Thursday, February 19, 2009

Today's message

RA here again. It's time for me to respond to those who are doing zazen regularly.



  1. Dear Roshi,

    How are you? After 20 years of practice I remain a beginner, it seems. When I sit (every day), the mind wanders around like a tyrannosaurus rex having a bad hair day.

    Some teachers talk about samadhi or clear mind, but I rarely have experience of that. Most often, the T-rex simply has its way, despite my intention to *really do it, this time.*

    In "Miniatures," you wonder aloud, "How can I say that this very shithead is enlightened?" I wonder the same thing about the tyrannosaurus rex that occupies my skull?

    Thank you for any comment you might offer.

    Yours in the Dharma,

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  3. Dear Roshi,

    I'm very glad to find your blog and I hope that you are keeping well today.

    I practice zazen in a lineage which draws on the teachings of Dogen Zenji.

    What do you feel is the central matter in practicing Buddhism?

    Does practicing Zazen make us more balanced and moral?

    Many thanks.


  4. Around here, it's much less intense than once. Whether that relates to age (68) or laziness I'm not sure, but I do notice that the more relaxed things become the more credible they become... more Buddhism and less "Buddhism." And if this is a mistaken view, well, mistakes don't impress me as much as they once did.

    My teacher's teacher, Soen Nakagawa Roshi, once said during sesshin, "You must learn to die on your cushion." At the time, it seemed like quite a challenge/threat. These days, when I think of the line at all, it is usually accompanied by the question, "Well, what the hell did you expect?"

    For practice, there are a couple of hours on Sunday in a small zendo I built in the backyard. There are occasional visitors who offer teachings and otherwise the squirrels running across the roof ... run across the roof. Weekdays, there are a wife and three children and work and household chores ... and a daily incense-stick's worth of sitting when possible.

    What is your view of formal practice and aging. After 35-plus years of the former I still am lucky enough to have some hair to light on fire, but less inclination to do so. It's a good practice and I am grateful for it, but I am grateful for my toes too.

    With thanks,


  5. Dear Roshi,
    I sit here in the bagel shop and a gaggle of young girls are singing in the back some kind of happy rhyming song which feels warm and familiar but I can't place. It moves me to ask of zazen.

    My teacher, Jack Duffy, works with me over a distance and I feel he is mostly presentational. It must be helping me as I still am working on my first koan after 4 yrs.

    Is the discursive ever helpful?

    I've relaxed a bit about resolving my first koan. The barrier koan. Sit every day, once a week with our local group, one or two sesshins a year along with a couple of other shorted retreats. Just slow I guess. So it goes.

    In gratitude

  6. Dear Roshi,

    How are you? It was great to see your blog. I have not been sitting regularly but I try. I have been to a few sesshins and it has been very helpful in deepening the practice. I hope you feel well. Hope to see you often on the blog site.

    With Gassho

  7. Dear Roshi,
    Thank you for your life/practice. I have recently been posting some art practice on the site and was wondering if you could check it.

  8. Dear Barry and Harry:

    The notion of Samadhi is extraneous to your Zazen, so come back to your practice. When such stuff appears again, come back to your practice again. Yunmen will sheathe his stick and nod approval. When you follow the way of Dogen, his central matter if your central matter: “What is body and mind drop away?” When you follow the way of Zhouzhou, his central matter is yours. “What is Mu?” With Zazen you see that you and everything’s a part of everything. Balance and morality follow along. -RA

  9. Thank you, Roshi, for your teaching!

  10. RA Roshi said:

    When you follow the way of Dogen, his central matter if your central matter: “What is body and mind drop away?” When you follow the way of Zhouzhou, his central matter is yours. “What is Mu?”

    Hi Roshi, thank you for this comment.

    Are these different ways of pointing to the same thing, or are they describing something different?


  11. Thank-you, Roshi.



  12. Hi Robert

    I have been practicing Zazen for about three years now. Before that I practiced Vipassana and Mahumudra. The only difference I can see with Zazen is the labels of calm abiding and clear insight are dropped, the same with everything else. To me enlightenment is none other than ordinary life, ordinary mind.

    There is so much bullshit and misunderstanding of the Buddha's dharma. Let go of all labels. Let go of all the experiences (Good and Bad) Spirituality, Lama, Roshi, Master, enlightenment, nirvana, religion etc are all bullshit labels. You and the universe have never, ever been seperate, nor will this energy within let go of its hold, until you can see the game that's being played out.

    Suffering is none other than attaching to the illusion as if it has meaning other than what is displayed and felt. Zazen has shown me that time is definately an illusion.

    All the Best in your Practice