Tuesday, August 24, 2010

"Let's get on with it." Robert Aitken: 1917-2010

The passage below is from The Mind of Clover, p110, the chapter "Eating the Blame." In the chapter Aitken is discussing some of the famous stories of Zen, how the monks and their teachers can participate in "Dharma Combat" because they have stepped aside the self, the "me," and are able to speak from their true self. This is his question of us: Do you, in speaking about your practice, defend yourself, exonerate yourself? Or do you simply dance with the other and thereby reveal the dharma.

Sangha is a treasure of the Buddha Tao, ranking with enlightenment and the truth. Singing and dancing are the voice of the dharma; cooking and gardening are the voice of the Buddha. Sangha is the complementarity of unity and diversity, of emptiness and form. Sangha is the story of the Buddha, lived out in our work together.

The sangha ideal is our guide through the complexities of people in combination. Everybody is different, and so misunderstandings arise. With our realization of pure emptiness, with our sense that nothing really matters, we find true devotion because we no longer worry about ourselves. The great potential of the Dharmakāya becomes our own unimpeded great action. Differences become configurations we can use and our collective energy can be focused on the task.

Let’s get on with it. 

Sunday, August 22, 2010


NOTE: A minor modification in our schedule. We’ll ring the bell at 7pm, not 715pm, Tuesday nights, in the Sanctuary of the UUCEP, 4475 Byron in Central/NE El Paso. The sanctuary has a big hand-crafted double-door. It's very welcoming. I’ll be arriving 30 minutes early to set up, moving chairs and arranging our zafus, zabutons and altar. All are welcome to come early and help.
Sanctuary in the Morning Light
Unitarian Universalist Community of El Paso
4475 Byron Street in Central / NE El Paso

Last Tuesday night our sangha had our first services in the sanctuary of the Unitarian Universalist Community of El Paso. Janet Kincaid, the president of the UUCEP Board, served as our welcoming host. She gave me a key, helped us set up and showed us all the little odds and ends of our new surroundings so that we will feel welcome in our new practice hall. She was very generous and helpful. Four of us were in attendance, and others have said the time is right for them. We expect attendance to grow. Janet has said members of the UUCEP may be interested. Herself included.

The sanctuary is a big room made cozy by the hand-labor and love that the UUCEP community put into creating it back in the 70s. We are honored to sit there, but it will take some getting used to. The new space, the new time. It throws a little chaos into our lives and into our practice. That’s good. It’s not supposed to be easy. The acoustics are very different. The room swallows up the sound so I’m glad we have the big bell and our big mukugyo, the wooden fish, its eyes always open, as we beat upon it, chanting the Heart Sutra—form is emptiness, emptiness form. And we’ll need to be more attentive. Chairs have to be moved before services, and they need to be returned afterwards. We’ll need to be responsible for the altar and the flowers and the candles and all the chores of our service that John Fortunato did for us in offering us his home for our practice. I am personally thankful for his work for our sangha. And now we move on.

Gone, gone, gone to the other world, having never left.

That’s what the Heart Sutra says. But how does that happen?

The bell and the fish and the flowers and the candle and the zafus and our voices and our silence. Especially our silence. Being upright in our silence.

So we sit down and shut up.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Clear Mind Zen Temple in Las Cruces opens August 27th

Clear Mind Zen Temple
642 South Alameda Boulevard, Suite E
Las Cruces, New Mexico 88005

Clear Mind Zen Temple in Las Cruces, NM, Opens August 27th

The Order of Clear Mind Zen will officially open its Temple and dedicate it to serve southern New Mexico on Friday, August 27th, from 4:00 to 6:00 PM.  Please come, see our new Temple located at 642 South Alameda, Suite E, meet the Abbot, and help us in the Temple’s dedication.  Light refreshments will be served.

The Temple offers Zen meditation Monday through Friday at 7:00 AM and 7:00 PM. The Temple also offers a full Zen service on Sunday at 9:00 AM and a Zen discussion group on Fridays at 4:00 PM.  T’ai Chi Chih is offered on Wednesdays at 4:00 PM and Yoga will be offered on Thursdays from 4:30 PM to 5:15 PM (beginning in September). We practice Zen in the Park on Mondays and Fridays at 9:00 AM.

Clear Mind Zen Temple is the headquarters Temple for the Order of Clear Mind Zen, an Engaged Zen Buddhist Order with affiliates in Texas and California.  Please visit our website at www.clearmindzen.org for additional information or call Rev. Harvey Daiho Hilbert-roshi at 575-680-6680.

