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, November 25, 2011


This is a tricky post. 
Probably several ways to challenge this but I'm going to say it anyway.

All the Buddhisms, All the "isms", all the Catholics, Lutherans, Methodist, Baptists...all "ics", "ans" and "ists" are nothing more than fingers pointing at the moon.

No, I don't think that is a relativistic statement. At least what some would call Truth Relativism.

The doctrine that knowledge, truth and morality exist in relation to culture, society or historical context and are not absolute.

The term often refers to truth relativism, which is the doctrine that there are no absolute truths, i.e., that truth is always relative to some particular frame of reference, such as a language or a culture.

I am saying there is an Absolute. I believe we can know It through experience. I believe we can try to put It into words but when we do we limit it.

I am saying this is why I can sit zazen and read Richard Rohr's book Hope Against Darkeness and embrace much of what he has to say with great pleasure, while at the same work on dropping body and mind.

I am saying I have faith!

I am also saying, "Read this book, it is significant!"


Thursday, November 24, 2011

Continued...Bows and Thanksgiving


Siddharth Gautama


St. Francis

Thomas Merton

Thomas Keating

Basil Pennington

Richard Rohr

Marcus Borg

Henri Nouwen

Mary Oliver

Barbara Brown Taylor

Cynthia Bourgeault

Rainer Marie Rilke

T. S. Eliot

Robert Aitken

Charlotte Joko Beck

Edward Espe Brown

Norman Zogetsu Fischer

Bernard Glassman 

Joan Halifa

Taigen Dan Leighton

John Daido Loori

Taizan Maezumi 

Thich Nhat Hanh

Shunryu Suzuki

Karen Maezen Miller

John Tarrant

Kosho Uchiyama





Today I Give Thanks For:

My Arrogance
My Selfishness
My Narcissistic Tendencies
My Wanting to be right
My Vanity
My Prejudices
My Closed mindedness
My Greed
My Lust
My Ignorance
People I don't Like 
My Lack of Discipline
My Parents
My Spouse
My Children
My Grandchildren
My Friends
My Enemies

Deep Bows To All My Teachers,


Thursday, November 10, 2011


A dog! Buddha nature!
All manifest, actual and alive.
But with the slightest touch of yes and no
Dead your body, lost your soul.

In response to the monk's question, "Does a dog have buddha nature or not?" Joshu's answer, just Mu, is "all manifest, actual and alive." He has presented his mind totally, put out all the cash with no part payments. Here Joshu wields his gleaming sword. Here, if you start making intellectual discriminations like "this and that" even a little, it will slash you in two. It is like being deathly ill. If you start saying "Yes" or "No" even just a little, or start wandering around thinking in dualistic terms, at once you lose your life.

The Book Of Mu: page 42

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

One Reason I Love The Kitchen

How the World Can Be the Way It Is:
An Inquiry for the New Millennium Into Science, Philosophy and Perception
by Steve Hagen
Published 1995, by Quest Books

Merging with your object
Taken from

We must see, when we pick up any object of consciousness, whether it be mental or physical, that the “rest of all that exists”—i.e., Totality, Wholeness—must enter into the picture. As long as we operate with discriminating consciousness and see ourselves only as a fragment—a part of Reality which is divided off and intrinsically separate from everything else—we can know only uncertainty, fear, and the misery of that hollow, empty feeling of utter meaninglessness. It need not be this way for us.

I cannot give you the direct experience of knowing that aspect which remains hidden from our common-sense consciousness. I can, however, give an example that may remind you of this hidden aspect of consciousness as it works in our everyday life. Let me tell you about my mother and lefse. (Lefse, for those of you who don’t know, is a kind of Norwegian pancake or bread made from potatoes, cream, flour, butter and sugar.)

Like all real boundaries, the boundary between my mother and lefse is infinitely complex. I witnessed this complexity years ago as a child, though at the time I did not realize just what it was that I had witnessed. The occasion was when my eldest brother and his wife, newly married and inexperienced in the kitchen, tried to make lefse on their own. Once they had put all the ingredients together, they discovered that they could not work with the dough. When they tried to roll it out it would stick to the board. When they tried to pick it up it would fall apart. They thought they had ruined it and were about to throw it out when, in desperation, they put in a distress call to Mom. I went along to see if I could be of any help. I had a major interest in lefse in those days.

My mother appeared on the scene like a midwife approaching a distraught husband. Rolling up her sleeves and taking a sure command, she went to the huge lump of dough rising from the large mixing bowl in the center of the table. I can still see her as she put her hands upon that mound and in a soft but certain tone she said, “Oh, it’s just about right.” Giving us a nod and a smile, it was clear that this baby would be spared. Quickly she dispatched her orders. It needed just a little more of this, and just another touch of that—and in seconds she was rolling out lefse and frying them up. Lefse appeared one after another, until soon the stacks were piling up under steaming cloths.

My mother’s boundary was intimately connected with that of the lefse. The two merged, while nevertheless remaining separate. In fact, many things came together in that moment—not just my mother and the lefse. The dough had to be there, obviously. And though it was “just about right,” my mother had to be there as well or there would have been no lefse. With my mother came the know-how—which, in turn, revealed that many other, previous and unseen events were also entangled in this happening of my mother making lefse. And within the dough were those who produced the ingredients, and who trucked them to market. Within that dough were entangled the potato plant, and last year’s harvest.

Yet all the while these countless hidden things came together in this event, it was nevertheless quite evident which was my mother and which was the lefse.

There’s nothing mystical about what I’m trying to point to here. It’s not a poetic metaphor or a Zen-like analogy. It’s a simple, concrete example of that “other” aspect which must be accounted for if we would avoid contradictions. It’s an example of someone actually becoming merged in an exchange of identity with her object.


Friday, November 4, 2011

Subtle Actualization?

This week when I did my gassho, entering my little homemade zendo, I noticed my breath from my nose on the tips of my fingers. Then I noticed my lips against the sides of my fingers. I immediately felt the intimacy in that. It felt "precious". That was the word that bubbled up in that moment.

All week now I have had the same experience in my bowing.

Bowing while entering, bowing to the altar, bowing to the cushion:

Intimacy, intimacy, intimacy.

Precious moment, precious moment, precious moment.