May 11 2011

A New Site


I am working on a new site for the Zen Center’s Queer Dharma Group. It will focus on News, information, teachings,etc for the Queer Dharma Group. It will also give us a spot to start posting our talks to. Eventually the site will be growing but check it out HERE and let me know what you think. It isn’t pretty yet, but you can get an idea of what it’s for. If you have news or info to share on the site you can email it to me and I will get it up.

May 7 2011

This very mind


Daibai asks Basho, “What is the Buddha?”
Basho replies, “This very mind is Buddha.”

I often find myself thinking things will get better. Somehow the idea has taken root that once things are better, then I will be a better person, or enlightened, or a myriad other ideas. I seem to be constantly in a state of waiting. “When I am ordained” or “When my body feels better” or “When I have a boyfriend” and on and on and on and on.

The problem with this is that I am never satisfied. There is no contentment. There is nowhere for me to find acceptance. Suzuki Roshi once said, “Just this is it.” And it is in the “just this” that contentment, peace and nirvana happen. It is in that exact moment of presence that we can see ourselves and the world exactly as they are.

This very mind is Buddha. Not the mind I think I need to have, not the mind that someone else says I can have, but THIS very mind. The one I have right now, with all it’s judgements, unsettledness, and allergy to this present moment. So even when I am failing at “Just this is it”… I am still Buddha. I am simply failing Buddha. The same can be said for my fear, irritability, grief, anger, or anything else. It is all Buddha.

That’s the part I keep forgetting. I keep looking for my buddha nature, thinking it is somewhere other than right here. I keep looking for this thing called settled, or this thing called priest practice, or whatever else my mind creates to steer me away from the equanimity and peace of this very moment.

I woke up this morning and thought, “If this is as good as it gets, can I find a way to be okay with it.” The funny thing about that is that this is as good as it gets. There is nothing beyond just this. I only think there is somewhere else, or some way else I am “suppose” to be. Again, Suzuki Roshi is right; Just this is it.

Haller Roshi, my teacher is often fond of asking me (and everyone else), “What’s happening now, and what is it to practice with it.” He also requests us to put the answer into as succinct a response as possible. A few words. There is something in the boiling down of what is happening now that causes me to look deeper into it. Is it anger? No not really, Is it fear? Not quite there… and on it goes.. This is how we practice with Dogen’s “To study the Way is to study the Self.” Can we get to the essence of this experience, before it passes away, and truly experience it. That’s the “what is it to practice with it?” To really allow that momentary experience to come into contact with our awareness, to fully experience it as it passes through. Not attaching some idea or response to it, not even coming up with an expression for it, but to just allowing it to register.

Like a lotus in muddy water, the mind is pure and goes beyond. Thus we bow to Buddha.

May 2 2011

To Monday


To Monday
by W.S Merwin

Once you arrive it is plain
that you do not remember
the last time

you are always
like that
insisting upon
upon it all beginning
over again
as though nothing had really happened
as though beginning
went on and on
as though it were everything
until it had begun

you never know who you are
the hands of the clock find you
and keep going
without recognition
though what your light
reveals when it rises
wakes from another time
which you appear to have forgotten

travelling all that way
blank and nowhere
before you came to be
with the demands
that you bring with you
from the beginning

each time it is
as though you were the same
or almost
O unrepeatable one
needing nothing yourself
and not waiting.

May 2 2011

On The Death of Osama Bin Laden…


As I watch us celebrating at the death of one man, I cringe. I remember how painful it was to watch others celebrate our suffering not so long ago after the violence of September 11. How is our celebration different from that one?

What comes forth from me is concern. Concern about how easy it is for us to believe that there is an “us” who are the good guys, and a “them” who are the bad guys. Putting aside the ridiculousness of good and bad, let’s just look at “us” and “them”.

“Us”- Who is “us”? Where does “us” end? In my own life, I notice that the “us” changes as I move the “them” around. “Us” becomes nothing more than some moving target I never can quite grasp, especially when someone who use to be a “them” becomes an “us” or when one of “us” becomes a “them”.

“Them” – Sometimes “them” is thrust upon a class of people (The rich aren’t paying their share, the poor are lazy and only want someone to support them, etc. etc.) or upon a race, or a gender expression or upon a sexual identity. But honestly who is “them”? As I see it “them” depends on what pain I am currently trying to solve. In the end of it all, “them” is anyone who isn’t “me”.

So here we are celebrating the death of someone who did harm. Even at the worst, the harm created was no more or no less equal to the harm “we” have perpetrated on the world in search of revenge, vindication or so called “justice”. Or how about the harm we have created in not providing for those who are the least of us?

I asked last night, and I ask again. “If we killed everyone who did harmful or heinous things, who would be left alive?”

I hear the cries of the world, and I grieve. I won’t meet suffering by celebration. I won’t forget that we all live in greed hate and delusion and sometimes, we continue to feed it.

May all beings be free of suffering and the roots of suffering
May all beings be happy
May all beings feel safe, and be at peace
May all beings know that they are better than whatever their mind can conjure up.

Like a lotus in muddy water, the mind is pure and goes beyond. Thus we bow to Buddha.

May 1 2011

Feed The Demons Cake


I was reminded today by a friend of the advice from an old sage. A couple of his students came to him complaining that while they were meditating in some cave, the demons would continually come and harass them. His advice was, “Feed the Demons Cake.” Such a simple instruction, but when you try to put it into practice, it’s not so easy to do.

We are socialized to “get over it” or at best to “work through it”. Some feeling we don’t like occurs and we need to fix it or change it. What I am finding is that it’s usually better if I can find some way to get intimate with it. If I can not just accept it, but really experience it without the judgements or ideas about it, I am able to be more settled, more stable more upright in my life. I also notice that I am able to make choices about my responses and actions that aren’t available to me when I am attempting to correct or manipulate myself out of my feelings. This is the real teaching of Buddhism. We settle the mind so that we are able to see our way past the opinions and ideas or stories about something and just welcome it in. Hurts are as welcome as joys. Feeling separated or apart from is given the same treatment as the sense of intimacy or connection. Anger and frustration loved and appreciated in the same way compassion and mudita (sympathetic joy) are.

Right now, I don’t want to like what I am feeling. I want to cure it. The problem is that this isn’t how life works. There is nothing to cure since there is no disease here. The real medicine is to completely surrender to my life. “Just this is it”. To love and honor myself is to love and honor things as it is.

Like a Lotus in Muddy Water, The Mind is Pure and Goes Beyond. Thus we bow to Buddha.