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

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Grandmother Mind

In my home I'm the one who is always reading about the spiritual life. I'm the one who tries to maintain my zazen practice in an honorable way. I'm the one always wanting to have deep discussions about life, about death, about what matters. I'm the one who loves to write about these matters on this blog. I'm the one who wants to know what it means to actualize this spiritual life, right now, in this moment.

Then there is Susan Moon:

Parents must worry about all the nuts and bolts of their children's care,
but grandmothers, says Susan Moon, can reflect on everything in the background---the water, air, stories, and love. It seems to me that this "grandmother mind" is exactly what the world needs more of.
taken from The Best Buddhist Writing 2008
Grandmother Mind by Susan Moon, pg.247

Then there is Eihei Dogen:
You can understand all of Buddhism, but you cannot go beyond your abilities and your intelligence unless you have robai-shin, grandmother mind, the mind of great compassion

Then there's my wife, Laurie, affectionately known as Lala by our granddaughters.

This afternoon she came home all excited about the blocks and books she had bought for our youngest granddaughter Alice.

I would have come home showing her some new book, new shirt, new pantS or something like that, which I had bought for myself.



Maybe it's time to burn all my books and just watch my wife.



Sunday, August 19, 2012

David Whyte and Me


Good poetry begins with the lightest touch, 

a breeze arriving from nowhere,

a whispered healing arrival,

a word in your ear, a settling into things,

 then, like a hand in the dark, it arrests the whole body, 

steeling you for revelation. 

In the silence that follows a great line, 

you can feel Lazarus, 

deep inside even the laziest, most deathly afraid part of you, 

lift up his hands and walk toward the light.

Whyte, David (2007-01-01). River Flow: New & Selected Poems (p. 136). Many Rivers Press. Kindle Edition.

I shared this with my youngest granddaughter on her blog this morning.
This whole poem speaks to me of waking up to intimacy. Waking up to that which is closer to you than you are to yourself.

Aliving (my made up word, the "i" is the long "i") what was dead, revealing the ground of being in all of us.

Yes, I think good poems can do that.

Poem As Ground of Being

Poem be my ground,
O sacred arrangements of words,
Images from letters of old,
Pointing to the moon,
The moon of realization.
We are then one.



Sunday, August 12, 2012

Seamless Life

A Seamless Life
(photography by Jason Faulkner)
Thanks Son.
Every moment devoted to this practice—this is what Wumen asks of us. What kind of a life can we lead if we are truly digging into our practice day and night? This is the life of one fabric, perhaps not yet realized, but enacted. We are instructed to do what we can’t yet experience. Like St. Paul’s “pray without ceasing,” our devotion to practice prepares the ground for a seamless life.

Blacker, Melissa; Ford, James Ishmael (2011-03-17). The Book of Mu: Essential Writings on Zen's Most Important Koan (p. 147). Perseus Books Group. Kindle Edition. 

What does a seamless life look like?


Just This

For subtle realization, it is of the utmost importance that you cut off the mind road.  
 It is easy to misunderstand the phrase “cut off the mind road.” Wumen is not asking us to stop having thoughts, but to stop following them. To stop following thoughts resembles Dogen’s advice: “to study the self is to forget the self.” When we forget the self we stop putting a construction we call the self at the center of our lives. Similarly, when we watch the pattern of thoughts that arise moment after moment we can follow them to their origins, which turn out to be nothing more than fantasies, constructions of the mind. 
Seeing through these fantasies and constructions, we discover a world beyond thought, in which rain is only rain, not words or stories about rain. We come back to our true life, our true self. 
The “subtle realization” that Wumen mentions here is nothing more than this recognition of our naked, unborn self, alive to this moment, alive to the world as it is, not as we think or construct it to be. This smell, this taste, this touch, sight, sound (with no description in the way), this life, in this moment, and we along with it—perfect and complete.  

Blacker, Melissa; Ford, James Ishmael (2011-03-17). The Book of Mu: Essential Writings on Zen's Most Important Koan (p. 144). Perseus Books Group. Kindle Edition. 



