Wow thanks for sharing that! i gotta add that pic is awesome! i had a "Chips" toy set as a very wee kid I watched with meh dad I was like 4 so i was probably tooo young to be watching it ops:
Wow thanks for sharing that! i gotta add that pic is awesome! i had a "Chips" toy set as a very wee kid I watched with meh dad I was like 4 so i was probably tooo young to be watching it ops:
Thank you for sharing your story. I can really relate to the Catholic thing. Also, as a father and teacher of young children, I am grateful to you for what you do. Keep up the great work.
Well, it's taken me 4 days to get through posts. You are all amazing people and I am feeling quite honoured to hold your stories in my heart. The Native Americans have a saying: My heart is full.
I haven't been without Buddhism floating somewhere in my life since I was 5 years old. (Might have had something earlier but this is my first memory.) I was born and raised in Hawai'i and am fourth generation on my mother's side. I was raised with more Asian and Polynesian influences than Caucasian.
When I started kindergarten; and every year during my elementary school years; we had field trips to Chinatown and the first stop always made was to the Buddhist temple which was right in the middle of Chinatown. I very clearly remember being 5 and getting off the bus and looking up, up, up at this huge amount of stairs leading to this enormous Buddha with bright flowers, colored lights, ferocious golden doggies, tons of smoking incense. It was in an open pavillion and there were lots of elder Chinese doing some form of exercise (now I'd guess Chi Kung or some such), playing some kind of board game, or just sitting reflectively. I was scared spitless. The "man in the dress" came down to greet all the children and we all followed him up those enormous stairs and then we were giving one of these incense bits (unlit) and we were shown how to go to the Buddha and bow and put them in the big holders with all the others. We were all then given little tokens of some kind: a little card, a small medallion. Really small bits but we all thought there was some kind of magical stuff in them that had to do with the huge Buddha.
As the years went by this became less awe filled but I still always enjoyed it and we used to go to Chinatown and hang out at that same temple when I was a teenager.
I had a Bodaidaruma (Bodhidharma) nested doll I loved to play with but once, when I was 12 or 13, I had a nightmare that it came alive so it got put in the closet.
I was extremely fortunate to have an afterschool caregiver named Toshi watch over me from the time I was six til about 13 or so. She was from Japan and, I now believe, was probably Jodo Shin, but she always talked about Kanzeon, and the compassion of the Buddhas and Ancestors, and about honouring your parents. She also taught me tea ceremony and ikebana, the art of flower arrangement.
I started reading Alan Watts, Chogyam Rinpoche, and Aldous Huxley at the age of 15. Buddhism was too much a part of my childhood for it to be seriously considered a religious path for me, but I liked the ideas for what I could understand of it. Got further involved in all sorts of Buddhist writings, especially Zen flavoured, ages 17-18-19.
First Run In With The Four Noble Truths:
Then it all kind of stopped for awhile. I got married at 20, my mom died when I was 23, by that time I had two infants and was a single parent. I think I was too much in survival mode for many years afterward for me to deal with nice theories and groovy attitudes. I had to put food on the table, work two jobs, do my best to figure out what parenting was supposed to look like.
First Point of Disillusion:
Went back to university, they spit some degrees at me eventually, and I got a faculty position at the University of Oregon teaching and doing research in Cognitive Neuropsychology and Brain Electrophysiology. As thoroughly steeped in the hard sciences and academia as I was spiritual matters were suspect and untestable and couldn't get me a grant.
First Lesson on Freedom:
I met a man somewhere in there and he tore a huge hole in my intellectual, emotional, spiritual bubble of un-touchability. He rendered me down until he was left standing in the small puddle I'd become. He stopped and wiped off the soles of his shoes as he walked out of my life.
I went to the bookstore to try to get my soul back. I headed to the spirituality section. In my case, the book literally jumped off the shelf. It was by Pema Chodron. Within a week I was looking for a temple and a teacher. Found zazen and started to look at my mind.
