With palms together,
This morning comes with a bright, hot sun rising over the eastern mountains as if in a hurry to brighten the world. Soku Shin and I spent the morning discussing how we will offer Zen services in our home and when. We also talked about park practice and are looking at spaces on the Mesilla/University side of town as a venue. One area we thought of is the garden that’s just on the Mesilla side of the railroad tracks on University Avenue. We have the following practice opportunities thus far: Street Zen one Saturday per month at the Farmer’s Market at 9:00 AM; one Park practice per week at the Veteran’s Park at 9:00 AM; one Elder Practice per week at Golden Mesa retirement community at 10:00 AM; and one Sunday formal service at 9:00 AM. We would like to add an early morning park practice at the garden at 7:00 AM. We will practice Zazen at our house each morning at 7:00 AM (except, of course, on the day we decide to go to the park) so the question is what day to go to the park? We are also working through our calendar issues regarding dokusan and Zen Study. Could we schedule it at 6:00 PM on Thursdays rather than 7:00 PM? Personally, I want to contain my dokusan times to Mondays and Thursdays.
Please let Soku Shin and I know what your preferences might be. We will work hard to accommodate you within our schedule parameters.
Good Afternoon Everyone,
Patience. It’s a wonderful thing, I think, but do I actually know it is so? Not really. I try to practice patience, but whenever I do its like other things Buddhist, I feel as though I am pretending. This is not correct, as our Japanese or Korean Masters would be quick to tell us. Paramitas, like the precepts, come from the inside out.
We say, “just be” the paramitas, fine, I should “just be” patience. Right. There are times, more often than I care to admit, that I am simply unable to “just be” anything approaching an “excellence,” I am just the person I am in the moment I am. From that point of view, that has to be enough.
Perhaps I am impatient, hurt, or angry. Perhaps sad, depressed, or jealous. The most important point is to be aware while not holding onto the feeling or thoughts about the feeling in the moment itself. This is authenticity.
We know from cognitive therapy that thoughts, feelings, and behavior are interconnected. Changing a behavior affects a thought or feeling. This lends much credence to the old saying, “fake it till you make it.” So, it doesn’t matter all that much, from this perspective, if we are faking patience, what matters is that we do patience and examine ourselves in the process. In the process itself, we become patience and sooner or later it becomes authentic.
Good Morning Everyone,
As many of you know, I have been suffering from a pulled back muscle and inflamed piriformis nerve This makes it very difficult to walk. Soku Shin has been a marvelous help while I have been unable to do much around the house. This led to a few thoughts and feelings about disability, something I have managed now for some 45 years. Being disabled is a curious practice point. Some disabilities are invisible, as were mine for some time. Of late, however, they are becoming more visibly evident due to the fact that my paralysis is returning. My leg and foot do not work well together and they certainly are not very connected to my brain. So, I stumble more and more frequently and the AFO doesn’t help as much as it used to. This stumbling inflames my left hip joint and sets off a cascade of neurological issues.
As a result I’ve noticed people looking at me as I try to walk in stores, stumble, recover, and continue to wobble. The looks are those of suspicion. Interesting, isn’t it, how we look at those who stand out as suspect?
Part of the challenge of disability, a big part, is how others respond to it. Where compassion ought be, resides instead, a prejudicial suspicion. We who are disabled are not your kin. We are suspect. Different. So it goes.
I have rarely, if ever, allowed my disabilities to have a place in my decision-making regarding how I chose to live my life. I decide to paint, I paint. I decide to run a marathon, I train and run a marathon. I always find a way to overcome the obstacles. Lately, however, it is becoming more and more difficult to find a way around or through my body’s challenges. Moreover, the time it takes to heal seems to be longer and longer. The result is I am left to ponder the possibilities of life with infirmities which must be included in the decision-making.
In a very real way, there is no such thing as a “disability.” Such words only point to our construct of “able” and this construct acts as a measure. Take away the construct and we have left only that which we do or don’t do. Zen is about action. It is being completely in the moment without regard for the constructs whether individually or socially.
After a massage workout with Cloud I am feeling a lot better and am able to walk again without a crutch, although I am using one right now to help me avoid re-injuring the muscles which would once again inflame the nerves.
It’s all good.
Good Morning All,
It is quiet here in the Mesilla Valley. Other than an occasional car, birdsong is all that breaks the silence. We have just concluded our Hanamatsuri Sesshin and just afterwards, Soku Shin and I took the Hugger to Hatch and back. The Hugger is our Harley Davidson Sportster. It is the 883 version, but still packs cool power as we took the secondary road to Hatch where we ate green chilli at Sparky’s.
