Showing posts from 2014

Revamping Website

Hi All, Just a quick note letting you know I am revamping my website.  To quote someone famous, "Why don'cha come up and see me sometime!" Address:


With palms together,
Dear Readers,

Recently I retired from my leadership role at the Order of Clear Mind Zen.  A new abbot has taken my place and the three local Zen sanghas have come together under one roof to be now referred to as Daibutsuji Zen Temple with its headquarters at the Zen Center of Las Cruces.  I am pleased at these developments.  The new abbot, Rev. Shukke Shin-sensei, has tons of new ideas and brings a younger, fresher face to the Sangha.

The Order of Clear Mind Zen will continue but not as a formal corporate entity.  We are a religious Order upon which our priests and lay precept holders are trained and ordained.  I will continue to be its head teacher and will continue my work with my students.  While initially I thought I would no longer accept students, I believe I am changing my mind and will, indeed,  begin to accept new students and teach.  It's what I do.

If you should wish to become my student please email me at telling me something …

Liberation, Part One

From Rev. Senzaki’s correspondence in “Eloquent Silence,” (p 386) a few noteworthy notes: 
“… present day Japanese Buddhists do not understand true Buddhism, but are clinging to sectarian ideas instead.”  
And of Priest emissaries here to teach Zen:
“With few exceptions they are not accomplishing anything here but propaganda and the advertisement of their titles and cathedrals, like sandwich men peddling their wares.”
…”They may think they can do things here in America just as they do in Japan, but they are badly mistaken.” _______________
Yet, today, years later, some of us cling to the Japanese as final arbiters of what is and is not Zen.  Authenticity from mind-to-mind transmission, practice, and up-right living are not as important, it would seem, as what lineage we are from and whether that lineage is officially recognized by Soto Shu in Japan.  
Senzaki-roshi, like Matsuoka-roshi, wished to build an authentic Zen practice here in the United States, a practice not depende…

Veterans Day

With palms together,
Veterans Day.  What can I say?  Millions of American men and women have left the relative safety of home in order to serve in the Armed Forces. Sworn to protect the United States against all enemies foreign and domestic, these citizen soldiers learn the skills necessary to close with, kill or capture the enemy. Its a scary thought on the one hand,  to turn a citizen into a human being that can, if need be, hunt fellow human beings. On the other hand, defense of our nation and way of life is crucial in a world gone mad with zealots, dictators, and insurgents willing to kill themselves in order to kill others.
This said, as a Zen Buddhist priest, I am ambivalent about this whole thing. We vow not to kill, but make exceptions for self defense.  We vow not to slander others, but easily refer to those who would harm us in dehumanizing ways, ways in which it makes it easier to kill. and if any of us believe we would not —-or could not—- kill, let me say this: you are d…

Some Days

With palms together, Good Morning Everyone,
Again it has been awhile since I posted any Zen-related musings. I'm not sure what's happening, but as I've said in earlier posts, I feel I have little to contribute that hasn't been said before. As it says in Ecclesiastes, there is nothing new under the sun.  That being said, perhaps I might make a few comments on the state of Zen today.  
Frankly, I feel Zen is suffering from a sickness which is pervading our world.  It is a sickness that causes a perversion of Zen and assaults its very nature.  There is no name for this sickness, at least not yet, but its symptoms include: a desire for power and recognition by its priests, a desire for money to support bigger and "better" Temples and Zen Centers, an all too willing effort to kow-tow to those interested in "self-improvement," an unwillingness to take on politically dangerous or incorrect stances in a public way, and an interest in playing the part rathe…


With palms together, Good Afternoon All,
I haven’t posted to my blog since way before I took the road trip I am currently doing.  Since leaving Las Cruces I’ve put nearly 4000 miles on the Dyna, endured pounding rain, major delays in miles and miles of construction, and blind drivers apparently unable to see (or hear) a Harley Davidson motorcycle. I’ve learned a few things through it all. First, my dislike of crowds and anxiety when within them was re-enforced by my experience at the national meeting of the Combat Veterans Motorcycle Association in Gettysburg, Pa. While not news to me, my response was awkward to say the least. It was rather severe. I pretty much stayed in my room and after two days acknowledged it wasn’t good for me to be there.  So, uncharacteristically for me (since I typically tough such things out), I simply climbed on the Dyna and left. 
On the ride towards home I had the opportunity to meet Student Tucker’s mom and step-father.  They were incredibly kind and gracio…

