Apr 28 2011

To study the self.


Sometimes there are things that happen in my life that offer me the opportunity to really see the causes and conditions of my life, and the way they influence and hook me. For me, practice is often the idea of looking deeply at what is happening, and I often don’t like what I find there. Then my practice is to sit still and allow it to pass without pushing it away or holding onto it.

One of the interesting things is that last part. The holding onto it. See there is safety in the familiar, in the habit formations, even when they are painful or difficult. It is easier for me to hold onto my insecurity and fears of loneliness because I feel somehow believe that there is safety in the monsters I know. I don’t know what will happen if I let these things pass through me. The issues on the other side may be too great, or even worse. So I will just stay here and play with the things I know.

Problem with this is, that you eventually see that it’s not really working. That even in these things I know, I am not really safe. They too go away, even when I try to cling to them. The more I practice the more difficult it is for me to fool myself into the idea of safety. But then what?

Thus we bow to Buddha

Apr 27 2011



Aries Horoscope for week of April 28, 2011 (Rob Brezny’s Freewill Astrology)

To convey my vision of how best to proceed in the coming week, I’ll offer the following metaphorical scenario: Imagine that you are not a professional chef, but you do have a modicum of cooking skills. Your task is to create a hearty, tasty soup from scratch without the benefit of a recipe. You will need a variety of ingredients, but on the other hand you don’t want to just throw in a welter of mismatched ingredients without regard for how they will all work together. To some degree you will have to use a trial-and-error approach, sampling the concoction as it brews. You will also want to keep an open mind about the possibility of adding new ingredients in the latter stages of the process. One more thing: The final product must not just appeal to you. You should keep in mind what others would like, too.

Horoscopes are interesting things. I don’t really take the ones published online or in the newspaper very seriously. I do however find them captivating and I read them pretty much everyday. “Why?”, I asked myself this morning. The answer lies somewhere in the nature of the karma that comes with being this one called “me”.
I notice that, more often than not, I am demanding a sense of security. I find security in planning or in at least knowing what’s coming, as well as in having answers to the myriad why questions that arise throughout the day. The problem is I am looking to develop a sense of security in places that don’t really offer that, not to mention the fact that any sense of security I may find, is really an illusion anyway. It has been my experience that there is no real thing as a sense of security. Or put another way, I am trying to satisfy my hunger by eating a picture of a rice cake.

So what is it to practice with a mind like this? What is it that helps me see through this habit formation and stop the constant repetitions from playing out? The best I can come up with is the same two step process I go through with most of the ideas I try to make solid or substantial.

First I have to accept the normalcy of this pattern. One of the ways I keep myself separate from others, and thereby sustaining an idea of self is by forgetting that most of my thoughts, ideas, or emotions are perfectly normal given the causes and conditions that they arise from. It is perfectly natural to move in the direction of security and safety when one feels the rug pulled out from underneath them. This is a human response. By denying that simple fact, by deciding that I must stop this behavior or eliminate this mind state is to move away from that which will actually move me towards liberation.

Next I can ask myself what would it be like not to be hooked by this habit again. What does it look like not to let this idea translate into some action. Is there some spot in there where I can choose to just allow it to stay as a thought, and not respond or act on it. Is there another way of expression that supports this practice of looking deeply into this human experience? Put another way, “Is there another way besides the way I always do it”?

And that’s it. Now just sit there watching what happens. Don’t change it, Don’t fix it, Don’t act on it, just take the experience in. The Smart Guy (My new expression for my teacher) has been asking me to meet every thought, every situation, every awareness with two questions: “What’s Happening Now?” and “What is it to practice with it?” That’s it. The total expression of liberation lives in those questions. It has been the most freeing practice to date when I can actually follow through with it, but I also see that it is probably the most difficult thing to do given my karmic makeup. So I work with it. I experiment with it and see what happens.

Thus We Bow To Buddha.

Apr 10 2011



So I have been asked over and over since I have been back, how my time at Tassajara was. That is a question that is almost impossible to answer. The best I can say is that it was interesting.

My body suffered greatly. Between the challenges of the weather and overall environment, there was a lot of physical difficulties. I watched my body over time be able to do less and less, which in a place like Tassajara creates emotional responses. I learned a ton from the experience of my body while being there. I got more intimate with what it is like to live in this body, with the causes and conditions it carries with it. I also learned I was capable of more than I anticipated. I started out convinced that I wouldn’t be able to do more than a few months, and yet, I was there for about 6 months. This is kind of amazing to me.

On an emotional/spiritual level, I think I grew a huge amount. I faced some of my biggest demons, and fed them cake. The thing about a practice period at Tassajara is that you have no distractions. There is no ability to hide from your life and your “stuff” for long. Denial will eventually get shattered. I was faced with my clinging to ideas of self in ways I never even knew. I also am aware of the way I seem to have “settled”. There is an underlying sense of faith in the practice, and in my life that I don’t recall having before. Perhaps watching myself be myself for 6 months put certain things into perspective.

The problem is all of the above is both “true” and “not true”. Honestly, I can’t really put into words what the experience of Tassajara was for me. I can’t seem to articulate in any real way, how I feel now. The closest I seem to get is that it was “interesting” or “challenging” or some other idea that just sounds so limited in it’s expression. Perhaps that is what they mean when they say that Zen is a practice that goes beyond words and phrases. The only phrase that seems to ring true, without a sense that it needs to be further explained or clarified is to say, “I would do it again.”

I leave you with a poem.

A Momentary Creed
by W.S. Merwin

I believe in the ordinary day
that is here at this moment and is me

I do not see it going its own way
but I never saw how it came to me

it extends beyond whatever I may
think I know and all that is real to me

it is the present that it bears away
where has it gone when it has gone from me

there is no place I know outside today
except for the unknown all around me

the only presence that appears to stay
everything that I call mine is lent to me

even the way that I believe the day
for as long as it is here and is me

Apr 4 2011

Finally He writes something


I have been gone for awhile now. In a valley, disconnected from all distraction watching what happens when I watch what I think is me.

I have a lot of words that I will be putting down soon, but I wanted to post this poem which is calling from my heart right now.

Youth by W.S. Merwin (The Shadow of Sirius

Through all of youth I was looking for you
without knowing what I was looking for

or what to call you I think I did not
even know I was looking how would I

have known you when I saw you as I did
time after time when you appeared to me

as you did naked offering yourself
entirely at that moment and you let

me breathe you touch you taste you knowing
no more than I did and only when I

began to think of losing you did I
recognize you when you were already

part memory part distance remaining
mine in the ways that I learn to miss you

from what we cannot hold the stars are made.