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Showing posts from October, 2010

Difficult or Easy?

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“The Layman Pang was sitting in his thatched cottage one day [studying the sūtras]. "Difficult, difficult," he said; "like trying to scatter ten measures of sesame seed all over a tree." "Easy, easy," Mrs. Pang said; "like touching your feet to the ground when you get out of bed." "Neither difficult nor easy," Ling Zhao said; "on the hundred grass tips, the great Masters' meaning."[1]

Practicing the Aftermath.

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Recently, Rev. Do-on has been involved in a local effort to save trees in a rare local habitat called an Oak Savannah  at our local treasure, the Oak Openings park.

As it happens, we live smack in the midst of this great natural preserve, and Rev. Do-on has a deep heart and body connection to the Ki and feeling of the place.

In fact, most days she can be found on the trails for at least some time.

But then, of course, things happen.

In this case, it was a tornado that back on June 5th decided to take a chunk of our treasured forest along with it.

So tornado's happen, of that there is not doubt.  The question then becomes what to do with the aftermath.

Kind of like my mind.

No, exactly like my mind.

And as one of the local community members that responded with such passion, care and intention, I found Rev. Do-on's efforts to be a great inspiration and model of how to engage the world of form as a priest of emptiness (in the pics above she is talking with one of the park ranger…

Sincere Heart, Blazing Furnace.

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I was talking with some of the sangha after evening practice last night, and we were all still basking in the glow of last weekends sesshin which as you may be able to deduce from this pic happened in our family's living room this time around - but that's another story...

There is something both utterly mysterious and radically dependable in the practice of sesshin, and the rhythm of joining sesshin, re-emerging into the karmic unfoldings of my life's many up's and down's and then plunging back into sesshin again over and over has in many ways been the root of my spiritual path.

At once, it is the place of ease and repose, and it is a intentional holding oneself in what truly is the furnace of deep practice - melting us down over and over as David Sensei so perfectly put it.

But any form, any way of practice is no guarantee of anything in and of itself - not even my beloved sesshin retreats.

The whole thing, it seems to me, turns (or doesn't) on one's sinc…

Yun-Men's Staff of Shallow and Deep

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Little Buddhas Everywhere!

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For me, one of the great joys of being a Zen priest has been the empowerment to really go out and catalyse the creation of contexts for the spreading of the Dharma where it did not exist before.

 Many dedicated sangha members have worked together to help create the content and shape the format of the Toledo Zen Center Dharma School, and pictured at left is David Rynick Sensei, Abbot of the Boundless Way visiting with some of the Dharma School kids and their families after last weeks Sunday service.

For me, finding a way that is meaningful, relevant and fun for members of the next generation to enounter the teachings of wisdom and compassion simply has to be one of the main missions of the modern American zen landscape.

Time passes swiftly, and before we know it these now young folks will be living in a world they inherited from us, so lets take up the koan of how to leave them something worthy of their scutiny.  The seriousness of the imperative is clear, and so is the joyfull rally …

10-10-2010 - Rev. Jay Rinsen Weik - Contemplative Practice

Moving into Deeper Waters

This morning I picked up David Dayan Rynick Sensei from the Detroit airport and we have spent the day in conversation and community.  Rev. do-on continued her efforts with the tree deforestation issue at the Oak Openings park near our house and in between I finished up helping to connect the dots with the UT zen buddhist fellowship.

A rich time, with many forces pulling and pushing to be sure.

But now, its time for the deeper waters of sesshin to flow in - the sangha is arriving, the energy begins to build.

I'll post more on the other end.  Till then, may our practice be strong and true.

Just the Right Place.

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Since I can remember, I have often felt the pull of living as a Monk and in my youth I visited many monasteries in the Catholic tradition I was born into.  It was eventually a Zen monastery that would catalyze my entry into the Dharma.

Today, I am so happy that I live in the world - that I did not choose to become a single monastic living in the cloister, but rather have followed the bodhisattvha path through the market place (kicking and screaming at some points to be sure) with a wife and kid and job and mortgage, directly working with the culture in ways that make sense to me and that I largely enjoy.

Of course, I am at the same time an ordained Zen Buddhist Priest - the same ordination that some would refer to as a monastic one, though for me the title priest fits much more the vocation I live.

And also I'm teaching Jazz at a western university, and universities are the direct heir to the western monastic tradition of learning, and Jazz is the heir to the harmonies of Europe…

An Encouraging Word.

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I got a notice yesterday that the Toledo Zen Center had been the subject of a blog post and was happy to read this account from a local college student Dr. Janosz Poha recounting his favorable experience visiting and practicing with us:

http://drjanoszpoha.blogspot.com/2010/10/went-to-buddhist-zen-center.html

Its nice, once in a great while along the way to get an encouraging word or an affirming nod.  Thank you Dr. Janosz!

Born Fully Formed?

Really loving the direction that my Aikido practice is going in these days.  My teacher Bill Gleason Sensei has connected with an Internal Power/Aiki teacher named Dan Harden who is helping shed some light on the hidden inner work that Morihei Ueshiba O'Sensei was introduced to by Sokaku Takeda Sensei, who was introduced to it himself by Honshina Chikanori (Saigo Tanomo) and back into the mists of time...

How wonderful to find that the teachers have teachers, and that one need not be born from the side of a virgin to be of some use in the world...

