Monday, June 21, 2010

Remember our weekly schedule. Plus the Five Remembrances.

Remember our weekly schedule--

Wednesday Morning, 6am, 2 25 minute sits
no folderol, simply sitting (aka Zazen)

Saturday Afternoon, 330pm
all the folderol and the fun that goes with it

Below are the Buddha's Five Remembrances as Translated by Thich Nhat Hahn. Buddha would have his new disciples remember these and silently recite them as they were doing kinhin. The Five Remembrances have been very important to me for years. I recite them at least once a day, and in difficult times or times when I'm physically and emotionally exhausted, I likewise recite them, simply to keep my feet on the ground and my heart calm. [Note: Through the weeks that follow I will add what I think of as "Tools," like the Five Remembrances, and label them as such. Thus, you'll be able to find useful practice tools simply by clicking TOOLS in the list of labels on the right.]

I am of the nature to grow old. There is no way to escape growing old.
I am of the nature to have ill health. There is no way to escape ill health.
I am of the nature to die. There is no way to escape death.
All that is dear to me and everyone I love are of the nature to change. There is no way to escape being separated from them.
My actions are my only true belongings. I cannot escape the consequences of my actions. My actions are the ground upon which I stand.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Sitting in the Summer Heat

In general, a quiet room is good for experiencing Zen balance, and food and drink are taken in moderation. Abandon all involvements. Give the myriad things a rest. Do not think of good and bad. Do not care about right and wrong. Stop the driving movement of mind, will, consciousness. Cease intellectual consideration through images, thoughts, and reflections. Do not aim to become a buddha. How could it be connected with sitting or lying down?

Yes, the best secret in the world--711 Robinson, the site of our Zendo, is air conditioned. Real AC. No better place to pull up a zafu and stare at a wall. Or a curtain, as the case may be. We chant, we bow and bow some more. Every week we do our dance steps in the silence. The incense is lit. We sit. Nothing happens. The bell will ring after 25 minutes of sitting. We stand, bow to the cushion, the Ino claps the han and we do our kinhin walk. How beautiful all of us doing the same thing, how beautiful all of us these different expressions of the dharma. Coming around the west corner we get a glimpse of the Wood Buddha at peace with himself. He doesn’t pay any attention to us. What would we expect? Keep on walking, doing the kinhin boogie, eyes lowered, back straight, slow sure steps, breath in, breath out, like the universe, all of us. Approaching the east wall, yes, there’s that little breeze coming from the vent. Smile. Don’t giggle. Simply enjoy. And not to worry--our Ino likes the two-circuit kinhin. Breath in, breath out. One step follows the one step. The han claps. And you get to sit again. But wait until the incense is lit and the bell rings. Bow to the Zafu, bow to the Sangha. Smile. Sit down. There's the wall (curtain) again. We sit. Nothing happens. Once again. We sit for 25 more minutes. The bell will ring, we'll offer incense to the Buddha (so who is this Buddha guy?), we sit and have some tea and talk the dharma talk.

Please come join us.

SPECIAL ANNOUNCEMENT: WE NOW HAVE A WEDNESDAY MORNING SIT at 6am, same place--711 Robinson. Several Sangha members have asked for a weekday time to sit with the Sangha and John Fortunato has been generous enough to open his home where our Zendo resides. I call it "Fundamentalist Zazen." Two 25 minutes meditation periods. Only bells. No whistles. No words. No dancing. No chants. Between sits no kinhin. Simply a 5 minute break to enjoy in your own silence. Folks can leave and go about their lives. Folks can sip a quick cup of coffee they brought along with them. They can stretch and look at the morning. They can smile at each other. They can continue sitting. The bell will ring to gather us back together. A minute later the bell will ring again for the last sit. And the bell will ring again. Time to stack the zafus and skedaddle.

John Fortunato will need to close up the house and get to work.

Friday, June 11, 2010

A Workshop for Survivors of Violence

Coming Home: 
A Day for Survivors of War and Violence
9:00 AM to 5:00 PM, June 19th
Unitarian Universalist Church 
2000 South Solano Drive, Las Cruces, NM.

