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Back. Again.

Now it’s been almost 3 years and things have changed quite a lot. I am finally (finally!) in Dallas and near my old home base zendo, Maria Kannon Zen Center. I have visited with Ruben Habito, my first Zen teacher, and been assigned the koan “Mu”. My practice is shaky but I think it is off to a reliable start.

I am going to shift the focus a bit on this blog. I decided a few months ago to start searching for a Zen monastery to, hopefully, spend my remaining days practicing and living the dharma. I am collecting information on residential Zen centers in the US (and occasionally another country) and slowly making a list of those places where I might fit in and those that definitely won’t work. I plan on making my decision over about a year’s time. I made the mistake of moving into a place that was not compatible with my nature. I know we are supposed to adapt to our environment and not the other way around, but that only works up to a certain point. Beyond that, it becomes a heroic struggle that I cannot commit to.

So, this blog, long, unused will become a tool for me to make that decision. This blog will also become a place where I can work out my day to day problems in the world. Something so self-centered may be considered an oxymoron used within the context of traditional Buddhism. But no matter how difficult it is, I must do it (to put a twist on the vows).

So there it is and we will see how many years it is before I post again.

The way you say it

Pema Chodron consistently delivers dharma in a manner that I “get”. So I couldn’t resist posting this snippet from “shaky kind of place” means to me that you do not judge yourself for “right” or “wrong” intentions when you catch them before you act. This is also posted on the Daily Dharma page.

Compassionate action starts with seeing yourself when you start to make yourself right and when you start to make yourself wrong. At that point you could just contemplate the fact that there is a larger alternative to either of those, a more tender, shaky kind of place where you could live.

Pema Chodron

be back soon

I am starting the process of moving into Dallas proper from Grand Prairie, Texas. I hate moving, but when it’s over I will be in my own place (trailer) and very close to theMaria Kannon Zen Center where I will be practicing on a daily basis (that’s my intention anyway).

Moving tends to consume all my mental energy so there may be few or no posts until I get settled in at my new place. I’ll check in for comments from time to time.

Be well


Attention Means Attention

Simple Attention

The secret of beginning a life of deep awareness and sensitivity lies in our willingness to pay attention. Our growth as conscious, awake human beings is marked not so much by grand gestures and visible renunciations as by extending loving attention to the minutest particulars of our lives. Every relationship, every thought, every gesture is blessed with meaning through the wholehearted attention we bring to it.

In the complexities of our minds and lives we easily forget the power of attention, yet without attention we live only on the surface of existence. It is just simple attention that allows us truly to listen to the song of a bird, to see deeply the glory of an autumn leaf, to touch the heart of another and be touched. We need to be fully present in order to love a single thing wholeheartedly. We need to be fully awake in this moment if we are to receive and respond to the learning inherent in it.

–Christina Feldman and Jack Kornfield, in Stories of the Spirit, Stories of the Heart
from Everyday Mind, edited by Jean Smith, a Tricycle book

When I read this I thought that Christina and Jack must have never worked in a deli, fast food joint, or any fast paced, pressurized, environment with customers waiting to get pissed off if their sammich isn’t ready in 3 and a half minutes. Read more…

Where have I been?

I’ve been lost in thought
Working things out
Making big plans
Considering my future
Weighing my choices
Using my head
Trying my best to solve my problems with my mind
When my mind itself is the problem.

Doing Zazen

There are instructions for Zazen under theZazen under the meditation tab. Try doing it for 5 minutes using your cell or whatever as a timer. zazen smallerIncrease slowly. Soon you will be doing 30 or 40 minutes in a stretch, but don’t try to marathon til you bild up your Zazen muscles. You will become, at the very least, a much calmer person capable of great concentration. Your communication with friends and partners will improve and much more. There are no promises with Zen and you should sit with no expectations (no gaining idea). But to deny the fruits of Zazen is not very motivating, huh? Let me know what it is like for you.

Dharma everywhere

From “Nowadays” in the musical Chigago.

