Showing posts from 2019
Watch this: My talk on "the Light."

The Light is Always With You


With palms together,
Good Day All,
As we suffer through our nation's nightmare of division, conflict, and dashed dreams. I believe it is critical to release the reins of True Belief. Those of us who feel strongly about the state of our nation, if not the world, live on both sides of this great divide. As we reinforce our positions with facts and figures, we do so without due regard for our nation as a whole.
Which one of us actually thinks about the greater good?  Which one of us could articulate what the good may be?  And do so without denigrating the "other side"?
One of the ten grave precepts is not to elivate ourselves at the expense of others. In this climate it seems to me that violating this precpt is both common and accepted, much like the changing motres of our society.  I confess I am as guilty as the next guy in posting items that denigrate Mr Trump and his followers.  I do so out of a need to help people understand what I believe to be "the error of the…


Announcement: I will offer two introductory classes on Zen Buddhism, one in our Zendo in Las Cruces, the other online. I am calling the class “Zen 101.”The class will consist of eight one hour sessions followed by a 25 minute period of Zazen. If you are interested in taking this class please contact me by email at


Let's talk about this:
"What does woke mean?"
"Woke means being conscious of racial discrimination in society and other forms of oppression and injustice. In mainstream use, woke can also more generally describe someone or something as being "with it.""
A term now popular amongst our social justice warriors, "woke" is a word that separates those awake to social justice and racism from those who, they may claim, are not.  My sense is this sort of thing does more harm than good as it is just another form of prejudicial discrimination. 
If someone does not shasre our view of what social justice is we can simply dismiss him or her as not "woke."  Yet, he or she may very well be aware of social justice and believe differently than we as to how to address it.  Or quite possibly we don't like his or her way. So, if we are not on the same page, define things in the same way, then, I suspect we are not "woke.&q…


With palms together,

Let's see, this morning I must have some scans done.  This afternoon someone's coming to check our water softener and someone else will deliver a walker. Yes, I need a walker.  It seems my ability to walk is compromised a bit. Getting old ain't for sissies they say, but the hard part is acceptance in the face of facts. 
Acceptance that everything is change, that nothing, absolutely nothing remains the same is both a Buddhist principle, but also simply a fact of life. It is the essence of the Second of the Buddha's Four Noble Truths, that the cause of our suffering is "attachment," or as I like to think of it, "investment."  The more we asre inversted in keeping something, the more we suffer, why? Because everything changes. Yet, the Buddha offered hope. The Third Noble Truth is that there is a way to end suffering and that way is the Eightfold Noble Path.
I'm not going to name the eight folds, but will say their essence is…

Being Present

Enjoying my lunch reading about time. An old looking man came up to me, sat down, and said I looked like a peaceful person. Telling me he was from New York City and he was “seriously f*cked up.”

I listened to his lament...too much drinking, too many marriages, and on and on. He wanted to know how to be at peace. I said, that’s within him. He asked what to do . I said nothing, just stop beating himself with a stick. He said he couldn’t do that. So I said get rid of the stick and use a feather.

He smiled, got up and walked away.


With palms together,
Good Afternoon Everyone,
It is late afternoon here in Las Cruces, New Mexico.  Our sky is sunny and its about 70 degrees F. A good day to be outside.  So, this morning after working some on our "water feature" I rode my Harley down to the Farmers Market and sat with my friend Randy Harris. We talked, once again, about time. A few others joined in.  It is fascinating how hungry people seem to be for a good conversation.
After returning home I finished our water feature and talked with my neighbor Luis. Luis will be moving soon; I will miss him.  He is from Venezuela, and sharp as a tack and filled with kindness and generosity.  We often talk over the stone wall that separates our yards.
Good conversation is easy.  One has simply to be open and inviting, listen, and respond as a human being. This seems so difficult today for most of us, I think.  It seems hard  just to get past the weather or sports or some other innocuous subject. What I have found thoug…


With palms together,
Good Morning All,
Sometimes change, a constant in our lives, is a challenge. Hell, most of the time it is. Yet, because it is a constant, it is something we must deal with.  The Buddha taught life is suffering, but only because life is change; and we resist change since we are so invested in keeping it the same.
The Buddha taught us the following:
"I am of the nature to grow old. There is no way to escape growing old.
I am of the nature to have ill health. There is no way to escape ill health.
I am of the nature to die. There is no way to escape death.
All that is dear to me and everyone I love are of the nature to change...
My actions are my only true belongings. I cannot escape the consequences of my actions... "
So, in the face of these truths how do we live?
The essential nature of these five remembrances is change. To live with change is not easy.  We must be willing to loosen the grip of our attachments to things. It is that grip that is our suffer…

About Zen

Zen is only one thing: complete attention.  Typically, we go through our day half asleep, on autopilot, as it were.   We are thinking about something, what we are doing, what we will do next, what we didn’t do.  We feel anxious, happy, or sad. Yet, we rarely have any real sense of it or ourselves because we are simply not paying attention.  We are seeing our thoughts or our feelings or our behavior, but we are not seeing clearly, directly, what is actually there:  Past and future take us away from the present.
Zen is a practice that invites us to exist in this present moment and this moment only. We say, when washing the dishes, just wash the dishes.  This is meditation and meditation is awakened living.
Zen means meditation.  Zazen means seated meditation. However, this tells us nothing of importance.  We each have some idea of what meditation is, some of us have practiced some form of meditation, and know that it is only in the practice that we come to know it.
Zen is a Buddhist practi…

