October 2005 Newsletter
in International Jizo Project
Spread out across the long work table, draped
across the pink futon and the
backs of folding chairs, and standing vigil along the windowsill above the
low check-out table, Jizo images drawn on muslin panels and folded from red
origami paper filled the AZG library this spring and summer. Sangha members
and friends joined with thousands of people from twenty five countries and
every state in the U.S. to produce one Jizo for each person who died 60 years
ago when the U.S. bombed the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
Jizo Bodhisattva is a beloved cultural icon in Japan, found in temples
and roadside shrines, in comic books and on key chains. S/he is
considered the guardian of children, especially those who have died,
women, especially those who are pregnant, and travelers on both
physical and spiritual journeys. She has vowed, “Only after the Hells
are empty will I myself enter Nirvana,” and is said to join beings in
whatever hell realms they may inhabit to relieve their suffering.
“Jizo is also said to be the patron saint of lost causes, because Jizo
never gives up,” and for this reason Jizo is the perfect symbol for
“the seemingly hopeless cause of world peace,” according to Jan
Chozen Bays, the American Soto Zen priest who set the Jizos for Peace Project
Together with others from the sangha at Great Vow Monastery in Clatskanie,
Oregon, where she is co-abbot, Chozen delivered well over 270,000 Jizo images
to the people of Hiroshima and Nagasaki on the August 7th and 9th anniversaries
of the bombings—including a garland of origami Jizos and a quilt-like
banner composed of muslin panels created at AZG. Depicting hundreds of Jizos
in guises from the whimsical (a fireman, a donkey, synchronized swimmers,
a winking face) to the traditional (a monk standing in the fires of hell),
the AZG Jizos were as varied as their creators, whose ages ranged from 13
to 77. Some used fabric markers to create scenes full of Jizos with a message
of peace across the top, while others quietly folded red squares of origami
paper into small, squat figures, and drew faces on them as diverse and expressive
as the faces in a crowd on the Arcata plaza.
Jizo Bodhisattva (Sanskrit “Kshitigarbha”—“earth womb”)
represents the energies of compassion, optimism and courage—the part
of us that is moved by the suffering of others, the part that is willing to
take risks and endure hardships if necessary. The making of Jizo images is
a form of meditation practice in which one silently repeats a mantra while
creating each image. The practice is intended to help awaken the energies
of Jizo Bodhisattva in us so that we may then manifest those qualities in
the world. Somewhat to Chozen’s surprise, the practice—and the
project—spread quickly and seemed almost to take on a life of its own.
The first Jizo images created at AZG were done during a Silent Sesshin work
period on April 23. This was followed by a Saturday when people from other
Buddhist sanghas and peace groups were invited to join AZG sangha members
in the library to make Jizos, as well as additional work periods during the
mid-May sesshin led by Angie Boissevain. By that time, we had 25 muslin panels—enough
to construct a banner. It was Milli Quam’s first full sesshin and, at
five days, a long one. An accomplished seamstress, she received permission
to shop for fabric and devoted every work period during the sesshin to completing
the banner. It was framed in bright blue with red and purple ribbons delineating
the rows of muslin panels—a beautiful presentation for the hundreds
of Jizo images drawn on them.
On June 10, a group of sangha members suspended the banner between two bamboo
poles and joined the Women In Black and Veterans For Peace in their regular
Friday evening peace vigil on the Arcata Plaza. Then the banner, together
with a garland of origami Jizos, was sent off to Great Vow Monastery for delivery
Since that time, we have hosted another Saturday for people from the community
to join us in making Jizos, and individuals have taken materials home to work
with when their schedule permits. Another banner is now under construction
and the remaining origami Jizos await willing hands to string them into additional
garlands. These images may be sent to Japan or, with the consent of their
makers, may be displayed at peace events here in Humboldt County.
When Rose Brewster asked me to be cook for one day of sesshin
with Alan Senuake as visiting teacher, I accepted her invitation because I
knew I would be practicing at my edge. Our beloved Maylie Scott constantly
encouraged us to practice at our edge. However, I didn’t realize how
I would be at the edge and on the edge when I accepted Rose’s invitation.