Buddhism and the brain don't mix. Something finally had to give and I waved goodbye to my students and the hallowed halls and got myself to a monastery with the intent of living the remainder of my life as a monk.
First Step, Baby Step:
My life had other plans for me. Inside the walls, outside the walls. All the same.
There has been despair, there has been joy. Some days I love my life, some days I slog through it screaming and cursing. But, 11 going on 12 years of sitting, of studying, of not giving up have been worth it in ways I can never explain.
The little moments the make one dance.
Wow wow wow. A life! Thank you for relating that ... You are not a puddle to us, sweety!
I have to ask you this: As a refugee from Cognitive Neuropsychology and Brain Electrophysiology .. what is your take on the Five Skandhas? You can answer here or over at the 'Skandha' thread.
Hellos to All!
Thought I would pull this thread up from the past--because it is timeless!
I just noticed the thread I wanted to link it to (Where did it Start?) is on the other forum (way back when, there was only one forum--oh well)
Yeah, it was a pleasant thread.
Hey Jordan,Originally Posted by Jordan
Did you find a place to sit in Okinawa?
My Zafu and Zabuton got to our apartment on base while I was on ship. And I have a small bedroom with a few extra sitting cushions set up for guests, but I haven't invited anyone formally yet.
So as far as a Sangha, no.
However there are a few other people even within my small unit that have "Buddhist" down as there religious preference.
And on the boat they have no command sponsored representative, and there for no services, for those (there are many more) who profuse to be Buddhist. So I have approached the religious programs specialist and command chaplain about the means whereby to do some kind of semi organized Sangha both here on Okinawa and on the Ship.
I was just now thinking about asking for your assistance in setting up a program.
What do you think?
Fuken (Maybe we could change that dharma name while were at it?)
Nice one Dirk,
And it is not unpleasant to hear from you as well!
A bow in deference to you in the direction of Canada!
Jordan, good to see you.
Glad to hear you're ok and all.
Looking forward to hear more.
I searched through every religion I could find. I've read the holy books of the Christians, Muslims, Krishnas; studied what I could find on Shinto, the Dreamsongs of the Aborigines of Australia, the Great Spirit and animal religions of the Cherokee, even Druidism for a while. I was trying to find something that made sense. Problem was, almost all of it had some sense of the ridiculous about it. Magic, in my opinion (at least the kind the Wiccans and other Earth Religions profess) doesn't work - it's just a way of making the powerless feel powerful against natural forces they have no control over. Mainstream religion is so cold, so hard, very "boom, boom, boom, boom, Row you bastards!" Plus the three things I could never get past were 1) no matter what good you do in the world, if you don't accept fill in the blank you go to hell. 2)Why would God go through all the trouble he went through to make everything he made, just to want us to spend all our time worshiping him, instead of living the life he gave us? and 3)Why can't I question? Why does that mean I have no faith? Why must faith be its own proof?
Ok so that was sort of 5 questions. Then I started really getting into samurai. I always had a thing for honor. It seemed like something bigger than myself (my "self") and it seemed pure, unsullied. I watched Ghost Dog and wanted to get a copy of Hagakure, which I read. I had always been curious of Buddhism, but stayed away from Zen, because I thought (in my limited understanding of things) that Theravada was the most closely related to the Buddha's teachings. The rituals and ceremonies kind of turned me off (and the hats) because it started looking like all the other religions that put such a high importance on ritual, sort of like being infatuated with a problem but not caring so much about the solution. But Tsunatomo was a Zen monk after giving up the sword, so it was a hop, skip and a jump before I read Hagan's Buddhism Plain and Simple. I looked around, read alot, and thought I had a grasp on what was up in the Dharma. Then I found this sangha (while I was online looking for something exactly like this sangha) and found out that I still had a looooooooong way to go, for which I am profoundly thankful.
Buddha just sat, everything else was added later.
