|Dr. Robert Puff||
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#1445 Friday, May 30, 2003 Editor: Gloria
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
Joseph Riley Panhala
It was May before my
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
try the later northern slopes
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 ~
Web archive of Panhala postings
Al Larus ~ NDS This Morning ~ three photos
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: http://www.allspirit.co.uk
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
Hazrat Inayat Khan
Mastery Through Accomplishment
Omega Press, 1978
Archive for AlongTheWay can be accessed at:
Mike C. ~ E-Zendo
WHY I PRACTICE ZEN
First of all, thanks to John for suggesting a great topic. I hope that there will be
My experiences with
"religion" early on in life, (I'm an escaped Catholic.)
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
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,
Harvey Sodaiho Hilbert ~ E-Zendo
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 ~
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 :)
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 Ive 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 Im here
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. Thats where I found a Soto Zen Monastery that was only 2 ˝ 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 Ive 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. Im 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 thats how I came to practice Zen.
Viorica Weissman ~ MillionPaths
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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|Dr. Robert Puff||