Zen 101

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

SWAT: Just what we need to feel safe and secure

Just read this http://ning.it/rpSKh7 about a militarized police force who feels it was justified to spray over 70 bullets in a home, 22 hitting the target, when they knew he was an employed man annd could have arrested him at work. Enough.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Cracking Open the Heart

Good Morning Everyone,




Something happened this morning . I was writing a reply to a comment on the Tricycle blog when, as I was sharing the back-story with Soku Shin, the reply itself was lost. I felt a real sense of loss, as I know that I will not be able to re-capture the thing. It’s not the words, you see, it’s the gestalt in the moment of producing the words that cannot be re-captured. I must be careful today not to allow this loss to infiltrate my perception. To do this I am going back into the sense of it now.



The theme of the reply was to an Open Heart. Open Hearts require strength. They require authenticity of their own. To be an Open Heart I must be willing to expose my heart to the suffering, anger, and hurt of others, whether those feelings are directed elsewhere or toward me.



Open Hearts require a relentless practice. A practice that involves going inside with hammer and pick to fearlessly chip away at all the walls I have built to protect myself, while calling those walls, clothes. The clothes I use, which is to say, the various roles and accomplishments, skills and assets, I think I possess, are just ways of keeping things out, or keeping myself in, and it is through my practice that I began to see this.



My heart, while open, has been so hidden for so long behind “Dr.”, behind “Roshi,” behind “Dad”, behind “I’m good at…” or “I’ve done…” that it has not been actually open to receive the hearts of others when they were brave enough to become vulnerable in front of me. It has taken many years, particularly the last two in relationship with Soku Shin, to get some serious cracks going.



As Leonard Cohen says, it’s the cracks that lets the light get in. As I posted in a comment on that Trike blog, I am practicing to be an ancient cup with lots and lots of cracks.



Be well.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Spirituality

Good Morning Everyone,


“Spiritual” is a word commonly associated with religous belief and practice. I often say, from my friend Claude Anshin Thomas, Zen is a disciplined spiritual practice. Often people will refer to themselves not as “religious,” but as “spiritual.” In a class I taught for several semesters at the Academy for Jewish Learning, I used a text entitled, Jewish Spirituality, and most students seemed more comfortable with this reference to themselves than as religious people. Because Zen is often not thought of as a religion, it is usually relegated to the “Eastern Philosophy” sections or the “New Age” sections in bookstores, likewise in people’s minds. Clearly, Zen is not something we can easily put in a box, thank goodness.



What does it mean when we use the term, “spiritual”? Especially when posing it as a counter-point to “religious”? Our friend, Brad Warner, goes to lengths in his books, especially, “Sex, Sin, and Zen” to distance Zen from “spirituality” altogether casting spirituality as an idealism. He writes, “It (spirituality)takes the view that the spiritual world, the world of ideas, imagination, and mental formations, is the true reality. Matter is regarded as secondary at best or sometimes non-existent. We are spirits trapped inside bodies…” (p. 13).



In my copy of his book I scribbled in pencil a note, “vocabulary problem” suggesting to myself that we often have a rather narrow view of some words, this one in particular. Let’s talk about this.



Spirituality comes from the root, “spiritus” or breath. Now, let’s say we are standing in front of the Grand Canyon as the sun rises. The visual image, no, the total visceral package, takes or breath away. Then we analyze: 1. “Materialism:” this is a way we have of describing the literal, material, aspects of light striking rocks, impacting our eyes, being interpreted by our brains, and uttering, “Wow!” We try to describe the breath-taking “Wow” and get caught in 2., “idealism.” All of which draws our attention from the actual, direct experience of spiritus. Rudolf Otto, a religious scholar, once wrote a book called, “The Idea of the Holy.” In it he describes this experience and calls it “mysterious tremendum.”



The thing is, we really do not have language for our direct experience of the power of the universe. And the language we do have takes us into the worlds of philosophical discourse and away from the experience of “Wow!”



