Sunday, December 30, 2007



I hope you have enjoyed the blog this year and wish to thank those who contributed to it.





Please remember that I welcome your participation with texts, photos and advice. Just email me your suggestions or leave a little comment on the blog. You should know nevertheless that it is not always possible to include contributions covered by copyrights without the necessary permission.

I take this opportunity to send you my best wishes for a very happy and peaceful New Year, a year filled with strong determination, patience and good humor in your practice.

I look forward to receive your support in 2008.

Deep gassho,

Koka

Monday, December 24, 2007



Christmas


The gift of being pregnant with the unknown

and give birth to the ever unfolding revelation.


A call to nurture in secret what has been revealed.


A sharper readiness to leave things happen.



Trust the dark night

and the Mystery.


Koka






Tuesday, December 18, 2007

About dokusan - 'work in the room'


"Zen meetings have the simplest of forms: two people sitting on the floor, face inches from face, in a candlelit room. And yet that small room is a large field, containing the stars and the earthworms and poems and cities. In the vastness, the Chinese teacher Linji said, the true person has no rank; everyone and everything is perfectly equal, and completely themselves. Here we don't even have stories about what meetings are for. The world of how you think it ought to be and whether you're making a good impression is a ghost world; work in the room is sitting together in the real, where anything might be possible. Authority lies in the timeless moment itself: What is most real, most true, right here and right now?

"The teacher invites the meditator into this field, and the meditator's response is where the encounter begins. Every meetings is different--laughter, tears, sitting together in silence, banging about the room, songs sung and koans explored. Most often there is the deepest kind of conversation. I notice in myself that the feeling which arises naturally from this field is love."

Joan Sutherland, Roshi.

This is an excerpt from an essay on 'Dokusan' published in the 2004 winter edition of the Buddhadharma magazine. To read the whole essay in The Open Source's website, click here.


Joan Sutherland, Roshi, is the founder of The Open Source which is a collaborative network of NewZen communities and practitioners in the western United States.

The short summary below explains the focus of their practice and can be found on her website:

"Our practice has the power to reveal a Zen that is not bound to another time and a different place, a Zen that is native to us; we begin to recognize the ineffable in the images and metaphors of this time and place, arising out of our landscapes, our ancestral spirits, our poetries, our psyches, and our songs."




Saturday, December 8, 2007



A great silence covered the blog this last month.

It just happened to be like that because I was traveling.
In rural India there was no easy access to computers, books, etc... I rested with the book of nature, and through warm smiles and friendly faces heard another kind of Dharma talk.

I wish I could share it all with you.




We all know it... there is no need to go to India for this... it is all here.

But in our busy lives do we really take the time to listen, and look?

Let's be honest.

To receive, our cup must be empty.

To hear and see, 'silence' must be practised, ... again and again, ...again and again...



"One needs two years to learn to speak, but a whole life to learn to be quiet...."

A Chinese proverb


I wish you all a renewed enthusiasm for zazen.

Koka



Sunday, September 23, 2007

Mumon's Poem On His Enlightenment



Blue sky, broad daylight, and a peal of thunder,

The earth and creatures'eyes are opened,

The entire universe is making profound bows,

Mount Sumeru dances to the ancient music.







Naked Awareness



The body is not separate from the mind. The mind is an activity of the body.

The world does not stand out there at a distance from your mind. Your mind arises within the world, within your physical space. And the experience of what we call the world and physical space arises within your mind.

The colors and forms of trees and buildings and faces are as intimate with who you are as is your most private thought. They are more authentically and completely aspects of you who are than your flickering thoughts or even your deepest longing or most looming fear.

Who you are presences as everything and everyone and every thing and every one has the shape of space and is sunya, space-like, in its ungraspability as a thing or object.

When we say "I" or "you" or "fist" or "tree" it can seem as if we are referring to something. But there is nothing there. Although there is nothing there, this "nothing" or "sunya" is not a blank and dead space we might think of when we hear the word "nothing". What is spoken of is the intimacy of hearing, the presencing of sounds, of colors, of the ten directions. It is space with stars and trees and rice grains and warmth and cold.

When we meet ourselves as we truly are and meet the world as it actually is then the absence of our projections and assumptions and frameworks stands forth in the standing forth of a cup.

The nothing of sunya is the absence of dualism between knower and known self and forms, sounds, stones, cloth, grass, and flowers.