I have cooked in the kitchen at 740 Park Avenue for years with our cooking
group for the night shelter for the homeless project. I cooked each year at
Big Flat during our annual sangha retreats at that fabled place.
I prepared for the sesshin led by Alan by participating in the zen kitchen
workshop offered by priest Mary Mosine at 740 Park Avenue on July 29, 2005.
In her workshop she emphasized several principles. Cooking for sesshin is
not like cooking for our friends in our own homes. In our own homes we cook
for our friends because we enjoy preparing and serving food, and if our friends
compliment us on our cooking we are happy. We frequently prepare more elaborate
food when cooking for our friends.
Cooking for sesshin means letting the cooking do us. The cook is not trying
to impress anyone. Cooking is our practice during sesshin. Keep temple cooking
simple. If a certain dish we are cooking for the temple is ruined because
it is burnt or the flavors don’t come together, either eat it or put
it in the compost and go to plan B, another simple dish. Take care of knives.
After we use a knife in the zen kitchen wash the knife, dry it and put it
back in the knife rack, even if we pick up that same knife the next minute
and use it for more chopping. We are chopping breath by breath. If the prep
cooks have an injury such as a cut on the finger or a burn while cooking,
put the food in the compost and start again. Look at all the ingredients before
beginning to cook. When in doubt, ask for advice but remember, beginner cooks
can receive advice that makes the situation worse rather than better. For
example, during Mary’s cooking class I volunteered to cook rice. Cooking
rice seemed simple to me. However, I had never cooked brown rice. I asked
how much water and oil to put with the rice. I followed the advice I was given
by a sangha member and the rice burned. I was then told by another sangha
member that I had not used enough water with the brown rice. The rice was
burned but we ate it anyway.
Temple cooking has three dishes. Rice, a main dish and usually some vegetable
as salad. Mary taught us how to grate raw beets and mix them with orange zest
and orange juice. At her workshop we all agreed that the raw beets provided
excellent taste. However when I asked Alan Senauke if he would eat raw beets
he told me he had a childhood aversion to beets. I revised the menu and decided
to fix cole slaw. That seemed simple, chopping cabbage and adding a few spices.
Not so simple. Milli Quam and I were adjusting the seasoning on the cabbage
and could not get a satisfactory balance between sweet and sour. However we
served the cole slaw and people ate it during sesshin.
The sangha was given some vegetables from the garden of Arcata educational
farm to eat during sesshin. However we needed more vegetables and different
vegetables and tofu. Milli shopped for the required items on the day before
the beginning of sesshin. We decided to cook stir fry tofu and vegetables
Italian style the way Mary taught us during her cooking class. Seemed simple.
However, it was more complex than we anticipated.
I arrived at 740 Park Avenue at 9am the day of the sesshin. “Oh you’re
early,” Milli said. “I didn’t expect you before 10am.” I learned from
my experiences in cooking for the homeless night shelter that what
seems like simple tasks usually take twice as long to complete as I had
anticipated they would take. Our goal, on the day of sesshin, was to
have all the food for lunch prepared and ready to serve at 12:10 when
the bells announced the end of service and the sesshin participants
left the temple and began arriving in the zen kitchen.
Following Mary’s advice I prepared my list of vegetables to chop and
what size to chop them, one and a half inches, one inch, one half inch depending
on the vegetable. I had all the vegetables chopped by 11am. I was feeling
good about myself. “Everything is under control, Bill.” That is
what I kept telling myself.
I put rice and the proper amount of water in the rice cooker. I began to cook
vegetables in the wok. I was watching the clock and adding vegetables in the
order Mary taught us. First carmalize the onions. Cooking the onions just
right in olive oil is the basis for the stirfry dish.The goal is to cook the
vegetables just enough. If they overcook, they are soggy. I added the chopped
carrots because they take longer to cook than other vegetables. Add eggplant
then broccoli, and then tofu. Finish with tomatoes because they become mushy
if overcooked. I was watching my breath and I thought I had the zen kitchen
under control. However the cooking was doing me. I wasn’t doing the
cooking. I learned that letting the cooking do me is to fear I am losing control.
