Friday, May 31, 2013

Healing - the Central Goal of Life

     Every human being is the author of his own health or disease.        Buddha

     “Healing is the central goal of life. I am not speaking of physical healing, a person can die healed: what I mean by ‘healing’ is a shift in our quality of life away from anguish & suffering, toward an experience of integrity, wholeness, & inner peace. … a process of adaptation, a coming to terms with things as they are.” 

       Mount BM. “The 10 commandments of healing.” J Cancer Educ 2006; 21(1): 50-1. 

Samish Island, WA

Have Patience & Keep on Truckin'!

     Hui-neng, an illiterate laborer, on accidentally hearing the Diamond Sutra, had an immediate profound awakening. He immediately inquired about the Sutra, and sought instruction from Hongren, the 5th patriarch of Chan Buddhism.
     Most of us take a much slower, more circuitous path - gradually (instead of suddenly) awakening. I read about Zen for 30 years, finding it captivating, but really understanding nothing. Then I slowly got into a sitting practice. It's been a very slow 15 year journey so far. Unlike Hui-neng, it's quite remarkable how slow many of us are catching on, and to what extent it happens.
      We're repeatedly advised to focus on the process itself, not the goal - awakening. Doing so becomes easier, the further one is down the path. Impatient zeal gradually transforms into infinite patience, persistence ...
     Initially, our priorities are egocentric AND we're so unaware of our egocentricity, that we would argue vociferously to the contrary.
     Gradually we see present reality with increasing clarity, gradually we let go of self-cherishing, and gradually we open our heart-mind to what is. Clarity and ease come very slowly, but they do come, and it's well worth the effort. Slow and steady wins the race. "Keep on truckin'!"

Studio 21 Art Gallery, Halifax, NS

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Walk an Intelligent Path

            When walking through hell,
            KEEP WALKING

      These are excellent instructions, as long as one does not walk in circles. Wallowing is terribly common and comforting - in a sick way.
     One needs to follow a path that leads to the end of suffering - the Buddha's ONLY message.

Dale Chihuly

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Effacement, Relinquishment, Without a Trace

     The Buddha was called the Trackless One, leaving no trace, no footprints, like birds flying across the sky.

     As Emptiness constantly bubbles up into Form, emerging, emerging, emerging, all Compounded Things constantly return to Emptiness, leaving without a trace, relinquishing their individuality, all of it effaced. Everything a verb, a process in motion.

     There is no place to seek the mind:
     it is like footprints of the birds in the sky     from a Zen poem by Zenrin Kushu

Amy Dunlap

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Spoken Words & Insight Dialogue

     "Everything becomes a little different as soon as it is spoken out loud."      Herman Hesse

     That quote is highly relevant to Insight Dialogue (ID). I heard it on the latter half of this exceptional CBC radio show - Tapestry, Season 18: Episode 36 - well worth a listen:
     "Several months before the death of Douglas Campbell, actor R.H. Thomson recorded Campbell reciting the poetry of William Blake. For Thomson it was a way to express his love for Blake and for Campbell. He plays a selection of those recordings, to show why Campbell's voice was unique, and why poetry must be spoken aloud to achieve its true power. This is a stunning radio documentary prepared for Tapestry by Frank Faulk."

Buddha in a Seattle mall

Monday, May 27, 2013

Perseverence, Endurance, Stick-with-it-ness, Slow and Steady Wins the Race, Never Give Up!

     Endurance is one of the most difficult disciplines, but it is to the one who endures that the final victory comes.        Buddha

John Dyer

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Anicca - Everything is Transient

     Corporality is transient, feeling is transient, perception is transient, mental formations are transient, consciousness is transient.       Buddha 

Prayer Wheel, Samish Island, WA

Saturday, May 25, 2013

It's All Too Beautiful ...

The sound of raindrops
Ever-changing patterns
Tapping on the doors of perception

Friday, May 24, 2013

Human Maturation - Reconciling, Unifying, Transcending Perceived Opposites

     “Hara means nothing other than the physical embodiment of the original Life center in man.
     Man is originally endowed and invested with Hara. But when, as a rational being, he loses what is embodied in Hara it becomes his task to regain it. To rediscover the unity concealed in the contradictions through which he perceives life intellectually is the nerve of his existence. As a rational being he feels himself suspended between the opposite poles of heaven and earth, spirit and nature. This means first the dichotomy of unconscious nature and of the mind which urges him to ever-increasing consciousness; and second, the dichotomy of his time-space reality on this earth and the Divine beyond time and space. Man’s whole existence is influenced by the tormenting tension of these opposites and so he is forever in search of a life-form in which this tension will be resolved.
     What is man to do when he feels himself suspended between two opposing poles? He can surrender himself to the one or to the other and so, for a time disavow the contradiction; or he can seek a third way in which it will be resolved. The only right choice is the one which will not endanger the wholeness of his being. Since man in his wholeness must include both poles his salvation lies only in choosing the way which unifies them. For man is destined to manifest anew the unity of life within all the contradictions of his existence. The way to this unity is long. The integration of these two poles – the unconscious, and the conscious life of the mind, as well as between life in space time reality and the Reality beyond space time – constitutes the way to human maturity. Maturity is that condition in which man reaps the fruit of the union he has regained. The realization of this union means that he has found his true vital center. Basis, symbol, and proof of this is the presence of Hara.”