We arrive at sunya by exposing ourselves to reality, by attending openly with the whole bodymind and by releasing any structure of attention that is revealed into the expanse of knowing that it arises within.

Ven. Anzan Hoshin Roshi, continuing teisho 2: "Naked Awaresess" in the teisho series "Five fingers, Ten directions: Commentaries on Eihei Dogen Zenji's text 'Jippo'", presented Saturday, April 14, 2001.

The White Wind Zen Community has a very rich website with plenty of excellent Dharma publications on offer -books, translations, CD, teishos, Dharma texts and talks online, calligraphies, photographs...
To be connected to their site through "Entering the gates of Practice", click here.

I warmly suggest that you take the time to admire the beautiful photographs taken by the Sangha members and listen at leisure to their Dharma talks 'through your eyes'. To be connected to their photo galleries, click here.




Thursday, September 20, 2007



The true goods of the spiritual life are those which are not diminished by being shared but which, on the contrary, are possessed all the more perfectly when they are shared with others.



The monk who feels himself to be most destitute in virtue and in grace can be rich in both if he has the humility and charity to share the virtues of his brothers by rejoicing in them as if they were his own.



These two excerpts are taken from Thomas Merton's book The Silent Life, page 39, in the chapter 'Monastic Peace -The Highest Tabernacle'.

The book is edited by Sheldon Press in London. To find interesting customers' reviews about it , go to Amazon.com.



The prologue of the book 'What is a monk' and the first chapter 'Monastic Peace' is worthwhile reading for those preparing to become monks - indeed it is worthwhile reading for all of us!




Friday, September 14, 2007

One temple, so many temples







Dogen wrote:




..... Buddha said to Ananda, "Make Nanda an officer."

Ananda conveyed the Buddha's word to Nanda. Nanda said, "What is an officer?"

Ananda said, "That's a position of responsibility in a temple."

Nanda said, "What kind of work is it?"

Ananda said, "After the monks go out to do their begging, you sweep the garden, sprinkle the water on the grounds, collect firewood, remove cow dung, clean up, see that nothing is stolen, and close the gates and doors for the sangha. In the evening you open up the gates and clean the toilets."


This is an excerpt from "Enlightenment Unfolds -The Essential Teachings of Zen Master Dogen" * edited by Kazuaki Tanahashi and published by Shambhala Publications Inc. It is part of the chapter "Guidelines for Officers of the Eihei Monastery" on page 211.


Although this short excerpt may seem out of context presented as it is, those words really spoke to me, it is why I chose to share them with you. (I would still recommand reading the whole text which is offering much more.)

As I have been away from the zendo for some times now, I first saw my home as the temple, but realized that family and circle of friends, body and mind, my whole life and altogether the whole world, could become the temple to care for in this simple and non 'attention seeking' way.

Having let these lines sink in my heart after reading them again and again, they now often rise up at unexpected times to remind me that some 'watering' may be needed, or maintenance of the fire, that cleaning and clearing up is an ever ending job in every situation, or just that 'closing the gates' or opening them when it is appropriate is an essential practice in one's life.

A reminder also that there is no "Being" without a function, as vice versa...



* Excerpt from the back cover :

"Enlightenment Unfolds contains works written by Dogen throuhout his life, presented in chronological order, beginning with the journal from his study in China; providing a substantial selection from his masterword, Treasure of the True Dharma Eye; and concluding with his spare but eloquent death poem"

"A number of the selections appear here in English for the first time."

"Tanahashi has brought together his own translations of Dogen with those of some of the most respected Zen teachers and writers of our own day, including Reb Anderson, Edward Espe Brown, Norman Fisher, Gil Fronsdal, Blanche Hartman, Jane Hirshfield, Taigen Daniel Leighton, Alan Senauke, Katherine Thanas, Mel Weitsman, and Michael Wenger."


Hoping that this information will give you a taste for the book.
If you want to know more about it, click here to be connected with amazon.com. and also read the customers reviews.

Monday, September 10, 2007





This is a reproduction of something I read in a French book.


As a shaykh was on a visit to
Shaykh Al Alawi de Mostaganem,
he told him that he had taken one of
his students.

To which Shaykh Al Alawi replied:

- "If you bring him closer to God,
you are bringing him to me,
if on the other you take him away from God, then it is true that you are taking him from me."

