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, April 18, 2010

A true person of no rank!

The True Person of No Rank
The Koan:

There is a true person of no rank who is constantly coming and going from the portals of your face. Who is that true person of no rank?

(Thanks to John Tarrant for the quote @ ZENOSAURUS)

Another one of the gifts of my work is that I meet people at a time in their lives when titles (rank) don't  play a role in the outcome of what is before them. 

I like to call our chemotherapy room the "the great equalizer". I have seen people befriend one another in that room who would have never considered such a friendship in their day to day lives...that place where rank, titles, education ,etc,  seem to dictate for so many of us who it is we befriend and hang out with.

At the same time, I have to be conscious of my own prejudices in that situation. It is much more interesting  for me, at times, to engage  the person who can engage in a more sophisticated kind of conversation than the the person who can't. That is the place where I am getting my needs met and not attending to what is needed in the moment for any given person.

"Sentient being are numberless, I vow to save them all!"

Every person is a true person of no rank. That is reality!

When I let my true person meet their true person...ALL IS ONE!

May we all be willing to be true persons with each other. From that place compassion flows in and out, to and fro, given and received.

A Monk of no rank, in the world,


Saturday, April 17, 2010

The Five Remembrances

The Five Remembrances
Offered by Thich Nhat Hanh 

1. I am of the nature to grow old. There is no way to
escape growing old.

2. I am of the nature to have ill health. There is no
way to escape ill health.

3. I am of the nature to die. There is no way to
escape this.

4. All that is dear to me and everyone I love are of
the nature to change. There is no way to escape
being separated from them.

5. My actions are my only true belongings. I cannot
escape the consequences of my actions. My
actions are the ground upon which I stand.

I think these should be posted on all my walls in my home. We might wonder why they came to be known as "the five remembrances"? Well, I'm no Buddhist scholar but the fact that we live (then again, I can't speak for the group) our lives constantly forgetting these very precious facts seems reason enough for me. 

I work in an environment everyday which brings the first four of these remembrances to me constantly. I consider that fact a gift to me.

I remember contemplating the death of my children several years ago during my morning quiet time. That experience caused me to take very deep breaths and to inhale this life in a more conscious way. Nothing is permanent! Recognizing this impermanence and always living in a way of "knowing" we will have to let go of everything we love one day, simply makes the food of life before us richer, tastier, more precious. 

This is not morbid thinking. This is waking up! 

As the evening Gatha so plainly states:

"Let me respectfully remind you, life and death are of supreme importance. 
Time swiftly passes by, and opportunity is lost. 
Let us awaken, awaken. 
Take heed, do not squander your life."


Friday, April 9, 2010


The only truth I can know is the truth I experience. Any other truths I am told about, I can only believe.
What this says to me as far as practice goes is that I must "practice", not just on the cushion but it all that I do, I must do it with (as Dosho has shown us in his last post at Wildfox Zen) Conviction. Still not sure how that looks, feels, taste except it leans towards the intimacy thing again.

But conviction defined is "firmly held belief without evidence or proof"...being "firmly held" leads to attachment, which leads to closed mindedness, which leads to, well wars and bunch of other stuff. I know, it can also lead to the TRUTH.

So how does one stay convicted and open at the same time? Of course, not sure I am understanding all that is stated in Dosho's most recent post but definitely has me thinking and that's good, well to some extent.

Here's a thought.
What is it that arises just before conviction that cause me to incarnate conviction - sitting, reading, paying attention to what is before me and all those other "zen" things...

I want to say that what arises is Desire. And this desire arises out of unsatisfactoriness and...ah yes...the wheel of the dharma is turned.

So what is the TRUTH?

I just want to be convicted enough to have the desire to sit until I have penetrated deep enough to have the experience of truth.


Sunday, April 4, 2010


Happy Easter! 

Today in the Christian tradition we celebrate the resurrection of Jesus. This event points to the new life we are all promised in following the Way, the Truth and the Life. I don't pretend to understand what all that means. I think it is safe to say though that these folks certainly encountered something that changed their lives and the world. 

That being said, here we have in the seventh week of our online ango study this very interesting phrase of "nurturing the womb of the sage" in Dogen's Instructions to the Cook.

Dosho puts it this way in his blog at Wildfox Zen:

"This post offers some detail for our online practice period study for this week. The compelling phrase, "womb of the sage," comes from Dogen's Instructions for the Cook. Here's the Foulk translation of the sentence:"

If your preparations are true, then your movements and activities will naturally become the deeds of nurturing the womb of the sage.

So here, Dogen seems to be pointing toward some new life birthing forth. But in order for that life to be born, it needs to be nurtured in the proper manner. Here again we have a suggested Way, A truth, A life that promises something new.

But even in this Zen path, there are things that need to die in order for that new life to come forth.

And when it all happens it is simply a matter of chopping wood and carrying water, except it is done with a whole new set of eyes to see with.

Happy Birthing,


Saturday, April 3, 2010

Dosho has posed a behavior which I am not so sure I understand: 


If he had asked me to serve others that would have been a whole different kind of thing. But he proposes serving "truth". 

My question is the same question Pilate asked Jesus, "what is the truth?"

That is all that needs to be said.