In the Night

With palms together, Good Morning All,
Thursday, April 17: It is 3:00 AM and I am awake because our lovable dogs decided to bark their heads off over some coyote in the distance.  The girls (our dogs) settled down and soon after fell asleep on pillows on our sofa.  While I, on the other hand, sat upright next to them. So it goes.
You know, I rarely have any real idea what I am going to say next when I write these blog notes.  What I do know is that I have a state of mind that, when I enter it, its as if I am in touch with all the buddhas and ancestors before me.  I feel my fingertips on the keyboard and realize Bodhidharma or Dogen or the Buddha. Sometimes its just a blank sheet of virtual paper staring back at me.  Other times its real paper and I use my fountain pen to jot down notes in my journal. In either case, Ancestors, words, and body are one.  At such times, something unfolds and presents itself. I am as often as surprised as, perhaps, you are. Painting and music seem to be like…


With palms together, Good Morning All,
This morning brought a brilliant moon and chilly air.  I am sitting in my flannel robe looking out the French doors in our living room.  Outside, things are still.  The world hasn’t quite woken up yet….well, at least my world.  Kathryn sleeps, as do Binky and Suki, and I putter.  My mind is on the Google Hangout.  Only one of our several invitees showed up.  Interesting.  I know people have their own lives to live and things do, indeed, come up that interfere with our plans, yet, still, it is disheartening.  I think we will come on at an earlier hour, say 6:30 Mountain Time, on Monday evenings.
The trouble with ideas is that they come with expectations.  In Zen, we are taught that expectations come with attachments, and attachments lead to suffering.  Perhaps so.  But, this does not mean that we should not have expectations, rather, that our expectations should be held like loosely held reins.  We have them, but are not attached to them. We move in …


With palms together, Good Morning All,

It is late in the morning for me at 5:57 as I sit down to write to you.  The air here in the desert is cool and the sun has yet to peak up over the mountains to the east. My usually slow Wednesday is sandwiched by two appointments.  The first, at 8:00 AM, is with my personal physician.  The second, at 7:00 PM, is with the director of the perpetrator’s program at our local domestic violence shelter. In the former, a check-up; in the latter, a planning meeting to see where I might fit into their curriculum.  
Our small study group met last night and we discussed “rites of passage” in terms of transformation in relation to our practice,  It is interesting to me how we distract ourselves from our inevitable death.  So, when confronted with it’s imminence, we are both surprised and frightened.  More, we are unprepared.  As a result everyone in our sphere of influence suffers. Yet, my sense is that such suffering is part and parcel of our human nature.  T…

Morning Notes

With palms together, Good Morning All,
This morning I woke at 4:30!  Yeah, getting a bit more rest!  I do love early morning: quiet earth, starlit sky, cool desert air, and birdsong.  All of these combine to make early morning very special in my heart.  And then there is the morning light of dawn breaking!  I longed for that light in Vietnam.  It meant the dark night was over and I had survived the treacherous night.  Naive.  There are, and continue to be, dark nights.  Today, I address them directly, however, although there were decades where I hid from them.  I guess I’m getting better at 67 years old.  Like someone mumbled at the “Welcome Home Vietnam Veterans” rally last week, “Its about damn time!”
We should never hide from ourselves.  In Zen, it is nearly impossible to do so, although some of us manage.  I say nearly impossible because when we practice zazen we have nothing but ourselves to consider.  There is you, your cushion, and the wall in front of your eyes.  We sit and as we…

On-line Study Group

From my Disciple in Virginia, Ron Mitsugo Zacharski:
Hi all!
The Friday book study group is starting a new book this Friday: "What the Buddha Taught" by Walpola Ruhula. The book is free online at
or at your local bookseller or Amazon:

We will be discussing chapter 1. We meet at 4:30 Mountain Time in a Google Hangout. If you are interested let me know and I will add you to the invite list.
You will need a google hangout account (if you have a gmail account you are halfway there!). Info on Google Hangouts is at
If you want to test out hangouts before the meeting let me know and we can arrange a time to try it out. If you need technical help, let me know.
Take care,