Read in "Eclairs d'Eternite", La Table Ronde, coll. "Les Chemins de la Sagesse", Paris, p.136

If you want to know more about Shaykh Al Alawi and his teaching, click here to be connected with Wikipedia.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

The Dharma does not need a defender





"Zen is trans-confessional by nature. Therefore, there is no teaching about Zen -also no Buddhist teaching. It is a transmission outside of the sciptures. Master Yuansou correctly maintained:

'There is no teaching for you to chew on or upon which you can squat. If you do not believe in yourself, take your bundle and make the rounds to other people's houses in the search for Zen and the Tao. You are looking for mysteries, for wonders, for Buddhas, for Zen masters and teachers. You believe that is the search for the highest truth and you make that to your religion, but that is like running eastwards in order to find something that lies in the West.'

....

Zen is indeed strongly associated with the Buddhist religion, but it trancends this and every religion. Every truly esoteric path, be it Raja-Yoga, Patanjali, Vipassana, Sufism or Comtemplation, leads above and out the confession. It deals with that "Sophia perennis", the eternal wisdom, which is lived today by only a minority, which however will be recognized some day as the true goal of every religion. The people in the future will be "awakened". Religions will have then transformed themselves into paths leading to an experience of the one reality. Zen can play an important part in this change because of its trans-confessional nature. Thus, there are also neither Christian Zen masters or Buddhist Zen masters. If Zen can not be attributed to any religion, then there is no Christian Zen and no Buddhist Zen, but rather only Zen.


Only the "bare" Zen has a chance in the West. As a religion in the West, Buddhism can scarely be expected to grow in influence; Zen will in all probability. But Zen will have to enculturate itself. Much of the monastical form which has developed in the Zen monasteries in the East will fall off. It will develop to a "Layperson's Zen". Up until now, too much of the smell of "convert" has been attached itself to Zen. Rituals, clothing, acoustical instruments which were introduced into the monasteries during the course of history all play an important roll and often conceal the essentials. Buddhist monastical raiments (genuine or imitated), the style of a Sesshin, sticks of incense, (even as far as the shaving of heads) are held to be very important in many groups. The affinity towards external forms is a sickness common among beginners. "Bare Zen", however, is an immutable stream which will change its external structure in the West, just as it changed as it encountered Taoism in China. It will not be possible to falsify its essence. A Zen truism says: "The Dharma does not need a defender."


Excerped from one of Willigis Jaeger's sermons and lectures, entitled "Zen in the West". If you want to read more about his point of view, click here.

Willigis Jaeger is a German Benedictine monk and a Roshi. He lived many years in Japan practicing with Harada Roshi.

He wrote several books, among them "Search for the Meaning of Life -Essays and Reflections on the Mystical Experience". To know more about him and be connected with his website, click here.






Wednesday, August 29, 2007


"By oneself alone is evil done,

By oneself is one defiled.

By oneself is evil avoided,

By oneself alone is one purified.

Purity and impurity depend on oneself,

No one can purify another."


The Buddha




Friday, July 27, 2007

Self-reliance



The following excerpt, taken from Roshi Kennedy's book "Zen gifts to Christians", clearly illustrates that our practice matures when we grow "stronger in [our] determination to live [our] own true nature to the fullest extent possible".






"The 49th koan of The Book of Serenity expands the meaning of self-reliance. This koan teaches us that we should be self-reliant and never be satisfied only to follow the instructions of our teachers. We must grow beyond them. In this koan the author has Master Dongshan presenting a memorial offering before the image of his late teacher. Observing Dongshan do this, a monk asks him for which of his teacher's instructions does he revere him. The Master answers that although he was with him, he never received any instruction from his teacher. As a retort the monk asks, "Then why conduct a service for him?" Dongshan's reply to his monk should never be forgotten by either Zen teachers or students. He says, "I do not esteem my late teacher's virtues or his Buddhist teaching; I only value the fact that he didn't explain everything for me." Still not grasping the point of the extraordinary teaching he is receiving, the monk asks again, "You suceeded your late teacher; then do you agree with him or not?" Dongshan replies, "I half agree, half don't agree." The monk continues, "Why don't you completely agree?" Dongshan gives the monk another remarkable answer, "If I completely agreed, then I would be unfaithful to my late teacher's instructions." *

What Dongshan is telling the monk is that to be a student does not mean to become an imitator of one's teacher and that teachers must never clone themselves to their students; that is, different sprouts of the same tree (lineage) should not be identical; they should be luxuriant enough to make their spiritual roots dense and firm. The koan especially teaches that "Father and son change and get through" and underlines this wisdom with, "When one's view goes beyond the teacher, then one can handle the transmission." To "go beyond the teacher" does not necessarily mean to be better that the teacher. Such a comparison is not the point of the koan. Rather to "go beyond" in this koan means to stand on one's own feet, to be totally self-reliant so that while grasping one's master's teaching one still owns the personal expression of it. The koan's message is that no Zen teacher should ever demand that a student rigidly conform to the teacher's instruction and no student should ever simply conform to the teacher's directives. That is, adult men and women should never behave in a childish way toward their teachers. Teachers and students should mutually respect one another, be independent, and allow one another's spiritual roots to grow "dense and firm".