I think it is a good idea for us to stick with the experience itself, though. It is that total sensation of breath-taking power that is the thing to stay with. In the Bible, it is said God spoke and through his breath the world was created. When we sit outside and the wind moves across our face and through the trees, we could say we experience his breath. The Hebrew word for “spirit” in this context is “ruach” which means breath or wind. The framers of the bible, much like we, did not know what to do with these experiences, sitting as they did, outside under the stars witnessing and experiencing the wonders of the natural world. So, quite naturally, they, as we, thought about their experience, framed it in words, and made wonderful art, literature, philosophies, and even religions, out of their ideas.



Zen, on the other hand, asks us (in my opinion) to go back to the root of the word, spiritus, and it is in the root of the word’s sense, that I argue Zen is a spiritual practice. Our practice is rooted in the breath and our experience of ourselves in the breath without recourse to words.

Zen is not “spiritual” in the sense of soul or disembodied spirits or other ideas about the breath or the so-called vital force or energy supporting life. Zen is rooted in the spirit itself, that which comes before the thought of spirit, the breath. The breath in its actual direct experience. To touch this in a deep and abiding way, we must practice. Hence, a disciplined, spiritual practice. Through this we can begin to see how our breath is connected to everything. It is revealed in how we experience the touch of a cup of coffee, the touch of the keys on our fingertips, the experience of anxiety, joy, sorrow. Our breath is our touchstone and this is why we pay close attention to it.



Be well.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Open Heart

Good Morning Everyone,




The season is upon us. A season of introspection and manifestation of good will. Every year I hope this season’s underlying feeling will spread out like a warm and loving pool supporting each of us with compassion and generosity through the year. My sense is this is exactly what is happening, although sometimes the subtle nature of the pool is difficult to see. Let’s endeavor to bring our heart out into the open not only this year, but the next, and the next after that.

Be well.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving Y'all

Dear Readers,

Thank you very much for visiting my blog and taking the time to read my notes.  I am deeply thankful to you as only readers make a writer a writer.

Happy Thanksgiving.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Is Buddhism a Religion?

Good Morning Everyone,




This morning I would like to address the word “religion.” Religion is a word that is like an intersection with many avenues for discussion. What does it mean to be “religious”? Some say they are “spiritual” rather than “religious.” Are “spiritual” and “religious” synonymous? Are they different? In what ways? Is Buddhism (or the Buddha Way) a religion? Is it a spiritual practice?



The Oxford English Dictionary says religion is derived from Latin roots which meant “bond,” “scruple” and “reverence.” So, the first definition of religion from the OED is, “a state of life bound by religious vows, the condition of belonging to a religious order.” The second definition suggests it means “a particular religious order or rule.” The third definition (and the most challenging): “Belief in or sensing of some superhuman controlling power or powers entitled to obedience, reverence, and worship, or a system defining a code of living as a means to achieve spiritual or material improvement; acceptance of such belief as a standard of spiritual and practical life; the expression of this in worship, etc., also action or conduct indicating such belief.” (Shorter Oxford English Dictionary, 5th edition, emphasis mine.)



So, apparently, according to the OED, the driving definition of “religion” is that a religion is a system of belief or practice that binds us to a way of life through a vow. It also suggests a link between religion and spirituality either through a sense of a higher power or to a systematic way of living aiming at “spiritual or material improvement.”



I am impressed with these definitional terms as I believe they identify many of the avenues for discussion I mentioned above. It is significant to me that the OED has bifurcated the turning point definition. The third definition includes a fork: belief in the superhuman or a systematic code of living. It is this bifurcation that allows Buddhism to be considered a religion, especially when coupled with the first two and the Latin origins of the word.



This definition also suggests a significant point: religion itself should not be entered into lightly and is a serious thing as it involves vows, a code of conduct, and a set of practices which we must hold in high esteem and actually practice. Simple belief in something, even a higher power such as a God, does not itself, apparently, qualify. To be “religion” there must be a vow involved and a practice.