Monday, August 16, 2010

New Digs for Both Sides / No Sides Zen Community of El Paso and Juarez

The Unitarian Universalist Community of El Paso has graciously offered our sangha the use of their sanctuary at 4425 Byron. The bell will ring tomorrow night, Tuesday August 17th, at 7:15pm. We will pay the UUCEP a monthly stipend, which we will settle on tomorrow. In the first few months, there may be a disruption on one or two Tuesday nights until our schedule and that of the UUCEP are both 100% in sync, so remember to check the emails and/or the blog.

To get there, follow this google link.

I hope to see you tomorrow night.

Monday, August 9, 2010

We're moving our digs

We change, everything (dukkha) changes, our creations change.

It was decided last Saturday that the No Sides / Both Sides Zen Community will be moving to new digs and we will also change our schedule. We have not decided as yet where we will be, nor what time we will sit together to stare at a wall in silence.

The Saturday 3:30pm schedule was not working. Saturday is a day scrambled together with home chores and family responsibilities, so it was difficult for folks to get there. I thank all those who have been able to work their schedules around the Saturday time and come sit with us. If you have a preferred time, please contact me, and I will throw that into the mix. My preferred time is Monday evening because Lee has a weekly engagement 6-9pm. Other nights may also work. And, if at all possible, we will try to throw a morning sit into the mix.

We are looking for a place to hold services. I will be contacting the Unitarian Community on Byron Street about the possibility of holding our services there. They did, at one time, have a Zen group practicing there on Tuesday night. There are other possibilities. We’ll see what happens. I think it’s important that there is some reciprocity involved--that we pay rent.

Finally, I want to thank John Fortunato for the years he has allowed the Sangha to use his house as our practice hall. We’ve spent many hours in that spacious back room, the light from the windows, the white floor and walls, the smell of incense, the bell ringing, our voices, our silence. Not too long ago I was ordained there. It was a glorious event, and John covered the altar with flowers.

But really our lives--our homes and our places of work, the marketplace--this is our practice hall.

Do good.
Avoid evil.
Bring about abundant good for all beings.

If you have questions or suggestions, please contact me at bbyrd@cincopuntos.com or 915-241-3140
Many thanks for your continued practice.
--Bobby Byrd, aka Kankin

Monday, August 2, 2010

Walt Whitman meets Hotei the Happy Buddha in El Paso

For whatever reasons, this week Hotei and Walt Whitman popped into my head. Like they were holding hands and whispering into my ear about the same thing. So I posted something about them below. But before that, here's this week's schedule. Please come to our Sangha meeting. It would be good to see you. Thank you for your continuing practice.
--Bobby / aka Kankin

Wednesday morning, August 4, 6am. Basic zazen. No chanting, no services, simply sitting.

Saturday afternoon, August 7, 3:30pm. Formal sitting with services, zazen, tea and dharma talk.

NOTE: This Saturday, instead of a dharma talk and discussion, we will have a Sangha meeting. We want to discuss ways to bring new members to our sangha, our current schedule, scheduling sesshins and zazenkais, our finances, chores to help, etcetera. All are welcome.

Anyone walking about Chinatowns in America will observe statues of a stout fellow carrying a linen sack. Chinese merchants call him Happy Chinaman or Laughing Buddha. This Hotei, aka Budai.  He lived in the T'ang dynasty. He had no desire to call himself a Zen master or to gather many disciples around him. Instead he walked the streets with a big sack into which he would put gifts of candy, fruit, or doughnuts. These he would give to children who gathered around him in play. He established a kindergarten of the streets.

Whenever he met a Zen devotee he would extend his hand and say: "Give me one penny."

Once as he was about to play-work another Zen master happened along and inquired: "What is the significance of Zen?"

Hotei immediately plopped his sack down on the ground in silent answer.

"Then," asked the other, "what is the actualization of Zen?"

 At once the Happy Chinaman swung the sack over his shoulder and continued on his way.

Walt Whitman

This is what you shall do:
Love the earth and sun and the animals,
Despise riches,
Give alms to everyone that asks,
Stand up for the stupid and crazy,
Devote your income and labor to others,
Hate tyrants,
Argue not concerning God,
Have patience and indulgence toward the people
Take off your hat to nothing known or unknown
Or to any man or number of men—
Go freely with powerful uneducated persons,
And with the young, and with the mothers or families
Re-examine all that you have been told at school or church or in any book,
Dismiss what insults your very own soul,
And your very flesh shall be a great poem;
And [it shall] have the richest fluency,
Not only in [your] words,
But in the silent lines of [your] lips and face,
And between the lashes of your eyes,
And in every motion and joint of your body.