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

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Besides the fact that Florida just went ahead 41 to 17, my polenta was a fiasco...Sorry Catherine...I think I put too much butter in the pan. They never would crisp up like I had anticipated. Oh well, just this! So what do you do with this? Not sure, except to just accept that I failed on this attempt.

BOO! BOO! BOO! Trick or treat! I have been tricked!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

It really is Halloween!!!!!!!


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OK, here's the polenta! Look at those nice medallions cooking in that butter...looking good!

Did I tell you that I have never done this before? Well Boo! Yes, it's still Halloween!
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Did you ever hear the story about Buddha and the pumpkin?

Neither did I! Boo! It's Halloween, you know that don't you?
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Many becoming one!

So here is the beginning of making many one in this black bean buffalo chili day. Oh yes, BOO! It is Halloween. But you know that by now, don't you. Well, because I don't know how to post more than one pic at a time, this little journey will be continued on the next blog...looks hopeful, doesn't it?
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Buffalo Chili on Polenta

That's right, buffalo. Maybe Pioneer Woman would like this. That's a square of ground buffalo there beside all those ingredients: Cayenne pepper, bell pepper, banana pepper,onion, tomato sauce, black beans. Now to make all these myriad things into one. Oh, I changed the beer to a Sammy Adams Black Lager. I'll be back later with some more. Got to let this stuff start dancing together, making beautiful music in the forms of wonderful smells.


Oh, I forgot: BOO! It's halloween!
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I'm sorry. It is Halloween. It's tradition here to cook chili on this date. Won't be taking any pics of that but what I am gonna do is try to make some homemade rolls. Maybe some pics of that. Pioneer Woman has a nice recipe on her site. Check it out.

What does all this have to do with Zen practice? Well my goodness! It's all practice! Right? Just this! Right now! Pay attention! be continued as the day unfolds before me....So Boo!

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Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Confessions is good for the self-no-self?

This week has not been a good week for me as far as sitting practice. Twice I have chosen to go to the gym to exercise over sitting (time constraints and all). When I do this I wonder in my little mind just how sincere I am about my practice. Then again, I wonder if this means anything at all except for the fact I am overly (is that a word) body conscious.

Then I think about in times past how I have become too rigid in my spiritual practices and the freedom I felt in just letting go and doing the thing I want to do in that moment.

Being responsible with this body is right action, right? Didn't the Buddha say somewhere that this is a great opportunity we have being human and so we should take advantage of it? Well an early death would squash this great opportunity.

So the way I see it, excluding any terrible accidents, I have just lengthened the time of this great opportunity that we have been given by taking care of this old skin sack!

Oh well, I just felt like confessing this anyway. I feel better now.



Sunday, October 25, 2009

Here is my food offering for today.

Roasted turkey breast with lemon pepper and dizzy dust, some acorn squash that I will cook with some brown sugar, butter and rosemary (got the recipe for the squash from, she's cool). I'm also gonna have some fried brown rice with this.

Hey, if you are wondering what dizzy dust it!

Never fried rice before and never cooked this squash before. Oh well, taking it to the edge! How else you gonna leap beyond?!

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Headless Horseman, Holloween, Fog, Dogen, no reflecting moon, dharma position et al

Here's a pic my son Jason took yesterday up in the North Georgia mountains.

Halloween being so close and all, I wonder where the headless horseman is in this picture.

Maybe we could find old Dogen in that fog somewhere. Won't find any reflecting of the moon in that stuff!

Oh well, Dogen is dead anyway...or is he? Let's just say that maybe he is in his dharma position.



Dosho asked me to "put that out there", so here is my take on Actualizing the Fundamental point.

Actualizing the fundamental point
Is like sounding one note.
This note has no before
And no after.
This note does not become the silence afterwards.
And the silence did not become the note
Before the note was sounded.

Firewood and Ash

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I'm Being Followed by a Moon Shadow!

So here is what Dosho Port has us chewing on for the next two weeks from the Genjokoan:

When a person attains
it is like the moon
reflecting on the water.

