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#1445 Friday, May 30, 2003

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  • Gloria Lee
    A good walker leaves no tracks; A good speaker makes no slips; A good reckoner needs no tally. A good door needs no lock, Yet no one can open it. God binding
    Message 1 of 1 , May 31, 2003
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      A good walker leaves no tracks;
      A good speaker makes no slips;
      A good reckoner needs no tally.
      A good door needs no lock,
      Yet no one can open it.
      God binding requires no knots,
      Yet no one can loosen it.

      Therefore the sage takes care of all men
      And abandons no one.
      He takes care of all things
      And abandons nothing.

      This is called "Following the light."
      from Tao Te Ching, ch 27
      Thanks to Terry Murphy on SufiMystic
      photos by Al Larus

      #1445  Friday, May 30, 2003  Editor: Gloria
      Joseph Riley  Panhala


      It was May before my
      attention came
      to spring and

      my word I said
      to the southern slopes

      missed it, it
      came and went before
      I got right to see:

      don't worry, said the mountain,
      try the later northern slopes
      or if

      you can climb, climb
      into spring: but
      said the mountain

      it's not that way
      with all things, some
      that go are gone

      ~ A. R. Ammons ~

      Al Larus ~ NDS
      This Morning ~ three photos
      04.30 Sunrise
      05.45 90% Eclipse of the sun

      Gill Eardley  Allspirit
      Ajahn Sumedho, in 'Teachings of a Buddhist Monk':

      "Desire can be compared to fire. If we grasp fire, what happens?
      Does it lead to happiness? If we say: "Oh, look at that beautiful
      fire! Look at the beautiful colors! I love red and orange; they're
      my favorite colors," and then grasp it, we would find a certain
      amount of suffering entering the body. And then if we were to
      contemplate the cause of that suffering we would discover it was
      the result of having grasped that fire. On that information, we would
      hopefully, then let the fire go. Once we let fire go then we know that
      it is something not to be attached to.

      This does not mean we have to hate it, or put it out. We can enjoy fire,
      can't we? It's nice having a fire, it keeps the room warm, but we do not
      have to burn ourselves in it."

      Allspirit Website:
      MJ Gilbert ~ AlongtheWay

              To look at everything, trying to see what is behind
              it, to see it in its right light, requires divine illumination,
              a spiritual outlook on life.  And this outlook is attained
              by the increase of compassion.  The more compassion
              one has in one's heart, the more the world will being to
              look different.

      Hazrat Inayat Khan
      Mastery Through Accomplishment
      Omega Press, 1978

      Archive for AlongTheWay can be accessed at:
      Mike C. ~  E-Zendo

      First of all, thanks to John for suggesting a great topic. I hope that there will be
      many responses.
      My experiences with "religion" early on in life, (I'm an escaped Catholic.) led me
      look upon churches, temples and the like with an abiding sense of suspicion
      and mistrust. To me, these were places where mean spirited people with
      questionable motives were all to eager to tell me what to do, when to do it, how
      to do it and what to think and feel while doing it. I was well into my adult life
      before the works of scholars, such as Joseph Campbell, convinced me that
      "spiritual" traditions could be the source of positive inspiration and not merely a
      source of "diabolical mind control".
      As I became more familiar with various traditions and belief systems, I was
      struck by an ever growing sense that, although each had much to offer that was
      constructive with respect to promoting positive regard for the well-being of
      others and developing insights into the one's place in the universe, most offered
      these benefits only to those who were willing to "join the group" and
      acknowledge a given fixed doctrine as the "one true religion." I was profoundly
      uncomfortable with the idea of having to to deny the value and validity of all of
      the world's cultures save one.
      Enter Zen, a tradition within which one is not only permitted to think for oneself,
      but strongly encouraged to do so. No one at my local zendo tries to tell me that I
      had better not read the Bible, the Upanishads, the Tao de Ching, the Q'aran or
      the Torah in addition to the Sutras lest my mind be corrupted or tainted by the
      mere exposure to an alternative point of view. One might say that I am presently
      engaged in a "Zen-centered" exploration of the world's spiritual traditions in
      order to waste no source of potential wisdom. The practice of zazen promotes a
      calmness and clarity of mind that enhances my ability to derive insights from all
      that I read and experience. The way of acting called for by "the Precepts" seems
      positive and natural to me, not at all like a set of imposing restrictions. The social
      cohesion of the zendo derives from an atmosphere of mutual respect among all
      members of the Sangha rather than having the will of an elite inner circle
      imposed upon the "common folks".
      In conclusion, the core practices and values of Zen just make sense to me: Seek
      calmness and clarity; look upon all sentient beings with unconditional positive
      regard; avoid preconceptions that impede insight; accept responsibility for the
      effects that one's decisions have upon others. Zen clears many paths to wisdom
      while blocking none.

