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

Friday, December 31, 2010

New Years Eve Haiku





Last day of the year
It’s December thirty-one
Now, the only time




And yet we are told in the Evening Gatha -
"time passes swiftly"


We have  31 556 926 seconds of "Now" to be part of in this coming year!


May Your Year Go Well

Bows,
Alan

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Walking The Narrow Road, Don't Fall To Either Side




From Affirming Faith in Mind by Chien-chih Seng-ts'an
The Great Way is not difficult
for those who do not pick and choose.
     When preferences are cast aside,
     the Way stands clear and un-disguised.

But even slight distinctions made
set earth and heaven far apart.
     If you would clearly see the truth,
     discard opinions pro and con.

To founder in dislike and like is nothing but
the mind’s disease.
     And not to see the Way’s deep truth
     disturbs the mind’s essential peace.

The Way is perfect like vast space,
where there’s no lack and no excess.
     Our choice to choose and to reject
     prevents our seeing this simple truth.

Copied From Jack Daw's site at greatplainsbuddha.com 

bows,
Alan

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Southern Blizzard



This is about the best we can do down here in this part of Georgia where I live. But hey, we appreciate the simple things. Just had to post this because it is an uncommon expereince. Actuallly been snowing on and off all day. Just too wet to stick from the rain last night. North Georgia is another story. My little piece of of the storm. Smiles.


Alan
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Saturday, December 25, 2010

Christmas Morning - Christmas Haiku

Children being born
Today we recognize one
Some say he's God's son


Merry Christmas!
May we all discover our true nature!

Bows,
Alan

Friday, December 24, 2010

Christmas Eve - Silent Night...Silent Path


I have immersed myself into Thomas Merton during this advent season. It has been an interesting journey for me. Merton is my spiritual father in so many ways. He showed me a way and continues to show me a way of living this path that makes the most sense to me.

Reading Merton again at this point on this path has been pivotal for me in one particular way.

 In all that he says, it all seems to end in emptiness, no form, no conceptualization, stripping away of the ego (false self), dropping body and mind, being still, just breathing, just taking the next breath, the next step.


Silent night, Silent night, Silent, Silent, Silence...

I'll go wash my bowl now.

Bows and Merry Christmas,
Alan                                                                    

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Just This


Lots to think about here but thinking won't get us anywhere.


ALTHOUGH THE FORM OF THE QUESTIONS MAY CHANGE, THE PATH OF TRANSFORMATION REQUIRES A CONTINUING FOCUS ON THE EXPERIENCE OF EMPTINESS BECAUSE IN ORDER TO CONTINUE DOWN THE PATH, ONE LEARNS THAT ONE MUST DIE. AT SOME POINT ALONG THE PATH, ONE COMES FACE TO FACE WITH ONE'S OWN DEATH, IN TWO WAYS. THE FIRST WAY ONE CONFRONTS ONE'S DEATH IS LITERALLY IN COMPREHENDING THE FACT THAT ONE WILL INEVITABLY DIE. WHILE EVERYONE KNOWS THIS INTELLECTUALLY, ITS SIGNIFICANCE IS LARGELY IGNORED BY MOST PEOPLE AS MUCH AS POSSIBLE. A PERSON ON A PATH OF TRANSFORMATION TRAVELS WITH THIS FACT AS A MANTRA, A KOAN OR A MYSTERY, USING THAT FACT AS A FOUNDATIONAL REFERENCE POINT TO JUDGE AND EVALUATE ALL DECISIONS, ISSUES AND EVENTS. THE SECOND WAY IN WHICH ONE CONFRONTS ONE'S DEATH IS IN THE DEATH OF THE EGO...
From Journeys Into Empitness by  Gunn





The following lengthy quote, written by Merton just before his death, echoes with the insight into the true self. The quote serves as a fitting conclusion of this small book and the message it has tried to convey: 

The Three Doors  (they are one)

1. The door of emptiness. Of no-where. Of no place for a self, which cannot be entered by a self. And therefore is of no use to someone who is going somewhere. Is it a door at all? The door of no-door.