In my next post, “Spirituality.”



Be well.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Enough Already

Good Morning Everyone,




This morning I read a piece by a professor at UC-Davis in response to the savage pepper spraying of peaceful demonstrators on campus. It was heartening to see a voice rise up, as if in the wilderness, to say, “You know what? Enough!” His point was that we are reaping the rewards of a gradual, but escalating militarization of urban police forces. Our language has been one driver of this with phrases like, “War on Drugs,” “War on Terror,” “War on Poverty.” For goodness’ sake, to listen to us, it’s all we know how to do. So when people get fed-up with the 1% getting richer and richer while crying “poor me” at every effort to balance things out a bit, and decide to say “Enough!” using one of the few methods they have, peaceful demonstration, we now see a war on demonstrators.



Here’s the thing, it seems to me that we are on the edge as a civilization, moving ever closer to a collapse. What has made it possible for the 99% to stay satisfied was the existence of stores like Wal-Mart, Sam’s Club, and cheapy gas stations. But a casual look at the prices even in these places reveals a growing inability for everyday people to purchase the basics, to say nothing of their distractions.



For a society being raped by the rich to remain peaceful it needs it’s distractions. The 1% really needs to get this. I am hopeful that it doesn’t appreciate this as, since, as our ability to distract ourselves disappears, the truth rises, and one possible result is a societal refusal to go along anymore.



We have allowed ourselves to be pacified too long. Corporate profits, especially in banking and oil, have gone through the proverbial roof. Meanwhile, we at the middle and lower end of the economic spectrum are barely able to afford to eat, let alone buy a candy bar that once was easily affordable, but now is thought of as a luxury.



Be well, verbalize and actualize your dissatisfaction with your life and find ways to make it better.



Friday, November 18, 2011

On Religion

Good Morning Everyone,




As is sometimes the case, especially on a certain “Buddhist” website, my words create a bit of a irksome response. I posted my note on “Self” sometime ago. It and the follow-up note, “Blog” created a small stir. Some of us coming to Buddhism seem to think that this way will result in a state of peacefulness and serenity undisturbed by discord, words, or thoughts. Not so.

Some Masters have taught that silence is the way, that when we speak we make a big mistake. This is so in some ways, but not in others. The Buddha taught that we are not only wasting our time discussing ideas about something, but that such discussions themselves are an actual hindrance. This is so, but again, I think in a rather narrow context. When Masters say such things I think they are more often than not referring to achieving an aim of realization. When we are in a sociologically homogeneous group this is so. To get to homogeneity, however, we must discuss terms, compare and contrast practices, and work toward coming to an agreement on the foundations of our effort.

When put into structures, our beliefs become a serious challenge for "like-mindedness" to occur. Belief systems and the structures within them are very important to some religions. The Buddha Way, on the other hand, is just that, a way. Ideas about it are often, as we pointed out, a hindrance. Yet, as we can all plainly see, we like to talk about what we know or think we know. To do this, it seems to me, we must hold lots of discussions regarding our definitions of terms. Such discussions can be difficult, but I think necessary for the sake of insuring we are talking about either the same idea or similar experience.



So many ideas branded as "religious" are actually Christian specific, for example, with very specific understanding not shared by other religions which may use the same word. This is my argument with the current batch of atheistic writers who attempt to debunk "religion" but are in fact debunking a rather parochial view of religion instead. If I may be so challenging, I do not think there is a single "religious" word, concept, or idea that is or can be commonly understood amongst those considering themselves to be "religious." Therefore, a dialogue addressing such foundational terms like "self," "heaven," "nirvana," "sin," "salvation" is absolutely essential.



I will begin such a dialogue over the next few weeks as we approach a season considered by many to be “religious” and by some, a pain in the ass.