Violence is a nasty business. On the battlefield, in the home--it doesn't matter where. It has a way of turning lives upside down, shattering our understanding of ourselves, and making home life difficult. So many survivors of violence suffer from symptoms of traumatic stress. These symptoms are normal responses to abnormal circumstances.  They are uncomfortable and can be crazy-making.

Coming Home is a one-day experience for survivors suffering from post-traumatic stress that will offer specific skills toward healing and recovery from the effects of violence. We will off practice skills that are based in the mindfulness practice of Zen.  Participants will learn Meditation Practice, Deep Listening Practice, Writing Practice, Mindful Speech Practice, Eating Practice, and Movement Practice in the context of their own experience through the day. Movement practice will include Yoga by Susie Citrin, RN Certified Yoga Instructor. Rev. Dalene Rogers of Ambercare Hospice will lead Deep Listening and Mindful Speech Sessions.

Coming Home Practice is a project offered by Zen monk, Rev. Dr. Harvey Daiho Hilbert-roshi, founder of the Order of Clear Mind Zen and a disabled Combat Veteran.  Daiho-roshi has worked with trauma survivors as a psychotherapist for nearly thirty years, was a consultant to the Veteran’s Administration, the Vietnam Veterans of America, and has written and published extensively on healing from the moral anguish of combat.

Come Home on June 19th at 9:00 AM at the Unitarian Universalist Church.   There is a minimal fee of $10.00 for food offered during this workshop, but no charge for the workshop itself. Donations will gratefully be welcomed, however.  The Order of Clear Mind Zen has applied to the State of New Mexico as a Non-Profit Religious Corporation.

For reservation and registration, call Rev. Daiho at Clear Mind Zen, 575-680-6680 or email at  For information about Harvey Daiho Hilbert and Clear Mind Zen, visit our website.

Tentative Agenda

08:30 AM Open Registration
09:00 AM Welcome
09:15 What is Wrong With Me?  Absolutely Nothing! Keys to understanding trauma and our response to it. (Rev. Daiho-roshi)
10:00 Meditation Practice / Walking Meditation Practice (Rev. Daiho-roshi)
11:00 Deep Listening Practice (how to listen to heal / Mindful Speech Practice (How to speak to heal) (Rev. Dalene Rogers)
12:00 Eating Meditation:  How do we nurture ourselves? (Staff)
01:00 Seated Meditation Practice / Walking Meditation Practice (Staff)
02:00 Writing Practice (Staff)
03:00 Movement Practice (Susie Citrin, RN)
04:00 Mindful Speech Practice (Questions, Comments, Dialogue) (Staff)
05:00 Close

Monday, June 7, 2010

Zazenkai in El Paso June 12th

Zazenkai this weekend. Zazenkai will begin at 9am and go through the day until our regular services. Then we will have our services and end up at our usual time around 530pm. We will have a vegetarian lunch, so if you plan to attend please notify either me or John Fortunato so we can make appropriate plans. We will have Samu (work-meditation). John suggests that for at least some of us, we will be cleaning the grout between tiles in the Zendo so he can seal it later on. Work on our knees and our butts. You might want to have something different to wear for the samu. Schedule will be posted later in the week.

John Fortunato has given to the Sangha a beautiful new Buddha to sit on our altar. And there he sits now, very peacefully. Mr. Wooden Buddha happily manifesting Buddhahood. The Buddha is handcarved by craftsmen  in Vietnam.  This makes our Buddha even more special for to John because John--like other members of our Sangha and our immediate lineage--is a Vietnam vet.

Please visit with the Buddha the next time you are at the Sangha. Bow to the Buddha in yourself. Pick up the statue of Buddha, smell the wood, feel its texture, laugh at his big ears. He's only a statue. An emblem. A piece of wood that used to a living tree. Then be like the Buddha and sit at peace and stare at the wall and practice good.  Bring about abundant good for all beings.