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amish forgiveness

When Horses Cry

  • I wrote the following post the day after the shooting of innocent Amish Children in Paradise, PA.  I have pulled it from my Archives because I believe we need to read it again.

The sound of the horses hooves were heard across the cornfields as they pulled the carriages carrying the Mothers and Fathers, Sisters and Brothers, Aunts and Uncles, and fellow neighbors of the Amish Community of Paradise Pennsylvania making their way to the funeral of the man who, just two days ago, senselessly murdered their daughters. “They had already forgiven him.” the press wrote that morning, and now they were on their way to console the wife and children of this man, and to stand at his gravesite and pray that he would find the peace in death that he could not find in life.

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Meditation

The Last Spiritual Warrior – Living a Zen Inspired Life

“They are an intriguing people.  From the moment they wake they devote themselves to the perfection of whatever they do.”  – The Last Samurai

A friend of mine asked me the other day, “How can I make my spiritual life more than just wanting a new Mercedes?”  In the East they say, “It is better to know the right question than to know the right answer.”  My friend “knows” the “right question”.
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olympic resolve

Living the Zen Iinspired Life – If there is no resolve, you might as well stay on the sofa.

“It is better to conquer yourself than to win a thousand battles. Then the victory is yours. It cannot be taken from you, not by angels or by demons, heaven or hell.” – Buddha

Benjamin Franklin once wrote, “Resolve to perform what you ought; perform without fail what you resolve.” So is “resolve” the missing ingredient in most people’s efforts to create real and lasting changes in their lives? Take for example one’s weight loss effort, getting to the gym, trying to stop procrastinating, cleaning that closet, or practicing to be more compassionate, without resolve we might as well stay on the sofa. Now I believe that at all times we already know what we need to do, we just don’t like it. Most people never get pass their habitual behavior of finding “excuses” as to why “they can’t”. My three-year old daughter, who is my teacher on many levels, always says to me whenever I tell her “she can’t”, “But I can try.” I often tell people, “Today a persons word is equal to their excuses.” We talk a great deal about who we can rely on in times of trouble, most of us are never on that list.

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Recent Articles

27
Apr
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Spiritual But Religious

“We are not human beings having a spiritual experience. We are spiritual beings having a human experience.”   ― Pierre Teilhard de Chardin

My life’s journey has been one of creating clarity, first for my own life and then as a teacher for others, and continues to be that way.  I believe that’s what’s so for all of us, the only difference may be is that we either consciously participate in that process or as the ancient Zen masters suggest, “We are dragged.”  From my earliest days I have preferred not to have scarred knees.

Since I can remember I have always felt a “calling” to spirituality and religious life, or as a young Catholic we called it a “Vocation,” and as a young Catholic feeling the inspiration I thought it was to the Priesthood.  It was, but not the Catholic Priesthood.  Do not misunderstand me, there never was a conversion for me though I no longer and haven’t for a number of years been a “practicing Catholic” I still hold very deep affections for the “community of saints” I have come to know and love over the years, and continue every year to entertain the desire to attend Christmas Eve Mass.  It is also important that you understand that even though Zen Buddhism has been my “vehicle of choice” for making this journey, I do not consider myself to be a Buddhist (in the conventional sense of the term) anymore than I was comfortable identifying with Catholicism or any “ism” as my religion.  In the end my True Religion has always been “Freedom”.  Zen Buddhism has and continues to prove to be the best fitting vehicle for both my nature and my heart’s desire.

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7
Apr
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Intentional Spirituality

There is a prayer I regularly offer at the altar in our Zendo, it goes like this:

“By the power and the truth of our efforts this day, may all beings everywhere be free of sorrow and suffering and the causes of sorrow and suffering; may all beings be content, and possess the causes for contentment and abundant prosperity. May all beings live in peace. This is our prayer, this is our intention.”

Can you identify the “intention”?  Whenever I ask people “What is your intention?”, they usually tell me a goal or list of goals, or they are unable to identify their intention. Perhaps it is because we don’t know what “intention” really is, let alone its power. Another word for intention I prefer using is “context”. By definition “context” is a “field of energy” a “force of nature” which “allows for a peculiar content to surface”; the effect or results of ones thoughts, words, and actions, which is one’s “karma”. Context or intention is ones real and honest motivation; a persons foundational or core purpose for their life, the real meaning for their words and actions.

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7
Mar
Makha Bucha Day Buddhist holy day

Time to Take Refuge

“In the Buddhist tradition, the purpose of taking refuge is to awaken from confusion and associate oneself with wakefulness. Taking refuge is a matter of commitment and acceptance and, at the same time, of openness and freedom. By taking the refuge vow we commit ourselves to freedom.” – Chogyam Trungpa

Fundamental to Buddhist Spirituality is the practice of “taking refuge”.  When I find myself in times of trouble, in times of uncertainty, in times of pain, what is my reaction, where do I turn? 