The moon never becomes
the water is never
Although it is a vast and great light, it reflects
itself on a small amount of water.

The whole moon and even the whole sky reflects
on even a drop of dew or a blade of grass or a
single tiny drop of water.

Enlightenment does not destroy the person as the
moon does not shatter the water.

The person does not obstruct realization as a
drop of dew does not obstruct the moon in the

The depth is the same as the height.
From: Dosho Port's Wildfox Zen Webinar

I have thought about that "universal market place"...I wonder if that applies to the idea of Zazen not being just about sitting on a cushion. If there is no practical application to all this sitting, then why sit? That sitting has to spill over into everything that we do!
So here is a dharma position, right in the middle of the pot of beef stew, just beginning to cook.

Should we cook our zazen so that it boils over into all that we do?

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Saturday, October 24, 2009

My Fishing, Hunting, Golf, Football, et al.

It's the weekend!
Some of you are all fired up about football, some of you are dragging the 10 pointer out of the woods, maybe some of you are just dangling a hook in the water or teeing up the little white ball.
Me? I'm cooking!
Today's offering is a simple BEEF STEW-yes that's a Guinness on the side there-who wants to use two cups of warm water when you can use a pint of Guinness?
So how does all this relate to our genjokoan study for the upcoming week? Don't know yet! Does it matter? This is what I am doing right now! Isn't that actualizing the fundamental point?

I'll share the text for the week on the next post in about an hour...

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Sunday, October 18, 2009

The Simplicity of Zazen

This if the final journey before this old skin sack takes in this wonderful pleasure. I like the simplicity of this picture. But believe me, the preparation was labor intensive.

Maybe this is a metaphor for Zazen. It looks so simple, but it is labor intensive to keep the practice going.

Deep bows to the butternut squash!

I really liked it. My wife wasn't that crazy about it but she has trouble with vegggies and her taste buds because of the diabetes medicine she takes.

You can take this to a sweet edge but I chose to leave it more natural. It was nice and earthy!

Hands together,

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And finally the ash!

I know. Not the most beautiful presentation but in the bowl with some garnish it will be.

No before and no after.

Where did all the fennel, coriander, cracked black pepper, cinnamon, leeks, butternut squash, salt, butter, garlic, apples go?

No birth, no death!

Is this the fundamental point? Maybe. But wasn't all the above the fundamental point at sometime? Or is it some place?


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What is the space between firewood and ash?

We have never talked about what is between firewood and ash, at least not that I can remember.

Anyway, this is the in-between from ingredients to butternut squash soup.

Still cooking,

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From Just This to Butternut Squash Soup

Thought you might like to see the basics for the soup before they are transformed.
I think this is kind of a wood to ash thing.
Those on the 100 day study with Dosho know what I mean.
When these ingredients become soup, there is no before and after. Before and after are cut off.

Well, let's first see if soup arises. Never made this before.


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Fall Feasting

My wife set a beautiful table last night. Notice the little buckets of candy corn! Addicting!
It all went very well with some homemade catfish stew. It was my grandfather's recipe. I even cooked it in his old pot.
Today I am going to experiment with making some butternut squash soup.
Orange is in right now you know!

So what is the fundamental point of this?

What is this?

What is relative and what is fundamental?

How does one focus on both?

Lean to the left, lean to the right but choose the middle way.

Step by step...walk this ordinary life.

Actualize it in this very moment!

Whatever it is.

Sound like a bunch of mumbo, jumbo doesn't it?

It is a bunch of mumbo, jumbo for me right now!

Just some spiritual stuff I'm dealing with right now. Anyway, what a great table!

Hands Folded,

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Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Sorry Mary!

My apologies to Mary Oliver - I quoted her incorrectly. Don't need to rely on this almost sixty year old brain of mine.

Anyway, the proper quote is:
"I don't exactly know what a prayer is but I do know how to pay attention."

Again, I'm sorry Mary.



