Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Dave O'Neal's Precepts Responses

This past Sunday, a group of teachers from Boundless Way traveled to visit Dave O'Neal and his husband Eric for a special precepts ceremony, called "jukai" in Japanese. Dave had spent last year sewing his rakusu, the ceremonial "bib" that signifies his entry into the great way of Zen Buddhism, and had planned to take the precepts last December, but had to cancel at the last minute when he came down with a virus. And then, life turned upside down for him...he and Eric went to Colorado, and Dave had a serious stroke. As he has continued healing, some of us who have been visiting him cooked up a plan to have a private ceremony with Dave, Eric, and a good friend of theirs, the Unitarian minister Rev. Carl Scovel. Carl took this photo, which includes Josh Bartok, Roshi; Kate Hartland Sensei; Dharma Holder Rev. Bob Waldinger; Dave; Eric; me; and David Rynick, Roshi. During the ceremony, jukai candidates are asked to provide personal responses to each of the 16 Bodhisattva precepts. We were all so touched by Dave's responses, and I asked permission to share them here. Dave's responses follow each of the precepts in bold.

I take refuge in the Buddha, in Oneness, the awakened nature of all beings.
I take refuge in the enlightenment that surrounds us, and aspire to recognize it everywhere, in everyone, in everything, and
outside of things.
I take refuge in the Dharma, in Diversity, the ocean of wisdom and compassion.
I take refuge in the teachings that surround me, and, when I’m overwhelmed by them, to miss as few of them as I can.
I take refuge in the Sangha, in Harmony, the interdependence of all.
I take refuge in all beings and vow to be ready for all beings to take refuge in me.

Not knowing, thereby giving up fixed ideas about myself and the universe, I vow to cease from evil.
I vow to be grateful whenever I’m able to see greed, hatred, and ignorance arise, with the hope that in that seeing evil
may cease.
Bearing witness to the joy and suffering of the world, I vow to practice good.
I vow to practice good in a way that goes unnoticed.
Honoring wholeness in myself and others, I vow to save all beings.
I vow to save all beings, and to allow myself to be saved by all beings.

1. Recognizing that I am not separate from all that is, I vow to take up the Way of Not Killing.
I vow to remember the truth of nonseparation from which non-killing naturally arises.
2. Being satisfied with what I have, I vow to take up the Way of Not Stealing.
May awareness of the lack of separation between any of us reveal the absurdity of the whole idea of taking something
not given.
3. Honoring mutuality and respecting commitment, I vow to take up the Way of Not Misusing Sex.
I vow to be aware of the misuse of sex in the most subtle ways it manifests, and in doing so, not to miss the really
obvious ways.
4. Listening and speaking from the heart, I vow to take up the Way of Not Speaking Falsely.
I vow to strive to let my words be true and to let my silence also be true.
5. Cultivating a mind that sees clearly, I vow to take up the Way of Not Intoxicating Mind and Body.
I vow to be aware of the small and subtle ways that mind and body are subject to intoxication, and in doing so,
not to ignore the big and obvious ways.
6. Unconditionally accepting what each moment has to offer, I vow to take up the Way of Not Finding Fault with Others.
I also vow to repent of whenever I’ve found fault with anyone, any time the memory of it by grace arises.
7. Meeting others on equal ground, I vow to take up the Way of Not Elevating Myself at the Expense of Others.
I vow to remember that we’re all on equal ground already, and that any thought I’ve had otherwise has been foolishness.
8. Using all the ingredients of my life, I vow to take up the Way of Not Sparing the Dharma Assets.
Conscious of the great wealth of the dharma, and the incredible good fortune to be able to hear and practice it, I vow
not to keep it to myself.
9. Transforming suffering into wisdom, I vow to take up the Way of Not Harboring III Will.
I vow to be inhospitable to ill will whenever I recognize it. And when I discover it’s snuck in and taken up residence,
to kindly evict it.
10. Honoring my life as an instrument of the Great Way, I vow to take up the Way of Not Defaming the Three Treasures.

In order to take up the way of not defaming the Three Treasures, I vow to aspire to speak ill of no person or thing.

Friday, March 16, 2018

covered with snow

photo by David Rynick

One of our Boundless Way Zen miscellaneous koans:

A thousand mountains are covered with snow.

Why is this one peak not white?

Sunday, March 11, 2018

Red Scarf Buddha

Snow falls and uniqueness transforms into oneness.

Snow melts and reveals everything just as it is.

Just when it seems that change only brings suffering,

A gesture of comfort is revealed on a cold winter day.

Thursday, March 8, 2018

What could bother old Buddha I wonder?

