Category Archives: Daily Life

Greyhound Bus

They call it the grey dog. Its Americas endurance test on wheels. Now coming into the eighth hour running fast and smooth towards Arcata on the north California coast. Plenty of time to contemplate the death of My Luminous Friend. To sit still with him as he goes on.

This post is for a chap on the bus in medical trouble.

Being over Doing

Little library for little people. And big people too.
Little library for little people. And big people too.
The following was copied from an old post made back in June 2008. Yep, as I said in a response to a comment from Gay. It’s worth going back through old posts. This quote from Thomas Merton fits right in with thoughts of recognition for what one does. Interesting to contemplate how one values others for what they are.

We are so obsessed with doing that we have no time and no imagination left for being. As a result, men (and women) are valued not for what they are but for what they do or what they have – for their usefulness.
Thomas Merton

Contemplating Empty Space – Garden of Delight

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A Sangha friend wrote me recently contemplating empty space. And as I walked the other day in the neighbourhood around Berkeley Buddhist Priory I started to compose a response in my mind. Here is something of what came to me.

You say you are surrounded by stuff, seeds as you call them. Seeds put there by you to aid you in your creative life. A potential garden of beautiful and wonderous delight. Twas a delight this spring to encounter your creative mind and stash of fabrics and whatnot surrounding you. And that was after your friend had moved loaded boxes to your downstairs storage ‘shed’!

You say you need to thin out those seeds to weed in order to give the rest space to grow. As you say, I simply do not have the space, the time and energy to nourish and bring to fruition all the ‘seeds’ piled up in my house. True, so true. I know somebody who would fill a van with your fabric stash, drive it back to the UK and start sewing. You have what she buys on EBay. I do however find myself wanting to caution you. To pause for a moment.

You say that the koan (problem) of daily life arises naturally and having objects fall of shelves and be tripping over things is a sign – to do something. (And I know you are ahead of me on this one already, smart as you are.) The sign, any sign, is not floating in mid-air it’s attached. In this case, to you. You who are living and moving around in mother earth, grounded and growing. You are the number one seed of inspiration without which nothing will grow. The sign just points the way forward. Thank goodness for signs aye?

SO obviously in general the daily life koan arising is pointing right back to the one who is the primary seed, the source of nourishment and of inspiration. Too often there is a rush to get stuff back on the shelves, get back on track, so to speak, when a brief pause will show the empty space (immaculacy) within and around the arising of the koan. Yes, one needs to do what needs to be done and the Sangha Treasure, the pole or pillar going deep into the earth must be seen, known and recognized for daily life watering to be effective. Constantly returning to that truth.

Weed away good Sangha Treasure.

Sit Like a Frog

When I think of Shunryu Suzuki I think of frogs! In his talk To Polish a Tile he talks about how the frog sits; becoming one with its surroundings.

When you become you, Zen becomes Zen. When you are you, you see things as they are, and you become one with your surroundings.

To Polish a Tile Suzuki Roshi, Transcript of this talk given in 1967 and also found published in Zen Mind Beginners Mind, page 80.

In 2010 I had the honour of visiting the Founders Shine at San Francisco Zen Center where Suzuki Roshi is remembered. My companion and I made bows and offered incense and we couldn’t help but notice all the frogs on the various side altars! Frogs featured in a number of his talks during  his short time teaching at SZC. Twelve years and what a huge influence.

I’m on Vancouver Island at the moment where there are numerous walking trails between housing estates. Yesterday I walked past a large pond with ducks cruising up and down. A sign announced this to be a sensitive area and to keep to the paths, so I did. There was a strange noise coming from the Bull rushes. Perhaps a frog!

Like so many others in the 1960′s, Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind was my introduction to Zen. I remember the page with just a fly on it, page 69. That more than anything left a lasting impression. But I don’t know why.

Still Moments

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Along with all the preparation to travel, so many details to attend to, I took the opportunity to spend a moment or two doing nothing. That was yesterday. Today its Heathrow and I’m taking another opportunity to do not very much. Well writing this of course – and also gorping out of the window at the hustle and bustle.

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Worlds apart one might think. But in a certain way of thinking – there is no gap. Come sit and travel with me. Oddly there is more time/space to write here when ‘on the road’.

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Sit and be at ease, where ever your sitting place is.