Showing posts from November, 2015


Leaving Thanksgiving/Arriving Rohatsu Sesshin: Are they the same or different?
Rohatsu, our celebration of the Buddha’s enlightenment occurs on December 8th.  Most Zen centers and temples offer an extended retreat time in honor of this and participants are encouraged to let mind and body fall away.  In one sense sesshin might sound selfish as it seems to focus on replicating the personal enlightenment of the Buddha, but, as with the Buddha himself,  awakening does not get us food, nor does it wash our clothes, nor allow us to walk on water.  And so, in another sense sesshin may be seen as an invitation to offer one’s self to others in order to free them from their suffering, how so?  From the Buddha’s point of view, as his eye opened so did the universe. 
In the United States, we celebrate a wonderful holiday on the last Thursday of November.  On this day, we often consider what we may be grateful for and we share our gratitude with those around us.  So, within a few days we will mov…

A Prayer

With respect,
This afternoon I was honored to offer a prayer at the opening of our monthly Combat Veterans Motorcycle Association meeting here in Las Cruces. I would like to share a few thoughts about my offering. I said, to paraphrase, 'my faith tradition has a slogan: "May all beings be free from suffering." I noted that all of us suffer and as veterans of combat we have a pretty damned good idea as to what real suffering is. God knows we are a suffering world. We suffer and live, we suffer and are wounded. I asked each of us to pray for those who were killed in Paris in violence that was...and is...meaningless. I asked us to pray that the Lord keep warm the hearts and souls of the families involved. 
My thoughts are also with those beings who suffer so much that they feel the only way to free themselves from their hate is to harm others. All of us feel the need to retaliate injury, but not all of us do harm as a result of that feeling. Our desire to seek retribution …

Authentic Zen

With palms together, Good Afternoon All,
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…

My books for You

With respect,

I have two books on Zen, Living Zen and Zen in Your Pocket. "Living Zen" has been revised and now includes a foreword by Rev. Jundo Cohen.  "Zen in Your Pocket" is a small book addressing Zen practice from the everyday to the catastrophic. is selling both books as trade paperbacks and on Kindle.  Take a look here

Zen in Your Pocket

Dear Readers,

Two things: first, the revised edition of Living Zen with a foreword by Rev. Jundo Cohen is now

available through and a downloadable version on Kindle. I have reduced the price to

$7.95.  Second, my new book, Zen in Your Pocket, is available also through and will

soon be available through Kindle. It is priced at $6.95.

Please consider taking a peek.


Art Practice

With palms together,
In his book, “The Eight Gates of Zen”  Daido Loori-roshi devotes a chapter to Art as practice seeing it as one of the “Eight Gates.”  We might ask ourselves just what happens when someone picks up a brush or camera, a chisel or a handful of clay? Is there something magical or mystical about what happens next?  Maybe so, but then, the same could be said about any of the other seven gates, maybe so, maybe not.
Art is such a fickle friend and occasional foe.  Art can be creative or destructive, but no one wants to think of it in the latter sense.  We want art to be art, somehow for its name sake, above reason or intuition, and not necessarily subject to good taste. We want this so much so that nearly every sophomoric attempt at putting media together is considered “art.”  
I don’t think so.
Art, like the other gates, requires discipline.  It requires restraint in some cases and explosive, powerful thrusts in others, but in either case they are not without the discip…