And in Roshi's words again, "If we can say anything about "god's will" for us surely it is that we grow to be serene and confident men and women taking our place at our parents' table."



Below you will find an excerpt of the introduction of "Zen Gifts to Christians" which explains how and why Roshi Kennedy chose to structure his book as he did.

" To enable my readers to comprehend fully the gifts Zen Buddhism has to offer Christians, I have structured this book to follow the process of human development that one undergoes in the practice of Zen Buddhism. This process is depicted in the ox-herding pictures, which date from the twelfth century in China when Master Kakuan drew pictures of ten bulls basing them on earlier Taoist bulls and wrote explanatory comments about each picture in verse. Since then many variations of these pictures have been painted and many verse interpretations have been written. No matter the illustration the ox in the pictures stands for our true nature; the ox herder represents those in search of the truth about their deepest self, and the ten pictures represent the successive steps one must take to realize one's true nature. Both the the pictures and the poetry are designed to inspire those who desire to practice the gifts, to become insightful, and to enlist in the compassionate service of others."



The excerpt on Self Reliance appears on page 36 and the excerpt from the introduction on page 5.

With thanks to Roshi Kennedy.

'Zen Gifts to Christians' is published by The Continuum International Publishing Group Inc. You can read an insightful review of the book written by Peter Fennessy on Amazon.com. The review is entitled 'And not Just For Christians'.

Thursday, July 26, 2007



"Swallowing insults and still smiling is a charateristic expressed by the laughing Buddha with the enormous belly.


This tells us the necessity of going beyond praise and blame."



Swami Shivananda Radha,


Kundalini Yoga, New Delhi;

Motilal Banarsidass Publishers, 1992, p. 96



Sunday, June 24, 2007

Failing to make progress?



"When students today fail to make progress, where's the fault? The fault lies in the fact that they don't have faith in themselves!

If you don't have faith in yourself, then you'll be forever in a hurry trying to keep with everything around you, you'll be twisted and turned by whatever environment you're in and you can never move freely. But if you can just stop this mind that goes rushing around moment by moment looking for something, then you'll be no different from the patriarchs and buddhas.




Do you want to know the patriarchs and buddhas? They are none other than you, the people standing in front of me listening to this lecture on the Dharma!

Students don't have enough faith in themselves, and so they rush around looking for something outside themselves. But even if they get something, all it will be is words and phrases, pretty appearances. They'll never get at the living thought of the patriarchs!"

Master Lin-Chi

This passage is taken from "The Zen Teaching of Master Lin-Chi" translated by Burton Watson.

If you wish to know more about this book, you can click here to connect with Amazon.com.



Lin-Chi's lectures were a mixture of the conventional and the iconoclastic. He is particularly famous for encouraging his students to free themselves from the influence of masters and doctrinal concepts, in order to be able to better discover their own Buddha-nature. Famed examples of Lin-Chi's iconoclasm include the following:


"Followers of the way [of zen], if you want to get the kind of understanding that accords with the Dharma, never be misled by others. Whether you're facing inward or facing outward, whatever you meet up with, just kill it!


If you meet a buddha, kill the buddha. If you meet a patriarch, kill the patriarch. If you meet an arhat, kill the arhat. if you meet your parents, kill your parents. If you meet your kinfolk, kill your kinfolk.


Then for the first time you will gain emancipation, will not be entangled with things, will pass freely anywhere you wish to go."


This excerpt is taken from the free encyclopedia Wikipedia. To be connect with the page on Lin-Chi and learn more about him, ...click here.
If you wish to learn more about the Zen teaching of master Lin-Chi through 'A Buddhist Library', ...click here.



"Stop! Stop! Don't try to expound the Dharma."


