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

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Exscuse me, but I need to go sit!

Dosho Port, at Wild Fox Zen , states:

In order to have any semblance of balance, a student needs a lot of zazen. A lot, you hear me? "Oh, it isn't the quantity but the quality," you might say.

And I'd say, oh, stop it. Enough eel wriggling psychobabble, avoiding the cushion. If you don't want to sit, don't do it but don't spew vomit on others.
Not a lot to reflect upon here. I'll just SIT DOWN AND SHUT UP!

Thanks Dosho!



Sunday, December 27, 2009

Zen Math

Realizing minus Actualizing = No Bowing Monk

I'm still thinking about Tarrant's words which struck me yesterday.

"The woman's discovery was about her own nearness to things."

Her discovery was her "realization". My discovery of her discovery was my realization.

 Now the question is how do I actualize this fanning monk in my face?


Saturday, December 26, 2009


I have been reading John Tarrant's BRING ME THE RHINOCEROS. He tells the story in there about a woman who ran an inn and experienced an awakening in her kitchen. Something that Tarrant said about   

this awakening arrested my heart as I read it. His words about the woman's awakening were:

The woman's discovery was about her own nearness to things.

She started seeing differently. Things was not different, her seeing was different, her experience of just the everyday of everydayness became profoundly intimate.
I think these words (Tarrant's above) speak volumes to what this thing is we are to discover which we already have.
Maybe a knew practice is to practice being near to things. 

Anyway, these words certainly spoke to me today.


Friday, December 25, 2009

This Little Light Of Mine

In John's Gospel it is stated this way:

[1] In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
[2] He was in the beginning with God;
[3] all things were made through him, and without him was not anything made that was made.
[4] In him was life, and the life was the light of men.
[5] The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.
This is the message of his coming into his own ministry, being a light, exposing delusion?

And then in Mary Oliver's poem, we are told about light again, as the Buddha is leaving this world.

The Buddha’s Last Instruction

“Make of yourself a light,”
said the Buddha,
before he died.
I think of this every morning
as the east begins
to tear off its many clouds
of darkness, to send up the first
signal – a white fan
streaked with pink and violet,
even green.
An old man, he lay down
between two sala trees,
and he might have said anything,
knowing it was his final hour.
The light burns upward,
it thickens and settles over the fields.
Around him, the villagers gathered
and stretched forward to listen.
Even before the sun itself
hangs, disattached, in the blue air,
I am touched everywhere
by its ocean of yellow waves.
No doubt he thought of everything
that had happened in his difficult life.
And then I feel the sun itself
as it blazes over the hills,
like a million flowers on fire –
clearly I’m not needed,
yet I feel myself turning
into something of inexplicable value.
Slowly, beneath the branches,
he raised his head.
He looked into the faces of that frightened crowd.

~ Mary Oliver ~

You can do what you will with these two writings but what draws me to both is the idea of light, and the suggestion that we all can be this light. Jesus himself said we are the light of the world. 
 Light exposes things that we otherwise could not see.
Until we learn, or is it understand, how it is that this light is turned on,we walk in darkness, we walk in delusion, in ignorance. But is it a matter turning it on? I don't think so. I think it is always there. Jesus, in Matthew's gospel...finding life, involves losing your life.
I think another way of looking at this is "getting out of the way". It is because of conditioning that we have all these things that build up as to who we are, what we are...and darkness covers this light for us. But when we discover the "truth", this darkness cannot overcome this light that is in us already. For me this truth is what Merton talked about, calling it our true selves vs our false selves.
Ok, I'm getting a little too wordy here. The point I'm trying to make is this LIGHT is US. This LIGHT comes through us to our world.

But without any practice, any spiritual practice, we continue to walk in darkness.
You have a light in you. How will you go about discovering that light.

Merry Christmas,

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Holiday? Holy-day? Everyday!



Holiday originally referred only to special religious days. In modern use, it means any special day of rest or relaxation, as opposed to normal days off work or school. The word derived from the notion of "Holy Day", and gradually evolved to its current form.

Sitting here this morning with my daughter and her husband, my wife, my son (still upstairs sleeping). Just enjoying the simple fact of being together. Holidays allow for such moments, if you are lucky. These days seem so special and truth be known, a little magical.

When it's all over, the contrast can be emotionally challenging for some. This is where my practice becomes such a significant part of my life. It is here that I am reminded that my life is my practice.
Would I be right to say that when we actualize the fundamental point, everyday is a holiday, every moment is a holimoment (yes, I made that word up)?
So I wish for you, your life to be a holiday!
As a footnote, I think I should say that each moment is not necessarily a happy moment but each moment is a meaningful moment, if we pay attention.

Monk: what is the essence of your practice?
Basho: Whatever is needed…

Happy Holimoments and Holidays!