Sunday, October 11, 2009

Fall Offerings from my Wife

This is the beginnings of my wife's flower practice for fall. All those spring and summer flowers are gone now. Something else always arises though, doesn't it. I'll give you picture updates on this little offering as the season unfolds.

Be Intimate With Life,

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Paying Attention and Prayer

Mary Oliver says in one of her poems,
"I don't know how to pray but I do know how to pay

I like this quote. I struggle with what prayer is about and what is the efficacy of prayer.

I think I can say that my spiritual practice has enhanced my prayer life because I think I do better at "paying attention".

I would have to say that when people feel "payed attention to" that something is changed in that moment.

The word "paying" in this phrase means a lot to me. It suggest that it cost something to give a attention to something else. To couch this in some kind of spiritual language, I would say the cost is a setting aside of the self. Maybe some kind of kenosis.

This Praying Mantis in the picture above was paying attention. He stayed right there for at least thirty minutes this morning. Quite a practice!


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Friday, October 9, 2009

Just This

Here is the question for the week from Dosho at the Wildfox Zen site:

When doing one thing is there anything else? (i.e., is today just today?) I encourage responses that follow examining the question in the midst of living practice.

One of the ways I tried to experience ("examining the question in the midst of living practice") what I think the answer to this question is was to just sit and reflect on this very moment WORLD WIDE, maybe even beyond world wide. I don't think we can look at this answer from the perspective of space and time as we see it in the phenomenal world. We have created what we call "time" in order to function in an orderly way in culture. Time is not real! I can't quite wrap my mind around this. But this may be a good thing. Maybe this reality transcends "mind". It is something like saying that eternity is not a forever thing, eternity is "now" always.

Anyway, Yes today is just today!

That's the best I can do with this at the moment.


Sunday, October 4, 2009

Here is the salad offering for tonight. What really made this good was the gorgonzola cheese with the Honey Crisp apples and sliced strawberries. We added a blush wine vinaigerette (french) dressing. Mom Idoni (mother-in-law) says, "That was so good!"

Time to relax,

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October in the south. The remnant of spring and summer.

Bows to the Remnant,

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I have had those "drying up" peppers by the stove for the last couple of weeks. It has been interesting just to watch them change with time. This transition points to one of the readings for the week. It also points to impermanence. Nothing stays the same. Does that apply to enlightenment also? Don't know. Don't really know what this "enlightenment" things is. I could probably conceptualize about it but something tells me that would not be it..."finger pointing to the moon" thing.

Meanwhile, the peppers keep changing like the burning firewood in the reading below. I'll just keep doing what I'm doing and let the peppers do what they are doing and see what arises. What else you gonna do?

So here is our reading for the week and Dosho's "funky" question for the week.

First the reading:

Firewood becomes ash. Ash cannot turn back into firewood again.
However, we should not veiw ash as after and firewood as before.
We should know that firewood dwells in the dharma position of firewood and it has it's
own before and after. Although there is before and after, past and future are cut off.
Ash stays at the position of ash and it has its own before and after.
As firewood never becomes firewood again after it is burned and becomes ash,
after a person dies there is no return to living. However, in buddhadharma, it is a never-changing
tradition not to say that life becomes death. Therefore we call it no-arising. It is the laid-
down way of buddhas turning the dharma wheel not to say that death becomes life.
Therefore, we call it no-perishing. Life is a position at one time; death is also a position at one time.


Now the "funky" question:

When doing one thing, is there anything else? Dosho
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Friday, October 2, 2009

Moon Morning

Soft moon this morning at 4:3o am EDT
Thin clouds hiding its true essence
Just because I can't see it, does not mean it is not there.
This is why I continue to practice.

Moon Bows,
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Just This

Here is where I have been hooked this week in our 100 day practice study.


No matter what you say about it
flowers fall when lamented
and weeds flourish when disliked...from Dogen's Genjokoan

Seems descriminating can cause suffering, confusion, delusion, and duality.

So what did that monk see when he bowed?

 Capping verse

He didn't see anything,
He breathed in a non-descriminating breath