Zen 101

Friday, April 18, 2014

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 this as well.

What this says to me is that if we settle down and pull ourselves together while simultaneously focusing our attention on the moment and loosening our grip on the moment, our true nature has the opportunity to speak in various ways.  Just an observation.

Friday, April 18:  Yesterday I was part of an Honor Guard at the funeral of a deceased Vietnam Veteran.  It was a hot, sunny day and we stood for a long time in the sun.  I am finding this practice is similar to the practice of sitting with a decaying body, a practice the Buddha suggested we do in order to realize our karmic nature.  Sitting (or in this case, standing) with death brings us in touch with both the finite and the infinite. We reflect on the interconnected relationship of both. And so it goes.

PLEASE NOTE:  After consideration, I have decided we will not practice in the Zendo this Sunday as it is Easter.  



Be well.
Daiho 
 

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Hangout

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 their direction, but assume an attitude of flexibility and float like a duck, if you will.  

So, we will try to do an Internet service this coming Monday at 6:30 PM Mountain Time. We will chant the Heart Sutra and the Four Great Vows, sit zazen for 20 minutes and then have a dharma talk with a Question and Answer period to conclude.  If you wish to participate send me an email with “Hangout” in the subject line and your Gmail address in the text box.

Lastly, Study Group this evening at my residence.  We will discuss Chapter Four of our text.  I hope to see you there!

Be well.

Daiho

Wednesday, April 09, 2014

Transformation

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.  The resultant struggle makes possible a transformation.  What we become is impossible to say, but if we stay in the moment by moment expression of our lives, as they are,  we will be just fine.  

Now, by “just fine” I do not mean everything will be ‘lightness and light,’ no, I mean the sort of just fine that comes with serene reflection meditation within each breath.  Its a sort of deep acceptance, I suppose, that soothe our fears and normalizes the surprise. 

As we sit we realize the impermanent  nature of all things.  We witness the coming and going of our thoughts, feeling, and breath.  We also see the deep interconnected nature of the universe and realize in this witness that we do not exist as individuals, but are instead,  expressions of the Buddha Nature in each moment.   

Yet, these are just words.  Forget them.  Heed the words of our Sixth Patriarch, Hui Neng:

Truth has nothing to do with words. Truth can be likened to the bright moon in the sky.  Words, in this case, can be likened to a finger.  The finger can point to the moon’s location.  However, the finger is not the moon. To look at the moon, it is necessary to gaze beyond the finger.


Be well.

Daiho

Tuesday, April 08, 2014

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 do, the wall becomes a mirror.  If we do not avert our eyes, everything has the potential to become clear. I need not say more about this, as it will be your experience, not mine.

Anyway, about business:  I would like to ask that if you are planning to attend sesshin this weekend, please let me know the dates you will be here.  The same for our Google Hangouts “service” on this coming Monday evening at 7:30 PM Mountain Time.  I will need to know your Google email address. 

Our Tuesday Study group will meet at my residence at 6:30 PM.  For those of you with the text we will be discussing chapter three.  All are welcome.

Lastly, if you have not offered dana or dues, please consider doing so soon.  Our rent is due a week from this Wednesday.  

Be well.

Daiho