I was stepping in the spices as Mary taught us. Put in a small amount of spice,
taste and adjust spices. I kept telling my “self” that the cooking
would do itself. That was my practice. However, at 11:50am I was struck with
a panic attack. The seasoning for the cole slaw wasn’t coming together.
The onions took longer to carmalize than I anticipated. I felt rushed and
unsure. The sesshin participants would be in this kitchen in twenty minutes
and I literally began to sweat in my armpits. “Keep your focus, Bill.
Keep your focus. Just breath, Bill.” I kept repeating that mantra over
and over again. I went to plan B, put the cover on the wok and let the vegetables
steam to cook them more rapidly and then remove the cover and continue stirfry.
The bells rang. It was 12.10. That was it. I turned off the stove, opened
the rice cooker and stirred the rice just once. I put the cole slaw on the
serving counter. I took a spoonful of rice, a spoonful of stirfry, a spoonful
of cole slaw put each spoonful in a separate little bowl to feed the hungry
ghosts. Lunch was ready to serve. As cook I took the offering to the hungry
ghosts and put it on the altar after participants had served themselves and
were seated at the table. We ate in silence. When the priest announced that
second helpings were available, I took the offering to the hungry ghosts off
the altar and out to the garden where I fed the hungry ghosts.
After the zen kitchen was cleaned and the participants were resting, the priest,
Alan Senauke, called me to his room. Oh no, I had another panic attack. What
did I do wrong? Did I violate some sacred temple rule?
However, I marched up to the priest’s room. Alan said to me “Just
right. Temple food as it should be prepared and served. Just right,
Bill.” What a relief. Now I could lie down on the couch in the living
room and take a nap before more chopping for supper. After my nap,
while sesshin participants were busy outside working in the garden
during work practice, I chopped the remaining vegetables, put them in
vegetable broth for soup for supper, began cooking the soup on low
heat. Rice, leftover from lunch, could be added to the soup for supper.
Keep it simple.
After garden work practice the sesshin participants returned to the temple
to continue facing the wall in zazen. Milli volunteered to serve the soup
I got in my vehicle and drove to my favorite beach and sat with my back against
a driftwood log. That is my favorite zazen, breath by breath like a cloud
in the endless sky, like waves washing onto the shore.
Will I cook again for sesshin if our practice leader asks me to cook? Yes.
I like to practice at my edge and let the cooking cook me. Looking at my own
panic attack in the kitchen on the edge, practicing at my edge.
on Park Avenue
Sometimes it takes so long to find what I’m looking
for, that I just give up and wait for it to find me. That’s what happened
with the search for a piece of Buddhist art to acquire with the generous ordination
gift from the sangha earmarked for that purpose.
I’m not much of a shopper, but I do love looking at art, so I gave it
a very good go. Repeated forays into local galleries and the internet yielded
nothing quite right, so I called San Francisco Zen Center (they have an extensive
collection of Buddhist art) for guidance, but still found nothing that “spoke
to me.” Finally I just put the whole matter on the back burner, let
go and waited.
When I stopped by Bohemian Books, it was to chat with Marley Newborough and
to check out the shelves of Buddhist and children’s books. But one day
something else caught my eye, and I stopped in mid-sentence to ask, “Is
that for sale?” It was a large black and white woodblock print—one
of the finest images of Bodhidharma I’d ever seen. “Well, no,
it’s not,” Marley replied. “It belongs to Rick (her partner)
and he really loves it.” “Of course,” I said. “If
it belonged to me, I wouldn’t part with it either.” I went on
to explain my ordination gift search, adding that I was particularly looking
for zen art and was planning to hang the piece in the living room of the sangha
house where everyone could appreciate it. Marley took it all in and said she’d
let Rick know of my interest.
