Acts of Kindess

Please share your experience with kindness and compassion here. What acts did you witness that were kind or compassionate? How did you serve another in need or help someone in distress? Include all sentient beings, plants and animals. Don’t be shy!… full post

Choosing Kindness

To be hopeful in bad times is not just foolishly romantic. It is based on the fact that human history is a history not only of cruelty but also of compassion, sacrifice, courage, kindness. What we choose to emphasize in this complex history will determine our lives. If we see only the worst, it destroys our capacity to do something. If we remember those times and places – and there are so many – where full post

In Gratitude this Thanksgiving

Dear Sangha ~         Extending gratitude to you all for your honest and courageous exploration of the practice of Zen together. For the banquet of warmth extended to one another, the cornucopia of creativity, and the generosity in bringing the teachings of awakening to life. My deepest gratitude goes to the simple yet extraordinary fact we effort to create a sacred space to investigate directly the meaning of this one precious life. I cannot imagine for… full post

Q/A: How Can I Face the Daily News?

Lately, I can hardly read the news. I know I’m supposed to know what’s going on, but every day I’m left with a sense of dread and overwhelm with what’s happening in the world. Even though I meditate every day, I’m not sure how my practicing zazen applies to this problem. I just feel helpless in the face of so much suffering.

Dear friend in the dharma ~

You are not alone. To be troubled … full post

Dharma Q/A: Should I Go to Sanzen?

I’m not sure if and when I should come to sanzen. What’s OK to ask and what isn’t? Sometimes I feel like I need more help in practice, that I don’t know what I’m doing, but it’s hard to figure out how to put it into words.

I remember my first long retreat. On the second day of sesshin, I was surprised by a voice in the zendo that said ominously, “Sanzen is available with … full post

Dharma Q/A: Why Do I Seek Realization?

Why do I seek realization?  I only have a very short time to live (years or days just a blink in time).  What is the benefit of becoming enlightened?  It can’t be for me.  I’m as transient as an airborne spore.

When you realize buddha dharma, you do not think, “This is realization just as I expected.” Even if you think so, realization inevitably differs from your expectation. Realization is not like your conception of full post

Dharma Q/A: Zazen – The One Non-negotiable?

There is a huge billboard on W. 11th that says, “Jesus, the only way to God.” I know Zen (unlike the Christian billboard) is not saying that zazen is the only way to realization, but why is it indispensable in Zen practice?    

As I say this often, I can imagine it sounds quite dogmatic, a quality that naturally evokes suspicion. I’m with you. As was the Buddha.

I talk about zazen as “the one non-negotiable” … full post

Dharma Q/A: Does Atonement Make Peace with the Past?

Does atonement address making peace with events in my past that happened to me, and that were not my doing or my fault?  Webster defines it as “reparation for a wrong or injury.”  Is the Buddhist definition broader?  If not atonement, how does the Dharma teach us to deal with past wrongs done to us? 

This practice of at-one-ment deepens over time as this act is renewed again and again. Reparations for past wrongs may … full post

Dharma Q/A: Frustrated by Koans.

Zen koans are totally frustrating and make me feel stupid. It’s as if everyone gets this but me. Am I missing something?  

Most definitely not! You have everything you need if you’re willing to get a little closer to the koan to find its gem. Even anger at a koan, when realized, becomes most intimate.

Before dismissing them out of hand, consider koans as good medicine, maybe bitter at first, but goes right to the … full post

Dharma Q/A: What Are We Doing When We Bow?

Could you say something about bowing in terms of the form, practice and spirit?

Truly, there is no Zen practice without bowing. When I place my hands palm to palm, immediately this brings alignment, connecting the inner and outer world in a way that is openhearted, accepting, ready and willing. Even if we don’t emotionally feel this in performing the mudra (maybe we’re distracted or irritated) something inevitably shifts as we do this ritual over … full post