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  1. #251

    Gratitude to all, well met

    I will draw this tale to its endless end now, with a last hug and bow to all met on this trip.

    The Leafers my son and I encountered are each old old dear friends whom I already knew so well in heart from this place, even if somehow we were physically meeting for the first time. It is an unusual feeling, as if seeing somebody whom one has seen so many times, and with whom one has shared so much, yet the height or voice or haircut may be a little different than one imagined. I sat in each of their houses, and many other places too, with Treeleafers from around the world gathered with us in feeling.

    Our members are, to a person, gentle and caring people who are sincere about their sitting. I describe us all, me too, as a bunch of good hearted eccentrics who found each other, and who found the beauty of Just Sitting. Most of us are also married folks who seem to have found spouses better than us, tolerant and wild hearts in their own right.

    If I miss anybody in the following list, it is unintentional. I do not think it is possible to really forget. Further, all are invited to come to Japan sometime, sleep in a futon at the Cohen house, and let me show them around and feed them weird stuff.

    It all began with Myogan, who met us at the airport on the first day, hosted Shokai and Shugen and me (and Mina and Leon and Chao Chao ... boy, was he nice to her!) for a weekend Retreat, fed us "Fried Oreos" at the country fair (and as a physician, told me how good they are for me! ), as we watched the demolition derby ... a lesson in impermanence. (Myogan also gifted this Sangha with a 365' Camera that I need to figure out how to use ... I will be asking other Sangha members for help ... and some dandy wallet sized cards he made, and which we will make available through this Forum, with Metta, the Meal Chant, Nurturing Seeds and such printed on them as reminders). I briefly said the Meal Chant before the Oreos (once in life is more than enough).

    To Shugen, who put his work and family on hold and is just precisely the same in person as he comes across here, which is all good. To Shokai, who gave me a funny hat, then preceded to post a photo on facebook of me in it, bleary eyed in the early morning, which to this day brings weird comments from those I don't know. The Zazen shirt is cool too, we are now looking for the Samu-e. Thanks also to the three of them for thinking up various ways to keep me from falling, as I rolled and wobbled in Zazen with the jetlag.

    To Taigen Dan Leighton, for being a warm host at his own Sangha in Chicago, and who expressed support for Treeleaf. which he said has overcome some of his original "old fashioned" doubts about online Practice. My little Talk to his Sangha is here, although most of you have heard it 1000 times.

    The Two Eyes of Zazen: Practice in the World

    If I may, to my sister in Chicago and her wonderful big family, just for being them. To my friend in Utah who took us down the river, and rescued me before I lost the tube and my pants.

    To Matt in Nebraska, who hosted Tai Shi and Tom and me in his living room with the cats, introduced us to his wife who is the absolute coolest Christian minister I ever met (her flock in a rather conservative church likes her so much, they even overlook the ink and nose ring), and took his daughter and Leon to a local museum on the Mormon pioneers of the 19th Century (which demonstrated beyond any doubt that, if we Americans now think that we "have it rough" and "are divided politically and socially" in 2017, we have little understanding of what things were like 150 years ago!!).

    To Tai Shi, our Treeleaf Poet in Residence, who sat with us the whole time despite the discomfort of that and the long drive to get there. I think there was nobody on the whole trip who appreciated just being present and sitting together more, and that is saying something! And then there is Tai Shi's wife, who loves him so. Then there is Tom, the old navy man, who belted out the most off-key, off tempo, mispronounced Heart Sutra I have ever heard ... no less the best and most heartfelt I have ever heard in my life! Lovely.

    Then we came to Banto in Colorado, who introduced us to the Rocky Mountains, sat with us at the foot of the mountain. His family also taught us something about finding one's roots and getting to know what is really important in life. Big family, they love each other, they look out for the neighbors. A beautiful story of filling in the details of one's own life story. He works for a company seemingly merging tech, business and Buddhist values. I thank Banto for his generosity to this Sangha in many ways.

    In Oakland, we spend a lovely few days that seemed like at least a beautiful week. What a crazy bunch, one and all! Where to begin? Well, Geika, who is just cool and real (and who came to visit us almost from her honeymoon!). She is kind of the youth representative in this Sangha! Shingen and Kyonin both crossed borders to come, and it was not easy for either of them who (sometimes) we thought might not make it in the end. My wife described both as "angels." What you see around this place for both of them is what you encounter in person, nothing changed. And to our new priests-in-training Byokan, Kokuu, Shoka and Jakuden ... nothing need be said more, but I will say that the crop in the field is flourishing. (Let me even put in a shout out to Sekishi and Daizan who were present even if life kept them away this time). Also, thanks to Shoka's sister Beth who ... although not a Zenny ... did so much to make it all happen, the shopping and arranging and much more. We were privileged to visit the Food Bank in Oakland for a few hours of volunteer Samu, and the San Francisco Zen Center, and will offer small donations from our Sangha to each.