Some of you may be familiar with Boundless Way Zen practitioner Nat Needle, who has composed many songs about Zen and Buddhism over his long creative life as a musician and educator.  Seeing Sarah Loy's photo of our Temple Buddha buried in snow this morning, I remember Nat's song "Under the Bodhi Tree"  where kids wonder about "what could bother old Buddha I wonder?"  Clearly not snow!  Enjoy this cut from Nat's album "Dharma Moon."

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

Both Sides Now

A friend recently sent me an interview with Joni Mitchell from 5 years ago.  (thanks Joanne!)  It's so inspiring to see a woman at 70 who is uncompromising in her sense of herself.  She talks about how much she loves life, and, with a laugh,  how sometimes she gets sad, frustrated and angry, too.  One of her most famous songs, and a particular favorite of mine, is called "Both Sides Now,"  in which she sings about the impossibility of knowing anything (clouds, love, life).  The heart of my practice is reflected in these lyrics, which I first heard as a  teenager, listening alone in my bedroom on my vinyl album playing on my little portable record player.  Life is so complex, challenging and wonderful.  How can we ever know it or anything completely?  Here is a version of that song done when Mitchell was in her 50's, on the amazing album called "Both Sides Now." 

Thursday, February 22, 2018

some thoughts on coming home

Anne Morrow Lindbergh, in her book of published journal entries called "Hour of Gold, Hour of Lead (1929-1932)" wrote:  “Is there anything as horrible as starting on a trip?  Once you’re off, that’s all right, but the last moments are earthquake and convulsion, and the feeling that you are a snail being pulled off your rock.”  That was my own experience for a long time, but the extreme nature of earthquake and convulsion has lessened quite a bit in the last few years.

Recently I was sharing some of my travel experiences with a friend who also does quite a lot of traveling, even though she has a serious disease that limits her capacity to walk or climb stairs.   Still, she travels the world, seeing family and friends, attending retreats and workshops.  Our conversation led to exchanging stories of other friends with severe health limitations, and how frustrating it can be to cope with the endless changes that arrive every day, due to health issues and ordinary aging, but also because everything is always changing, and we both feel our aging and slowing down affects our voyaging.  At one point, one of us said, "if only there was less change involved in living!  We talked about the challenges of leaving home, and the longing to find a place to settle.

Being present with constant change is one of the primary practices in Zen.  First, of course, we have to recognize that change is actually occurring.  It's much more obvious with the big events -- health crises, the ending of relationships, elections, travel...but it's the daily small changes where we get to practice a more subtle recognition.  Every moment is different from the one before, and even our sense of who we are continually shifts.  Once we notice this, we may get a bit knocked off-kilter, and the root koans of "Who am I?" and "What is This?" can arise. 

On Saturday, James Cordova, Sensei, David Rynick, Roshi and I taught our first "Buddhism 101" class of the winter on the subject of the Sixteen Bodhisattva precepts, which begin with the three refuges.  I take refuge in the Buddha, the Dharma and the Sangha.  One way we came to understand this taking refuge was that the Buddha is our own awakened heart, the Dharma is the way things are, and the Sangha is the group of people we practice with, both formally in meditation at the Temple, and more generally, with everyone we encounter.  And these three jewels of awakening, reality and community are always available in some shape or form. 

So, in the midst of constant change, I practice taking refuge.  And this means that every moment is an opportunity to come home.

Sunday, February 11, 2018

Back from the Beach

Pictured at left is the doorway to El Silencio, the  classroom at the Blue Spirit Resort in Guanacaste Province in Costa Rica where I just taught a week-long intensive called Mindful Living.    My old friend and teaching partner, Florence Meleo-Meyer and I have been offering this stripped-down version of the Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction program for 12 years, and my husband David Rynick comes with us to play on the beach.  This year, David took the class as our assistant.  We were all so touched by the dedication and sincerity of our 20 students.  It's not easy to look at stressful reactive patterns and undertake the discipline of sitting still with whatever arises while residing in paradise.  But we all did it, and at the end of the week we all reported feeling a little freer, more open and compassionate, and more willing to return to our busy lives with new skills.  The primary skill we teach is to learn to stop, and to bear whatever is happening, whether wonderful or terrible, without running away, fighting, fixing or freezing in response.    This simple instruction is not so easy to do, and the support of the community is an important ingredient.  And, being on the Pacific Coast of Costa Rica, we had many other assistants and community members, including howler monkeys, iguanas, butterflies, trees, flowers, the ocean, and of course, pelicans, as shown below in the video taken by David.