Be well.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

The Self, part two

Good Morning Everyone,




The Self, part two,



Discussions of “the self” lead us too often in the wrong direction, the direction of the individual, as if the individual actually exists. When we practice deeply we can see that individuals are actually not individuals, but are rather aggregates of a deeply interconnected and interdependent whole. Care must be taken here, however, as even this is misleading: when we reside in the “whole” or “Universal,” the “Universal” itself is rendered meaningless.



One aim of practice, then, is to penetrate this. This is the place of “mind and body fall away.” With no mind and no body, there is no individual, but no universal either. Relative and absolute depend on each other, just as black needs white to render meaning to itself.



So, when we address “self” we should look outward from our individualistic view and attempt to see the vast, living web of complete existence. This is the true self, the self without a name, the self that existed before our fathers and mothers were born, the self that never is born and never dies. This is everything that is, was, and will be. This is also everything that is nothing. This is no-self, no thingness manifest.



The self makes itself in relation to all other things. It is interactive, seamless and completely dynamic. Without other, there is no self. Without self, there is no other. This is to say, I am the manifestation of all there is, was, and will be. As are you.



So here we are, arising out of nothingness. We are not complete, however, until we make ourselves manifestations of the whole.



Be well.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Blog

Good Morning Everyone,




So, I have decided to use my blog as a true “blog” (web log), an electronic journaling device of sorts. My teaching as a priest will be offered at the Temple and online through Blogger.com and our Order’s Yahoogroup, “ClearMindZen.” This raises interesting questions as I will, if it is at all really possible, take off my priest’s hat as I both write entries and reply to comments. One such question is how to address morally and ethically ambiguous thoughts and feelings? Another is how much to reveal of my actual life? Still another is what to do with obnoxious, insulting, or attacking comments?

As a priest, I have an obligation to use myself as a teacher or advisor. I should try to understand and contextualize the thoughts and feelings of those addressing me no matter how crude, rude, or abrasive. I have to one degree or another been successful at this, but always have felt inauthentic in the process. It’s as if I have thought priests should not be angry or hurt, and most certainly not respond in-kind. What would people say, after all? Sometimes an asswipe is just an asswipe and needs to be dismissed as just the toilet paper they present themselves to be. As Vonnegut used to say, “So it goes.”



We seem to dislike moral ambiguity. People like clear cut solutions to clear cut problems. The trouble is, most of the most interesting aspects of our lives reside in ambiguity. Yet, for me, this ambiguity has been a lifelong associate. Sometimes an antagonist, but more often than not, a true friend. I once wrote a chapter in a social work textbook about working with moral anguish. Life’s moral problems form the backdrop tapestry of rich and fulfilling life, it seems to me.



Sidney M. Jourard once wrote a compelling little book called, “The Transparent Self.” In it he argued that most of psychology was flawed because it was based on skewed data. The data, he argued, came from people who were trying to out think, out smart, or otherwise influence researchers because we are, as a rule, people pleasers. To get truthful answers, he stressed, we need to do some degree of self disclosure. In my clinical experience I saw this was a profound truth. If I shared a little bit of my wartime trauma story, people let the “Dr.” part of me slip away as they began to see me as a real person. Yet, it is important also to maintain boundaries. The question is where and how to set them.



So, my writing will take a turn. I hope for the best, but I will say right here, I have no clue how this will work its way out. As my late friend, Bernie Schmidt used to say, “Hilbert, it’s a bag of shells.”





Be happy.

Wednesday, November 09, 2011

Self, part one

Good Morning Everyone,


Lately in dokusan and other venues, people are asking me about “the self.” What is “the self”? From my point of view, self is an incredibly complex tapestry in constant millisecond to millisecond development. If we were to freeze it, which we cannot, we would see billions of interactions processed from birth to the present moment from billions of sources all intersecting in the mind, which frames the whole as “self.” All perception from every sense organ in every moment throughout every contact with every object of the senses builds this “frame” we call “self.” Since we cannot “freeze” it, it is, itself, in constant transformation with both the interior environment of our mind, and the exterior environment of our perception of the universe.



