Wednesday, November 23, 2011

It’s a sad thing that in our country we have the need to be right about everything and lack the necessary ability to be able to accept that others do not feel as we do. We have a need to be the winners in our politics and religion even with people who don’t believe in either. How can we progress past this and what will happen if we don’t? I believe that if we don’t learn the art of negotiation we will surly perish. If we don’t learn to let people worship the Flying Spaghetti Monster or just let them not believe in our imaginary friends then we will pass the way of all things unable to change and evolve,  into extinction. Give your brothers and sisters space to be different from you, remember change is good, remember be here now. 

Monday, March 14, 2011

Dorothy Jones Lecture

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Wednesday, March 9, 2011

My Spot on the wall.

          I’ve returned from a weekend sesshin with my friends at “Deep Springs Temple”  (  near Pittsburgh PA. It’s was an intense experience. We had 4 ea. 40 minute sitting periods with a 10 minute kinhin (walking meditation) on Friday and Sunday and  4x5 ea. on Saturday. The zendo is a roughly 16’x30’ room with wood paneling. As is the practice in Soto Zen we sat facing the wall. By mid-day on Saturday my body hurt but my mind had started to clear, or so I thought.  I went to bed on Saturday night feeling all “zenny” and non-attached, knowing that I had made progress in my searchers life. The wakeup bell rang at 3:30 Sunday morning. After a quick trip to the bathroom I took my spot in the zendo, and looked for my little spot on the wall that had been my friend all day Saturday
          Then the realization hit me. “My” sitting spot and “My” spot on the wall. How these attachments grow in us, this clinging to anything in the material world. I had grow an attachment to a small hole in a piece of paneling. How appropriate is that since the hole is basically a void. I had become attached to the void.
          This reminded me of a short teaching that I had read. “When you have a muddy dirty pair of work jeans you need a good detergent to get them clean. But try as you might, the jeans are not really clean until you rinse out all of the detergent”.
          In the end we must not even be attached to the dharma. Freedom is what we are after. To save all sentient beings we must first be free ourselves.
Do your practice, be free,

Sunday, March 6, 2011

A few weeks ago Ann, a member of our sangha, made an off hand statement to me about how zazen has helped her. I asked her to expound briefly on this. Here is her letter back to me.
          This is just a short note to let you know how helpful the practice of zazen has been to me.  Since I started, just a little over 4 months ago, I have noticed a difference in my ability to focus.  My listening skills have improved. My memory and recall have sharpened.  I feel very fortunate to be reaping such benefits at this stage of my life.  As a nursing student I have studied the impact stress has on the human body, zen meditation is an excellent way to restore the mind and body.  I can not thank you enough for your generosity in teaching this art to me.
Ann Goas
Having just returned from a weekend sesshin at “Deep Spring Temple” near Pittsburgh I feel almost to a word as Ann does. The stresses of home and hearth can oft times weigh heavily on a person. In this information dominated age we are all so thoroughly inundated that our stress level are usually beyond the roof. Now I know some will say that they are off the grid but I venture to say that unless you try extremely hard you are never really off.
Health and mental health reasons are some on many things to take into consideration when beginning a practice. At the sesshin the teacher name was Dosho Port. One of the points he stresses with us was the quality of mercy. He, along with the resident priest Kyoki Roberts, continued on with this thought throughout the time I spend.

Many hands can lighten the load.
Sunday morning as we awoke at 3:30 a.m., everybody was trying to get ready for our sitting at 4:00 a.m. Kyoki had assumes the job as cook for the weekend. Now I can imagine that having an extra dozen or so folks is stressful. The participants in the sesshin do work sessions with assigned task. With a sink full of dishes and everybody running around, not one person thought of asking her if she need a hand.

(and the shoe drops)

During our morning Dharma talk Dosho again spoke of mercy at which point Kyoki, as a true Zen master would, brought our collective actions to our collective attentions. 
She explained it thusly, and I paraphrase, When you walk into a room look around be a part of what is happening. If you see something needs done do it. When you leave, leave no trace behind.
That, my friends, will stick with me for quite a while. To live life as such. Seeing something need done and doing it leaving with no trace, no ego, no attachment. If we use less of our ego and more of our mind, imagine how our stress levels would plummet. If we had mercy on ourselves and others maybe we wouldn’t need to be a “Prozac” nation.
Ann, your journey has just begun with zazen. You have many more rewards to reap from this practice. The effort that you have put into your practice will benefit you from now until you pass from this life.
Be merciful to yourself, for we cannot be merciful to others until we can show mercy to ourselves. Be merciful to others, walk into the room of their life, see if anything needs done, do it, and leave with no trace, no bad karma.
Be diligent in your practice, whatever that may look like. Do it to the best of you ability.


