone,

Our government does not care about the people it serves or the people who serve it. A story on the Huffington Post helped me see this more clearly. Apparently, Congress decided rather quickly to lift sequester restrictions on programs assisting our nation’s airline traffic, but did nothing to ease the constraints being imposed on programs that actually save lives such as Meals on Wheels, Medicare, and support services for our military, among a host of others.

This, it seems to me, is a class issue, and because it is so, should involve the conscience of those in all faith traditions, including Zen Buddhism Programs that help our poor, our retired, and those least able to mobilize and advocate, have been set aside, and the one program that assists those who are in a position to afford to fly from one place to another is granted a lessoning of restrictions. This is outrageous. Since when is it a priority over life itself to fly?

I grant tha…

Kesa in the Morning

With palms together,

Good Morning Everyone,

Let's see, the sun came up this morning in a glorious burst over the Organ Mountains. I witnessed the gradual lightening of the night sky, then, with a sudden burst, there it was, the sun. I never seem to tire of this display of natural power. It evokes a sense of humility in my nature and hope in my heart.

Today in the Zendo I will speak about the verse of the kesa. This is a wonderful symbol, like the sun, it evokes a sense of humility and hope. I am deeply humbled by the fact that since Master Dogen's time in the 13th century to the present; we have raised the kesa to our heads and opening it, wrapped ourselves in its 'field of benefaction.'

The verse Okumura-roshi uses differs slightly to the one commonly accepted among sanghas in the Soto school. It says, "Wearing the Tathagatha's teaching we vow to save all beings," whereas we use the word, "free" rather than "save." We might think thi…

Bodhisattva Reminders

With Palms together,

Good Morning Everyone,

Awake at 3:45 AM I painted, read the news, and found myself crying. What evoked such a reaction in me was the story of soldiers with fatigues and 40 pound packs marching the Boston marathon only to race to assist victims in the aftermath of the bombings. I have done a marathon and a score of half marathons, and I can tell you at the end of 26.2 miles even under the best conditions, a body is thoroughly exhausted, yet these soldiers leapt into action without knowing if another explosion was imminent and assisted victims. This is selfless service. To me, this is the best of the bodhisattva ideal made manifest before our eyes.

So, this morning at 9:00 AM when I take my seat to practice zazen at the Veteran’s Memorial on Roadrunner Parkway, I will keep these soldiers and others in my mind’s eye. It’s not that soldiers are the ideal: millions of others from all walks of life typify selfless service on a daily basis, it’s that these soldiers an…

Reality, Part Two: Boston

With palms together,

I bow to each reader,

This evening let us each offer incense and a recitation of the Heart Sutra on behalf of those injured in Boston this afternoon. Such events are unimaginable and unconscionable. Yet, we live in a time when events like this occur around the globe.

We are all asking questions, seeking answers, and needing someone or some group to blame. For me, I know blame is a tricky thing as it keeps me away from the event itself. Surviving trauma is like that : we want to make sense of the irrational. Don’t try.

We already know what we need to know. We just need to look deeply into our own hearts. We are human beings who love and hate, seek justice often with revenge, and want punishment for those responsible for hurting us.

Turn to your faith tradition and its practices. Notice the love and compassion we feel for those hurt and for those who so quickly aided the injured. So, while the world is a place with danger and outrageous acts, it is also a place …


With Palms together,

Good Morning Everyone,

I am wondering about what some might call "Ultimate Reality" as opposed, I presume, to an "ordinary reality" or simply, reality itself. I suggest anyone that posits an "ultimate reality" is, in my opinion, deluded as such a person has, perforce, mentally and spiritually divided reality.

While it is true that in Zen we have an Absolute and Relative, it is equally true that when penetrated these are realized as one. When understood as two, this understanding is also deluded. We don't move toward "the Ultimate" we realize that "the Ultimate" and the ordinary are one and both are simply a fiction created by a brain that quite naturally perceives itself as separate from the world around it. So, we might ask, what is “reality” before our brain senses the world around us? Yes, what was your face, the face you had before your father and mother were born?

We might say, “nothing.” Literally, “no…

War, not!

With Palms together,

Good Morning Everyone,

This morning I will ride with my combat veterans brothers and sisters to a funeral for a fallen combat brother who died in Afghanistan. I am sick of the killing resulting from war. Do we even know what this man died for? I doubt it. If we ask any random American citizen what we are fighting for in that part of the world they either wouldn’t know, wouldn’t care, or would offer some lame reason such as “to fight terrorism.” I am unconvinced that this is an adequate answer for the cost in lives and dollars at a time when we in the United States are in desperate need of financial recovery and when we have so many facing homelessness, poverty, and lack of health care.

What I really don’t understand is why we, the people, haven’t coalesced to demand of our president and our congress to end this nightmare. Yet, frankly, when I look more deeply at the issue, I see that this war doesn’t really touch those in a position to put real pressure on the …

Shukke: another perspective

With Palms together,

Good Morning Everyone,

Zen found its birth with the posture of the Buddha 2600 years ago. He taught us to sit upright and, as a result, we might live upright. For me, living upright means living steadfast and living in peacefully in the moment as it is. I am not always successful, but then, unlike the Buddha, I am living as a householder and not surrounded by those practicing the Buddha Way.

In Master Dogen’s Shobogenzo, he makes the case in two fascicles (Shukke and Shukke-kudoku) that to leave home is the best and only way, to attain the Way. Perhaps. I have always been suspect of this point of view. It seems to me, home-leaving and surrounding oneself with practitioners is the easiest way, but not the only way.

In Shukke Kodoku he takes issue with Nagarjuna who stated that lay persons who take the precepts are able to attain not only the bodhisattva way, but also nirvana itself, Nagarjuna asks, why it is necessary to leave family life. Dogen replies, “Clear…

Sesshin and Takuhatsu

With Palms together,

Good Morning Everyone,

The ride home from Austin was tough. I rode the 650.4 miles in one day. It was cold in the morning and hot in the afternoon. My butt was quite sore, but I think I am, at this point, what biker’s call, an “Iron Butt.” Anyway, I am happy to be at home and ready to begin sesshin tomorrow evening.

Hannamatsuri is a very special time. We celebrate the birth of the Buddha by recounting the story, offering flowers and sweet tea, and practicing zazen diligently. We will open sesshin Wednesday evening at 7:00 PM. I look forward to seeing you in the Zendo.

Lastly, it is time to ask for donations and dana. Please honor your pledges to maintain the Zendo. You may donate through our paypal button on our website at or send a check to: The Order of Clear Mind Zen, 642 South Alameda Blvd., Suite E, Las Cruces, NM 88005.

Thank you very much and Gassho.