The next time I came to Bohemian Books, Rick was there and together we admired
the Bodhidharma on the wall. He didn’t really want to sell it, but said
he’d keep the possibility on the back burner and let me know if he changed
To my great delight, in due time Rick’s meditative back burner cooked
up a generous “yes!” and I was on my way to Arcata Framers. Now,
with thanks to the sangha and a deep bow to Rick Gentry, Bodhidharma has come
to Park Avenue, where he gazes out from the living room wall with the expression
of fierce resolve for which he is famous. The image is strong and full of
vitality, but what I find most inspiring is a certain flummoxed, almost humorous
quality in the midst of the life-and-death seriousness of it all. “Geez!
OK. That, too…”
For more on Bodhidharma, listen to Alan Senauke’s study group talk of
August 15, 2005, the first in a series of six talks on the zen ancestors,
or find the following titles in the AZG library:
• Heinrich Dumoulin, Zen Buddhism: A
History—India & China
• Andy Ferguson, Zen’s Chinese
• Thomas Cleary tr., Transmission of
for a Change
Message from the Board
The AZG board has decided that in lieu of sending the annual fundraising letter
to sangha members we are asking people to donate to an emergency relief fund.
Thanks to the generosity of the sangha and the lack of any pressing specific
need, the AZG finds itself blessed with comparative prosperity.
However many parts of the world are witnessing great suffering. This year
the board recommends sending whatever you would have planned to send to the
annual fundraising drive to one of the hard hit communities throughout the
world. The following is a list of suggested organizations:
3 UN Plaza
Albert Lea, MN 56007-1211
International Relief Committee
122 E. 42nd ST.
N.Y., NY 10168
BUDDHISM, VIRTUE AND ENVIRONMENT
David E. Cooper and Simon P. James, Ashgate Publishing Company, Burlington,
The authors of this book are both professors of Philosophy at the University
of Durham, a British university. They received a research grant which enabled
them to travel to Sri Lanka, Thailand and Japan where they interviewed leaders
of some environmental organizations, professors, and Buddhist priests.
Their primary intent is to revive “virtue ethics” which they say
is a primary source of philosophy in some forms of ancient Greek philosophy.
“Contemporary virtue ethics self-consciously recalls a tradition of
Greek and Roman moral thought, in which the primary focus was upon those dispositions
of character essential to a good and realized human life.” (p7)
They explicitly reject “ecological holism” as a basis for a Buddhist
They explicitly reject “intrinsic value” and interpenetration
as a basis for Buddhist environmental ethic.
Instead of “ecological holism” the authors offer the following
conclusion. “Two aspects of experience of nature as a moral resource
emerge from the Buddhist texts. First, there is the theme of nature as peculiarly
apt to evoke a vivid sense of the impermanence and dukkha that infuse the
world, a sense that is prerequisite to embarking on the Buddhist path of virtue.”
”A second, more prominent theme in the scriptures…is that of experience
of nature as conducive to tranquility, equanimity, self-restraint and control,
selfless pleasure, humility….”(p118)
“The natural living world, like human society, is to be viewed not through
distorting lenses, whether rose-tinted or darkened, but, as Buddhists themselves
put it, ‘just as it is.’ So viewed, it is as replete with dukkha
as with beauty, and this dukkha—the cruelty and savagery of much animal
existence, for example—is nothing to be ‘celebrated’ in the
manner of such romantics as Thoreau. While nature may be a place where one
should ‘tread lightly’, that does not mean, as romantics sometimes
seem to urge, that one should never tread at all. If rational reflection on
what is required for the virtuous life so advises, then nature in certain
of its aspects may and should be ‘improved’: it is not some autonomous
‘Self’ or ‘Community’ that proscribes human intervention.” (p148)
I am pleased that some European academic philosophers are exploring Buddhist
environmental ethics. However, I offer several words of caution about the
argument presented by Cooper and James.
Aspects of nature are drastically changed by humans but when can we conclude
that humans have ‘improved’ nature? For example large dams on
the Klamath river and its tributaries have changed free flowing rivers
and blocked wild runs of salmon from returning to their ancestral streams
to spawn and die. The Bush administration has declared these huge dams are
an “immutable” part of nature and therefore they must not be removed
to allow wild salmon to freely migrate and spawn. This is a case where the
Buddhist ‘middle way’ can be discussed.