Sunday, February 27, 2011

Model-Dependent Reality

Model-Dependent Reality, my new favorite catch phrase. This is from a book by Stephen Hawkins and Leonard Mlodinow titled “The Grand Design”. (GD)
 "[Model-dependent realism] is based on the idea that our brains interpret the input from our sensory organs by making a model of the world. When such a model is successful at explaining events, we tend to attribute to it, and to the elements and concepts that constitute it, the quality of reality or absolute truth." (GD)
How we view the world, our place of, or in, existence can effect this existence. Now I realize that (GD) this is dealing with things on the quantum level, my contention would be that this is also true on a macro level.
"There is no picture- or theory-independent concept of reality. Instead we will adopt a view that we will call model-dependent realism: the idea that a physical theory or world picture is a model (generally of a mathematical nature) and a set of rules that connect the elements of the model to observations. This provides a framework with which to interpret modern science." (GD)
"According to the idea of model-dependent realism ..., our brains interpret the input from our sensory organs by making a model of the outside world. We form mental concepts of our home, trees, other people, the electricity that flows from wall sockets, atoms, molecules, and other universes. These mental concepts are the only reality we can know. There is no model-independent test of reality. It follows that a well-constructed model creates a reality of its own." (GD)
We see the world through our senses, we hear, see touch, and smell. Everything is interpreted coming through our senses and to our brain. We label things and that is what they become to us. As my friends for “A Course In Miracles “are fond of saying a chair is not a chair. We designate it a chair then our whole concept of reality is dependent on that being a chair.
How many time have we hear the term “think outside the box”? What does that mean to you? To me it means that we must try to avoid our preconceived notions of reality and invent another version that will work in this given situation. We have heard many times of marathon runners pulling that last bit from somewhere deep within to win a race or of a sports team coming from behind to achieve a victory. Where does that come from? Have they reinvented their realities? If so, how can our perception invade the physical world?
"According to model-dependent realism, it is pointless to ask whether a model is real, only whether it agrees with observation. If there are two models that both agree with observation ... then one cannot say that one is more real than another. One can use whichever model is more convenient in the situation under consideration." (GD)
In the quantum world there is the reality that the mere observation or the intent of the observer can change the outcome of an experiment. Why would it not be the same on the macro level? We have just seen multiple dictatorships overthrown in the Mideast. The Hollywood dream machine is another prime example we just take for granted. A multi-billion dollar industry built on shaping reality.
These are cases of people changing their and others perception of reality. I would ask, are there people living among us who can shape their physical reality?  
"It might be that to describe the universe, we have to employ different theories in different situations. Each theory may have its own version of reality, but according to model-dependent realism, that is acceptable so long as the theories agree in their predictions whenever they overlap, that is, whenever they can both be applied." (GD)
We all accept as fact the everything is made from atoms and they in turn are made of even smaller thing. The fact is that most of what we perceive as solid “real” objects and vast amounts of nothing with a few atoms, molecules, quarks and what not thrown in. Our brain builds our reality from some, and only a short bit of the spectrum, of the radiation produced by the sun, traveling through space bouncing off these collections of particles and emptiness. These are in turn picked up by our senses taken to our brain and turned into what we see as our world.
Are there people who have trained themselves to see more that we do? To manipulate the atoms? To be able to pass between what we perceive as reality? In many forms of metaphysics people lay claim to just such abilities. Science has tried to measure this in experiments for years. I wonder if these abilities as is the nature of quantum experiments changes when it is observed and measured? 
Chose to be happy, make that your reality.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

BIG LETTERS/small letters

               In a group I attend on Sunday evening, “A Course In Miracles” we often discuss spirituality, love, compassion and things of the such in two different ways. To use the term compassion as an example, there is the small “c” compassion in which we feel empathy for others and the big “C” Compassion in which we feel Compassion for the race/planet/society/plane of existence as a whole.
            I was listening to Krishna Das, a musician and devotee of Neem Karoli Baba, talk about a teaching Baba gave. When he had asked Baba what he was to do the instruction was give “love people, feed people”. K.D. said, I wish he had given me a million syllable mantra to chant while standing on one leg in the ice, something easy. Love people, feed people. How am I to do that? I don’t even like people.
            Jesus said “Love your neighbor as yourself”. The first vow of the bodhisattva says “Sentient beings are numberless, I vow to save them”. Both of these are the BIG letter ideas. What I am thinking is that we need to start with small letter ideas. If we practice love and compassion on the small scale it will naturally evolve into the BIG letter concepts. If we do simple things such as, while driving let someone out in line. Smile when you are in the grocery store, park you vehicle properly in parking lots. These acts of kindness will spread to those around us.
            Small actions and signs of caring for people mean so much. Call an older relative and talk with them about their life. Be truly interested in someone when they tell you about their troubles. Some people are harder to love than others; this is because they need the love so badly. This is like a person starving to death, you need to be mindful of how much food you give them or you can cause them hard.
            Don’t forget to include yourself on this list of people to love. Take care of yourself properly. Love yourself properly. Remember the Buddha way is the middle path. Extremes in either direction are not conducive to our journey.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011


Time spent alone
Reflecting on the past
Desires and releases
Come at last
Sweeping through my mind
Winds of change
Blowing the dessert sands
Bringing the sweet rains
And the flowers bloom

Time spent alone

Time spent alone
Reflecting on the past
Desires and releases
Come at last
Sweeping through my mind
Winds of change on the dessert
Bringing the sweet rains
And the flowers bloom

Thursday, January 27, 2011

"Do not believe in something because the authorities say it is so. Do not believe in hearsay, rumor, speculative opinion, public opinion, or mere acceptance to logic and inference alone. Help yourself, accept as completely true only that which is praised by the wise and which you test for yourself and know to be good for yourself and others"