Saturday, August 4, 2012


I want to continue my thoughts about this wordless proclamation as a way of my thinking through this integrative process I am speaking about. I may not be understanding it in the way it was spoken of in the context I found it but it has still stimulated some thought for me. So, as a way of thinking through this:

Maybe integration is the wrong term. Or maybe integration can only be used from a relative position cognitively. Anything of the Truth would not be bringing something together, it would be realizing the seamlessness of it. So when I say integrate, I think I am speaking only from a relative perspective, lacking the experience of realizing. Truly not everything that Buddhism speaks of can be integrated with Christianity. But TRUTH is already the same, no need for integration. So when we come to two different fingers that are pointing to the same moon, it's the labels and concepts (the fingers) that make us think integration is needed. 

Upon the experience of a "wordless proclamation" all is realized. So one way of integrating in the relative is to become a WORDLESS PROCLAMATION. Would this not be actualizing this seamless truth? We only stick out the pointing fingers when needed as a way of directing, explaining. This points to the truth about why it is wrong to talk about zen, while at the same time being necessary.

We all have the potential to actualize our being Wordless Proclamations coming from the same unborn nature, from what Thomas Merton calls that "virgin point", we are all a word with the potential to be fleshed.

So for me now, in TRUTH, there is nothing to integrate. There is only something to realize. There is only this seamless truth. My naming only creates seams but we all need a place to belong in the conceptual world. It' like looking at a map with all those borders, those seams. But we all know that those borders, those seams are not real, only made up so as to create some kind of order. Some structure maybe? Who knows.

Remove all those borders and what do your have?

A Seamless Proclamation!

At least that is as much as I can say about it at the moment. At any given time I am open to all this changing!


Friday, August 3, 2012

We Are A Wordless Proclamation

One time when Zen master Seung Sahn asked his student a question, the student answered, “One.” Seung Sahn said to the student, “Where does this ‘One’ return to?” Even the One has to return somewhere. The student replied, “I don’t know.” Seung Sahn smiled at her and said, “Only don’t know—wonderful!”
 It’s the same with the unborn; you can’t define it, you can’t grasp it, but it is to be realized. We long for this. The birth of the Buddha is about the proclamation of the unborn. If it’s unborn, it means it can’t die, because it never was created. When the temporal body of a great teacher dies, there is still this eternal life that continues aeon after aeon, or kalpa after kalpa, beyond space and time. Realized or not, this is the case because there is no beginning and no end. It is the same when ordinary people die; there is the same eternal life because eternal life is the no-mind, or unborn, this infinite spaciousness and great peace that we cannot define because it is not limited by any conditions. Some of you may have experienced this by being with those who have died. It is neither here nor there, big nor small, female nor male, neither living nor dead. It’s beyond words. That’s what it means to be a wordless proclamation. We can’t say anything about it. But that’s also why it’s great. (Great means “no beginning, no end.”) We should know that we are inherently endowed with this greatness. This is what the proclamation of the birth of Buddha is all about. Real practice is the realization of this. That’s our celebration.

Roshi, Jakusho Kwong (2007-12-18). No Beginning, No End: The Intimate Heart of Zen (p. 230). Random House, Inc.. Kindle Edition. 

Was the birth of Jesus about the proclamation of the unborn?

Story of the Word John 1

In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God. 2The Word was with God in the beginning. 3Everything came into being through the Word, and without the Word nothing came into being. What came into being 4through the Word was life,a and the life was the light for all people. 5The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness doesn't extinguish the light.

6A man named John was sent from God. 7He came as a witness to testify concerning the light, so that through him everyone would believe in the light. 8He himself wasn't the light, but his mission was to testify concerning the light. 9The true light that shines on all people was coming into the world. 10The light was in the world, and the world came into being through the light, but the world didn't recognize the light. 11The light came to his own people, and his own people didn't welcome him. 12But those who did welcome him, those who believed in his name, he authorized to become God's children,
 13born not from blood from human desire or passion, but born from God. 14The Word became flesh and made his home among us.

Common English Bible (2011-06-15). CEB Common English Bible (Kindle Locations 49991-50002). Abingdon Press. Kindle Edition.  Locations 49979-49990). Abingdon Press. Kindle Edition.

Seems this past year I have spent a lot of time trying to integrate much of Buddhist thought with Christian theology.

Reading this past week from No Beginning, No End: The Intimate Heart of Zen, I came across this "wordless proclamation". Then I started thinking about this word becoming flesh thing. Then I started thinking about realizing and actualizing. Then I started thinking about the "I am the way, the truth and the life", then I started thinking about mind and body and embodiment.

None of this probably makes any sense to anyone but me right now but I had to write it out.