Vimalakirti Sutra




Thursday, June 7, 2007



"Give me freedom to fly without a shadow,

Give me freedom to sing without an echo,

and to love without leaving traces."



Monday, June 4, 2007

Bodhisattva's Vow



I am only a simple disciple, but I offer these respectful words:


When I regard the true nature of the many dharmas, I find them all to be sacred forms of the Tathagata's never-failing essence. Each particle of matter, each moment, is none other than the Tataghata's inexpressible radiance.

With this realization, our virtuous ancestors, with compassionate minds and hearts, gave tender care to beasts and birds.




Among us, in our daily lives, who is not reverently grateful for the protection of life: food, drink and clothing! Though they are inanimate things, they are nonetheless the warm flesh and blood, the merciful incarnations of Buddha.

All the more, we can be especially sympathetic and affectionate with foolish people, particularly with someone who becomes a sworn enemy and persecutes us with abusive language. That very abuse conveys the Buddha's boundless loving-kindness. It is a compassionate device to liberate us entirely from the mean-spirited delusions we have built up with our wrongful conduct from the beginningless past.

With our open response to such abuse we completely relinquish ourselves, and the most profound and pure faith arises. At the peak of each thought a lotus flower opens; and on each flower there is revealed a Buddha.

.



Everywhere is the Pure Land in its beauty. We see fully the Tathagata's radiant light right where we are.

May we retain this mind and extend it throughout the world so that we and all beings become mature in Buddha's wisdom.

Torei Zenji




Torei Zenji, a Rinzai Master, lived in Japan in the XVII th century.
He is remembered as a Zen historian and an eminent literary man.
His frail health and stay-at-home nature prevented him from being a man of the people or having the common touch, he was therefore never publicly acclaimed.

His Bodhisattva's Vow is part of the traditional Rinzai sutra collection and has been recited daily down the centuries by groups connected to him.

I found this information on Master Torei Zenji in A Buddhist Library, a site well worth keeping in our 'favorites' for our own research. It is a wonderful Buddhist educational resource.

They are offering more than 400 books and 6,000 articles. A real library!

Most of the material that is offered comes from the main Buddhist Traditions but you'll also find interesting material from the main world religions.
To connect with to A Buddhist Library, ...click here.



Monday, May 14, 2007

The following excerpt is from a letter sent by one of our prison Sangha members.
It is being shared, with his consent, so that you might get a taste of the results of our program and the teaching that it offers those inside and outside the walls. Truly "No Barrier":

Please, continue to support the program...

Gassho, Doshin Sensei



"....I am still in confinement all by my lonesome. I quite enjoy the solitude. It's just me and my monkey mind.


"I must admit that I always found it easier to meditate while we've been together gathered as a Sangha. Being in the company of fellow practitioners lends me the resolve and motivation to discipline myself to sit still and observe. When I am alone, I tend to substitute mindfulness more than actually doing zazen. I guess I have work to do but I also realize that there is no wrong or right way in its absolute arbitrary form to do things. Attachment has many guises.







"Right now, my main goal is to observe my vows and remain centered in mindfulness. that is as best as I can expect from myself. I still catch myself entertaining certain thoughts and projecting certain scenarios where I'm always the leading actor basking in all the glory, fame and riches of the world. And yet I observe this absurd drama unfolding within my mind's eye and I just smile! When will it ever end? That of course is a rhetorical question because I don't know the answer and am quite comfortable in my ignorance -of sorts.


"I do not know when I will ever see you again. I kind of felt like a pupil that was dismissed by his teacher when the teacher finally realized that he had nothing further to teach his student and sent him on his way lest the student get overly attached to his teacher. I realize now that my journey is mine and no one else's and sometimes the weight of that knowledge can be overwhelming. Yet I know that everything is temporary and like you always said -'no feeling is final'. I draw strength in the Buddha, the Dharma and the lineage throughout thousands of years of practice by those brave men and women who have passed on the torch in an otherwise dark and confusing world.


"The Dharma teachings are simple and beautiful and yet I cannot even begin to explain what those teachings are when some curious soul begins to question me on Buddhism and Zen. I sort of just notice everything around me in its minute detail as if the inquiry wax the cue for me to remember the present. I cannot presume to give a reasonable explanation on what Buddhism is because to this day I don't quite know what it is yet. I feel and know exactly what it is but words are an inadequate medium, it wasn't always so at the beginning of my practice...


