Monk In The World

To be a monk is to have time to practice for your transformation and healing. And after that to help with the transformation and healing of other people.

Thich Nhat Hanh

Sunday, September 27, 2009

This is a southern salad with a little progressive thinking. My mother made a mayonnaise and vinegar salad with lettuce, tomato and this version I take it to the edge with a little good crumbled blue cheese. Goes great with the marinara and pasta.

Good Evening,
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Not the best pic.
Marinara sauce just beginning to boil. Myriad things becoming one. Not a lot of "things"...keep it simple...that is the authentic way!

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Work Practice

That little fellow in the center there is a 20 watt halogen bulb. My work practice for the day.
I have these recess lights under my kitchen cabinets to light up the area where I do a lot of slicing, dicing and chopping.
Well there is birth and there is death! They all three died this past week.

This morning was the time to replace them. No big deal! Well, except for those of us who are "handyman/woman challenged! Where is my son the engineer when I need him?!
I decided to be very mindful about this. Yes, I have to decide to be mindful! Went to the store. Had the clerk pick out the right size bulb and came home and began my project. Now I know some of you out there would not call this a project but for me it is a project! Anything that involves a screw driver or pair of long nose is a major project for me! Oh, did I tell you I had to go back to the store twice because the clerk gave me the wrong size bulb. I picked out the bulb myself on the last trip.
Yes, I got it right.

So what does this have to do with bowing, fanning, Heart Sutra, and the Genjokoan?
I'm not real sure to be honest with you. But I do know that during this entire work practice I experienced an intimacy with all that was going on...bowing in my heart and mind, letting the three trips to the store, be the three trips to the store, letting the wrong size bulb be the wrong size bulb.
I just did what needed to be done and guess what?

The project is done and the lights have arisen again!

Deep Bows,
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Friday, September 25, 2009

So here is what Dosho is serving up all this past week on Wild Fox Zen:

The Zen snare is also a fulcrum. Here's the main one (snare and fulcrum) in the Genjokoan:

Mayu was fanning himself. A monk approached and said, “Master, the nature of wind is permanent and there is no place it does not reach. Why then do you fan yourself?”
“Although you understand that the nature of the wind is permanent,” Mayu replied,” you do not understand the meaning of its reaching everywhere.
“What is the meaning of its reaching everywhere?” asked the monk again.

Mayu just kept fanning himself. The monk bowed deeply.

Every student of Soto Zen knows about this koan but how many see what the monk saw that he expressed by bowing?

Then he caps it off with this:

What did the monk see that he expressed by bowing?

What Dogen saw in the monks bow, and what the Genjokoan unpacks in rolling hopping along vividness, had such an enormous power that it caused our lineage to bloom for some hundreds of years with all the freedom that goes with it.

If we today dismiss the needle point of this question or are satisfied with thin explanations, we won't have the strength of love to bring it forth in our daily life.

Now this makes me think (sorry about that) that this dang thing is very important to uncover!

So I could write some really cool "zennie" words about what I think (sorry again) but then he finishes off with this:

Don't accept a dry, conceptual understanding - we're in the middle of the great ocean you can't not get wet. Look! Look!

So what am I to do?
I believe I got some instruction for this from the Tao Te Ching

Do you have the patience

to wait

till your mud


and the water is


can you remain


till right action


by itself
Somehow I beleive this connects. To what, I don't know but it spoke to me.
I will dig and wait for something to arise out of that hole I am digging.
Bows...for whatever reason!

Sunday, September 20, 2009

My Wife's Practice

These will be gone soon. My wife's front porch practice. So Beautiful, I had to share!

Bows to her green thumb!

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The many will become one...Chili tonight!

Don't you just love those colors!!


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My morning offering to this old skin sack.
Which came first?
Does it really matter?
What matters is that it arose.
What will you do with it?
I ate mine.
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Morning Haiku


Well, maybe not real soon here in the South but this little Japanese Maple certainly speaks to the arising of one of my favorite seasons. Truth is, this tree has some leaves like this on it all summer. But it is a constant reminder for me, that this to (the summer) shall pass.