2. The door without sign, without indicator, without information. Not particularized. Hence no one can say of it "This is it. this is the door." It is not recognizable as a door. It is not led up to by other things pointing to it: "We are not it, but that is it---the door." No signs saying "Exit." No use looking for indications. Any door with a sign saying "Not-door." Or even "No exit."

3.The door without wish. The undesired. The unplanned door. The door never expected. Never wanted. Not desirable as a door. Not a joke, not a trap door. Not select. Not exclusive. Not for a few. Not for many. Not for. Door without aim. Door without end. Does not respond to a key---so do not imagine you have a key. Do not have your hopes on possession of the key.

There is no use asking for it. Yet you must ask. Who? For what? When you have asked for a list of all the doors, this one is not on the list. When you have asked the Numbers of all the doors, this one is without a number. Do not be deceived into thinking this door is merely hard to find and difficult to open. When sought it fades. Recedes. Diminishes. Is nothing. there is no threshold. No footing. It is not empty space. It is neither this world nor another. It is not based on anything. Because it has no foundation. Because it has no foundation, it is the end of sorrow. Nothing remains to be done. therefore there is no threshold, not step, no advance, no recession, not entry, no nonentry. Such is the door that ends all doors; the  unbuilt, the impossible, the undestroyed, through which all the fires go when they have "gone out."...This one door is the door of the Palace of Nowhere...Come with me to the Palace of Nowhere where all the many things are one."

From Merton's Palace of Nowhere

Bows to the Great Mystery,
Alan

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Transcendence and Rootedness

I'm reading Robert Jingen Gunn's

Journeys into Emptiness -  Dogen, Merton, Jung and the Quest for Transformation.

He states:
So the religious quest is a search for wholeness, for the manifestation of one's true self, and at the same time, for a rootedness in that which transcends the personal self.
pg. 40
This evokes for me a vertical image, stretching infinitely up but finitely down. I think that makes sense. It speaks to me about making the connection. You know that feeling when putting a puzzle together and the piece slips into the space just perfectly. It's a settling feeling.

As I think about this season, It's incarnated for me in having the kids and grandchildren home for Christmas.
That's a connection!
How does this speak to an experience of "emptiness"? Don't have a clue!

How does relate to the cello?
I don't know, just love that picture!

Welcome home Kids!

Love Daddy and Grampa

Thursday, December 16, 2010

On A Personal Note - Happy Birthday Babe! A Birthday Poem for You






12-16-49





IF




If I could write you a poem on your birthday,

What would I say?

I know as I get older with you,

It’s not the words that matter,

It’s just simply the way we “be” together.

So maybe the best poem I could write

Would be to come and sit with you,

To come and just hold you,

To come and just be with you

And to let us simply breathe together

This life we have birthed between the two of us.



Happy Birthday Laurie

Love,

Alan

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Decorations Are Fingers Pointing to the Moon


I came home last night and when I walked into the house I said to my wife, "I love this season, why can't it always be like this!?"


And I was again reminded that all the festive feelings and decorations are just fingers pointing to the moon. We certainly should enjoy all that they create in our lives but remember that they are all pointing to something that maybe has no color, no smell, no form, no sensation. And yet at the same time we can enjoy all the colors, smells, forms and sensations that draw us into this festive season.