"Anyways, I am thankful that I found Zen and the teachings of the Tathagata. The Dharma has been a guide to me. The teachings of the Enlightened One has been the torch bearer that has lead me in time of great turbulence. I am only grateful and I can only truly manifest my gratitude by perpetuating the love and good works of the Dharma. It is hard because I must face and conquer my greatest arch-enemy -myself. I can always hear the negativity that arises within myself when I try to do something positive.

.......

"The journey continues and I feel that I'm better equipped to face the travails of the world. I feel at peace with the world because I have learned to accept the unknown and mysterious with an open mind."

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Much Wisdom

You'll find posted here an exchange of correspondence that you may find both stimulating and amusing...

Recently, Koka (Evelyne) sent me an email asking: "Do you have a story with a Zen theme for our blog?"

Hoping to give myself time to review the myriad of short stories I've written (some published, some not), I replied: "What do you mean by 'Zen Theme'?"

Her reply:
"Anything that is inviting us to open or broaden our mind, has some wisdom, is down to earth, helps us to face reality, is coming from your heart, and turns us away from contemplating our own belly bottom"*
floored me with the thought that she's asking for everything including the kitchen sink. Because I'm not a Zen plumber, we discussed my not knowing what to write, and I mulled myself into the following:

Water is wet; fire is hot; the wind blows; and the earth is dense.
Undesired "weeds" flourish; whilst desired "flowers" wither and die.
The world/our life is as it is...warts and all.
That which is born will die.
Acceptance (not resignation) of the above provides liberation...a tacit understanding.





Evelyne (Koka) also suggested that she should use my story that was recently published in The Palm Beach Post because of its theme is the circle of life.
I present the gist of it as follow:

On a recent visit to Massachusetts to visit my sons and their families, I wound up on a beach at the foot of an out-cropping of house-sized boulders watching my sons and my grandsons scamper up and over the seaweed and barnacle-covered surfaces to get to the "good" fishing spots. Knowing that my arthritic knees and confused eyesight presented a valid danger, I suppressed my inner machismo's screeching of "Go ahead. You can do it.' and asked my 48-year-old son, Scott, for help. As he gripped my hand and voiced cautions as to where I should place my feet, time reversed itself to when I was gripping and guiding him as a toddler up these same, timeless rocks. Our eyes locked, and he croaked, "It all comes to full circle, doesn't it, dad?"

As we both grow older, Scott's noir, but Zen-like, humor often manifests with, "Dad, you're on your way to becoming just a photograph."

This is a statement of the isness/suchness of my/our life. Any critical emotions that the Truth of his words ignites create suffering.

Gassho,
Sid Bolotin

* ...English is not Koka's mother tongue...


Thursday, May 10, 2007

Making Friends with your Emotion



By teaching us to relate to emotions in a non conceptual way, meditation provides direct access to our raw aliveness. It is not oriented toward the content of feelings, or their meaning, but instead involves opening to feeling directly. When surges of emotional turbulence arise, we practice being still and opening to their energy.


Thus we are allowed to discover a freer, more open awareness, even when we are caught up in emotional reactions. At the same time, it becomes possible to transmute this raw power of our emotions to further the path of realization. we may be able to wonder in the midst of an eruption of anger, "Am I really this angry? Are these people really as wrong as I'm making them?" At this point, we can still be deeply in touch with the power of the emotion, but be free enough from it to choose a more helpful way to use this power, besides just dumping our anger on someone.


The first step in developing this freedom from getting pushed around by our emotions, is to feel and let them be, without judging them as good or bad. when we open to the actual texture and quality of a feeling, instead of trying to control or judge it, the ego -the activity of trying to hold ourselves together- starts to dissolve into the larger aliveness present in the feeling. and consequently, new choices not under the control of what the ego wants, can spontaneously arise and be acted upon.


I think this is partly what Suzuki Roshi meant when he spoke of he weeds of the mind being used to feed the awakening of awareness: "We pull the weeds and bury them near the plant to give it nourishment -you should be grateful for the weeds, because eventually they will enrich your practice. If you have some experience of how the weeds in your mind change into mental nourishment, your practice will make remarkable progress."


This process needs to be practiced over and over again with what for us at any particular moment are workable emotions. A delivering mother, with no epidural to relieve the pain, and in the throes of agony, won't be able to use what's being said here, without first practicing this process exhaustively with less threatening emotions.