October Toledo Zen Center Newsletter

The current Toledo Zen Center newsletter is now available online and there is so much good stuff happening its amazing to me:
What Is Zen?  Awakening! David Rynick Sensei to lead Sesshin Oct 21-24. Join us for our special Kid friendly Halloween Hungry Ghost Ceremony at the Sunday Service on October 31st!  A Personal Message from  Reverends Do'on and  Rinsen Fall 2010 Zen Arts Series update: We are excited for the next installment of our Arts Series, the upcoming November 12-14 visit of Soto Zen Buddhist priest Edward Espe Brown Introducing the Amherstberg Zen Meditation Group Toledo Buddhist: Reverend Rinsen's New Blog! University of Toledo Zen Buddhist Fellowship  Meeting Schedule October/November Zen Training Schedule
The Diamond Sutra

Hat Mala

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I found myself trapped in a holding pattern for a time at the University of Toledo Student Activities Committee meeting today. As the Faculty advisor of the newly formed UT Zen Buddhist Fellowship I was there in a show of support for the groups request to fund an opening event and have our constitution approved, both of which thankfully happened due to two bodhisattvhas - one student member who took time from their busy schedule to meet with the committee and answer questions, and another on the committee who volunteered to stay late and review our constitution. Between the presentation and deliberations for the funding of the event and the consideration of the constitution there was a good hour plus hanging out there waiting while other matters were tended to, and during this time, I found myself using the brim of my hat as a kind of improvised and discreet Mala and used it as I practiced Metta for everyone:

May these beings be
free from animosity,
free from oppression,
free from troub…

Sangha Treasure, Buddha Treasure.

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I've been working on the soon to be sent out newsletter for the Toledo Zen Center and it really hit me just how much we have going on in the sangha here. It really is inspiring and compelling to me in so many ways.

One of the many influences that I'm so grateful for in this great project is my association with Boundless Way co-founder, Abbot and Guiding teacher David Rynick Sensei. His particular way of leading and practicing is both compelling and very real world. Happily he will soon be here in Toledo leading a sesshin with Rev. Do-on and I, and it's gonna be a something for sure.

His blog is HERE., and details of the upcoming retreat with him are HERE.

So, What is Zen? Awakening!

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Everything That Arises

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Had a very helpful conversation with my teacher James Ford Roshi this morning. Luckily we are able to be in touch, and it is a great help to me as Rev. Do-on and I navigate the business of leading the growing organization that is the Toledo Zen Center. Every thing that arises is a teaching, each a chance to bring the practice to life, not in some kind of idealized other-worldly kinda way, but in the grit and grime of "What are we gonna do with this?" Others who resonate are interested in exploring alignments and asking for support, complex and important policies need to be discerned, and then there are always the personalities, oh yes.

In all of this, one thing is abundantly clear - but some things shouldn't be spoken now, should they...


And then there is the body.

I successfully completed the fasting yesterday, and to my astonishment I survived. In fact, it's near noon of day 2 and I'm not hungry at all, even after I did a rather intense morning workout with …

Fast Zen!

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This is a pic of my "Avatar" at the kannonji temple in 2nd life. I gave a talk last night and tried to outline some of what zen practice is and how it functions. How I see it, and how it has helped my at any rate... Then the great experiment of holding private interviews in this format, and so far so good. The folks who connected with me were sincere and true, and that is the main case whenever connections with the Dharma are at hand.

I also connected with some folks around the general Zen landscape - how different sects and schools are dealing with the passing of time, an interesting mix for sure.

Today I'm going to fast - as in not eat. My Aikido sensei Bill Gleason went on and on with me about the value, and really I need to loose more than just a few pounds so here we go... the hope is to take one day a week and just not eat. Give the system time to recover and clear out. Tea is ok, for now anyhow.

Guess I'll have some Tea then...

Being of some use...

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This morning we held our sunday service at the Toledo Zen Center, and Rev. Do-on lead the Dharma School for the kids. She did a really great activity teaching them to have joy in other's joy rather than feel jealousy. It went super well, and my 2cents were in a remembrance of the 1 year anniversary of the passing of my first teacher Daido Roshi. After that I gave a talk an held interviews on 2nd life kannonji temple. I think that things went really well, and I look forward to continuing my presence there as long as it seems to be of some use.

That is the key in all this isn't it - to be of some use.


Had a great seminar with Bill Gleason sensei, deep bows to him for all his years of dedication and growth. A true inspiration to be with him. Thank you sensei...

Aikido Training with Bill Gleason Sensei

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The day has been filled with the company of my teacher and friend Bill Gleason Sensei. I met him and began to practice Aikido with him in 1987, and have been inspired and challenged ever since. This morning we played some guitar together and I was able to share with him some of the distinctions that I've recently found for understanding the instrument, and then we practiced Aiki together in the yard with the blue sky and green forest all around us. Evening class at the dojo was great, sensei allowed me to video the class so I will be able to reference things after he has gone back to boston. After a nice dinner with the Aikidoka, we came home and I sat with the 2nd life sangha Kannonji. Sitting with them every night from midnight to 12:30am has been a nice kind of practice well suited to my insominiac ways...

Dharma activities for the day!

Today I had a great phone conversation with my primary teacher James Ford Roshi. We talked about many things that are on the Zen map - recent soto zen buddhist association documents, the possibility of a trip our here by James to lead a sesshin in the summer and make the precepts available, getting the Toledo Zen Center established as a temple, how we fit into the Boundless Way organization and other such things. Later on in the evening I gave a presentation to a goo number of students at UT on the Dharma for their world religion class, and finally this evening I sat a period of zazen with the 2nd life sangha that has been so supportive of the Drinking Gourd podcasts.

In other news, we got a family piano delivered and it's great. Craigs piano shop is the only piano store in the area, support them if you are in the market. I taught several Jazz improv lessons at the U and an aikido class at the dojo, though we are in test prep mode so mostly I just facilitated things.

In the cra…

I'll be giving a talk in 2nd life!

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This is really alot of fun, and I'm enjoying connecting with folks from all around the world this way. Click the photo at the right to go to their webpage:

Toledo Zen Center News Letter

Take a look at the current newsletter HERE.