Originally Posted by Fugen
lolBuddha just sat, everything else was added later.
It is Easter Sunday and I am reading and writing to you from my home Abbey, where I've been for the past week...getting a recharge!
I think I have been very fortunate in that I have always been able to wrap my mind and heart around a few things at one time. I was born and raised in the Roman Catholic church, but my maternal grandfather was from Tzarist Russian Lithuania and Russian Orthodox, so there was always "another" view to things that I was able to embrace. Russian Orthodoxy is rather mystical in its approach and so my heart was opened early to the spiritual along with the juridical sides of Christianity.
In high school I read everything Thomas Merton wrote, and earnestly wanted to be a Trappist. Then someone gave me several "beat" books: [u]Howl[u], [u]Dharma Bums[u], [u]On the Road[u]. Those led me to D.T. Suzuki and Alan Watts. I tried "sitting" on my own, off and on for several years. Away at college (SIU Carbondale, IL) in the mid-60's I met a Swami from India for the Ananda Marga Yoga Society. I was the sixth person in the States that he initiated and I began an regular practice with him, finally dropping out of school to be his secretary at the national ashram in Wichta, KS. I was there for a couple of years when I began to feel the very real call to monasticism. There was little chance for me to go to India to become a swami, so I migrated toward the West Coast and found some echoes of my past (shades of Grandpa) in a group of Russian Orthodox monks, I studied with them and became Orthodox and then was tonsured a monk. Finished my schooling and rose in ranks to become ordained a priestmonk in the Orthodox Church. Even in my cell I felt familiar with many of the spiritual monastic practices, having read of very similar things in Suzuki Roshi's books. I even continued some of the "meditation" practices I had learned in Yoga, and what I felt were Buddhist. Thank goodness none of the other monks knew that or I probably would have been excommunicated. Even though the Orthodox Church has many "Eastern" practices, it believes that these are their own and no one else ever thought of them!!!
Well years down the road I was assigned to a diocese in the Midwest and the bishop asked me to learn somethings about Western Spirituality because the Church had been receiving recent converts from the Roman Catholic and Anglican Churches. I found a Benedictine Abbey in my state that was amenable to working with an Orthodox cleryman to that intend., Well my ability to see two sides of the coin at the same time kicked in and I was very pleased and comfortable with them, and they with me. After a while I "transferred" my vows to the Benedictine Order and that Abbey, as a Solemnly Professed (Bi-Ritual)Benedictine Monk. Also during this time I resumed my interest in Buddhism, due primarily to re-discovering Merton, and his amazing journey toward the East. After some time I was granted the status of Hermit, within my community, and settled in my own hermitage. I found a Tibetan Buddhist Center not too far away and began to attend there from time to time. There really was a lot there familiar to an eastern orthodox monk: lots of bells, smells and icons!!!
As a Hermit,I have tried to simplify my life and practice and Tibetan Buddhism ,as beautiful as it is, is rather complicated; so I came back to Zen, only this time I wanted a formal experience. There are so many different flavors of Zen Buddhism in my part of the Midwest, and many were simply too distant for me to seriously become a part of. THEN I FOUND TREELEAF!!! I wrote to Jundo to see if I could study with the Sangha, and in his familiar way he said "Why not!" The rest has been a wonderful experience. This Sangha is very, very real to me, and far more personally engaging than I think I would find in brick and mortar. I feel at home here and I am able to incorporate both of my spiritual practices evenly and complementarily (is that a word?? )
A few weeks ago my cousin asked me what I was these days: Orthodox, Catholic, Benedictine, Buddhist. Without missing a beat I told her I was Buddhadictine...and I'm sticking with it!!!! Thanks Jundo, Taigu and Sangha for the opportunity to be that.
Well, then may we all be "Buddhadictines" !Originally Posted by Kyrillos
I have expressed this a few times before, but I feel you present a warm face to many folks who, for one reason or another, have felt alienated from the religious traditions they were born into. The "either/or" choice may be of man's own making.