This construction is so complex we cannot predict human behavior with any real degree of certainty. The most sophisticated regression analyses with thousands of variables, may yield a few degrees of explanation, leaving the rest to who knows what. So, what we need to know is that all of the construct of “self,” every bit of it, is a mental work in progress. When we die, the whole thing disintegrates.



When we practice, Master Dogen suggests, mind and body falls away. We begin to see the true nature of this fabrication we call a “self.” We see that the “self” is an elaborate work in progress, and as Uchiyama says, the self is making the self, which is to say, the architect is doing the drawing with all the myriad data being received.



We learn that as we grasp this constantly transforming self we suffer. We do not want to be sick, be injured, or die. We want pleasure, we do not want pain. We want to look like this. We do not want to look like that. We think this or that will make us happy. We think this or that will make us sad. All attempts to hold on to something impossible to hold on to because it never ever actually existed. When everything is in constant transformation, no “thing” can exist.



Our task as practitioners along the Way is to first discover this basic truth and then surrender to it, allowing the body and mind to fall away. In this way we are truly free as the Buddha himself said, we see “the jailer” clearly.



Be well.

Tuesday, November 08, 2011

The Measure of Things

Good Morning Everyone,




This morning we practice Zazen at 10:00 AM and again at 6:00 PM. We follow evening Zazen with Zen 101, our continuing study of the Bendowa. I am pleased. Today will be a day of practice and study. It is always good to fall deeply into study, whether it is of a book or of ourselves. In the end, both intersect and we find change is at the center of it all.



Yesterday we bought a fire pit. I tried to put it together. It had four legs which were to attach to a large metal bowl. The trouble was it was machined poorly and three of the four leg’s screw holes did not match up with the legs themselves. I spent considerable time attempting to adjust the legs this way and that, but to no avail. I suppose we will return it today, but I thought I would first ask the people at the store to try to put it together for me. But then I decided this would be cruel and, after all, the store clerks didn’t machine the thing anyway. This is happening more and more frequently it seems to me. Poor workmanship is just a fact of life today.



I remember my uncle who worked for a steel stamping plant in Trenton, NJ. He took exceptional pride in his work. He spent hours with me showing me how both inside and outside calipers worked, how to use a slide rule, and how to draw a plan in minute detail. His house was filled with rejects: small stamping imperfections in metal trays, cookie tins, etc. Today, I suspect, these would be in stores for sale.



In Zen we pay attention to detail. It is important to hold our hands in a certain way at a certain time. It is important that the bells be invited to ring in a certain way and that incense be offered with great care, grace, and selflessness. When we sit, we sit with care and effort. We work at remaining upright, still, and centered. Precision is important. It shows our respect for that which is in front of us.



Unfortunately, it would seem from the poorly machined products to people walking into stores in PJ bottoms, we have as a people put ease, getting something done quickly, and comfort above all else. Our practice helps us change that, but to make it so, we must actually practice.



Be well.

Monday, November 07, 2011

Change

Good Morning Everyone,


There is no escaping the effects of our causes. Green houses gasses are at record highs. Capitalism’s churches of Greed and the American Way are shouting, “Let them eat cake!” as we bob in a sea of rising prices and diminishing wages. A perfect storm is brewing. There will come a time, fast approaching I suspect, when the distractions will no longer distract and the bubbles will no longer appeal and we will be left with ourselves sitting on the floor (if we have one) with nothing left to do.



May own sense is that the planet itself will cause an adjustment. If we do not stop emissions, do not stop warming the planet, the planet itself will stop us. Our planet could care less if we exist on its surface. It simply does what it does within its biophysical parameters. In the process, if there are conditions for human life, human life will exist: if there are no conditions for human life, human life will not exist.



At such moments human history suggests both scapegoats and heroes arise. At such moments some people choose to rise up against the scapegoats, believing they caused their misery. At such moments other people choose to look deeply inside themselves, and gathering their internal resources, build their world in a bold new way. These become the heroes.



