Zen 101

Monday, August 26, 2013

Patience, yet again

With palms together,

Good Afternoon All,

This morning I am feeling the repercussions of thoughtlessness regarding my body and its age. Somehow, the other day, I tweaked a muscle in my lower back. I say “somehow” because I do not recall doing it, but by deduction know I did as this morning (though clearly healing) I am still quite sore. Yesterday it was a challenge to walk without my lower back seizing up and telling me to sit down! This morning, however, things are healing and my back is not seizing as it did yesterday.

So, the good news is I am healing, but the bad news is, I have a little ways to go so I will not be riding today nor doing much of anything at all. I really do not like not doing things around the residence as this puts a lot of strain on the love of my life, Kathryn. On the other hand, I know that stopping what I’m doing and giving myself time to recover will allow me to recover more quickly, thus relieving Kathryn.

We call this patience. Patience is one of the six paramitas and I have spoken about them and it often, especially this one. Yet, I rarely, if ever, feel I have done them justice. Robert Aitken-roshi said, “Patience is not endurance. It is loving acceptance, loving acceptance, breath by breath. And when you follow the way of patience you find your own best realization, not someone else’s.” (p. 14 Enduring Words)

There is no moment other than this moment to be realized.

Be happy.

Sunday, August 25, 2013


With palms together,

Good Morning All,

This morning is exceptionally beautiful. The air has a coolness to it, the sky has few clouds, the moon is full, and I sit here looking forward to the sun’s rise over the Organ mountains. It is good to be alive and present in the moment. Yesterday I rode my motorcycle up to Socorro, about 150 miles each way, with my Combat Veterans Motorcycle Association. We had 15 bikes and met-up with members from the northern part of the state. We had our monthly Chapter meeting there and I thoroughly enjoyed both the ride and the company. Today we will practice Zazen in the Zendo at 10:00 AM and will renew our vows as Zen Buddhist practitioners. Each of these are wonderful moments and each have their own Dharma reality.

We take refuge in the Three Treasure: buddha, dharma, and sangha. These are, unfortunately, often thought of in the most shallow terms. Buddha is not the person of Shakyamuni, but rather, from the root of the word, awake. We take refuge in being awake, open and clear of mental hindrances in each moment. While riding a motorcycle or just sitting on the patio in the early morning, our state of mind should be alert and receptive, without judgment or assignment of value. Each moment awake is each moment buddha. That is all.

Taking refuge in dharma is to take refuge, that is, live completely, in our reality. Teachings about reality, while often referred to as “Dharma” are not dharma. They are simply fingers pointing to the moon. True dharma is being completely awake in our moment, completely experiencing it as directly as possible.

Taking refuge in sangha is to find love, peace, and support in our community. We often neglect this treasure, believing we are individuals, alone and disconnected from each other. When we take refuge in sangha, however, we recognize that we are not alone: we are all one, connected and dependent upon each other for both our survival and our happiness.

We practice to offer our respect and gratitude for these three treasures. We practice to manifest them in our everyday experience and interaction with others. We practice to live in this world of our making with as little waste as possible. Time is short: do not waste a single moment!

Our schedule: Study Group Tuesday at 6:30 PM; Zazen Thursday evening at 6:30; Zazen Sunday at 10:00 AM.



Thursday, August 22, 2013

A few notes

With palms together,

Good Afternoon All,

Thank you for taking the time to read my notes from time to time. This afternoon a few housekeeping notes are in order. First, we will be practicing sesshin from the evening of Wednesday the 11th through Sunday morning at noon on the 15th of September. Wednesday, Thursday and Friday are evening practice only from 7:00 PM through 9:00 PM. Saturday will be all day from 7:30 AM to 8:00 PM, and Sunday from 7:30 AM to 11:30 AM. Please let me know if you intend to sit with us.

Second, our Study Group is moving along very well. I hope to see some of you who haven’t attended join us. We meet in the Zendo from 6:30 to 7:30 each Tuesday evening and are involved just now in Chapter Three addressing the Three Treasures of Okumura-roshi’s “Living by Vow.”

We continue to practice Zazen in the Veteran’s Park on Roadrunner at 9:00 AM Friday mornings and again on Thursday’s at 7:00 PM in our Zendo. Our Sunday morning service begins at 10:00 AM.

Practicing together as a Sangha is vitally important. Sangha is one of the pillars of Zen Buddhist practice and offers an opportunity to learn from each other. The energy developed in a group is nothing like that of individual practice.

Anyway, I hope to see you at one of our practice opportunities soon.

In gassho,


Wednesday, August 07, 2013

Bodhisattva Vows

With palms together,

Good Morning All,

At our Temple we are studying the Bodhisattva Vows. At last night’s meeting I asked our group what their Bodhisattva Vow might be. Our text, “Living by Vow” presented several examples of people who had personal vows in addition to the Four Great Vows. This would be a challenging question, I suspected, and it was. For in our answer we reveal much about ourselves. Our discussion was lively and, in the end, students left with a thing or two to practice with…as did I.

Bodhisattva Vows are a foundation of Zen practice. We recite these vows daily in order to put them in the center of our mind’s eye. They are a solemn promise/commitment to action:

Beings are numberless, I vow to free them.

Delusions are inexhaustible, I vow to end them.

Dharma gates are boundless, I vow to enter them.

The buddha way is unsurpassable, I vow to realize it.

Each vow is rather like a koan. How to free a being? If beings are numberless, how can I vow to free them all? The vows themselves are a Dharma Gate and we must enter each one wholeheartedly. It is this wholeheartedness, I believe, that gives us a clue to the creation of our own personal vow. Whatever we vow, we must enter the vow wholeheartedly making it the foundation of our life.

So, I ask myself, what is my life and my personal vow? This question has arisen of late. Perhaps its age; perhaps its being recently married. What I know is I have been somewhat reflective of late. At odd moments memories of my past just pop into my eyes and I am spending more time in reflection on the past, less time on the present and hardly anything on the future. My personal vow has never been articulated perhaps because, as an old existentialist, I hold that behavior is far more revealing than words. What I do is my vow.

Still, perhaps that is hedging. After all, a vow unspoken cannot be held up to us as a measure or an inspiration. So, here goes, my personal vow:

Daiho’s Vow: I wholeheartedly vow to care for and nurture all beings, without exception, and to do so in such a way as to allow them to bring peace to themselves and others.

Thank you for your time,

Be well.