Pure Precepts

With palms together, Good Morning All,
We stood at attention, each with an American flag held close.  The sun was on us, but there was a cool breeze and we were not uncomfortable.  There were a number of us, perhaps twenty, on that line outside the front doors of the funeral home.  Inside lay a fallen Vietnam Veteran, aged 65, and his family and friends.  We were part of an Honor Guard coming from all points in the southwest on our motorcycles and this was our mission: to stand with him.
On my left stood a man, maybe 60, who just had a round of chemo for a lung cancer developed as a result of working in a plastics factory.  He was not very strong, but he stood his ground as he related the story of his diagnosis and treatment. On my right was a former soldier, much younger, and I do not know what theater he fought in.  He was from Alamogordo and I did not know him.  He kept pretty much to himself as we stood there with our flags.  
I thought of myself as bearing witness to our military’s r…


With palms together, Good Morning All,
Last night I attended a Board meeting of our local Community of Hope. Their funding sources seem to be cutting back and as a result, homeless people will have less and less supportive services. They have a website so that people can help:
Today I will join other combat vets in riding to Alamogordo to be Honor Guard at a veteran's funeral. Saturday I will participate in a "Welcome Home Vietnam Veterans" event and Sunday I will lead a service and offer a Dharma Talk at Treeleaf Zendo, A Soto Zen Sangha. A busy weekend...
Lastly, I have been asked to offer a "Google Hangout" for our Order.  I would be willing to give this a shot.  We would practice zazen, offer a Dharma Talk, and host a Q & A period. Who might want to participate? 
Be well, Daiho WebRep currentVote noRating noWeight


With palms together, Good Morning All,
This morning I woke late at 5:30.  Its always a challenge when that happens as I tend to have my little morning routine, or shall we say, ritual, that gets compressed as a result.  So it goes.  Flexibility is an important ingredient for a serene life.  When we hold to a ritual or schedule tightly, we will inevitably suffer. 
On the ride home from the therapist’s office I was struck by the beauty of the day.  Even though (or perhaps because of) it was windy, the sky is brilliant, the sun is shining, and the views of our mountains just amazing.  
We should always take a moment within a moment to appreciate our lives.  Mine most notable appreciative moments occur most frequently in a zafu (meditation cushion) or my Harley Davidson Dyma Super Glide as I ride through the desert southwest.  No matter where we are or what we are doing, we should appreciate our lives.  Getting to the ability to do this on the fly is a result of daily practice.  So, if you ar…

Engaged Practice

With palms together, Good Afternoon All,
I am kneeling on my seiza bench at our rough cut wooden table in our living room.  It is nearly 1:00 PM and by the time I am done with this missive, I am certain it will be well past the hour.  No matter.  What I have to say is important at any hour.
I particularly enjoy kneeling at this table.  It is just the right height and angle for my one-handed typing.  I have found, as in a prayerful hand gesture, (a mudra), it is difficult not to be at peace when knelling.  There is something about the posture that demands stillness.
I am reading, once again, Bernie Glassman Roshi’s book, “Bearing Witness,” as I prepare for this coming Sunday’s Dharma talk over at Treeleaf Sangha  (8:00 AM).  My topic is to be Engaged Practice.  I talked with my therapist about this.  She asked what was meant by the phrase. I politely responded that engaged practice was similar to the Jewish notion of tikun olam, to “repair the world.”

You see, as Zen Buddhists we take the T…

So Here We Are

With palms together, Good Morning Everyone,

This morning I woke at 4:45!  Late for me.  After siting a bit, I watched an episode of a James Spader show called,"Blacklist" and it got me thinking.  Big problem! :)  Anyway, I acknowledge we all do things in our lifetimes which erode our sense of self-esteem.  And we all witness and do things that raise our sense of hope and open our hearts to love.  Sometimes these are events that are coincident. Which can be one way of saying at times the end justifies the means.  Yet, we must ask ourselves, "is our sense of self-esteem and the warming of our hearts so important that we can justify an action otherwise judged as horrific?" If it feels good it's ok to do it?  Not always. 
Today our study group will take up the question of the meaning our our own lives.  As we approach death, which by the way, is an every breath proposition, we may begin to wonder about the value of our lives.  As an aged person, I am obliged (I suspec…

On Coffee and Other Matters

With palms together, Good Morning Everyone,
The taste of coffee in the morning is like an old, old friend.  There was a time when I would drink several pots of coffee a day. I often worked 13 hour days, nearly always six days a week, for years and and a cup of coffee with every client was a welcomed way of taking a break without appearing to do so.  I could pour the cups, stir, breath a few breaths, then come back into the consulting room and sit down.  After chit chatting for a few minutes over the coffee we were ready to begin the therapy. 
In the before time, I was a psychotherapist and businessman.  I started a private practice with a hundred bucks while in the PhD program at CWRU and after ten years sold the practice and escaped the “corporate” world.  It was an exciting time to be in the field.  Lots of innovation, lots of money, and lots of stress.  It was in that climate I began to see the value in, and do the more formal practice of, meditation.  
Of course in the beginning most …