After many years of practice, perhaps almost all of our emotions can be perceived in the open space of being at the core of all experience, before the ego can take control. This spaciousness cuts our emotional turmoil down to size, so that it appears as a small drama in the middle of a vast sea of awareness. When we no longer fear our emotions, this promotes greater fearlessness toward life as a whole, know in Buddhism as the "lion's roar".

Roger Shikan Hawkins Sensei

Roger Shikan Hawkins Sensei is teaching in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.
If you would like to connect with his site and learn more about him...click here

... if you like to read or listen to some of his dharma talks...click here




Thursday, May 3, 2007

Are you hungry?

If you are interested in healthy eating and cooking, as well as feeling great, there is a wonderful site you can explore that will provide you with 'unbiased scientific information about how nutrient-rich world's healthiest foods can promote vibrant health and energy and fit your personal needs and busy lifestyle'.

You'll easily navigate through a mine of information, useful tips and delicious recipes, all clearly and beautifully presented.

To reach "The World's Healthiest Foods" website, ...click here.

It is important to remember that we are not only made of what we eat, do and think but also transformed by how we eat, act and think...

Do I respect the form, color, taste and smell of the food that I prepare or eat? Do I value its presentation?

Am I grateful for the work and sacrifice that a meal represents?

Do I take the time to be really present when I eat?

Am I attentive to the needs of those who are sharing their meal with me?

Am I attentive to my mood and thoughts, or to the conversation I am sharing, while eating?

Surely we can all find many more questions to check how we honor the gift of food, the gift of being alive and having to eat...

Would you like a recipe of mine to make a vegetable soup?

Cook together 1 potatoes, 1 leek and 1 celery sticks in a stock. Liquidize. Cut 2 zucchinis in chunks and simmer in the soup until cooked but still crisp. Add some grated cheese and heat until it melts. Season to taste.

Garnish with lots of chopped fresh parsley... maybe some flaked almonds...

And enjoy!

Koka


Saturday, April 21, 2007

Zen is simple




It is to live in the present and let the present live in us.







It is to rest with things as they are, take the time to value and live fully what is happening.


"Those who see the lightning
And think nothing:
How precious they are!" Bassho


No separation, nothing but the lightning, nothing but being this very moment, in all its uniqueness.


Letting go of everything...


"Lost to myself I stayed
My face upon my lover having laid
From all endeavor ceasing:
And all my cares releasing
Threw them among the lilies there to fade." St John of The Cross


...we experience the facts.


"A cool breeze;
A whispering in the pines
Fills the air." Onitsura


By dropping preconceptions and projections, we cultivate an inner silence.
While judgments and desires fade away, innocence creeps in.


The Silence is the voice of our original nature. It speaks through us.


"Your speech is simple, my Master, but not theirs who talk of you.
I understand the voice of your stars and the silence of your trees."
Rabindranath Tagore


Connected with our ground, we react freshly and appropriately, the energy emerging like a clear spring.


The intuitive response to life is our one and only commandment.


"A good traveler has no fixed plans
And is not intent upon arriving.
A good artist lets his intuition
Lead him wherever it wants.
A good scientist has freed himself of concepts
And keeps his mind open to what is." Tao Te Ching



By clearing up the complexity of our mind, we set free an outpouring of love.



"Love needs our inner purity and emptiness of intention in order to bring its knowing into life. The moment we try to condition love, to determine its form or way of expression, we limit its potential."
Llewellyn Vaughan-Lee




In the silence we recognize our own gifts and talents; we are led to rely on our own strength.
There is no path but our own.


"Listen to no one who tells you how to love.
Your love is like no other, and that is what makes it beautiful.
Your self is your divinity.
Express your self." Paul Williams



Each action, each moment, each being is a unique manifestation of the absolute.
They all invite us to an experience of the deepest intimacy.



A world of wonder opens to us when discovering the depth and glory of the simple little things.
Bypassing thoughts and accumulated knowledge, we are led to recover our childhood innocence and to live in awe the mystery of existence.
Simplicity helps us to take part again in the spontaneous and unexpected miracle of each moment...


"The birds have vanished into the sky,
And now the last cloud drains away.
We sit together, the mountain and me,
Until only the mountain remains." Li Po



"I feel that all the stars shine in me,
The world breaks into my life like a flood,
The flowers blossom in my body." Rabindranath Tagore



Stop!


"Love knows what is needed in every situation".




Monday, April 16, 2007

Any question?