Over the next twenty years or so, our world will change in unimaginable ways. Because they are unimaginable, I cannot say what they might be. I do believe wholeheartedly though, that change will be radical and global. It will be a intersection of environmental and economic transformation. Those who have learned to sit in caves staring at walls, will survive. I cannot speak for the others.



Be prepared. Study yourself.

Sunday, November 06, 2011

Zazenkai

Good Morning Everyone,


Zazenkai was a challenge yesterday. Rev. Kobusshin (Tamra) and I travelled to Anthony, NM to offer meditation training to young Peace Campers there, and while gone, Zensters at the Temple practiced Zazen, did Samu, and ate Oryoki lunch. I spent most of my Zazen time in the foyer-turned-Buddha Hall-dokusan room. While there, I heard the murmurings from the kitchen, sat through breaks, and listened to my heart speak to me.



Several folks left before the close. Intensive practice is wearing on our bodies, especially if we do not have a daily practice. One cannot expect to run 26.2 miles without having first run one, then two, then three, then five on a regular and incremental schedule. The benefits of intensive practice are enormous, however, so the building of our stamina is essential.



One of the things that “worked,” I understand, was Rev. Kobusshin’s introduction of contemplative yoga practice after lunch. We have eliminated study and writing practice periods as being antithetical to the focus of sesshin. Contemplative yoga is an excellent replacement.



I am still concerned about the continued breaches of silence. Here is the deal: While on breaks we are not to talk; in the kitchen we are not to talk; nowhere and at no time, are we to talk. It is that simple. Every moment is an opportunity to listen deeply to the sounds of our heart/mind as it encounters the situation in front of us. Often our first response is to vocalize. In Sesshin and Zazenkai, we are not to do this. Instead, we are to simply listen to our heart/mind, let go, and return to the task in front of us. This is just as important as the practice of Zazen.

Our next opportunity for intensive practice is the highlight of the Buddhist calendar, Rohatsu, which occurs the first week of December. Between now and then, practice daily, build your practice endurance, and find yourself being more and more able to reside in the moment as it is.

Be well.

Saturday, November 05, 2011

Zazenkai

Good Morning Everyone,


Today we will practice wholeheartedly throughout the day. This Zazenkai should not be any different from any other day. The life of a bodhisattva is a life of living Zazen. We live our lives in practice. This means we live in the Great Outdoors, life outside the box of filtered perception. Open your heart/mind, take a breath, and thoroughly enjoy this actual moment: it is the universe itself. Be well.

Friday, November 04, 2011

Crap

Good Morning Everyone,


(Warning: rant follows)



So, we get a call from Jerry at the Mountain Music store. He has a drum set I can buy for $250.00, “Come look at it.” We do. It is delightful. A bass drum, chain foot pedal, snare drum, floor tom, and a mounted tom. It includes a floor cymbal with stand, a hi-hat stand with cymbals, and a drummer’s seat. They are made by “Peace” percussions so “Peace” is writ large across the front of the bass. We say they are beautiful. He says, “Take them.” Adding, “Pay me when you can.”



There is something about Vietnam veterans, combat vets in particular. He says we are “brothers.” I feel this. The man was a door gunner. One of the more brutal jobs in Vietnam. I was a grunt. Brutal enough. I cannot put my finger on the what of it, but what I felt was a deep connection with someone I didn’t know, but knew a whole lot about.



Combat vets are a little loosey goosey we might say. We do not abide by manuals well, nor do we appreciate crap. It is said that combat vets have finely developed crap detectors and this is one thing that makes us a challenge to live in society with.



What I have noticed is that taking vows to become a priest has forced me to look at these things. I try to look at the reason for the crap people throw out there. I try to find a way to be compassionate. Sometimes I am successful, sometimes I am not. I think more importantly, not challenging crap for being crap is not compassionate at all. It simply enables people to continue in their crap.