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Saturday, September 19, 2009

Persistent Spider?

My wife calls this the "persistent spider". She has dismantled the spider's web several times. I call this the "smart spider". You see the spider builds the web next to the bug catcher on our deck.
Then again, you have to give that old spider credit. The spider really is persistent in his/her (I really don't know who builds the homes in the spider world) little war with my wife. He/She just keeps doing the same thing over and over again.

Zazen is like that for me in some way. I just keep doing the same thing over and over again. Am I gaining, losing, arriving, leaving? Not to be of concern for me (although it certainly is, sometimes)?
The important thing is to go and build that same Zazen web every morning.


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Friday, September 18, 2009

Explaining the unexplainable

For those of you who might be reading this blog and are not part of the 100 day practice period, I apologize for not explaining all the meandering words below.
This is a response to Dosho Port (our teacher) regarding our first meeting last Saturday. We are again sitting our way through Dogen's Genjokoan.

alan faulkner to Dosho
show details 12:28 PM (16 hours ago)

Basho speaks to this fanning thing...
\Monk: what is the essence of your practice?

Basho: Whatever is needed…

Speaking of "Fanning":
Here's a thought...I turn my thermostat down to 71 every night before I go to bed and that air reaches me but I still have a big fan blowing in the room, across the bed. That's just what I need for that time.

But one thing that comes to mind as I read the words of the teacher here..."although you understand that the nature of the wind is permanent, "Mayu replied," you do not understand the meaning of its reaching everywhere."

Hey, the dharma may reach everywhere, God's presence may be in all things, but it is awareness of this reaching that makes the difference and that awareness comes from paying attention, from being intimate with all that we do...I just have trouble putting form to this intimacy. Bowing does seem to help in some way for seems to say I accept things as they are...I let things be what they will is then that I experience them intimately...

Connecting zazen, fanning, what needs to be done at the time and do it wholeheartedly, intimately....

I'm just writing here...letting it see what happens....

Bowing....intimacy....those two things continue to be important hooks for me right now in my life...and intimacy has always been there in my theological journey....

What seeing would I express by bowing....that life is contingent...that what we do in this very moment really matters because of this contingency....and  letting things be what they are and bowing to that....

All this stuff is still confusing to me but I will continue to light my incense, light my candle, ring my bell and my books, listen to your teaching and live this awesome wonderful life that has been given..

.Deep bows.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Taco Teaser

Hey kids,
Should have been here last night!
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We started another 100 day practice period with the Genjokoan. Dosho Port had his first webinar for participants yesterday. I spent most of the time trying to set it up so I could hear everyone and see everyone and so that everyone could hear me and see me. Oh well! Dosho Posted the gist of the webinar on his blog.

What I was left with from this time was the following question from Dosho:
"What seeing would you express by bowing?"
The question originates from the story Dogen shares at the end of his Genjokoan:
Zen master Baoche of Mt. Mayu was fanning himself. A monk approached and said, "Master, the nature of wind is permanent and there is no place it does not reach. Why, then, do you fan yourself?"
"Although you understand that the nature of the wind is permanent," Baoche replied, "you do not understand the meaning of its reaching everywhere."
"What is the meaning of its reaching everywhere?" , ask the monk again.
The master just kept fanning himself. The monk bowed deeply.
Moon in a dewdrop, writings of zen master dogen -edited by kazuaki tanahashi. pgs. 72-73
Question again: What seeing would you express by bowing?
I guess I will chew on this awhile and see what form it takes...or maybe I'll start bowing before everything thing I do and SEE!
Deep Bows,

Sunday, September 6, 2009

The Zen Mind - An Introduction

The Zen Mind - An Introduction

I think this so clearly shows the essence of why I do what I do.

To incarnate this in my daily life will be a life time of practice. But my life is my practice. Just this. Just this very moment. Just this very life.

Be intimate with life today,