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Showing posts from January, 2014

Salt, Fat, Sugar, and Sex (with myself)

Sesshin is over! Don't ask how it went. We hate that question. But read my sesshin poem:

Branches bloom white plum blossoms Five pins hold these fragile robes Die! Die! Die! Die! Die! 
It's not like I wanted to write a poem like that. If there's a way to fail sesshin, I did. 
But it's more complicated than that, because it was also beautiful. Always beautiful to sit side by side, day after day. Counting the breaths is following the breaths is just sitting is the perfection of wisdom, that's the heart we go in with. Chanting in harmony while coyotes scream and laugh in the hills, and somewhere even closer a small animal dies loudly; what is it, what is it, what is it?
What is it, this craving? What is it, this discipline that won't allow me to steal a cookie? What is it, this ability to crash and steal peanut butter, to masturbate instead of watching the mind?
I've tried to watch the mind while practicing self gratification. I'm not sure that's possi…

Filling the Well With Snow

You've heard of some practitioners who take the Buddha's phrase "Be a light unto yourself" and run 10,000 miles to books and various states of mind, rejecting forms, rejecting teachers. I've also heard that phrase of the Buddha translated as "strive diligently." I'm going to run with that.


I've been training with my teacher Ejun Linda Ruth for about 2 years now. I think we've been training closely- I've served as her Anja for the last year. That means I make her tea every morning and I clean her bowls. I'll be leaving that job in February and I'll become her Jisha. That means I'll meet her every morning outside her house and follow her with incense as she "opens" the temple by offering at all of our alters. And I feel blessed to have been Anja- so many quiet conversations over cold mornings, so many laughs, and stretches of somber silence as we waited for Abbot Steve to pass. She'd come in sometimes and say, &q…

Zen and the Art of Not Snitching

I'm so sick of karmic consciousness squirting projecting phenomena like silk out of a worm's ass! Quickly, a cocoon encases reality with imagination and I'm left grasping at my reflection in the mirror like a kitten, milk warm on its breath.

I can understand why the ancestors turned their fingers into candles and let them burn as offerings to the Thus Come Ones. I can understand why they burned 3,6, and 9 circles into their scalps. What good is truth if it burns the mouth so quickly and thoroughly we're not sure we tasted it?

Triggered. My partner and I now live on a hill above the temple in a rustic, bare bones cabin. You have to shit in a hole, but the sunlight that pours through the pine and redwood trees is surreal. However, it's considered fertile temple grounds. And I saw someone rolling a joint there as I peed in the woods. Rage came up, I changed out of my robes, and into my running gear and climbed to our 1,000 foot ridge that over looks our valley of dhar…

How? YES!

If the question is how, the answer is yes.

At Green Gulch, we are in a cloistered retreat which will end with sesshin. Tenshin Roshi leads it every year.This year we talk about Zazen, M.O.N.A, and consciousness.

The premises are:

Zazen is Self-Recieving and Employing Samadhi
M.O.N.A is Chao-chou's Mind Of No Abode.
Consciousness is the dark forest which surrounds the clearing and that clearing is you.
People are tired, people are sick, again. We have about 70 people in the Zendo, sitting and chanting, coughing and crying, elbow to elbow, raising their Buddha bowls for rice. Some are salty old monks with rusted okesas and some are beginners in sweat pants. Some are priests, and some are black robe, blue rakusu home leavers. We all wake up, go to the zendo, and work with our imaginative projections from our inevitable internal perspective. 4 days on, 1 day off. 1 day off means just two periods of Zazen. Would you believe we miss the Zendo anyway?
And if the question is how, the an…

Buddhist Practice We Don't Want: Zazen With Our Dead

There's practice that I want and practice that I don't want. The robes, the bows, the chanting, the ringing of bells-some say I'm an enthusiastic example, that maybe I even stink of zen. But with the passing of our Abbot Myogen Steve Stucky, I was offered a practice I really didn't want; keeping a vigil with a dead body.

Why? Who knows, but we could say it was just plain aversion. The first time I was offered this practice, my teacher Ejun Roshi asked the assembly if we wanted to go and sit with Steve, we should go with robes and car pool. She was also looking for volunteers to sit with the body all night.

There were second and third and fourth offerings to go and do this practice that I knew nothing about. As per usual for Zen, the directions were: Black Robe, Zazen. No context was offered, really. I checked Reb's book Being Upright for his story of sitting with the corpse he found in the park with a bullet wound in its head. I did some google searches and found a…