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Showing posts from February, 2012

Buddha Nature II

Look to the right. Hell yeah! Now that's the Buddha Nature I've been looking for. Blue sparkles-check. Golden majesty exploding from heart-check. Super novas-quadruple check!
However, I've never seen anything as cosmic as this in my entire experience. Would I listen if someone told me they did? If I did see this, would I file it into enlightenment or delusion?
Oh, of course I'd file it. And that's what it would be: a neat folder full of boundless glory, stashed away for me to peak at. I'd label it too, "Sweet Buddha Nature Experience, 2090, 5:25 am, end of Rohatsu"
Don't ruin my file. Don't even touch it.
Class with Jiryu continues. What a seal breaker it's been! Many of us in the class have been practicing for years (9 years for me...) and this might be the first time in our Soto Zen experience someone has asked WHAT is Buddha Nature. I know it's my first time. What does a person say when you have to say something? With no place for a p…

Buddha Nature!

I'm taking a class on Buddha Nature with Jiryu, a long time resident and priest at Green Gulch.
Last night was the introduction, we all said our names and what we thought Buddha nature was. Scary!
I said, My name is Austin, and I think Buddha nature is open hearted, radical acceptance, which I regretted saying all night. Then I thought, I SHOULD have said, "Cultivating way seeking mind, letting go of way seeking mind." (Then they'd love me...reallllllllllly love me.)
My wonderful wife, Lulu, said "It's like a star, you can squint your eyes and try and see it, but never really know what it looks like, while all the time, it's right there."
What does everyone else think Buddha nature is?

Robes! Helpful or No?

Rm. 6, Cloud Hall. Photo by Lulu
I'm in the above photo, talking to my wife about robes, saying something like, yeah, I wanted these lay robes so bad, and guess what? They're a nightmare! I've got at least 6 layers: T-shirt, Juban, Kimono, Obi, Robe, Rakusu. And sometimes it's so cold in the Zendo, I add a layer of long johns.
The robes you see are at least 10 years old, and I think they belonged to Rev. Tokushi's, who handed them down to me about a year after she ordained. Or they could be Rev. Koji's; Lulu and I were handed both and I chose the lighter ones because I tend to run hot while Lulu runs cold. During my previous temple residency, back in 08, I wore a wonderful lay robe that looks more like an akido outfit, but it was very, very sturdy and didn't require a kimono, juban, and obi understory. I still have it. I wear it to evening meditation.
However, the very complicated robes I wear now are the norm for those who wear robes. I wear robes because: …

Warm and Safe in Green Dragon Temple

Lulu and I are settling in to our quarters, room 6, Cloud Hall. We're following the schedule, full swing, and the practice period students have just finished sitting tangaryo. I'm on the guest program crew and Lulu has started with the garden; I'll join the farm crew in April.
Zen teachers everywhere. Some give big huge deep hugs, others keep it humorous as we sit in the dining hall together- some have that stern practice period gaze. My own zen teacher is far away at his own temple, and I miss him. When I think of Kosho, I think of his directions: "Soften, let go, radically accept, open you're heart to who you really are." Difficult practice!
I also think of my first teacher, which I really struggled with, but that story is changing. Robert was kyosaku wielding, strong handed, famous for saying, "Don't bother me with that bull shit" when I asked him how his day was going, but I still have his directions, too: "Head presses the sky, knees pr…


What in the world was I doing with so many keys? I actually have no direct answer- I could only guess what those keys were for-and they all went in the trash.
I came to New Orleans in 2007, right after a 5 month winter in Alaska as a dog handler for an Iditarod musher. I went there to hermit out for a while, sitting a lot "zazen" and reading a lot of existential philosophy. I'm not sure what I was doing, but it was a visceral experience, bright with color, smarting with pain.
I thought I'd stay in New Orleans for a year. I leave tomorrow, 5 years later, with a wife, and with a new path.
Funny I'm off to live in a Zen center (again). When I first started sitting, about 9 years ago, I wanted nothing to do with robes, chants, anything "hokey-pokey." Now I want to do the hokey-pokey all the time!
Why? I think it worked. The bowing, the chanting, the posture all pointed at what I wasn't. It was like playing that electrified game, Operation. "I don&#…