Henry Thoreau was not a romantic. His most famous book, WALDEN, can be read
as a Buddhist essay on voluntary simplicity. He studied ecology, the interrelationship
of plant and animal communities, before the word “ecology” was
invented. He practiced daily kinhin walking in the forests near his home.
In an age when global warming has been caused primarily by human interventions
into the basic processes of the Earth, Thoreau’s statement “in
wildness is the preservation of the world” seems extremely relevant.
There are causes and there are consequences.
In my opinion Cooper and James dismiss “the net of Indra” and
the Buddhist dharma of interpenetration without careful attention.
Cooper and James do not mention working with the precepts as a way of practice
in Buddhism. The first precept “do no harm” can be the basis of
much practice of the interpenetration of all sentient beings.
Perhaps the greatest problem I have with this book is that the authors take
only an outside approach, reading the Buddhist texts as academic philosophers.
We all can take both an outside approach reading the Buddhist texts and an
inside approach working with our own practice of Buddha’s way.
Two recent examples from my own experience illustrate that taking only a theoretical,
academic approach to Buddhism may be of little help in daily practice.
I like to make marks in a book while I am reading it, underlining key passages,
and keeping a page of notes containing my thoughts on the book. I intended
to give my copy of Cooper and James’ book to the library of AZG so members
of our sangha could read it if my review aroused their interest. I left my
copy of this book and my notes on the sofa when I went to use the toilet.
When I returned to the sofa my housemate’s dog had chewed the cover
of the book into little pieces and chewed my notes into even smaller little
pieces. The dog’s name is Berne. I was not upset with his action. I
was upset with me because I knew from many previous experiences that if I
leave anything chewable on the sofa, he will chew it. Now I have a question.
Should I give a truly dog-eared copy of this book to the AZG library?
The night I finished reading this book I was visited by a large bear. I live
at the edge of the forest. The bear tripped the motion sensors on the floodlights
at 4am. Berne went hysterical, barking and jumping on the sofa. When I opened
the door a few inches, to see what was happening, the bear was staring at
me. I bowed gassho to him and closed the door. Through the window I watched
him slowly walk down the driveway and back into the dark forest. When I told
this story to a friend, he replied “Congratulations on your 4am kensho.
May it continue endlessly. Non-duality realized experientially bears, bares,
BEARS the deepest sense of identity between self and other. Bill peers out
of the door at 4am and discovers the mind of the ancient buddhas.”
BPF at AZG
Members of AZG's Social Action Committee have joined with
other Humboldt-area Buddhists to form a local chapter of the Buddhist Peace
Fellowship. The group has already had two meetings in Eureka, and sponsored
a public talk by AZG advisor Alan Senauke, Senior Advisor to and former Executive
Director of the Buddhist Peace Fellowship.
The BPF works as a catalyst for "socially engaged Buddhism." It
has a worldwide network of 5,000 members in 45 chapters, and is the publisher
of Turning Wheel magazine. Its goal is "to connect Buddhist teachings
of wisdom and compassion with progressive social change."
The chapter may serve as an umbrella for much of the ongoing social action
now conducted by AZG members, including prison and jail outreach, letter writing
campaigns, anti-nuclear-proliferation activism, and more.
The next meeting of the group will be the second Sunday of November (Nov.
13th) at 1:30 pm at the Adorni Center in Eureka. The Adorni Center is at the
foot of L Street, near the main library and Old Town.
For more information about the local chapter, you can call the AZG at 826-1701.
You can subscribe to the chapter's mailing list by sending email to
Beck, in her classic Everyday Zen, brings the practice on the cushion
into alignment with everyday living. Basic zazen is following the
breath with gentle bare attention, letting go of aversions and
attractions as they arise, and coming back to the breath. In a parallel
sense, moving through a stressful life situation without collapsing
under the weight of self-clinging is the opportunity of everyday
practice. Joko's message is echoed in the AZG Beginner's Handbook: “We
encourage you to incorporate spiritual practice into your daily life.”
