Thursday, June 28, 2012

Discipline, Commitment, and...Joy?

another piece of our interview with Tom Hall from Improv365 -- make sure to watch after the credits end!

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Reading the puzzle of the world

This week I received word of the deaths of two people, distantly known, both meditation teachers and great souls.  Another friend sent this poem, by Jane Hirshfield, as commentary on the great mystery of the passing into death, and what calls us to aliveness.  A rebus is a representation of words in the form of pictures or symbols, often presented as a puzzle.


You work with what you are given,
the red clay of grief,
the black clay of stubbornness going on after.
Clay that tastes of care or carelessness,
clay that smells of the bottoms of rivers or dust.

Each thought is a life you have lived or failed to live,
each word is a dish you have eaten or left on the table.
There are honeys so bitter
no one would willingly choose to take them.
The clay takes them: honey of weariness, honey of vanity,
honey of cruelty, fear.

This rebus - slip and stubbornness,
bottom of river, my own consumed life -
when will I learn to read it
plainly, slowly, uncolored by hope or desire?
Not to understand it, only to see.

As water given sugar sweetens, given salt grows salty,
we become our choices.
Each yes, each no continues,
this one a ladder, that one an anvil or cup.

The ladder leans into its darkness.
The anvil leans into its silence.
The cup sits empty.

How can I enter this question the clay has asked?

~ Jane Hirshfield ~

(Given Sugar, Given Salt)

Friday, June 22, 2012

Trail Temporarily Closed: Atheism, Delusion, Death and Mindfulness

Yesterday I watched a you-tube video forwarded from my friend Kevin Bonham.  It was a clip of Sam Harris addressing a conference of atheists in Australia.  (If you're interested in spending an hour with Mr. Harris, a very articulate, bright and clear speaker, the video is called "Death and The Present Moment.")  Harris' main point seemed to be that the only logical choice for living in the face of death, freed from the crutches of deluded religious belief, is to practice mindfulness.  Kevin pointed out that if I had addressed that group, with the exact same message, I would have been booed off the stage.   (I assume that a Zen priest and teacher would not be welcomed warmly by a crowd of Australian atheists.)  "Context is everything, " wrote Kevin.  
Temple Lohan on Pilgrimage on Cape Cod
The good news of Zen is that what we are seeking is right here. But we persist in looking south to find the north star.  Any kind of speculating is just the discursive mind doing its habitual thing -- creating scenarios in the mind that block us from discovering what is right in front of us.  This moment is not some narrow, tiny point but is actually everything.  Right now includes memories of the past, fantasies about the future, judgements about the present, emotions and sensations of all kinds.  As soon as we say, "I'm living in the present,"  we've made a significant cognitive error, and created another barrier for ourselves.  

Meditation practice, at least the kind we practice in Zen and mindfulness, brings us into the direct intimate experience of this moment.  There's no room for speculating.  We feel fully alive.  There's no place to go, and yet, we are continually moving through space and time.  The path is never blocked if we can realize that we are always on it, going in the only direction we can go.  We're always heading for here, here, here, here.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

This Truth Never Fails

A little tour of the Temple garden, beginning with a view of our big Buddha statue, then my husband David Rynick (author of the new book "This Truth Never Fails") and ending with our little Lohan statue. The video was made by our dear friend Fred Alach before the big Book Launch Party last Monday night. Enjoy!