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, January 29, 2012

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Showing Up

I spent eight hours yesterday sitting on a board certification committee for the Association of Professional Chaplains. We interviewed four candidates for certification.
This is exhausting work for the committee as well as the candidates.
Listening to someones story, listening to someones journey, really listening requires deep attention and a lot of patience, waiting for the real person to show up.

When they finally do show up, you realize that there are not two but one. You realize they are you and you are them.

Maybe it's a moment of actualizing the fundamental point.

And so it is with zazen. 

It is a lot of waiting, observing, listening...

Waiting for the real person to show up!

Or is it waiting for reality to show up?

I don't know. I just keep sitting!

Showing up!


Friday, January 20, 2012

(thanks to
Each of us individually and all of us together, beings seen and unseen, beings human and otherwise, are all completely a subset of the myriad things, of reality arising right now. Our practice is actually to wake up to our delusions. We sit upright and present, settling down into our inner dignity, and when we do that we see delusions everywhere. We see our habits of attachment and of grasping. We see our conditioned patters of reaction. We see our fear and sadness and all of the aspects of our life in which we feel damaged or hurt. We see our own patterns of creating more difficulty for ourselves and for others. This all takes a while. To see delusion and enlightenment is easy. That can happen any time. But then to actually bring this fully into our life is the endless practice of studying ourselves, just being there as ourselves. Buddhas are greatly enlightened and awakened to their delusions. This is our practice.
Page 69 ZEN QESTIONS, Zazen, Dogen, and the Spirit of Creative Iquiry 
by Taigen Dan Leighton

True Self/False Self?
The whole package?
Being authentic?

Being aware and the really being there as this aware person? 


Saturday, January 14, 2012

Unchained Melody and Zazen

I recently sent the below email to the person I consider my “in the flesh” teacher :

I have spent the last maybe month and a half reading some contemplative understandings about Christianity. One in particular that spoke to my journey was Without Buddha I Could Not Be A Christian. I was able to resonate with his (Paul Knitter) journey quite well.

But I'm beginning to see all my reading and all my seeking is nothing more than me asking the question, "Does a dog have Buddha nature?".
 In the Christian context my question would be 
"Is God a personal Being?"

In my zazen this morning I formulated this story:

A disciple came to Jesus and asked him, "Is God a personal being?" Jesus said, "Take a deep breath!"

Later in my zazen I realized that MU is the proper response to all my questions.

That seems to pretty much strip it down to just go and sit! What a great practice!

(I did not mention to him in this email that I also found myself singing “Unchained Melody” in my mind during this same session of zazen.)

Go figure!

Sunday, January 8, 2012

I have taken a month away from this blog.
 I think it's useless to write here when you really have nothing to say and I have had nothing to say for about four weeks now.

Have I been thinking? Oh yes! Have I been reading? Oh yes!
Have I been loving on my family? Oh Yes!

Reading the above right now.

I think Parker Palmer is a significant thinker in our world right now.

This piece just touched me this morning. I can resonate with it profoundly since my son and daughter have both blessed me with two wonderful granddaughters in the last year and a half.

In his chapter titled Exploration in True Self he writes:

When my first grandchild was born, I saw something in her that I had missed in my own children some twenty-five years earlier, when I was too young and self-absorbed to see anyone, including myself, very well. What I saw as clear and simple: my granddaughter arrived on earth as THIS kind of person, rather than THAT, OR THAT , OR THAT.

...In my granddaughter I actually observed something I could once take only on faith: we are born with a seed of selfhood that contains the spiritual DNA of our uniqueness---an encoded birthright knowledge of who we are, why we are here, and how we are related to others.

We may abandon that knowledge as the years go by, but it never abandons us. I find it fascinating that the very old, who often forget a great deal, may recover vivid memories of childhood, of that time in their lives when they were most like themselves. They are brought back to their birthright nature by the abiding core of selfhood they carry within----a core made more visible, perhaps, by the way aging can strip away whatever is not truly us.

Philosophers haggle about what to call this core of our humanity, but I am no stickler for precision. Thomas Merton called it rue self. Buddhist call it original nature...Quakers call it the inner teacher or the inner light. Hasidic Jews call it a spark of the divine. Humanists call it identity and integrity.

..."Nobody knows what the soul is,"says Mary Oliver, "it comes and goes,/like the wind over the water." But just as we can name the functions of the wind, so we can name some of the functions of the soul without presuming to penetrate its mystery:

*The soul wants to keep us rooted in the ground of our own being, resisting the tendency of other faculties, like the intellect and ego, to uproot us from who we are.

*The soul wants to keep us connected to the community in which we find life, for it understands that relationships are necessary if we are to thrive.

*The soul wants to tell us the truth about ourselves, our world, and the relation between the two, whether that truth is easy or hard to hear.

*The soul wants to give us life and wants us to pass that gift along, to become life-givers in a world that deals too much death.

My question:
Are "mu" and the "soul" the same thing?

Sheds a whole new light on saying "no" to a toddler!