We are most certainly living in troubled times marked by uncertainty and dominated by what Buddhist call The Three Poisons of life – Greed, Anger or Resentment, and Indifference.  Many of us, myself included, often find ourselves stressed by the news of current events and the unknown about where we are headed both as a species and a country.  The historical resources we have relied on in the past to support us by providing unbiased and well informed, fact-based information, continue to disappoint us.  We are bombarded everyday not with information designed to inform and empower, but rather biased opinions and propaganda of a few whose agenda is exclusively a personal self-serving one.  Even when we turn to our neighbors and friends we can find ourselves more frustrated and frighten of the future when our conversation is rooted in fear and distrust rather than hope and vision.

I understand!

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24
Feb
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Entering the Path of the Spiritual Warrior

Entering The Path of The Spiritual Warrior
Training in Authentic Zen Spirituality – Part 1

Only as a Spiritual Warrior will one be able to navigate skillfully through the ever accelerating and complex challenges life will present in the 21st Century.  Their exists in our world today a tremendous and ever-increasing hunger on the part of everyone I meet for authentic experience and a reconnecting with what’s deepest and most meaningful about life. 

The Path of The Spiritual Warrior is one of daily transformation, a constant consciousness shift whereby ones attention is no longer directed toward the “pursuit of happiness” and simply surviving but, “learning to be content” and to thrive in the world by training to “be in the world but not of it”.

The basic difference between an ordinary person and a Warrior is that a Warrior sees the world as a space, one of infinite possibility, and his or her life as a series of unlimited potential paved with opportunities; challenges (lessons to be learned) rather than circumstances or situations to be conquered, feared, or avoided.

A Spiritual Warrior is someone who lives their life proactively and purposefully, whether meditating or in the workplace, raising a family or at evening liturgy.  He or she takes the inevitable ups and downs in stride, and sees painful circumstances, disappointments, and failures as challenges to work through, not as oppositional, to be feared, judged, or criticized.

The Warrior takes nothing for granted, living by a Code as his or her guidance or reference in life for navigating through uncertainty and impermanence.  For the warrior The Code is everything, the beginning and the end in all matters of uncertainty and conduct.

“You are here for no other purpose than to realize your inner divinity and manifest your inner enlightenment.  Foster peace in your own life and then apply the Art to all that you encounter.”

– Morihei Ueshiba

This is the Code, we are born for a singular purpose no matter our nationality, ethnicity, social and cultural status, religion or spirituality, or no religious or spiritual identity, we are here to “realize our inner divinity and manifest our enlightenment” for the benefit of others.  The Warrior does not need success, money, power, or status, he or she understands  that each of us possess all that we need here and now, now and always, “the kingdom of heaven is at hand…the kingdom of heaven is within you.”  Therefore the Warrior has no need to “pursue”, everything is already at hand, the Universe is within us and its infinite potential.  When there is no need to pursue then all that is required is to “manifest our enlightenment” in every moment.  When we are manifesting rather than pursuing, we are creating.  We we are creating we have moved from living at the effect of life to being cause.  When we know ourselves as “Cause” – we are reborn.

I love you,

Seijaku Roshi

  • Join me the 1st Wednesday of each month for – “A Course in Spirituality” at
    Pine Wind Zen Community.
  • Part #2 Coming – The Warriors Path

28
Jan
To Forgive is Divine

The Journey

A Course in Spirituality

The Journey

“In this globalized world, we have fallen into globalized indifference.  We have become used to the suffering of others:  it doesn’t affect me; it doesn’t concern me; its none of my business.” 

– Pope Francis

All of the joy, all the happiness, and any sense of fulfillment we spend our lives in pursuit of will be realized only when we return to the Path of Our True Destiny – We were born to connect with each other and to take care of each other.  “Community is Spirit” it is “The Guiding Light” of the Universe, forever calling us Home.  However, like the way we keep looking for the solutions to our personal suffering in all the wrong places, our Home is not a place or a destination – It is Each Other.  We will find our Home and Our True Self when we find Each Other.

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21
Dec
dreams

Ending Spiritual Hunger

“You are here for no other purpose than to realize your inner divinity and manifest your inner enlightenment.  Foster peace in your own life and then apply the Art to all that you encounter.” 

  • Morihei Ueshiba

People are hungry, not just a hunger for real food to nourish and strengthen the body, but a real and genuine spiritual hunger, a longing for authentic spiritual experiences, which nourish and strengthens the heart as well.   Any hope we may have for a more peaceful and compassionate world now or in the future must include a deepening spirituality involving a real commitment to personal and global healing by freeing ourselves from what Buddhism calls the “Three Root Defilements:  Greed, Hatred, and Ego-Delusion”.  We can begin by first restoring the “religious dimension” essential in cultivating real and sustainable peace within ourselves and in the world; rejecting fundamentalism wherever we find it; and the eclecticism dominate in western quasi-spiritual practices which allows seekers to pick-and-choose, a kind of anything goes approach, proving often to not have any real substance.