"If you think about a question, it is a marvelous thing. Suddenly we don't just expect that our breakfast will be there in the morning, the way the dog does. We wonder, where does it come from? How do I come to be here? Who am I? How on earth did I get to be doing this? And the question is a seed which grows in us and it changes us as it grows."

In this beautiful piece, John Tarrant reminds us what our Zen quest is also about...sitting with our questions and allowing them to transform us.

This is an excerpt of a teisho entitled "The Luminous Life" given by John Tarrant Roshi. To be connected to Boundless Way Zen and read the complete teisho... click here






Sunday, April 1, 2007

"I hate quotes. Tell me what you know." Emerson


"Finish each day and be done with it.
You have done what you could; some blunders and absurdities have crept in; forget them as soon as you can. Tomorrow is a new day; you shall begin it serenely and with too high a spirit to be encumbered with your old nonsense."

Ralph Waldo Emerson



If you are interested by Ralph Waldo Emerson's numerous quotes, ...click here.
It is an interesting site, rich and very well organized where you'll find much more than just his quotes...




Friday, March 30, 2007

Commit to Sit

Take the Tricycle magazine 28 day meditation challenge. Their spring issue will be all about taking a meditation retreat without retreating from your home environment. I know most of you have a dedicated practice already, so it might be nice to up the bar a bit and have an official spring cleaning of the mind, and make it a point to sit every day for the next 28 days.

Read more about the 28 day meditation challenge at the Tricycle website:

http://www.tricycle.com/issues/web_exclusive/3763-1.html

Saturday, March 24, 2007

...allow yourself to move...




"Allow yourself to move...", these words are those of Rumi...

I found them in an interview that Krista Tippett offered on Public Radio at "Speaking of Faith" to Fatemeh Keshavarz, a professor of Persian and Comparative Literature at Washington University in St. Louis. Their conversation, broadcasted a few weeks ago, is entitled "The Ecstatic Faith of Rumi" and is undoubtedbly worth listening to wholeheartedly.

It is very good ... but I am not telling you more about it.

To connect to "The Ecstatic Faith of Rumi" ...click here

I seize this opportunity to warmly recommend the program "Speaking of Faith" which offers a wide variety of interesting talks with fascinating guests. You will find on their website many references to help you going further into the subject, you can make your voice heard by contacting them, listen to the music they offer during the broadcasting, and also be guided to continue the conversation or facilitate an exchange with a group.

And... maybe you'll also find interesting the talk entitled "Exploring the Biology of the Human Spirit" somehow touching the same topic as the previous post "Why Does the Mind Wander?".

If you listen, or have listened, to some other talks offered by "Speaking of Faith" and particularly appreciated one, please tell me about it, I'll be happy to share your recommendation.

Enjoy listening to Rumi,
Koka

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Why does the mind wander?


Today MSN was displaying an interesting article about our wandering minds. It looks like if science is now taking the torch from the great mental masters and looking into how our mind focuses on thoughts (or rather how it doesn't very well).

So if you've ever wondered what the purpose of a wandering mind actually is, you might find this article interesting.

Click here to view the article:

Monday, March 5, 2007

working with oneness


As I was exploring, and wandering for my own pleasure, into The Golden Sufi Center website whose link I previously posted with the text of Llewellyn Vaughan-Lee, I came across another very interesting site: Working With Oneness.
You will find there lots of interesting people we know or others that we may not have had the pleasure to meet yet on our path, as Adyashanti, Anne Baring, Anne Scott, Duane Elgin and many others...
I wanted to share this link with you, hoping you may feel the same enthusiasm that I felt discovering its spirit.
To connect to Working with Oneness ... click here
Enjoy,
Koka

Friday, March 2, 2007

When we see beauty...

  1. Does it make sense to you that when you see a flower, or when you see beauty, at that very moment you must be beauty? I hope so, because it means that beauty is not outside of yourself; you are beauty and you are truth. We can appreciate the beauty of a flower because we also feel its impermanence as our own. We can say we know that roses and thorns are as inseparable as night and day because it is no different with us. It is us. Therefore beholding the flower, or carefully holding the rose, we can treasure our own beauty and appreciate the evanescence of this fleeting life.

Excerpt of a talk given by Kwong Roshi.

Jakusho Kwong Roshi, successor in the lineage of Susuki Roshi, lives in Sonoma, California and is the author of a book written with Peter Levitt, NO BEGINNING, NO END: THE INTIMATE HEART OF ZEN, prefaced by Thich Naht Hanh and edited by Peter Levitt.