If one has a vast and boundless heart, then labels and differences can drop away.
We just all sit undivided from life as it is, and seek not to do harm.
Hi Kyrillos and JundoOriginally Posted by Jundo
It is precisely posts and responses like these that make a pilgrim joyous to have found Treeleaf.
Gassho Gassho Zak/Shogen
We've talked about this on the side but for everyone else, a year after Kyrill Seishin did that I met the same "swami", Vimalananda, in Boston, but I did go off to be a monk in India, and was there for a while before the government told me to leave the country (I had protested in front of the Prime Minister's house). I ended up teaching yoga in Japan where I re-encountered Zen and here we are. I enjoy sharing roots with as many of you as I do.Originally Posted by Kyrillos
Hellos to all...
What’s my story?
Well, my childhood, full of the nourishing love and light and dreams was also filled with the figure of my dad, a mad and wrathful deity almost always drunk and quite violent. He used to shout most of the time and his strong voice and the cries of my mother used to terrify the young foolish bear hidden away under the bed sheets. The house was big, with lost of shadows and I had nothing but my teddy to cuddle and comfort me. One day the wrathful deity got hold of one of his guns (he was a keen hunter and a proud killer of all kinds of beasts) and decided to chase my mother and I in the fields to shoot us ( he was shouting his intention very loudly and we did not check if it was an illusion or not…maybe the reason why I hate running ). The following day, we vanished.
Then, I was in pieces. But, one day, I noticed a picture of a sitting Buddha and had the instant impression that this was for me. Although I liked the local Catholic priest of my village and his nice stories, the Christ on the Cross never quite did the trick for me. I already much preferred the Lady in the white, Notre Dame , the loving mother, my first encounter with a picture of Kannon. One of my school buddies knew the son of a Zen priest, and that’s how I did find myself, age 13, sitting on a black cushion on a sunny Saturday afternoon. It was hell. But I knew I was home. So I started to practice. Making the 4 hours journey to this temple created by Deshimaru roshi . The headpriest was Francis Baudart, who started to teach my dull head. This is where the robe touched me for the first time where I saw Antoinette, a delightful old nun wrapped in a seven stripes okesa, sitting zazen. As I was 18, I went to Lille to study French literature and practice zazen in the local sangha. As I received Jukai in the Temple of la Gendronniere, in 1982, I started to sew my first kesa using vague instructions and became a priest the following year. My teacher was Etienne Mokusho Zeisler, a tall chap and soon dharma heir to Niwa Zenji. I did a lot of retreats, and started to sew many kesas. Did get married too. Moved to the Middle East in Syria in 1987 where I sat and taught French. Then we came back to France and I started to work as a University lecturer. Carried on doing the ten thousand things I do so badly: poetry, music, painting, writing, cooking and sewing... I carried on sitting with the AZI, the Zen association which is the official umbrella for the students of Deshimaru but started to be disappointed by the military style of the guys and the nature of the teachings. I then move to England to live , teach and sit. That’s where I bumped into a translation of Shobogenzo by Mike Cross and Nishijima Roshi in a London bookshop. Mike was living not too far and he was an Alexander Technique teacher too. I went to see the guy…he was very clear and told me I was a complete mess but I could come back if I really wanted to study with him. So I did. I will always be grateful to my teacher and cherish the time we had together, and his lovely kids and wife Chie, very dear to my heart. He gave me Dharma transmission. After a second marriage and a second divorce, I lost my job, ended up doing teaching in the worst schools of London and when I could not do it anymore, I worked stacking shelves in Sainsbury’s to keep my feet on the ground and my bum on the cushion. From University to the most menial jobs... It rings a bell to me. I managed to make peace with my dad two years before he died, huging him after avoiding him for more than 25 years . One day, I had a kind of vision of myself begging at dusk in a remote village and in the cold and the wind, as I looked into my empty bowl, so many stars were reflected in it, shining like incredible treasures. When I came back to reality, I knew I had to fly to Kyoto and do ritual begging. I bought the ticket. That’s how I ended here and started to teach and practice here. But actually, I am not in Japan for Zen. I just happen to love the place so much and I now have a great family.