      Peace and Best Wishes to All,
      Mike C.
      Harvey Sodaiho Hilbert ~ E-Zendo
      With palms together,

      Zen and I are old buds.  We met in the jungles of Vietnam on May 29th, 1966.
        I was engagd in a serious firefight with the North Vietnamese.  Many
      things happened that night, but two things in particular changed my life:  I
      killed a friend, mistaking him for a enemy soldier, and I was shot in the
      head, leaving me partially paralysed.

      That night I sought the truth.  There was no answer.  I left my chilldhood
      there and stepped onto the path of emptiness.

      Zen and I have encountered many turns in the path:  Catholicism, Judaism,
      Taoism.  Finally we rested on that which is always there. It has been a long
      and rewarding journey.
      Why I practice Zen, part two
      With palms together,

      Holding a stick of incense, I bow to the Buddha and sit down on my zafu.

      The Buddha in my butsudon is a tall, brass, Earth Witness Buddha.  He is the
      original one from my Teacher's Temple in Long Breach.  We recovered him from
      a former Disciple who retired from practice.

      I recognize that I am sitting with all Buddhas.  I recognize that somewhere
      in the universe there are others sitting with me just now, sitting in
      silence with the wafting smoke of incense curling up through the air into

      I sit in silence. The sort of silence that knows the sounds of birds
      singing, an occasional truck rolling by over the rocky dirt road that winds
      through the mountains in front of the Refuge house. It is an active silence.
        It is a passive silence.  It participates, joins, and embraces.  All
      without giving itself up to activity.  It is the silence of compassionate
      practice. It is the silence of kindness without self.

      Why I practice Zen is to take this silence from the zafu and into the world.

      Practicing this way enables a mindful awareness that my voice might be
      rising, that my mind might be judging, that my speach might be hurtful, that
      my eyes might be desiring. Without this mindfullness, we are easy prey to
      the three poisons.

      Caring for my animals with a warm and easy touch, walking through the forest
      without disturbing the butterflies, gently liberating the moths that have
      fallen into the horses water trough: these are the practices of Zen.

      Sit, listen, allow the universe its place.

      Rocky Top Refuge
      Abbot, Daibutsuji Zen Temple
      Wolfgang Waas ~ E-Zendo

      Hi John,

      Hmpf - it's a long time...  And it's not very typical, too.
      I had toddled a bit with Buddhism already, but was rather fixated in
      Catholicism then. When I inscribed a course of lectures in philosophy, I
      learned that thinking itself is most limited inherently. So I went and
      sought for kind of a wormhole to overcome that limit. I read the menu
      meticulously, and thought I'd try a plate of Zen, that it might still
      that kind of appetite maybe. It isn't stilled yet, but it seems somehow
      I'm spoiled for another type of diet, though always and again I'm trying
      on the sly :)

      Take care
      () Wolfgang
      John Soper ~ E-Zendo

      Why I chose to practice Zen.


      In September of 2002, when I made the conscious decision to focus my spiritual practice on Zen (specifically Soto Zen), I was approaching the end of my first year in a 12 step program.  Realizing that at the root of my addiction was the lack of any spiritual connection or commitment in my life, I knew that I needed to cultivate a relationship with a Higher Power of my understanding.  I had put the question of God and spirituality on the shelf in college after getting my first introduction to Buddhism and Taoism in my ‘Philosophy of Eastern Thinkers’ class.  My eyes were opened to other religions that seemed much more gentle and kind than the tradition that I was raised in (Roman Catholic).


      After college I dabbled in several Buddhist traditions, trying meditation on my own through reading many, many books.  I felt really unfocused as I jumped from practice to practice, so I decided to make up my mind about one tradition (at least for the moment) and stick with it for a couple of years.