In honor of this new addition to our family, I bought still another copy of Zen & the Art of Motorcycle Maintainance, that wonderful book by Pirsig that asks us to slow down and pay attention. Pirsig offers a slow, delicious ride into the everyday while on a long distance ride with friends and his son. He calls these lessons Chautauquas and asks us to explore our world deeply. This exploration, however, is not esoteric or exotic, it is based in the everyday.
What can we know about anything without directly experiencing it?
Good Morning Everyone,
This morning in the Mesilla valley
Amid the mountains and the trees
And, before the sun came up,
I sat outside and listened.
Birds greeted the dawn.
The air was crisp and the chatter raucous.
Flying and perching, flying and perching.
Their little bodies
Were full of themselves.
As for me,
My voice is not so raucous
And my body not so vibrant:
But I could sit still and join
The mountains and the trees.
Here I am.
This evening at 6:00 PM we resume our Hanamatsuri sesshin. Please consider joining us!
Good Morning Everyone,
Hanamatsuri is our time to recognize the Buddha’s birth. It is also the flower festival through which we recognize our ancestors. We offer flowers and sweet tea to the Baby Buddha as part of the ceremony. It is always in close proximity to springtime festivals, such as Easter and Passover. This Hanamatsuri falls on Christianity’s Easter.
Such holidays remind us of our connection to the yearly cycle of seasons. A reminder we actually need since today most of us lead lives insulated from this natural cycle. Our insulation, while protecting us from the elements, also puts us to sleep, a sleep I resist through my practice.
Lately, I have made it a habit (of sorts) to sit outside in the early morning in our courtyard. Soku Shin cannot make sense of this as I often complain that I am cold in the house. I cannot explain it myself except that it helps me get in touch with my actual condition in relation to the universe.
This morning it was a chilly, but not unbearable, 46 degrees. I sat outside and looked up into the night sky (this was a 5:00 AM) and let my eyes open to their widest possible field, not focusing on any one star, but allowing the sky to fill my field of vision. The cool morning air felt good as it began to penetrate my robe. I thought, “this infinite expanse is the universe of which I am a part,” and then, my “part” fell away. When we do this, time ceases and the infinity of the moment manifests. Yes, It is good to sit outside.
This week at Clear Mind Zen: Hanamatsuri Sesshin begins Wednesday at 6:00 PM, continues Thursday and Friday evenings from 6:00 PM through 9:00 PM, on Saturday from 8:00 AM to 5:00 PM and Sunday from 8:00 to 12:00 PM. I still do not have a good count regards participants, so if you are planning to attend any of these days, please let me know ASAP. Our regular schedule is as follows: Zazen Monday, Wednesday, and Thursday at 6:00 PM, Sunday at 10:00 AM. Zen Study at 7:00 PM on Monday evening. Street Zen on Wednesday at 4:00 PM at the Federal Building. In addition, we provide Zazen instruction at the Golden Mesa retirement community on Wednesday mornings.
Please consider joining us!
Good Morning Everyone,
This morning I woke in a slight funk. The painting I was working on is now finished. Our websites are as completed as I have the ability to make them. And, what was my Mountain Refuge has a contract on it. What was once so meaningful, will be no more. I sat outside watching the sunrise with this.
These last three years have been a time of dramatic change in my life. The dust has now settled, more or less. At 65, I am looking at exploring the wilting of the flower of my life. All that has happened has happened and is past, fading now in memory, and losing its significance to any but me, residing as it does, in some recess of my brain. Our lives open, bloom, grow, and turn. All the while others come up, and others fade away. Everything changes always in every moment and it is all here now. As Dogen teaches, ash is ash, firewood, firewood: each day is itself. We are charged to manifest ourselves in each moment as fully as possible. The fading flower lets go.
Soku Shin remarked yesterday that my paintings have a “primordial” quality to them. Yes, I see that, though I am not conscious of it as I paint. As I look at my life I am discovering mystery.
Good Morning Everyone,
Yesterday afternoon I put the top down on my old Saab. This car is nearly twenty years old and I have grown to truly appreciate her. When the top is down the world is invited in, or shall I say, I have lowered the barriers between the environment and myself. It is a good feeling to be outside in fresh air. It is coming to be spring here in New Mexico.
My hope, now that our websites are nearly completed, is that I will be able to turn my attention to developing our engaged practices and assisting others in establishing sitting groups around the country. Zen is a powerful practice that has the potential to change our lives through internal transformation. We need to slow down and pay attention in this new millennium. Our world has become one vast, instantaneous network of different peoples and cultures. As we come to know in each flash of news what is happening in every corner of the globe we can begin to see our interconnected reality. This reality is our actual life.
This morning we will practice Zazen at the Zendo at 10:00 AM. From there we will go to Golden Mesa Retirement Community and offer meditation training to elders residing there. This afternoon at 4:00 we will practice street Zen at the Federal Building, downtown Las Cruces. A full day of Zen.