September 2010 Archives


Texting, Googling, tweeting, flitting from this to that... the internet is literally changing our brains!

"I became aware of changes in my own thinking a couple of years ago," Nicholas Carr, author of the new book, The Shallows: What the Internet is Doing to our Brains, told CNN. "... I came to realize [that] I was losing my ability to pay deep attention to one thing over a long period of time. When I'd sit down to read a book, for instance, I was only able to sustain my concentration for a page or two. My mind would begin to crave stimulation and distraction -- it wanted to click on links, jump from page to page, check email, do some Googling..."

Our whole day to day is filled with running from here to there, no time to stop, places to go and things to get done one after another! Zazen is a moment of stillness and wholeness amid all that running around. [Click through for more, and to "sit-a-long" with today's video from Jundo Cohen.]

Today's Sit-A-Long video follows. Remember: recording ends soon after the beginning bells; a sitting time of 20 to 35 minutes is recommended.

Among the preparations for Jukai (Undertaking the Precepts) at our Treeleaf Sangha, we sew a Rakusu... a small version of the Buddhist robes.

Maybe most of the folks who sew a Rakusu have never really sewn anything before, yet almost all find it a beautiful experience. It, too, is Zazen.

[Click through for more, and to "sit-a-long" with today's video.]
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Small though it is, we say that the Rakusu is "boundless," and each stitch by stitch is all of life. We sew the world into that Rakusu, smiles and tears into that Rakusu. It is the Buddha's Robes.

If you would like more information on Jukai through our Sangha, please look here.

Today's Sit-A-Long video follows. Remember: recording ends soon after the beginning bells; a sitting time of 20 to 35 minutes is recommended.

What does it mean to commit to the Buddhist path? Each year, our Treeleaf Sangha provides an opportunity for people from around the world to symbolize their commitment to the Buddhist path by joining our Jukai (Undertaking the Precepts) Ceremony.

What does that mean, and what is it to "undertake the Precepts"?


Well, "to undertake the precepts" means, mostly, to commit to embody the Buddhist Teachings, put them into Practice and make them the foundation of one's life. Many people are already doing so before they consider Jukai, and so the ceremony stands as a further affirmation of that. One also commits to make, as one can, the Precepts as the guides for one's life. This too should be something that we do throughout our Practice, and not just limited to any one time or ceremony, and the ceremony itself celebrates and affirms that fact.

If you would like more information on Jukai through our Sangha, please look HERE.

Today's Sit-A-Long video follows. Remember: recording ends soon after the beginning bells; a sitting time of 20 to 35 minutes is recommended.

Master Dogen wrote:

Accordingly, in the practice-enlightenment of the buddha way, meeting one thing is mastering it -- doing one practice is practicing completely. Here is the place; here the way unfolds. The boundary of realization is not distinct, for the realization comes forth simultaneously with the mastery of buddha-dharma.

We always want to keep track of things and witness what happens. The urge to know, to be aware of, to grasp intellectually is precisely what Dogen sees as being an illusion. We don't own realization and it cannot be measured or known. No traces are seen, and understanding doesn't take place before of after practice. [Click through to sit along with today's video.]

Today's Sit-A-Long video follows. Remember: recording ends soon after the beginning bells; a sitting time of 20 to 35 minutes is recommended.

Sit-a-Long with Jundo -- Fallacies of Awakening, Part IV: Is it sudden or gradual?

Is enlightenment "sudden" or "gradual"? It's a centuries-old debate in the Zen world (and in other realms of Buddhist practice, too). Zen's answer has always been "yes" and "yes" -  for while the realization of insights may be in instants beyond time, the cultivation and realization (that is, making real) is done via practice instant by instant in life.

Kensho (seeing original nature) is necessary and vital to this path. Can such happen in an flash? Yes, but it usually ends up a flash in the pan - unless cultivated slowly, step by step, and made a part of one's life. Must enlightenment happen in an flash? No, for the Buddha's Truths can pierce our marrowless marrow slowly, step by step, with steady years of practice. In either case, arriving at "no beginning no end", or any other destination, is not the end of the trail, nor the beginning. [Click through for more, and to "sit-a-long" with today's video.]

Today's Sit-A-Long video follows. Remember: recording ends soon after the beginning bells; a sitting time of 20 to 35 minutes is recommended.


(Here is the interview with Joko Beck mentioned today.)



A few people have written me recently who have a spouse or loved one with Alzheimer's Disease or a similar condition. There are some people in my own family now struggling. My mother suffered a series of strokes before her passing a few years ago which left her increasing confused, until she could not recognize her children some days.

There is no easy way to see a loved one slip away. Yet, can we learn how just to be with someone we love during the time we can, and then be willing to let them go? [Click through for more, and to "sit-a-long" with today's video.]

Can we allow the change? Might we let happy days be happy, sad days be sad... and reject none of it? May we see wholeness in all of life, both in the infancy of youth and the second infancy of growing old? Can we be at peace with it all, even the parts which break our heart?

Buddhist Practice is, at the core, allowing and flowing with change -- for all is change. Can we find an abiding peace, equanimity -- even joy -- dancing all of life's dance? Can we know peace, equanimity and joy... even as we shed tears?

A sand castle emerges from the sand, which emerges from the sea. It is for a time, then slowly slips back into the sea. There is a beauty throughout, there is the sea throughout.

Today's Sit-A-Long video follows. Remember: recording ends soon after the beginning bells; a sitting time of 20 to 35 minutes is recommended.