In the Still of the Night

With palms together, Good Morning Everyone,

There are nights while, when sitting still, the universe reveals itself. It seems to whisper in the stillness as if its breath comes from the lips of God.  On such nights I am comforted by such fancy thoughts, knowing full well the universe and the breeze are just the universe and the breeze. Still, the comfort comes.
I listened to a rant by Bill Maher earlier about the story of Noah.  Bill was beside himself.  He cannot believe human beings actually believe this story and take it as the literal truth.  Frankly, neither can I.  However, Bill nearly always misses the point, blinded as he is by his hatred of religion as he understands it. I admit, if my understanding of God and religion were as shallow and superficially fundamentalist as his, I would hate them as well. The thing is, God is a concept (pardon me John), But what that concept hides is something else again. 
To offer an example:  I am Harvey, yet “Harvey” is a concept.  What is Harvey …


With palms together, Good Morning Everyone,
It is a Saturday morning and I have been awake since about 2:30 or so.  Funny how that works: the earlier I wake, the earlier I fall asleep at night, the earlier I wake…and so on.  I was playing chess online with a friend in California through the early morning.  She won.  This is good.  She really needed to win.  
Sometimes we need something good to happen, something to help us along in feeling the world is a good place. Now I’m not suggesting that winning a game of chess in the middle of the night is such a thing, but it helps.  Yet, here’s the thing: when we feel as though the world around us sucks (and often there is ample personal evidence this is so) it is also true that the world around us is everything but sucky.  New born babies, freshly blooming flowers, stories of children doing incredible things, and the countless random acts of kindness that become visible when we have eyes to see.
And that’s the key, isn’t it? To get eyes that can …

Roshi's New Book!

Living Zen, the Diary of an American Zen Priest, is now available on in paperback!

Please give it a view and review at!  Click here.

Thank you very much!

Amazon Rules!

Apparently has taken it upon itself to lower the asking price of my book!  It lists at $16.95 and they are selling it much cheaper!  Enjoy!

My Book is now available on Kindle

Hello All, My book is now available for Kindle download.   It is priced at $9.95  Be well!

My book is now available!

With respect,  My book, "Living Zen: the Diary of an American Zen Priest," is now available for purchase.  Just go to and type in my name, "Harvey Daiho Hilbert" or the book title.  I am pleased with it and am thankful to both students Heather and Tucker for their very generous assistance copy editing the text.  Best wishes, Daiho


With palms together, Good Morning Everyone,
Someone reminded me yesterday that I promised a flood of email teachings after receiving my MacBook Pro for my birthday.  No flood is coming.  I have, however, been working on my book, “Living Zen: the Diary of an American Zen Priest,” and it should be ready for distribution in a week.  I have a “proof” copy in my hands and will tell you that it looks good.  Its hefty, weighing in at 410 pages, and I’m told it is an interesting read.  
The book is an edited collection of my writing from the year 2007.  It includes my understanding of my life at that time and how my life and Zen became one. There are teachings on a variety of issues, the Diamond sutra, the Paramitas, Zazen, etc., but more importantly for me, anyway, is that they reflect my reflection on how Zen offers us teachings regarding ourselves as we interact with the world.  
Zen is not a thing.  It is life itself.  Life lived awake and direct.  From a Zen point of view, everything is a te…

Important Notes

With palms together,

Good Morning All & Happy New Year to each of you!

First, please consider coming to practice Thursday evening with Rev. Shukke Shin who will be addressing the Eightfold Noble Path as it applies to everyday life. She suggests people arrive at 6:00 PM.

Second, unfortunately, I must cancel this month's Zazenkai as I am needed in Albuquerque to assist in an escort for a funeral service of a fallen brother.

Third, please consider offering your dana and dues for the month of January. You may do this in person at the temple, by mail to CMZ, 642 S. Alameda Blvd, Las Cruces, NM 88005, or through the PayPal button on our website at All donations are greatly appreciated and are used to pay the rent on the temple.

I look forward to practicing with you through this new year. May you each be a blessing in the universe.