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Showing posts from September, 2013

kajo

With palms together,


Good Morning All,



“In general, in the house of the Buddhist patriarchs, drinking tea and eating meals are everyday life itself. This behavior of drinking tea and eating meals has long been transmitted and is realized in the present. Thus, the Buddhist patriarchs’ vivid activity of drinking tea and eating meals has come to us.” Master Dogen Zenji, Fascicle 64, Shobogenzo, as translated by Nishijima-roshi.

In our practice we may draw a distinction between the Dharma on the one hand and talking about the Dharma on the other hand. The Dharma is everyday life, not what we say about everyday life. The Dharma is not the sutras; the sutras reflect the Dharma. If we want to know watermelon we must eat watermelon. Thus, to know the Dharma we must just eat when eating and drink tea when drinking tea. As Okumura-roshi suggests of firewood and ash in his commentary on the Genjokoan; each has its own Dharma reality,

When we eat or drink in this way we are buddhas eating and dr…

PC, Not

With palms together,


Good Morning All,



Yesterday on the way home from the hospital I saw a truck with a few bumper stickers. One read, “Secure our borders!” I can’t now recall the others. Anyway, I wondered at the time, what the driver wanted to secure our borders against. I suspect it was those pesky illegal immigrants who work in our fields, bringing us the food we enjoy or the cotton we love to wear, or maybe, it was about drug trafficking, terrorists, and other possible threats. Somehow I doubt it. I was wondering to myself if trucks along the Canadian border sport similar bumper stickers. Again, I doubt it as I really don’t believe we see Canadians as a threat, they are more like the dominant cultures, but it’s possible.



So, just what does “secure our borders” mean? I think if I were to ask the driver he would tell me some stories about how illegal’s are draining our resources or that they are taking jobs away from Americans. In the end, though, I think it really comes down to …

Trungpa

With palms together,


Good Morning All,

Awake late into the night I watched “Crazy Wisdom, the Life and Times of Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche.” This is a documentary about that rascal within Tibetan Buddhism who founded Naropa University and rocked the Buddhist world with his behavior, behavior which some say was a teaching in its own right and others might say was a living, on-going, violation of the precepts we live by. Perhaps appropriately so, I followed the film by reciting the robe verse and sitting on my cushion in our residence’ Zendo. Wednesday I will drive over to Palomas, Mexico to be fitted for a new set of sorely needed dentures, and on Thursday Kathryn Shukke Shin will undergo Gall Bladder surgery. As if this were not enough, I found out yesterday that a noise which recently developed in my motorcycle’s engine may mean major surgery on the bike. So, yes, was awake late into the night.



Life can be a challenging, if not a disturbing teacher at times. Trungpa Rinpoche was an …

I Talk TOO Much!

With palms together,


Good Morning All,



We are preparing for Kathryn’s gall bladder surgery this coming Thursday. We are hopeful that it can be done the relatively “easy” way, but are concerned she will need the large incision variety due to some old scaring tissue. We would like things to go smoothly and perfectly. But, we never know how things will unfold. As a result of this, I will not be available for a few days after her operation, especially this coming Sunday for services at the Zendo. Rev. Dai Shugyo will be offering our precept renewal service unless you hear otherwise. We will keep you posted.



Just like in medicine, in Zen it is a truth that there are no perfect answers, nothing to measure ourselves or our practice against. We might think that stories of enlightenment, “successful” practices, and other highly subjective measures are standards, but the only true standard is within each of us as we go through our day and encounter each moment. I would like to believe I am a …

Sesshin Concludes

With palms together,


Good Afternoon All,



This morning we concluded O-higan sesshin (intensive meditation retreat) with the traditional ceremony for feeding the Hungry Ghosts, segaki. This was one of my late teacher’s favorite ceremonies. When he performed it he used sweet cakes wrapped in white paper as offerings. This year I decided to use the more traditional rice and water. I think it was one of his favorites for two reasons, which may actually be one: the literal feeding of the hungry ghosts. He loved the cakes!



We each have a hungry ghost within us, just as we have the buddha-nature within us. Hungry Ghosts are those aspects of ourselves with insatiable desires but narrow throats: we can never get enough of that which we desire and so we suffer.



In our ceremony each participant wrote down the names of those who died this year or of those we knew were suffering. We also wrote down the things we’ve down which created suffering for others and/or ourselves. Each of us then approac…

A Day's Ramble

With palms together,


Good Afternoon Everyone,



Zendo Note: This evening at 7:00 PM we will continue sesshin, practicing until about 9:00 PM. We will continue Saturday from 7:30 AM until 8:30 PM, and again Sunday morning from 7:30 to 11:30 AM. Please join us.