Monday, December 21, 2009

First Day of Winter (tell that to the east coast)

Merry Winter Solstice!
Shortest day of the year and the first official day of winter.
Of course down here in the South the seasons come and go as much as the sun sets and rises.
Not too bad today. Highs in mid 50's. I would prefer 30-40's but it seems I'm not in control of the weather. Go figure!
So what to do on the shortest day of the year. I got up at 3 am, so that was a good start. Sat zazen with Dosho and Steve at 7 am...I guess you would call it somewhat of a virtual cyber zendo...we sat together via a webinar.
It's off to the store next, cooking chili for the son, who is coming home this afternoon.
Would it be correct to say that each thing done today with great intention, great intimacy would be acutalizing the fundamental point?
One thing at a time, one practice at a time. One solstice at a time.

Bows to the distant Sun,

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Chop Wood, Carry Water

Ok, so I just finished my second 100 day study with Dosho Port at Wild Fox Zen. Also had my first Dharma Combat experience. It was short and sweet. Walked in, said a few words, granted an exit by Dosho, thanked Dosho for his teaching.
And so now everything in my life looks different! NOT! Everything is always what it has been. Do I see it differently? Well, not sure. I'll just keep looking and doing what I have always been doing, living this one beautiful life with as much intention as possible.
What I remember from today more than anything is this quote from Dosho's teacher:
"living in vow"

So it's back to my life of chopping wood and carrying water.
What else is a monk in the world to do?

Deep Bows Dosho,

Sunday, December 13, 2009

A Wonderful Monk Day!

It has been foggy, wet and cold all day. Of course cold down here where I live is 40's. I love days like this. I call them "monk days". They seem to bring out the contemplative spirit in me. Days like this make me wish I had a small hermitage up in the mountains somewhere.
Truth is, I do have a hermitage deep inside me. There is a quiet, still place in there that continues to grow. I am grateful for that.
Now you would think a man would have a big pot of beef stew cooking on a day like this. Nope! I have a big pot of fresh turnip greens cooking and some sweet potatoes in the oven. I will also make some good cornbread muffins to go with that.

I am just grateful today. Grateful for my life, for my marriage, for my kids, for my vocation, for my spiritual practice, for those turnip greens and sweet potatoes.
Heck, I just feel at peace right now.
Just this, this moment, this moment, this moment, this moment...just this moment!

Have a good monk day!

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Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Buddha's Enlightenment Day

Dosho Port reminds us at Wild Fox Zen:

Zen lore has it that after sitting under the bodhi tree for seven days, the Buddha looked up, saw the morning star and roared his lion's roar, "I together with the great earth and all living beings, attain the Way." 

May we all commit to SEEING! And then may we all commit to being responsible with what we see!

Mayu was fanning himself. A monk approached and said, “Master, the nature of wind is all pervasive 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 all pervasive,” 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.

Dosho' Question:

What, I ask, did the monk see that he expressed by bowing?


Sunday, December 6, 2009

Be Your Own Light

Nice glow as the sun sets. Be your own light! Was Jesus a finger pointing to the moon?

Bows to the Mystery,

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Ok, this is mother and daughter, enjoying another experience of Christmas. That little lady next to my wife is 87 years old, and oh, she loves her chardonnay every day! Cool Lady. I would have married her if my wife had said no.

Bows to the Generations,
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Angel doing Zazen

That little angel up there has been sitting for us during Christmas for 38 years...she could give Bodhidarma a run for his money. Did I spell his name right? Oh well, anyway, all the lights are on and the little ribbon the lady of the house loves so much and our faithful angel. We will do the ornaments tomorrow. Not a bad start though. Cold and cozy!

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And Then There were Three Strings- Strung

Now if you are left brain, like my wife and son, you are thinking, "Hey, you have some dark spots in there where you need some more light. Now if you are right brain, like this now sixty-year old man, you say," I can see that coming together really well, once the ornaments are hung." One practice at a time, as Dosho has reminded us. Be still, and know!

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First string-strung

Hang in there with me. This will take a while and maybe two single malts. But hey, it's my birthday!


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Here We Go A trimming

Isn't she beautiful...yes, my wife...and yes, she does the lights...has for the last 38 years...first string going up! Now try to keep a beginners mind in this and you will be surprised what happens.

Bows to my rope climber!

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Now here is that tree unwrapped. See, if we stay all wrapped up, we will never be able to reach out and express the beauty of our practice. It's just one practice, JUST THIS!

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Happy 60th...Trees are better than cakes!

Today is my 60th birthday. Thought we might celebrate by trimming the tree. I hope to chronicle this birthing throughout the day. What a great way to celebrate your 60th. Having a birthday in December is really a great thing!
Yes, that's a real tree. Wait to you see how good my wife is at decorating.

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