Showing posts from October, 2013

Don't Waste Time

With palms together,

Good Morning Everyone,

Last night our Study Group finished our study of “Living by Vow,” an excellent commentary on the key chants used in our Zen tradition. Next week we will begin our study of “Moku-Rai” a text of writings by Rev. Dr. Soyu Matsuoka-roshi.

In our group last night we closed out the Sandokai’s last verse, the first section reads:

Hearing the words, you should understand the source:

Don’t make up standards of your own.

If you don’t understand the path as it meets your eyes,

How can you know the way as you walk? (p.246)

As in a segment of the Heart Sutra, we should begin in the vast emptiness of Samadhi. This emptiness is the Buddha Nature from which all things manifest, including standards for life. To make up standards of our own separates us from our True Nature and creates duality. Meeting the path as it meets your eyes is an admonition to only go straight, doing what is in front of you to do.

Duality has no ground. It is relative. Discussion …

Silent Illumination

With palms together,

Good Morning Everyone,

It is late in the evening, approaching early morning, and my mind is at rest. I just read a short section in “The Kyosaku” by Rev. Dr. Soyu Matsuoka-roshi, my Dharma grandfather. In it he speaks of Zen as quietness and action. He says, “Soto Zen is an intuitive way, with little attachment placed on the knowledge of the mind in finding the truth about life and about its deeper meaning. Education is respected, but it is felt that the experience of the deep meaning of life will not be found in philosophical arguments or illogical questions and answers like the koan.” (p. 274)

Where might we find this “deep meaning” of life then? And what exactly does “deep meaning” mean? Frankly, I am of the experience that it has no meaning at all save that which we assign through our thoughts and feelings. Which is to say, it is highly subjective and therefore relative. Master Dogen (refining what a predecessor (Hongzhi [see "Cultivating the Empty Fiel…


With palms together,

Good Morning Everyone,

Wake Up!

If a teacher only tickles our ears, offering up what we want to hear, they aren't much of a teacher. The potential of a seed is only realized through much struggle, as it pushes through the ground and into the vastness under the clear blue sky (from a Facebook friend)

There is a koan about escaping hot and cold weather. A young monk is cold in the Zendo and asks his Master how to escape it. The Master asks him to find a place where there is neither heat no cold. The young monk struggles with this. In Matsuoka-roshi’s commentary on this koan, he says heat and cold are symbolic of our suffering in life. He acknowledges that we each suffer and want to find a way to live in happiness. Matsuoka-roshi says the way to do this is thru the practice of non-attachment.

“Non-attachment means rising above life and death, and happiness and suffering. This is how we can avoid extreme suffering in life, and how we can have happiness. It is im…


Written Thursday morning:

With palms together,

Good Morning Everyone,

It is wonderfully cool this morning in the desert southwest. I woke at 4:30 to a clear starlit sky and sat outside to practice both Zazen and canework. Of late I have, once again, taken an interest in the Martial Arts, but this time with my slowly worsening physical disabilities, I decided to select a cane for practice. I had spent a good ten years involved in a Korean form of karate called Moo Duk Kwan, eventually teaching in a small house-based dojo in South Carolina. I gave up karate in 1975 when my son was born, feeling the practice led to a sort of low-grade paranoia

Recently I was told by my doctors that I should not run or walk for exercise. As I kickstart my exercise regimen this leaves a vacuum on the aerobic side. I suppose I will take up biking at this point, and have prepared my bike to that end. It occurred to me that Martial Arts with Cane might be another alternative. When I was a long distance run…


With palms together,

Good Morning Everyone,

My apologies to those who attended this recent Zazenkai for my lack of presence both in body and mind. I had an unexpected physician’s appointment that morning and had just come off of a very late night doing an Honor Flight escort. I want to apologize as well to those students who sought dokusan only to be confronted by a sleepy teacher!

Self awareness is an essential part of a student’s life and, as a teacher, I continue to be a student. We teachers are also students and sometimes forget that we are fallible human beings with our own issues that need desperately to be addressed. There are those of us who are so full of ourselves that we cannot hear our students as they are. There are those of us who seem to think we no longer need to practice self awareness, convinced we know the Dharma. To the extent this is so, is the extent to which we are far away from the Dharma and, concomitantly, both ourselves and our students.

I cannot speak fo…