    James VB and his wife welcomed us amid the big BIG Trees of Eureka California, showed us even BIGGER TREES the next day, sat with us in a house surrounded by very VERY friendly raccoons and other critters (reports of deer and bears in the backyard). I ate so healthily with the vegan lifestyle (and all Kyonin's good cooking at the Retreat, and other folks along the way), that I even felt a little ill when I returned to "normal food". A good lesson that we are what we eat. James' stories of being a steel worker, handling big gerders on high rises without a safety belt, dropping all fear and not even breaking a sweat when he caught a mistossed hammer or the earthquake hit ... repeat, high up without a harness!! ... well, HE should be teaching Zen around here. He looks anything other than a big construction worker, but he is one more fascinating guy in this Sangha married to one even more fascinating woman.

    Another thanks to Shoka and her cool sister Beth for driving us around LA in her cool car (just kidding) to meet the stars in Beverley Hills (we actually didn't meet any, but we almost saw somebody who was on some show I never heard of) and the dinosaur bones of the Labriah Tar Pits. Then we had dinner in Korea Town with a good fellow from Dogen Sangha Los Angeles. All our best to our sister Sangha, too cool for school.

    Back on the train, Ansan picks us up somewhere in Arizona and drives us two hours (and one eclipse) to meet her husband Keith (reminds me of Willie Nelson? Greg Alman?). I was welcomed to the love nest/artists' colony for two literally IN THE MIDDLE OF THE DESERT!!! ... nothing but scrub and scorpions for miles, water hauled in by Keith once a week from an hour or so away (a bucket for a shower, two hour drive to do laundry somewhere), their homemade home with Gaudian touches that is always a work in progress, art everywhere, solar power and no indoor plumbing ... not even a sink. Watch out for the rattle snakes on the way to the outhouse (a bag contraption has to suffice at night if one is not brave enough to make the trip. Ansan said they are "rare", then almost stepped on a pit viper on our last day!). Two big sheep dogs and a flat faced cat. A wonder, a marvel, the homesteading pioneer spirit still alive in the West! We sat next to goat bones, then looked at a sea of stars. Some of Ansan's art will be a part of our Zendo in Tsukuba now.

    Then, on to Doshin in New Mexico: Imagine being with one's very own "nature guy from the National Geographic channel" for two days (complete with the Australian bush clothes!) ... pointing out the flora and fauna and a cool rock here and there, a man who literally wrote the book on lizards of the southwest (or, at least, one book). Boxes of snakes and tanks of other reptiles in the adobe shed, lights in the garden ... not to chase away the rattlers, but so one can see them before stepping on the wild ones, both for their protection and yours. A house which is open nature, hills and ranch land in all directions. He calls it a ranch, no horses but he could put a saddle on some of those lizards. Has seen a mountain lion on his car hood in the driveway. Someone who worked in the government and with private agencies for years to protect the environment in that part of the world. We sat together in the ruins of native civilizations past. His wife is even smarter and more interesting then he is, which is a tough act to follow. 5 dogs (?, I lost count. Like at Ansan's place, they have an understanding with the poison snakes outside). Here is his book, but he cautions that it is for specialists and those who raise these cold blooded sentient beings ...

    And to Jishin ... who looks like the guy from "Breaking Bad" but talks and acts in person like the most soft spoken guy ... the very sweet, gentle Texas twang in his voice threw me off a bit at first (I just realized! I spent three days with Billy Bob Thornton's clone!) After covering hundreds of miles together in the car, and traveling together across a good piece of New Mexico and Texas, I can truly say that there is not another medical man in this world who cares more about his patients and their healing. Man, when his patients come in to his office there is nothing and nobody else in the universe. And when he is with his kids and wife, there is nothing and nobody else. I got to meet them (and their 6!! dogs, some bigger than my 14 year old son) when Jishin took us in when the Texas trip was diverted by the storm.

    To Daiho Hilbert, Shukke and all the folks in his youthful and hip Sangha (including his priests in training ... the future of Zen is in good hands, even a little "lit"). Following after him down the highway, on the way to a gun range (he gave Leon a little lesson in pistol handling and gun safety ... as well as why guns are responsible for the war wound on his head) ... we saw a dude on a Harley, no helmet, "Roshi" leathers.