Crap in combat gets you killed. Crap in civilian life gets you promotions by those pinheads who either cannot see it for the crap that it is or are for their own crap reasons unwilling to call a spade a spade..



Setting aside the priestly priesthood mantel for a moment to be a tad more authentic, as a people, I think we have suckered ourselves into a pit of self-serving despair here in the United States. Corporations haven’t “stolen” anything we haven’t joyfully given to them in the hope that our egos, our own bank accounts, and our status in the neighborhood would be satisfied. We are a sick, debilitated, anemic society who seems to have lost our will to say “No!” to our need for more and more things, more comfort, more fast food, more convenience, cars that consume more gas than necessary, more and more, more and more, and those awful corporations have been ever so willing to lend us the money to buy them. Meanwhile we ourselves actually produce less and less.



We don’t work hard in school. We are a nation with one of the highest rates of functional illiteracy. We are a nation that cannot write. We have trouble putting three words together cogently. We do not think critically. We lead with our “feelings.” And we make excuses for everything under the sun…or blame the Democrats or the Republicans or other nations (when other nations are simply rising to fill the vacuum our unwillingness to work has left behind).



Frankly, I do not have any answers. I think, however, like combat tends to clear a person’s mind, so too, hard times. Maybe this era of reduced credit, fear, and collapsing greed will get the slugs moving. Maybe we will wake-up to the fact that if we want less greed we must say no to greed. We must work hard. We must not accept excuses from ourselves or others. And most importantly, we must start to actually think. This requires a few easy but challenging actions. First, turn off the T.V. Second, begin to teach yourself to really read, not just skim, a book. Third, know that you are the only person in your life that can actually change your life. Fourth, make a training plan for change and stick to it. Fifth, look at your local community college, take a class. For goodness’ sake, educate yourselves. And sixth, forget your comfort. It is the soma of the 21st century. (If you do not know what “soma” is, it means you have not read a classic of our literature and you really need to get yourself to a library.)

Our nation is failing because we are failing as individuals and communities. We are too often taking the easy way out of “blame” and “finger pointing.”



Be well.



Thursday, November 03, 2011

Bodhisattvas are Everywhere

Good Morning Everyone,


Yesterday for the first time in more than 40 years I picked up a pair of drum sticks. It was a moment that terrified me on the one hand and made my heart feel warm, on the other hand. It seems I used to be a drummer in my teens, but being shot in the head changes everything. Anyway, we found ourselves at Mountain Music, a small used musical instrument shop in Las Cruces. There we met a Vietnam vet named Jerry. As we walked through the pulled high drums, I pulled a pair of old, used drumsticks from a cowboy boot and clutched one in my atrophied left hand holding it firmly on a snare drum. Some old folks were jamming with guitars in a corner and I quietly kept the beat with them. Jerry must have approved as he gave me the pair of drumsticks as we began to leave the store. Maybe I will duct tape the stick into my hand. Maybe I will just do what I can. Jerry promised to find me a used drum set we could afford. Bodhisattvas of compassion are everywhere. Be well

Wednesday, November 02, 2011

News for 11/2/11

With respect, Good Morning Everyone,




Our water has been turned off at the temple due to our landload not paying the water bill :( So, we will not be open today. We will check on the water's status later today and let you know what's up.



We have created an online Blog Radio talkshow called "Zen Living" and our first "episode" is schduled for 1:00 PM MT. We will talk about Zen 101. The show is only 15 minutes long as we are not purchasing a "premium" account. We are setting up this show to repeat weekly at the same time. People can call in and we will send out information on Monday morning about how to do that.



Other news, we will represent our Order at a local interfaith religious conference tomorrow evening at the Immaculate Heart of Mary Cathedral from 6:00 PM to 7:30 PM in support of an effort to stop the flood of foreclosures in our area.



It was good to see everyone last night at Zen 101! Thank you so much for coming and we look forward to seeing you next week. Don't forget about Zazenkai this Saturday at 9:00! If you haven't registered and still wish to attend, please email us ASAP.



Yours,