Soaked and Soiled

Shitodo ni nurete is the expression used in the above poem to convey the image of being completely soaked. This mortal life is a messy one, it is soiled and wet with fluids of the body, the emotions, and the environment. We often expect awakening to be about the clean and dry part, the holy and sacred part. But awakening is not about some idea of purity, some idea of clean. “Don’t love the sacred,” said Linji, “’Sacred’ itself is an empty name.”

Following the Red Thread: Hosho Peter Coyote on his poetry, life and teaching

The red thread in the above koan is an expression of the passion, sorrow and vulnerability of our human existence. And how do we awaken in the midst of this mortal life? Not by avoiding the vivre of who and what we are, but instead, by plunging deeper into the crazy tumble of human-ness. Intimacy is a word we sometimes use to describe that experience.

The Buddha Trip: We Don’t Know How Long It Takes

To solve our human problem doesn’t cover all of Buddhist practice, and we don’t know how long it takes for us to make the buddha trip. We have many trips: work trips, space trips, the various trips we must have. The buddha trip is a very long trip. This is Buddhism. Thank you very much.

Crooked Cucumber: Shunryu Suzuki’s Legacy a Half Century Later

So even though you may sit watching something like a sunflower [laughs]– there is still someone looking in front of sunflower. Watching a sunflower in the hot sun, I tried it. It was wonderful, you know. I felt the whole universe in the sunflower. That was my experience, but I don’t know how someone else may have experienced sunflower meditation. [laughs]
The whole universe is there in–in the sunflower. It is not so simple [laughs]; it is a very wonderful, wonderful and complicated feeling. You can see the whole universe in a small flower…
~ Shunryu Suzuki Roshi, excerpt from Tassajara Mountain Zen Center talk “Obon Days”, given August 12, 1971 (four months before his death)

Let Be Be the Finale of Seem

It is so easy for us to fall into a train of delay and re-schedule in our lives: waiting for all the ducks to line up. I was planning to replace my leaky roof, but then the stock market crashed. The market recovered, but the architect was taking too long. He finally finished the plans and then the pandemic took hold, causing supply chain delays. The delays exposed the open roof to rain, which was six times the average for that month. The roof leaked, doing some damage to the ceiling. We patched the ceiling, but then the drought returned, and with it the threat of wildland fire. Endless are the conditions conspiring against our roof repairs. Endless are the conditions conspiring against making ours a perfect life.

Very Near to Zen

Before the pandemic, we would come together in a remote location and form a cloister away from our daily lives. With our Covid-era virtual retreats, however, the borders of the cloister have been re-drawn and now wrap around and include our everyday lives. In our screen community, we see cats and couches, pajamas and coffee cups. For some reason, in this past retreat, one landscape feature that caught my eye was the number of children running through the community: toddlers being held, kids getting ready for school, and grandkids peeking into office doors to see what grandma was up to. It was a wonderful reminder of when my own children were small.

It Speaks in Silence

It speaks in silence;
in speech you hear its silence.
The great way opens and there are no obstacles.
If someone asks, What is your school
and how do you understand it?
I reply, The power of great wisdom.
~ The Song of Enlightenment, Yongjia Xuanjue

Return to Hunger Mountain

David Hinton writes: “Through translation I’ve come to realize that I stumbled upon a way to think outside the limitations not just of the mainstream Western intellectual tradition, but also of my own identity; a way to speak in the voice of ancient China’s sage-masters and for them to speak in mine.”

Won’t You Turn Toward Me?

That we feel lonely and separate from the world is perhaps the very basis for Buddhist practice. Shakyamuni’s first teaching was that the pain of human existence arises from our belief there is a gap between us and all other things; a gap of our creation. Practice is learning that that gap never existed.

Alone in the Moonlight

Abandonment and alone-ness. There is a beautiful backstory to the above haiku. In pre-modern Japan, as in many poor agricultural and hunter-gatherer cultures, societies practiced senicide. In Japanese, it was called “ubasute” 姥捨, abandoning to die an old woman who can no longer work.