       Durckheim KG. “Hara – The vital center of man.” Inner Traditions, Rochester VT, 1975 (originally published 1956 - hence the masculine terminology).

Dale Chihuly

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Uninterrupted Contact with the Primal Unity of Life

     “Just as the growth and unfolding of the crown of a tree depends directly on its root-system, so also the vital development of man’s spirit depends on his being true to his roots, that is, to an uninterrupted contact with the primal unity of Life, from which human life also springs. If, forgetting this, man diminishes the realm of his primal life by artificially pulling himself upwards physically he disturbs the balance of his natural forces, and the inflated I then bars access to that higher development which it is its real function humbly to prepare, protect and serve.”

       Durckheim KG. “Hara – The vital center of man.” Inner Traditions, Rochester VT, 1975 (originally published 1956 - hence the masculine terminology).

Richard Kirsten Daiensai

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Spiritual Immaturity, Neurosis, Estrangement from Being, ... & Maturation

     “Immaturity, unripeness, is the cancer of our time, the incapacity to ripen the specific mark of our time. The neurosis which drives the spiritually sick to the therapist is simply the clearest expression of the universal suffering, the suffering due to man’s estrangement from Being! Healthy and unhealthy alike are to be understood as ‘on the way’ – hence never statically, but always in the perspective of their becoming one with their being. So it comes to this, that as in the East since time immemorial between pupil and master, so today between a sound person and his spiritual counselor, between a ‘disturbed’ person and his therapist – all are seeking, over and above any psychological aid, a firm metaphysical foundation for life. A longing for their being moves them all. They seek resonance and guidance out of a need which is not only constitutional and personal but which involves their whole existence.
     Modern man suffers from his immaturity and causes suffering to all around him. What we are called upon to do is to restore him to the context of the Greater Life, to un-block the door to at-one-ment with the wellsprings of his existence, and to show him the way to give expression to his contact with Being through life-affirming attitude. For there is a way to be trodden by actual practice.”

       Durckheim KG. “Hara – The vital center of man.” Inner Traditions, Rochester VT, 1975 (originally published 1956 - hence the masculine terminology). 

Richard Kirsten Daiensai

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

from Egocentricity & Delusion, towards Intimacy with Reality - Today's Urgent Quest

     “The predominance of the ego with its self-centered structure of consciousness, as well as all its claims, which obstruct and distort man’s connection with the ground of Being, is also the cause of his incapacity for any real faith. … the way to real faith … lies through an intimate experience of Being which will renew his feeling-contact with the divine ground, as well as form in him an inner attitude which will permit him to take this experience seriously and to prove it in his daily life. The search for ways to gain this new experience of Being, and an attitude appropriate to it, is the urgent task facing us today.”

        Durckheim KG. “Hara – The vital center of man.” Inner Traditions, Rochester VT, 1975 (originally published 1956 - hence the masculine terminology).

Richard Kirsten Daiensai

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Persevere, Persevere, Persevere - Never Give Up

     No one saves us but ourselves. No one can and no one may. We ourselves must walk the path.        Buddha

     today, in Seattle's Pike Place Market, a vendor sells a stone on which is carved:
            When walking through hell,
            KEEP WALKING

     See also:

Eternity to Eternity by Richard Kirsten Daiensai

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Insight Dialogue, Interpersonal Understanding, Relational Ease, and the Metta Foundation

     Despite having read & re-read Gregory Kramer's excellent book: “Insight dialogue. The interpersonal path to freedom.” (Shambhala, Boston, 2007), and having a long-time interest & trainings in communication skills (non-violent communication, motivational interviewing, appreciative inquiry, solution-focused therapy), I was very pleasantly surprised by the quality and depth of experiential practice at the recent Insight Dialogue (ID) retreat just north of Seattle WA (3rd annual Cascadia Retreat, Samish Island).
     Gregory Kramer and Mary Burns were superb facilitators to us 48 participants, roughly half of whom had had previous ID training.
     I can now really appreciate Kramer's writing: "We cannot reasonably expect individualistic philosophies and solitary practices to directly address the pain and confusion that arise between two people or in society at large. Nor can we expect solo endeavors to yield a direct path to the rewards of relational ease and insight. What is required is a fundamentally interpersonal understanding of the path and a meditation practice explicitly evolved to take place in relation with others. This book (  and participation in ID retreats  ) is about such an understanding and such a path."

