I am a Soto Zen priest, and Abbot and one of the four guiding teachers of Boundless Way Zen. I worked at the Center for Mindfulness at UMass Medical School for many years, and have now retired to full-time Zen teaching and residency at Boundless Way Temple in Worcester, MA. I also have a private practice in contemplative counseling. www.worcesterzen.org, www.melissablacker.com
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."
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."