The truth is it is "always like this"! We just have to have the eyes to see and the ears to hear. Or maybe no eyes, no ears, maybe no picking and choosing, no discrimination...JUST THIS




Maha Prajña Paramita
Heart Sutra

Avalokiteshvara Bodhisattva, doing deep Prajña Paramita,
Clearly saw emptiness of all the five conditions
Thus completely relieving misfortune and pain.
Oh Shariputra, form is no other than emptiness,
Emptiness no other than form;
Form is exactly emptiness, emptiness exactly form.
Sensation, conception, discrimination, awareness are likewise like this.
Oh Shariputra, all Dharmas are forms of emptiness:
Not born, not destroyed; not stained, not pure, without loss, without gain.
So in emptiness there is no form, no sensation, conception, discrimination, awareness.
No eye, ear, nose, tongue, body, mind; no color, sound, smell, taste, touch, phenomena.
No realm of sight, no realm of consciousness; no ignorance and no end to ignorance,
No old age and death, no end to old age and death,
No suffering , no cause of suffering, no extinguishing,
no path, no wisdom and no gain.
No gain and thus the Bodhisattva lives Prajña Paramita,
With no hindrance in the mind.
No hindrance, therefore no fear.
Far beyond deluded thoughts, this is Nirvana.
All past, present, and future Buddhas live Prajña Paramita.
And therefore attain Añutara-Samyak-Sambodhi.
Therefore know Prajña Paramita is the great mantra,
The vivid mantra, the best mantra, the unsurpassable mantra.
It completely clears all pain.
This is the truth not a lie.
So set forth the Prajña Paramita mantra,
Set forth this mantra and say:
Gate Gate Paragate! Parasamgate! Bodhi Svaha! Prajna Heart Sutra!

Bows,
Alan

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Thin Places

I ran across this term for the first time today.

I got the following quote from an article by Sylvia Maddox. She offers the quote in her article. No, I don't know who Sylvia Maddox is, I just like the quote.


 There is a Celtic saying that heaven and earth are only three feet apart, but in the thin places that distance is even smaller.
Here again is this suggestion of "intimacy". I have long said that for me, experiencing a moment of intimacy, whether it be with another human being or some part of nature or just an object in my presence, is an experience of the "Holy". Now I have another word for that...


Thin Places...

But there is a sense for me that when we enter that thin place it should not be noted, it should not be labeled, it should simply be experienced. As soon as there is a word given, the experience is gone. Do you sense what I am getting at here?

If so, don't say a word!

Bows
Alan

Saturday, December 4, 2010

"Zen is everyday life", Karen Maezen Miller



I heard the above quote during a radio interview Karen Miller did recently. It speaks volumes to a lay practitioner who does not have a sangha and continues to make the effort to practice faithfully. 

Where the rub is for me is to use this kind of thinking as a way of excusing my zazen at times. But I'm pretty familiar with my own mind games at this time in my life. There really are no excuses for me not to sit. It is a matter of choice. Truth is, zen can't be "everyday life" if it is not supported by zazen. 

Karen also mentioned in that interview that zen is not a belief, not a philosophy. This too is what pulls me so strongly to this practice. It is about doing the very next thing I have to do with awareness. And in doing life this way I am again embraced by that wonderful experience of INTIMACY. Obviously, a difficult daily practice.

I mentioned in an earlier post that I was reading Merton's Palace of Nowhere again for Advent. James Finley states in this book that "authentic religious expression" is the "highest expression of human awareness and desire." He states:

This becomes clear in reference to Merton. His writings are sometimes philosophical or theological, sometimes poetic or anthropological, but they are always religious. Indeed, his whole life was fundamentally religious. That is to say, all his actions, talents and ambitions were finally focused solely upon the goal of achieving  transforming union with God.
As he expressed it:
Whatever I may have written, I think it can all be reduced in the end to this one root truth: That God calls human persons to union with Himself with one another in Christ.

Whatever you may believe about God or about who Jesus was in this wonderful story, it still seems to me that the above thoughts also point to this INTIMACY.

Maybe "authentic religious expression" is the same as living life with deep awareness, seeking to be intimate with each and every moment.

Zazen is such a path. Being mindful is an expression of being in union. Why do we have to name it? Why not just experience it? As soon as we name it we have limited it!

Enjoy your "Everyday life" today!

Bows,
Alan