Today is another wet one. I woke late, about 5:30 AM. It was raining. The pups refused to go out. I guess they were afraid to get their feet wet. I can’t blame them/ Yet, I took a ride this morning in what was a light rain. First I went to Veteran’s Park where I practiced Zazen in the rain. I remembered the monsoon season in Vietnam and left the park for B & N where I found a copy of Disciple Bobby Kankin Byrd’s poem, “Back Roads to Far Towns” on page 120 in the Fall issue of Tricycle magazine. From there, an unsuccessful trip to Wal-Mart, then the ride home in a harder rain. I arrived home soaking wet and grateful that I have a home to return to as so many others do not.



As I write I am looking at my painting-in-progress and…

To Live in Peace

With palms together,


Good Morning All,



With the stroke of a key uploading an old picture of three monks, my teacher, his wife, myself and another priest in our lineage, walking into Trinity Site, New Mexico carrying a flame originally lit by the atomic bomb blast in Nagasaki, I began to weep. I feel so alone without his presence. While we struggled often together, he was with me as I founded the Order of Clear Mind Zen. He was my support and conscience so often, checking me with his cold, sometimes angry stare. So often I feel as though I do not know what I am doing. So often I feel I am not doing enough. It appears that even in his death he still is teaching me.



I think, aside from weddings and ordinations, walking to Trinity Site with these Japanese Soto priests, who treated us with the greatest respect and gratitude for walking with them, this event was the most meaningful event in my life as a monk. It appears that we of Matsuoka-roshi’s lineage were accepted where it counts mo…

Appearances

With palms together,


Good Morning All,



Today is a good day. We are both very grateful for all the wonderful birthday wishes Kathryn received yesterday for her 60th birthday. We will spend the day recovering from all the excitement birthday celebrations bring. I will be scheduling an appointment to visit a dentist in Palomas, Mexico to replace my aged and now broken dentures. It is an insightful experience to have broken two of my denture’s teeth and having, thereby, face my own ego regarding my appearance.



When the second tooth broke I spent a lot of time and effort supergluing it back in. At some point, it just became impossible and I decided to let it go. It seems our appearance is important to us, yet in the world of Zen we practice to let go of our attachments to such things and this, as well as shaving my head, became a central practice.



It is a good thing to practice in this way. I stared into my bathroom mirror, sometimes for a quarter hour at a time, just looking at myself…

Good Morning All

With palms together,


Good Morning All,



This morning I woke late as I had a late night last night. Yesterday I taught two high school classes about Zen Buddhism, the last one concluding at 9:30 PM and offered zazen at Golden Mesa retirement community in the early afternoon. As is typical of me, I returned home pumped. It is such a pleasure to offer the Buddha’s Dharma to others. I am grateful to Ms. Victoria Glover-Fisk of the New American High School for providing me with this wonderful opportunity to be of service.



I have found people of all ages have a genuine interest in the Buddha Way. A small introductory instruction and practice session always seems to demonstrate the serene power of zazen. Yet, as we know, to take up this practice in earnest is a serious challenge to everyone. My hope is that students and attendees of such classes will remember these moments and eventually come to make the practice a part of their lives.



Two reminders: Thursday evening Zazen in the Zendo is …

A Day

With palms together,


Good morning all,



This morning I woke later than usual: 4:45 AM! Goodness, the day seemed half over! I decided to be lazy, sitting outside for awhile, tried to clean up my little PC, and sipped coffee. Soon I will go to my annual physical…two years late…and see what’s what. After this I have an opportunity to teach a high school class about Buddhism at 2:00 and an evening class at 8:30. I always look forward to these opportunities as I have found there is nearly always a curiosity about this faith tradition.



What to say to these students? My talks usually begin with my war experience as that pretty much frames the reasons behind my spiritual journey and discovery of Zen. I often follow that with a brief story about the Buddha and how the Buddha Way migrated from India to the rest of the world. I follow this with comments about the Buddha Way being more a practice than belief system and conclude with the practices themselves. It’s a neat little package and can eas…

A Hot Bath Zazen

With palms together,


Good Morning All,



This morning I woke to take a long hot bath in Epsom salts. Over the last week or so these baths have been incredibly helpful for relieving my arthritis. To say nothing of my back muscle pain. But I found another benefit, one I am sure women have known for centuries: they are an excellent contemplative practice. Yes, a cup full of salts in very hot water, a body slipping gingerly down into the tub and a mindful bliss arises from the steam.



Zen is not a singular practice. It is not only zazen. Zen, to be true Zen, is in every moment. Zen is being awake and wholeheartedly present with each and every breath in each and every action. Too often, it seems to me, books on the practice of Zen focus their entire attention on zazen. I think this is a big mistake as it suggests zazen is IT. But zazen, in my opinion, is not IT, whereas an awakened life is.



Yesterday I suffered from sleepwalking through my day. I was sleepwalking due to a drug I was prescr…