Showing posts from December, 2012

Living With An Untamed Mind

It was a half hour or so past midnight and those of us gathered in the meditation hall at Sanshin Zen Temple had just completed six days of sitting zazen from 4:10 in the morning until 9:00 in the evening and an even longer seventh day meant to commemorate the Buddha’s enlightenment upon seeing the morning star. An offering to the Buddha had been made; the Bodhisattva Vows and the Heart Sutra had been chanted; rohatsu sesshin thus came to a close. A few of our number retired immediately, more in need of sleep than anything else. The remainder, perhaps feeling more wired than tired, gratefully accepted the Okumura’s offer of a nightcap of warm sake and fellowship upstairs in their private quarters. This had been “sesshin without toys,” after all, sesshin in the very rigorous and austere Antaiji-style instituted by Shohaku Okumura’s teacher, Kosho Uchiyama Roshi. Relaxing in a chair sipping sake and enjoying free-flowing conversation after a week of fourteen or more periods of zazen pe…

Have Yourself a Buddhist Little Christmas

By now all of us Buddhists have weathered well over a month of what is commonly referred to as “the holiday season.” It starts with the dominant culture storming out of the gate the moment the Halloween decorations come down and gathers momentum as Thanksgiving approaches. By Black Friday the sprint has begun. Whatever pace each individual can muster is then maintained by whatever means necessary until everyone collectively collapses into a physically and emotionally exhausted and overindulged pile of debt-burdened human wreckage on New Year’s Day!

How are you holding up so far? Have you gone stir-crazy yet from hearing Christmas carols nearly everywhere you go? Is the ubiquity of wasteful and distasteful lawn art finally wearing you down? Has workplace pressure to pony up for an offering of useless crap for the “white elephant” gift exchange put your principles of simplicity to the test? And how many times have you lamented to friends and family the rampant commercialism and materia…