Came to this 'ol thread through another thread . . . wow, some great stories here! I'm bookmarking it and reading a little at a time.
As for me? A relatively dull story, I warn you. The first Buddha I ever remember seeing was a statue in my neighbor's little Chicago back yard. It was red and probably plastic, and of Amida, I think (in any case not the laughing fat man.) Wow, that's cool, I thought, and never really forgot it. I was maybe 8 or 9 at the time. Every time I saw a Buddha image after that, I was somehow interested. In high school, I had a "Humanities" class with a unit on Buddhism, and at that time I also got into J.D. Salinger, who had some Buddhist themes to his stories (although his views . . . eh, that's another story.) I got my hands on a Shasta Abbey Buddhist Supply catalog and ordered a book on the Buddhist life and a Lotus Om pendant :wink: . The book was way too hardcore for me--pretty much a manual on becoming a nun, sweep like this, bow like that, etc. The pendant I wore every day under my shirt, eventually transferred it to my keychain, where it got battered up. Then I lost it for years.
After that: occasional periods of reading on various sects of Buddhism, on yoga, on whatever, looking for something but always getting disillusioned in the end by religious thinking and (seemingly) pointless ritual. I should say I come from a decidedly non-religious background: my mother is a lapsed Catholic with a rebellious streak and great admiration for the atheist Madalyn Murray O'Hair; my father was supposed to be Lutheran, although I don't think he ever really finished his childhood instruction and all that. In any case, they left my religion up to me, and in a mostly Catholic neighborhood, I just never got the whole be-good-and-go-to-heaven thing.
A couple years ago, things just started lining up. I learned there were people writing and publishing haiku in English (just as I was getting tired of reading and writing "regular" poetry (yes, I was an English major)) . . . I found Robert Aitken's "A Zen Wave," which is about both haiku and Zen, and brought back my interest in Buddhism . . . I was (am) married to a guy with a degree in Japanese history and a ton of books on Japanese art and history and culture which I started going through, looking for Zen info . . . I was playing video games that took place or had to do with Asian temples and folk tales and religions . . . I found Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind and took to it right away. Then I started looking online and almost immediately found a bunch of scandals and bad-behaving teachers. Great, I thought. It's all just more bullshit. I struggled with that for a while . . . but I kept going, because at least people were speaking out about it. If my cynical and depressed early adulthood has taught me anything, it's that there's bullshit in everything. The important thing is, what do you do about it? I gave myself a year to just absorb and think about it all (although I knew I was Zen after 6 months or so.) Oh--and I found my battered old Lotus Om pendant at the bottom of a cup of drawing pencils. I was strangely happy to still have that thing with me all these years later, lost, forgotten, not even the "right" symbol, but there, you know?
I got to Treeleaf when I was poking around on YouTube one day looking for instruction on kinhin and found Taigu's video. Hey, who's this guy? One video led to another, and when he happened to mention Treeleaf, I googled it and now here I am. This place has definitely been a big reason Zen has "stuck" with me where other paths have not. Well, that and the middle-way-ness of it all. The videos and discussions and instruction here . . . I just can't overstate it. It's so much more useful than just books. It took a good twenty years since high school. . . but I don't even wonder what I'm "looking for" anymore. Those questions have dropped off. It's like everything just led to Soto Zen its own good time.
Gassho, and thanks for reading all this navel-gazing noodling.
Awesome, Jen, I loved reading about your journey. It's cool that Treeleaf has impacted you the way it has, it has definitely has had and continues to have an impact on my life and practice also. Gassho.
Batter up eh?
So, my story then...
I usually tell it like this...