    And speaking of the storm ... to Lorax James in Marfa, which I have learned is the place in Texas where the artists now go when they grow weary of Austin. Never got to see the mysterious Marfa lights because of the hurricane. But Lorax taught me years ago that one rolls with the volcanoes and surfs through the storms. I have never met anyone with a better attitude toward the ups and downs (sometime big downs) of life ... another fellow who should be teaching here, not me. Jim, we never got to "meet" this time, but we have met 1000 times.

    And Meishin, same deal. You offered to drive down and host us in Austin, your family wisely told you to stay away. Okay, sitting Zazen at the Elvis memorial will have to wait, never got to meet your pals. Many people suffering today, so was not a joke. Again, we never got to "meet" this time, we have met 1000 times. You and Lorax might someday come here.

    I hope I have not left anybody out! In truth, there were so many good people along the route.

    I must also not fail to mention several donors who have asked to be anonymous, who reached into their wallets ... none of them needed to do so ... and funded portions of travel and all of the Retreat in Oakland. Nine Bows, and thanks from all.

    Gassho, J

    Last edited by Jundo; 09-03-2017 at 05:47 AM.

  2. #252
    No words can follow that, just deep, deep bows. And

    清 道 寂田
    I am a novice priest. Any resemblance my posts may have to actual teachings about the Dharma, living or dead, is purely coincidental (and just my attempt to be helpful).

  3. #253
    Wow Jundo ... I too am speechless. Meeting you all, sharing, learning, and growing along side you ... I will hold those moments in my heart.

    Nine bows and much much gratitude to you all ... you truly are family! =)


    倫道 真現

  4. #254

    Thank you to all for this wonderful trip.

    Sat today

  5. #255
    Member Seishin's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2016
    La Croix-Avranchin, Basse Normandie, France
    What a wonderful and moving summation of your whirlwind trip. Thank you for bringing so many of our Sangha "to life". Many many deep bows.

    STMIZ / lah


    Sei - Meticulous
    Shin - Heart

  6. #256


  7. #257
    Absolutely amazing! I have been hanging around Treeleaf for nearly ten years and this adventure demonstrates how we have grown from a simple priest asking for folks to sit with him on line or in real life from his home in Tsukuba to a family stretching around the world. What a wonderful and diverse community that has come together, in spite of technical and philosophical challenges.
    Yes, disappointing to have almost “met” my friend and teacher, but makes me all the more determined to take him up on a promised hike up Mount Tsukuba (筑波山 Tsukuba-san). As John Muir has stated, “Climb the mountains and get their good tidings. Nature's peace will flow into you as sunshine flows into trees. The winds will blow their own freshness into you and the storms their energy, while cares will drop away from you like the leaves of autumn”.

  8. #258
    Thank you all who made this summer possible.

    In gratitude and humility,

    Hondō Kyōnin
    奔道 協忍

  9. #259
    Member FaithMoon's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2015
    Southern California
    Beautifully written, Jundo. It was really cool getting to "meet" some of you (perhaps we can do more of that in the new meeting space?). Jundo, you were lucky the weather in LA was moderate while you were here. I vote for your next dharmatracks to be in Europe


  10. #260
    thanks Jundo. It was nice to follow the trip and become a little bit more acquainted to some sangha members.


    Let silence take you to the core of life

  11. #261

    Thank you so much for giving so much time to travel to all of us. And deep bows to your family for coming along as well.

    I would also like to extend a big thank you to everyone behind the scenes who supported the trip. To all the significant others who opened their homes, the coworkers and family members who took on extra work and covered us while we were gone and practicing. Without those people supporting all of us, we won't be able to practice. Deep bows to them for supporting our practice.


    香道 笑花
    Kodo Shoka

    Please don't take anything I say as anything more than just a normal person's thoughts on the topic. I'm just stumbling through life trying to be helpful, but really don't know much.

  12. #262
    By the way, upon my return home I found that someone had sent me a very beautiful book of photographs called "Forms of Japan."

    I see no name on the package. If you are the sender, and are willing to be known, would you kindly PM me? Thank you. It will be kept as a treasure in the Treeleaf library.

    Gassho, J


  13. #263
    Thank you Jundo. Just beatuiful. I am so thankful for you, Treeleaf and all who practice here.

    sat toda/lah

  14. #264
    Treeleaf Unsui Geika's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2010
    San Diego County, California
    Thanks, Jundo, for your lovely words. It was so nice to be with you all. The retreat was a great experience for me. I was so happy to discover what's it's like to be among Dharma buddies-- it was very fulfilling because I have been wanting to see what that's like for years.

    Gassho, sat today, lah

    Sent from my SCH-I535 using Tapatalk
    求道芸化 Kyudo Geika
    I am just a priest-in-training, please do not take anything I say as a teaching.

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