The fruits of this approach are born out in the life experiences of zen
students across the spectrum of centers and practice situations.
don't think Joko is suggesting that zen is primarily a device for
coping with life's difficulties. Personal maturity may be an outcome of
zen practice but is not the primary focus. The intent, as I have come
to understand it, is simply to allow the vast undivided nature of each
moment to come forth as it is. We can't really stop Buddha nature from
popping up everywhere anyway, even if we seem to shut it out with our
projections, expectations, cravings, etc.
Somewhere along the path of
practice a shift in awareness may occur. As Michael Quam observed
recently, “We may come to understand that we don't live our lives -
life lives us.” There are some lines in Tung-shan's Song of the Jewel
Mirror Samadhi that strike me as having a similar implication.
Tung-shan draws a comparison between the essential Dharma and seeing
one's own reflection:
It is like facing a jewel mirror;
Form and image behold each other-
You are not it; it actually is you.
This peculiar little statement - “You are not it, it
actually is you” - has taken on a life of its own for me. These words
have become turning words and I would like to say a little more about them.
With the words “you are not it,” Tung-shan suggests that you and
I are not the overlay of conceptual identifications with which we tend to
make up the world. We are not our projections onto things, onto others, or
onto ourselves. In Tung-shan's poem the image in the mirror is rediscovered
in a much wider dimension. Bare attention and receptivity open the door and
the self-clinging imprint is released.
I have heard that zen students, especially after long hours of sitting, may
discover something particularly vivid in the sound of the bell. At such times,
it is not so much that you hear the bell ringing but that the bell is ringing
you. It may even seem as if the sound of the bell actually is you - the phenomenal
world comes forth and confirms that you, the bell, and the whole world are
much closer than you think. In Original Dwelling Place (87), Robert Aitken
reflects on the archetypal message of Buddhism:
‘Human beings tend to be miserable because they are
preoccupied with themselves. When they are free of their self-centeredness
they can find happiness.’
That is to say, you and I tend to get absorbed in patterns.
We tend to become fixed on the temporal, the mundane, the particular, and
the world of being born and dying. When we see into the nature of things and
make intimate the formless, the timeless, the spiritual, the universal, the
world of no-birth and no-death, then we are evolving on the path to full and
complete lives. We can see for ourselves how our previous views were correct,
yet only so far as they went. We once saw the world of forms and time but
not their essential qualities of no-form and no-time. We gave meaning to the
many people, animals, plants, and things in our richly varied world, but now
those many beings give meaning to us. Thus we can be liberated from constrictions
that bind us to an atomized existence. (emphasis mine)
Once I found this theme in zen teaching and practice, I started noting references
to it in various places. In the Genjo Koan, Dogen says, “That the self
advances and confirms the myriad things is called delusion; That the myriad
things advance and confirm the self is enlightenment.”
Kobun Chino's commentary on the Genjo Koan further brings out this point:
Dogen said: To study and to
practice Buddha' s way is to practice yourself, to learn yourself. And
to carry yourself among things and understand things is illusion;
whatever you understand, all are illusions. To let all things come to
you and be awakened by them is enlightenment. So difficult
problem exits: how to let things completely happen in me; to let things
exist in me. So constant practice is to keep complete, purest pureness.
That is the only way. Most honest you keep. At that time you begin to
hear a little sound. Everything is talking to you... Completely
you offer your mind and body for the time of zazen and you will be like
that, and let things happen as they go. So what will happen is not
Here are some more examples I have found particularly rich
About the Thing but the Thing Itself
At the earliest ending of winter,
In March, a scrawny cry from outside
Seemed like a sound in his mind.
He knew that he heard it,
A bird's cry, at daylight or before,
In the early March wind.
The sun was rising at six,
No longer a battered panache above snow...
It would have been outside.
It was not from the vast ventriloquism
Of sleep's faded papier-mache...
The sun was coming from the outside.
That scrawny cry--It was
A chorister whose C preceded the choir.
It was part of the colossal sun,
Surrounded by its choral rings,
Still far away. It was like
A new knowledge of reality.