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31
Oct

A Way Out of The Madness – The Power of Community

“In giving of yourself, you will discover a whole new life full of meaning and love.” – Cesar Chavez

“You cannot be useful and bored.” – Seijaku Roshi

Zen Buddhism is based principally upon the path of a bodhisattva. A “bodhisattva” is anyone motivated by compassion who generates bodhicitta and the singular desire to realize the highest enlightenment “for the benefit of all sentient beings”. From Buddha who spoke about generosity (Dana), to Jesus who emphasized charity (Love), all the great teachers point to living one’s life “as a benefit for others” as the only true spiritual path (authentic spirituality), source of contentment (true happiness), and the key to the kingdom of God on earth (global transformation).

Today we are witnessing one of the greatest global revolutions in human history, not one brought about by some great army or civil uprise, but one born of and flowing from the chaotic forces within everyone. A profound spiritual and moral crises manifested largely by our growing cynicism of, and realization that, the socio-economic, religious and political institutions, we came to rely on for some kind of personal salvation for so many generations, as well as our historical cultural, social, and spiritual definitions for life, are today revealing themselves for what they truly are — complete shams. I believe that the reemergence of Spiritual Communities throughout the world offers each of us a way out of the madness, and a real possibility for a new tomorrow.

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27
Sep
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The Beginning is The Destination

“The beginning is the destination.  Any distance between now and then, here and there, is an illusion.  Aware and fully engaged here and now, without pretense, without reason, is what we call Enlightenment.”

– Seijaku Roshi

What does it really mean to be fully present, here and now; to be present to our life which is always and only happening now?  We do not exist in the past and even when we arrive at tomorrow it’s now. 

Webster’s dictionary defines “Being” as “The quality or state of having existence:  the most important or basic part of a person’s mind or self.”  If we are ever going to experience the fullness of life, of being truly and fully alive we need to “be” where life is happening – Life is Always Happening Now.

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6
Sep
"Community is the Spirit, the Guiding Light...and Love is the Only Way."

My True Religion

I am often mistaken for being a Buddhist, just as in my younger days a Catholic.  It’s understandable why people would make that mistake, today I am a “Zen Monk” and have been for some time, and before that I was born and raised in the Catholic Church, baptized, confirmed, and attended Mass regularly (actually more regularly than most).  However my true religion has always been and continues to be “Love and Community”.  What I teach is “Love” what I strive to create here at Pine Wind and everywhere in my life is “Community”. 

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30
Jul

Notes on Training to Live a Zen-Inspired Life

rigden

Essentials

We face a complexity of issues today: challenges in the workplace; rising individualism and materialism; broken families and communities; an increasing divide between rich and poor, climate change and the list goes on.

Beneath all these challenges lies a most fundamental question and solution for Disciples of The Buddha-Way:

What does it mean to live the Buddha-Dharma? To Live a “Zen-Inspired Life”?

Bullet Points

  • Ordinary people choosing to live extraordinary lives.
  • A “way-of-being” is not the same as a “way-of-living”.
  • “Theravadin teacher Achaan Chah once remarked that the Buddha-Dharma has three aspects: dana or (giving), sila or (precepts), and bbavana or (cultivation or meditation training). But when Westerners come to practice, they are not interested in giving or in precepts.” – “Being Upright” by Reb Anderson Roshi
  • “By a certain sure instinct the ancients regarded Truth (Dharma) less as a gift bestowed than an inherent knowledge (Wisdom) to be realized. For those who have the hunger and the discipline the Truth is as clear as sunlight, and for those who have neither, the Truth would still be foreign even if it was shouted from the highest mountain. Awareness of Truth (Dharma) is dependent upon the wholehearted effort of the individual and his or her willingness to discipline themselves fit to know It. The ancient saying applies here, “When the student is ready, the teacher appears. Another saying equally applies, “The mind sees only what the heart is looking for.”
    – Seijaku Roshi
  • “Fitness for the Truth (Dharma) cannot be conferred; it must be developed.” 
 – Joseph Fort Newton
  • The teachings whether taught by The Ancients or Modern Spiritual Teachers is less a doctrine than it is a discipline; a method of organized spiritual culture well-honed over centuries and proven to work.
  • “The singular and exclusive objective of Zen-Training and Living a Zen-Inspired Life is the awareness of that Living Truth (Dharma) which pervades the whole Universe and once attained — the fulfillment of every human need. This awareness is realized only when it has becomes a person’s heart; the reigning reality of his or her thought; the inspiration of his or her actions, the very Being-Nature of his or her life.”
    – Seijaku Roshi

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