There once was a young guy who was taking the communion for the first time, looked up at the ancient torturedevice with the man hanging limbly from it and thought "this is not for me, is it?", and three years later left the swedish church at his 18-th birthday.
Now i have been practicing martial arts since i was 15, and in that there was always an element of meditation and when i moved down to Kalmar i met up with some guys who i continued to do the practice with. Also to note is that i had been reading up on buddhist litterature and such since i started the training of martial arts.
Years later having moved back and forth, as well as up and down, in life i ended up starting a sittinggroup in my hometown, and one of the guys, slapsko on the forum here, sitting with me was talking about this online zendo that was starting up...
Having been here almost from the beginning, i also participated in the first online shukke tokudo, receiving the precepts from Jundo, in August 2010.
The story behind that is not much to tell, i got the question in an mail from Jundo, without hesitation said ok, and on the rollercoaster went.
Since that day, late in december 2010, it has been an ongoing thing, we did our robes, a lot of training, even more meetings and correspondece with both Jundo and Taigu, as well as other people, as Shohei,other Treeleafers and others not in the treeleaf community.
All this ending up here...
Here i am...
Having lived through 2 divorces (almost, one still ongoing...), a couple of jobs, moved 11times, an shukke tokudo, a whole lot of scoldings and laughs, an jack-of-all-trades who really does nothing out of the ordinary.
Sure, i sit there with some guys on saturdays and on sunday evenings, and i am in two other sitting groups, single parent to an 3,5 year old, manages a couple of jobs (although i wouldn't call them jobs per se, since i like them to much...) and all this time i have been sitting here.
In the end its all good practice.
Thank you for your practice.
thank you all for adding your stories!!
To be revised....
Thought I had better do it. I started reading zen stuff because my younger brother kept leaving books he had borrowed around the house. The first was by Alan Watts and the way his writing linked to nature seemed to hit home with me. The next was by DT Suzuki and I went and bought it 'An Introduction to Zen Buddhism', I even tried zazen. I was 17 and could not tolerate sitting for even 1 minute no matter hard I tried.
At that age most of my thinking was tied with walking, both as a necessity for transport and as a passion for the wilderness. Walking was 'my time' when I had time to think and to watch the world as it/ I passed by.
Reading zen literature led to Taizan Deshimaru and then to Dogen via a Moon in a Dewdrop. I admit to being enthralled, without understanding either the themes, words or the fact that you need to practice zazen!
Anyway life's calamities eventually led me to reassess what I was really doing and that personal thinking about the matter of what is life, how it should be led and the bigger questions of what I was doing within this was not working! I looked for a teacher in meditation and practiced with a Theravada group for several years in the lineage of Ajahn Chah.
I learnt how to sit and to understand how the mind plays, but for me I just seemed to be drawn back to zen literature. Searching for local zen groups I realised the closest was several hours of driving away. While looking at the the American zen teachers site I saw a group in Tsukuba which I knew was in Japan and investigation led me to Treeleaf, a sangha I could participate with live. Well, that is until the zazenkai times changed. The fact that there are so many options for participating and that we can share and hear so many viewpoints from different cultures and situations makes this sangha something special and unique...without being special or different of course.
I cannot say how important this place is to me. The collective wisdom and information is immeasurable. The dual styles of Jundo and Taigu ensure there is something for all moments. Maybe one day I will feel more confident or questioning to start a thread but while I am really busy with family and work I participate within my level of understanding.
I would like to get on G+ but I cannot have a regular commitment at present...but to everyone on Treeleaf... Many thanks and deep Gassho.
In the late 80s-early 90s I was a punk rocker/poet/artist/hanger on/wanna be.
Gary Snyder was the man. Still is. I loved his words and his action.
I knew nothing of zazen and tried to sit. Internet was not too mature so even looking for what books to read was kind of hard when you didn't know what to ask for. So i just sat.
20 years later I still sit, but perhaps have more wisdom on how to sit and the place zazen has in my day.