You can like the life you’re living
You can live the life you like
You can even marry Harry
But mess around with Ike

And that’s good, isn’t it grand, isn’t it great
Isn’t it swell, isn’t it fun, isn’t it… but nothing stays

Copper or Gold, Which do you prefer?

From Tricycle’s Daily Dhama mailing

I’m trying to avoid little snippets and quotes like this, preferring spontaneious personal insights or experiences. This one struck me however because, for a very long time, I chose to hold onto my bit of copper rather than seek the gold. Perhaps you will see something of yourself in it.

Return to the Origiin

In a dream you may stray and lose your way home. You ask someone to show you how to return or copper crystalsyou pray to God or Buddhas to help you, but still you can’t get home. Once you rouse yourself from your dream-state, however, you find that you are in your own bed and realize that the only way you could have gotten home was to awaken yourself. This [kind of spiritual awakening] is called “return to the origin” or “rebirth in paradise.” It is the kind of inner realization that can be achieved with some training. . . . You would be making a serious error, however, were you to assume that this was true enlightenment in which there is no doubt about the nature of reality. You would be like a man who having found copper gives up the desire for gold.

– Bassui Tokusho Zenji, “Dharma Talk on One Mind,” in Daily Sutras
from Everyday Mind, edited by Jean Smith, a Tricycle book

vine teacher

The mandevilla vine that is growing for me is about 10 or 11 feet long now, I’ve been watcing it for almost 2 years now. I forgive it being pink flowered because it makes so many of them and it grows as fast as grass.


As I add supports for it I watch what the long searching tendrils do in reaction. They seem suspicious of new things, as if they wonder if they will hold them safely or provide a tall enough height for them. They will touch the support, whatever it is and then will shrink back as if to consider if it’s a good place to start wrapping around. Often it rejects the branch or pole unless it has absolutely no other choice.

A month ago or so, it reached the top of the first pole but kept on growing. It did the smartest thing then. There were 5 or 6 tendrils and the wrapped and spiraled up forming a rope so they could grow straight up almost like a new tree. I thought they might be searching for a new branch or rail or whatever. Eventually it became so heavy it slowly curved down and did another smart thing. It un-twined itself and the different delicate vines spread out in all directions looking for something else to hook onto.

I have tried to train it just a little, really I just want to show it that I’ve put new suports up for it. I will hook the vine around the new stick or pole and wrap it gently. It stays there for a while and then rejects it and goes looking for its own place. Most of the time it comes back and acts as if it has found the new place all on its own, just like a cat.

Of coursre all of this is my imagination about how the vine behaves. How could I know. I don’t like to tink in terms of evolution or instinct, though I am not rejecting them at all. It is just that I can not get the teaching thinking that way.

The teaching is this. The vine thrives and grows all on its own. It doesn’t think “hmmm, maybe if I go left today I’ll find a new branch to grow on”. I don’t think it is even considered a sentient being in Buddhist terms. It is BIG MIND in action. “Spring comes and the grass grows all by itself”. You don’t have to push or pull it. It knows just what to do without thinking and so do I.


Dreamed about you last night

I dreamed about you last night.We’d found an apartment in the city with a nice view of the other buildings blocked only by the dentist’s office out the window. Everyone came over to see us love each other.They were a pain in the ass but we needed an audience. For the first time I cried after waking up from a dream. I’m still crying and my chest hurts thinking about how much I miss you. I can tell myself it’s only my ego but that doesn’t bring you here for me to smell. I can tell myself that no matter where you are, you are right here.Because that’s what zen says and I had that experience. But I don’t see you and I can’t touch you. It’s a damned good illusion making me cry.

So Zen has to include this too. The pain of memory. When I cried, I was nowhere else but here. For whatever reason that made me cry. Even if the memory made me cry, I was having the memory right now and I wasn’t even awake to get lost in my thoughts. Dreams don’t count in Zen I have read. It’s all a dream supposedly. But it’s all real too. It has to be both at once.

I’m grateful for the chance to love you. I hope that I can feel that love for all beings everywhere. That quality of untainted , pure love that I am not afraid for anyone to see.