Paradigm Shifts

With palms together,
Good Afternoon All,
This afternoon I spent an hour and a half at Milagros Cafe sipping green tea and discussing time with my "Great Conversations" co-conspirator, Randy Harris.  As my fellow Zen Teacher, Judy Roitman, pointed out, "It's complicated."
Together we are reading the book, "The Order of Time" by Carlo Rovelli.  It is a wonderfully challenging text discussing time from a physics perspective. The book challenges our understanding of time, and it is that fact that I deem most important.
Its the challenge in thinking that is of utmost importance. Far too often, it seems to me, we are prone to go with our assumptions and core beliefs, those traits and characteristics we grew up with and believe to be true.
Such beliefs when shared within a population become a "paradigm," a model for understanding a particular thing. Paradigms explain the world around us, often explain our behavior, and certainly guide us if in the …



We are living in a time of radical change.  The dominant paradigm regarding societal structures no longer seem viable. We are faced with technological changes that are effectively changing how we think, what we perceive, and how we perceive. The shift from analog to digital thinking has a profound effect on this. It’s an evolutionary outcome of our cognitive and technological growth, as well as our moral development.

Traditional conflict theory has lost its ground.  People are more interested in collaboration than dominance. We want all of us to grow and thrive with no one left behind. Cooperative models seem the most viable and, I believe the so-called “information highway “ is one of the major vehicles enabling or perhaps even driving this change.  Knowledge is gained and shared, different social models are out there to be examined and experimented with, and we each can access this knowledge with a few clicks on our various devices.

People respond to these changes in differ…


Gassho Y'all,
This morning over coffee Shukke and I talked about Zen, what it is exactly.  Many folks including renowned teachers answer the question talking about zazen and other forms. And while that is satisfactory, I find it leads many to believe the forms are the practice, but the forms, dear readers, are not Zen, they are practice to be Zen.  And in that practice, our eyes open. But do not mistake:  practice apart from life, seen as separate from lived experience, is a duality.
Life, with a mind that is present, is Zen: nothing special. As we sip our coffee, do our dishes, put one foot in front of another, and do so fully and completely, that is Zen. Bowing practice, eating practice, walking and sitting practice, these are both Zen (when done with eyes open) and the practice that gets us there. How do we open our hearts if we fear touching it? How do wechange our response in situations if we are iunaware of the need?
Zen "practice," then,  is a gate and the field…

Two Truths

With palms together,  Buddhism teaches there are two truths: the relative and the absolute. One is particular the other relative. We live in both.  When aware of the relative, we are each separate beings living on a particular planet in a particular solar system. When aware of the absolute, there is no us, no planet, no solar system: nothing is separate, all is one. Both “inter-are.”  What does this have to do with anything at all? Everything. Derived from the absolute, our morality guides us. Our oneness teaches us to do no harm. Our relative enables us to live and survive. I am drinking a cup of coffee, and in doing so I am drinking the beans grown in Guatemala or Brazil; I am enabled to do this as a result of the many lives and many hands that brought this coffee into existence and to my table.  When in the absolute all of this is clear and yet dissolves. When in the relative it is important to honor those hands and lives for they have provided us.  One might say living in the abs…

Zen of Trauma part. six

Zen of Trauma part fuve

Zen of Trauma part four

Zen of Trauma part three

Zen of Trauma part two

Zen of Trauma part one


with palms together,

Good morning all,

We teach “spring comes and the grass grows by itself.” Yet, the meaning of this phrase can elude us. One reading is the world to s what it is and it will be what it will be. We may gut inner from this a “hands off” approach, yet this is not so. The phrase is descriptive, not prescriptive.
As we confront the ills of the world, as we hear the cries of the world, we are obligated by our vows and more, our common decency and compassion, to act.

When we do, we are practicing engaged Zen.

What is that s thing we call “engaged Zen”?

Simply, it is the practice of healing a wound, correcting a wrong, or as Judaism refers to it, “tekun olam” repairing the world. We are partners in our creation . We share responsibility with all others to do what we can to make the world a better place.

So, while the grass may grow by itself, our world needs our assistance.

Be happy.


With palms together,

“The Roshi makes shitty coffee.” a poem by a Zen student and gift to me.

Sometimes our truth is simple and straightforward. Not always so. Sometimes our truth is muddy, lurking in the muck of a swamp. We don’t always have the clarity of the student poet, but we always have a direction we must follow, even if it’s through the mud.

Zen practice is the practice of taking a step with the deliberation of an arrow speeding to its target. Equivocate not, just do. So too, our truth: it’s always with us, but it’s up to us to have it see the light of day. There is a time for silence, a time for speech, and a time for action. Prajna is knowing which is which.