      Which tradition to choose?  My most favorite Buddhist author at the time was TNH.  After reading my first book by him (Living Buddha, Living Christ) I was hooked on the straight forward and gentle way he communicated.  I think I’ve purchased most of his books and several meditation tapes by him.  I knew he was a Vietnamese Zen master but did know much of what lineage he came from.  So I started to investigate the various Zen schools on the internet.  This is where I learned that there were two large main schools.  I thought since I’m here in theUS I’d better pick one of these to increase my chances of finding a Zen center to practice at. After learning a bit about each I decided to choose Soto.  Why?  In one word: Shikantaza.  I realized that to practice “just sitting” allowing my highly analytical and discursive mind to settle down, was the best way to come to know a Higher Power of my understanding. I felt that focusing more on the koan practice of Rinzai would tend to feed my intellectual obsessions and cause more discursiveness.


      So, I pulled out this book that I had purchased for that class in college, ‘Zen Mind, Beginners Mind’ by Suzuki-roshi and read it again.  After that, I felt so at peace with the decision to focus on Soto Zen that I started learning more and more about the Soto Zen school (Sotoshu) by searching the internet.  That’s where I found a Soto Zen Monastery that was only 2 ½ hours away with an American born teacher that had spent 23 years training at a Japanese Soto Zen Monastery.  Almost immediately after find it, I attended my first introductory weekend retreat there in October of 2002.  I loved it!  Since then I’ve visited twice for more sittings and my last visit was for a full weekend Sesshin.  Sesshin was difficult, but a rewarding experience non-the-less.


      Today I am working towards developing a consistent daily sitting practice which is difficult with a wife in Nursing school and a 4 year old daughter in pre-school.  I’m getting there though.  Miraculously I have found the opportunity to sit zazen for four days in a row this past week, a real breakthrough for me!!


      And that’s how I came to practice Zen.

      Viorica Weissman ~ MillionPaths

      Temple Times

      David Godman

      This is an article I wrote a couple of years ago for an audience that I assumed would know nothing about Ramana Maharshi or Tiruvannamalai. I never got round to publishing it. It covers a period of my life of which I have very fond memories.

      In 1976 I traveled overland to India solely to visit the ashram of Ramana Maharshi, a famous saint who had lived, until his passing away in 1950, at the foot of the holy mountain of Arunachala in the southern state of Tamil Nadu. I went there with the intention of staying several months (I am still here twenty-four years later) but on my arrival I discovered that the ashram I had traveled so far to visit only permitted new visitors to stay for three days. When my time was up, I looked around for somewhere else to live. There wasn't much to choose from, so after a couple of hours I settled for a nice furnished room in a house that had about half an acre of tree-filled garden. The rent was (eat your heart out first-world city slickers) sixty-six cents a month, a little pricey for that area at the time, but the privacy and the garden made it worth the extra cash. 

           After a pleasant year and a half there, when I decided that the rent was making too much of a dent in my meager budget, I took a house-sitting job about a mile away. When the owner came back nine months later I again found myself looking for somewhere to stay. At that time I was feeling the call of the wild. I wanted somewhere remote where I could live and meditate quietly. The place that most attracted me was an abandoned temple, sited on a rocky outcrop at the base of Arunachala. I say it was abandoned because there was no deity there. Apparently, it had been stolen several years before. An empty lotus-shaped plinth marked the spot in the rear of the temple where the statue had once been worshipped. For me it was a case of location, location, location, and never mind the lack of amenities. It had no electricity, no plumbing, no door, the floor was covered with goat turds, the roof leaked (I discovered that later) and when I tried out the floor for size, I found I could only lie down, fully stretched out, if I positioned myself diagonally across the small rectangle that was the only flat space available. What it did have was a superb view across several miles of countryside, spectacular sunsets and an isolation that I thought would enable me to live and meditate in peace. 

           I engaged a couple a local carpenters to make me a burglar-proof door. Even though I owned virtually nothing worth stealing, I knew that security might be a problem in such an isolated area. All foreigners in rural India are assumed by some sectors of the community to be rich until a looting of their houses can prove otherwise, and even then there will be a deep suspicion that the valuable stuff is stashed elsewhere. A day or so later I moved into what I was already coming to regard as 'my' temple. I had never possessed real estate before. Owning a door in an abandoned shrine didn't exactly make me a member of the landed gentry, but it definitely gave me the feeling that I had moved up into the propertied class. 

      ...........  the rest is here : http://www.davidgodman.org/interviews/ttimes.shtml


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