Dwelling Place Place
Aitken (p. 82)
With the practice of zazen, mustering body and mind, we
understand a thing intimately by seeing and hearing, and the self is forgotten.
This kind of understanding is not by simile, it is not a representation, like
the moon reflected in the water, but is a brilliant presentation of the thing
itself and is a complete personal acceptance. One side is illumined. There
is only that thrush. At the same time, the universe is present in the shadow.
The other players are still there.
So (p. 53)
When we practice zazen, it is not that big mind is actually controlling
small mind, but simply that when small mind becomes calm, big mind starts
its true activity.
September 2003, p.7
with Richard Smoley
This Self - which is emphatically not the lower self of the ego - is the
core of your being. You can never see it, because it is that which sees.
Saint Francis of Assisi alluded to it when he said. “What you are
looking for is what is looking” and Christ in the Gospel of Thomas
says, “You can never take hold of it, but you can never lose it.”
Mystical Realist (p.188-189)
In short, humans and nature co-work and co-create eighty-four thousand gathas
by being enlightened together and by becoming Buddha contemporaneously.
Stand still. The trees ahead and the bushes beside you
Are not lost. Wherever you are is called Here,
And you must treat it as a powerful stranger,
Must ask permission to know it and be known.
The forest breathes. Listen. It answers,
I have made this place around you,
If you leave it you may come back again, saying Here.
No two trees are the same to Raven.
No two branches are the same to Wren.
If what a tree or a bush does is lost on you,
You are surely lost. Stand still. The forest knows
Where you are. You must let it find you.
Zazen teaches, inculcates, and inscribes a state of receptivity and readiness.
When we are freed even momentarily from the burden of preoccupations that
Maylie called "the self habit" we may encounter the zen of the founding
Robert Aitken calls this the void that is full of possibilities; Lex
Hixon called it “primordial mind.” Hakuin referred to it as self-nature
that is no-nature; Bodhidharma as “vast emptiness, nothing sacred.” The
Heart Sutra reminds us with unrelenting insistence that “all dharmas
are marked with emptiness.” To encounter this wellspring of
formlessness and intrinsic abundance is to affirm that it cannot be
named or described. And yet, it is our familiar home. It is the realm
of interbeing and the realm where the gratitude of the Dharma ancestors
is our own. Huang-Po said:
Our original Buddha-nature is, in highest truth, devoid of any atom of objectivity.
It is void, omnipresent, silent, pure; it is glorious and mysterious peaceful
joy - and that is all. Enter deeply into it by awakening to yourself. That
which is before you is it, in all its fullness, utterly complete. (The Roaring
Stream, p. 92)
This is what I understood Maylie to mean when she spoke, as she did
quite often, of "finding our heart's desire" and of "coming home.” Home
is the place where self-clinging is released in the realization that
"you are not it, it actually is you." It is where I find the root of
practice, in the numinous, creative, undivided ground of experience.
• Robert Aitken. The Mind of Clover. p. 139.
• Robert Aitken - essays:
-- “Seeing into true nature,” p 21-24 in News from Kaimu, January, 2001
-- “The five modes of Yung-Shan - Mode
II: The Universal within the Phenomenon,” p.1-5 in News from Kaimu,
Rin Shin-ji ~ Forest Heart
3 Haiku, Drifting Off
in the woods, dozing
earth and roots hum to
shimmering leaves; their song
unveils the breath of stars
during zazen, dozing
a raven echoes
its call through the woods; in the
ditch, a frog answers
my teacher, dozing
sleep my trusted friend,
no more nor less; the stars
witness your awakening
The following articles, written by AZG Sangha member Mneesha
Gellman, appear on the Toward Freedom web site. Links to the individual
articles are provided below:
Gellman is Associate Producer of A World of Possibilities radio program at the Mainstream Media Project in northern California.
She traveled to Israel and Palestine in June 2005.
The Arcata Zen Group newsletter is published
six times a year. To submit articles or announcements to the newsletter,
e-mail Mike at: email@example.com.
All submissions to the newsletter must be made in an electronic format,
and must be submitted by the announced deadline.