a zen buddhist monk's blog about things almost zen and telling it the way it is - zen or not (yet)

December 25, 2008

...bits of autumn...

we have friends who live their lives quite differently from each other and never tire of criticizing the other's choice

green mountains are green mountains, white clouds are white clouds

one seemingly immovable, the other seemingly in perpetual motion - however, one moves in harmony with its environment! shouldn't we be trying this rather than criticizing?

"A person of the Way fundamentally does not dwell anywhere. The white clouds are fascinated with the green mountain's foundation. the bright moon cherishes being carried along with the flowing water. The clouds part and the mountains appear. The moon sets and the water is cool. Each bit of autumn contains vast interpenetration without bounds." - Hongzhi Zhengji
1091-1157, Chinese Chan Master

Calligraphy: White Clouds by Seki Rozan 1865 - 1944
White Clouds of Themselves Go and Come
The first half of this well-known Zen phrase is "Green Mountains Originally Don't Move." There is a contrast (and harmony) between the eternally unmoving mountains and the constantly changing clouds. Also, our ephemeral lives are like the white clouds, coming and going, here and there, nowhere to settle down-and that is fine, just the way things are.

flying (rushing) away from stress

sitting in an airport, I watched all my fellow travelers impatiently waiting for the delayed flight to arrive. we always seem to be in a hurry to get somewhere else! we rush onto the plane, which has "finally" arrived in order to get seats closest to the front to be able to rush off again at destination.

what happens to this time that we are thinking about being somewhere else - does this "rushing" around heighten our enjoyment of being at destination or diminish our enjoyment of "being" where we are? can we get it back again and add it onto the end of our lives?


destination, journey - I see on the net that the debate continues but, as buddhists, we know that that is only dualistic thinking - the destination and the journey are the same thing - enjoy them/it and remember that the time you spend wishing away, cannot be retrieved!

"thoughts" on devil-grass

our mind is like soil - if it is fertile but unattended or without "purpose", weeds (demons) will abound. if however, we plant seeds (positivity) and attend to it (zazen), the weeds cannot brow and the soil has "purpose".

soil which is infertile, will have neither weeds nor purpose and will therefore go through time achieving nothing - admittedly this soil may be considered lucky because of the absence of "demons", however whether or not this is a good thing, I don't know - YET!

October 27, 2008

horse sh.. is better than bull s...

yesterday i was walking in the forest and i stepped in a large pile of horse droppings! i reacted, as most of us would, but as i walked on i reflected on where i could have been on this lovely sunny autumn sunday - in the centre of town paying too much for a coffee, being smoked on, and listening to all the yuppie bs, but, no, i was much better off in the clean air, exercising my ever aging body and heart.

horse s... is so much better than bull s...

get out there, tread in some authentic stuff, leave the bs behind - help yourself - help others - all creatures have the buddha nature

October 24, 2008

anger, greed, delusion/ignorance

the 3 poisons - oh how they accompany me still!

today i received an email to which my initial reaction was visceral - i got angry because someone had done something with which i didn't agree and was asking me to pay for it (greed) - "what?" was my reaction, "you must be joking?".
after talking it through with the person involved i found out that it had not been their idea (delusion/ignorance) but that they had been cajoled into it!

why did i have such an immediate and unnecessary reaction?

well, i was just too quick to judge and to imagine the imaginary - take time, think carefully, nothing is as it seems, everything is
illusion and not everyone acts out of malice

do as i say not as i do

how many times have you seen someone do exactly what the've just told you not to do?

buddhism and zen are about living the truth your way - don't let others tell you how to do it, probably they don't know either or are only passing on the platitudes of their teachers - read, study, sit zazen wherever and whenever, with whoever - read as many different teachers as possible and follow what you feel is right!

“Zen is not some kind of excitement, but concentration on our usual everyday routine.” - Shunryu Suzuki

“Before enlightenment chop wood and carry water. After enlightenment, chop wood and carry water.” - Wu Li

“We have more possibilities available in each moment than we realize.” - Thich Nhat Hanh

"Always act with others. Do not put yourself above others by acting differently. Arrogance is not permitted." - Seung Sahn

In original nature
There is no this and that.

The great round mirror
Has no likes or dislikes.

good zen habits

showing off - copping out

are we only a "good buddhist" a "good christian" a good jew" if we are doing it with other buddhists or christians or jews? we seem to need to prove to everyone else that we are what we are! am i less of a buddhist if i don't go to the dojo to sit zazen? do I need to show off my robes and my prostrations to get the approval of the others around me and to confirm that i am actually a buddhist? do i feel i’m better than the others because i have a new rakusu or kesa?
it seems to me that this is the way our zen buddhist world is structured. “you must go to the dojo” – “you must be with others” – “you must sit zazen with others” – oh really, why?
sure then they give you some platitude about “…it increases the intensity, or “that’s what zen is about”, echoes of “god moves in mysterious ways his wonders to perform” – (what a copout) – sorry, i don’t think so!

October 20, 2008

i wanted to be like them - a reminder of impermanence

i was watching a video of the great lowell george this morning and thinking how much i had wanted to be like him when i was younger. oh to be able to play guitar like him, sing like him, be up there in front of adoring masses like him.

for a long time he'd played guitar with another idol of my youth frank zappa - what heaven it must have been to be like them - known the world over and playing such fantastic music!

today both of these greats are dead - died way too young both of them - way before either of them could realize all the fabulous things they could have produced for us.

watching lowell this morning brought another example, admittedly not without sadness, that everything is impermanent - even for the greats! even "they" cannot change the universal truth! would i still want to exchange lives? (both of them and many others died younger than i am now) - no absolutely not. the other man's grass isn't always greener - it might look it at the time but...

October 19, 2008

my way, your way

today during my tai-chi class i must have broken at least 2 of the grave precepts - the lady in front of me, in her expensive track suit and dripping in jewelry, was doing a simple movement like it was the most important thing in the world and she was the prima ballerina at the bolshoi (maybe it was and maybe she is) - anyway, her intensity translated into vaudeville, and as such, it made me laugh!

well then it struck me - we all interpret things differently don't we? and.. that doesn't mean that one way is right and another wrong (as I was thinking, or at least, as was my initial, visceral reaction)

if we all spent as much time criticising what we do ourselves and not what others do...

Not to extol oneself and slander others


Not competing or coveting

To give my best effort and accept the results

There are no winners or losers

from In Process: A Journal of Spiritual Practice, quoted in Turning Toward Happiness: Conversations with a Zen Teacher and Her Students.

*7. Not Praising Yourself While Abusing Others