Richard Kirsten Daiensai

Friday, May 17, 2013

Trust Emergence, which is only Now, Now, Now ...

Do not dwell in the past,
do not dream of the future,
concentrate the mind on the present moment.               Buddha

Dale Chihuly

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Awaken to the Oneness of Life, the One Body

     "The word Buddha means the Awakened One. Awaken to what? My opinion is that we awaken to the Oneness of Life, the One Body. That is my opinion of enlightenment. This awakening keeps deepening and deepening. What do I mean by deepening? Most of us are enlightened to the Oneness of our own body. I think that my arms, my legs, my face, etc. are all part of One Body. In fact I generally act according to that opinion without thinking about it. It is very natural to do so and, in fact, if I didn’t act that way, people might say I am deluded.

     Kōbō-Daishi (774–835, founder of Shingon Sect) said that we can tell the depth of a person’s enlightenment by how they serve others. If they are focused on themselves, they have awakened to the Oneness of themselves. If they are focused on their family, they have awakened to the Oneness of their family. If they are focused on their nation, they have awakened to the Oneness of their nation, etc., etc. In my opinion, the Dalai Lama has awakened to the Oneness of the Universe.

     The bottom line for me is that the person has realized and
is living the realization of the interconnectedness of life (the oneness of life). For me, that’s the awakening. For me, the enlightenment experience is awakening to the interconnectedness of life, that oneness of life; independent of what institution you belong to you can have that realization and you can function that way, and you could be within the Buddhist institutions and not be functioning that way.

     So that’s my standard for making somebody a teacher. I don’t even like the word empowering or transmitting. I like the word recognizing. I recognize somebody as a teacher in my family, the Zen Peacemakers, if I feel that they are living a life that shows they are an exemplar of someone who has awakened to the interconnectedness of life."

       Bernie Glassman

     See also:

Taylor Shute   Maclean's magazine

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Cease from Evil, Do Good, Do Good for Others - Bernie Glassman on the Pure Precepts

     "Dogen Zenji says of the first pure precept, 'Ceasing from evil is the abiding place of laws and rules of all buddhas.' This abiding place is the state of non-duality, of not-knowing and non-separation. The Sixth Ancestor of Zen defines zazen as the state of mind in which there is no separation between subject and objectno space between you and me, up and down, right or wrong. So we can also call this precept 'Returning to the One.'

     It’s a very difficult place to be in, this place where we don’t know what’s right and what’s wrong. It is the place of just being, of life itself. How many of us can say that we are open to all the ways of all lives? How many of us can say that we don’t have the answer? How many us can say that every way that’s being presented is the right way?

     Zen is a practice that pushes us to realize what is. To me, zazen is a form of bearing witness to life, of bearing witness to the elimination of the denial of the oneness of our life. As human beings, each one of us is denying something. There are certain aspects of life we do not want to deal with, usually because we are afraid of them. Sometimes it is society itself that is in denial. Zazen allows us to bear witness to all of life. To me, that is the essence of the second pure precept, doing good. Dogen says, 'Doing good, this is the dharma, supreme enlightenment. This is the way of all beings.' Bearing witness to things we are denying or that society is denying, bearing witness to the things we don’t want to deal with — this is the second precept. When we bear witness, we open to what is, and we learn. The things that we are in denial about teach us. We don’t go to them to teach them. When we can listen, when we can bear witness, they teach us.

     For me, the flowering of zazen is the third pure precept, doing good for others. Dogen says, '
This is to transcend the profane and to be beyond the holy. This is to liberate oneself and others.'

     What good is it if we just make ourselves more holy? What’s the point? The point is to serve, to offer, to be the offering. Of itself the fruit is born. So we don’t have to worry about what to do. If we cease from evil, if we become that state of unknowing, if we become zazen, the offering will arise. The fruit will be born.

     The question always comes up: how do we bring our Zen into our life? But Zen is life. What is there to bring? And into what? The point is to see life as the practice field. Every aspect of our life has to become practice. I was trained in a traditional monastic model whose forms are conducive to the state of not-knowing. The question for me is, what forms can we create in modern society that will be conducive to seeing the oneness of life? What are the forms that will make it easier for us to experience that state of nonduality? Almost anything we do will cause more dualistic thinking. How do we lead ourselves, our brothers, and our sisters into a state of nonduality?

     That’s the question. That’s the koan."

       Bernie Glassman

Hans Hildenbrand   National Geographic