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Showing posts from May, 2015

49 years

With respect for all,  49 years
We each have stories to tell.  Some are funny, some heroic, others down right scary. Stories of great suffering; stories of great joy. My dissertation Chairman, Dr.Howard Goldstein, once said to me, “All of us live by story.”  Howard’s stories died with him. As will mine and yours.   
I am a retired Combat Infantry soldier, psychotherapist and Zen Buddhist priest. While I don’t know if my story is much different from yours, I’m pretty sure it differs from most.  My life was a mess as a child: alcoholic dad, flirty mother, and a jock brother.  I was the so-called “brain” as a kid.  What no one knew was I had to add and subtract using my fingers, but then, I always had a book in my hand so it didn’t matter.  People see what they want to see.  So do we ourselves.
Some of us live deeply in our stories.  Our stories define us and offer us a place among our fellows.  We immerse ourselves in our stories.  One might even say, we become our stories. This is not…

Today

With respect to all,

So, this was Memorial Day, a day of remembrance and gratitude. This day means different things to different people. And for some, different things within the same person. I know I am conflicted about it. As I am sure many combat veterans are, as well. Many of us are caught in flashbacks, terrible memories, great anxiety, and in this, who really wants to remember? And am I to be grateful for surviving when others did not?  On the other hand I cannot help but feel obligated to assist on this day. I tear up with the raising of the flag, the pledge, and the myriad prayers people offer. It is a good thing to remember: when we forget, bad things are free to happen again. History repeats itself only if we choose to repeat it.  To paraphrase what I said to a friend recently who admonished us to remember, "remembering is not a problem" war is with me in each and every breath. My struggle, if you will, is to open my heart to peace, a place I find difficult to tru…

The Zen of Nothing

The Zen of Nothing There are a ton of books on Zen: Zen philosophy, Zen poetry, Zen art, Zen practice, Zen this, and Zen that.  What I want to see is a Zen of Nothing.  This would be the Zen of nothing important, a Zen without words, robes, bells, or whistles.  A Zen without those in the know, those higher up, or those down below, those approved of and those not approved of: this would be a true Zen, a pure Zen, a Zen that cannot be taught or written about.  
The Zen of Nothing is not even Zen.  The Zen of Nothing is just the wind through the leaves, the sound of tap water in the sink or the feel of cool sheets on a summer's eve.

What do we do to receive this Zen?  Listen.

The Zen of Nothing is within you, around you, over you and under you.  There is not a place or time where the Zen of Nothing does not exist.  Stop thinking.  Stop ruminating.  Sit down. Be quiet.  Rest easy in the world.  The Zen of Nothing contains no evil, nor good, nor blessings, nor curses.  It is not hot o…