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Showing posts from June, 2013

Neither Disturb Nor Be Disturbed

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I was out at Sanshinji earlier this month for another sesshin. I usually end up missing the orientation periods due to the travel time involved between St. Louis and Bloomington. This time, however, I was able to be there from the beginning. For the most part it was a “nuts and bolts” sort of meeting during which one of the monks touched on such things as who we should approach about any issues that might arise, when we should be in position for the first period of zazen, how we would be taking our meals, etc. After a round of questions and comments, Reverend Okumura spoke very briefly, closing with a comment that I’ve been savoring on and off ever since: “Please, do not disturb others, and, please, do not be disturbed by others.” We can orient our entire spiritual practice around such an intention, can’t we? Especially if we allow it to encompass acts of charity, i.e., not disturbing others with our indifference.

Please, do not disturb others. When we’re engaged in communal practic…

Roots and Branches

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“I don’t know,” I said, when it came time for me to speak, “I guess I feel like I’m kind of drifting – as if my practice is lacking in direction or something...” My gaze left Ginny’s face and refocused on the tree branches outside the window just behind where she was sitting with a small group of us. It was the third residential retreat that I’d done with her since the breakup of my marriage and she was probably in a better position than anybody else to know what I’d been going through. “Whenever I’ve been here in the past,” I continued, “I’ve felt so much more focused. Maybe it’s kind of like that tree out there. It used to be that I was like the roots – going deeper and deeper, pushing through the soil, making my way down to where the water is… But now I feel like that branch – just hanging there out in the open, not really doing anything…” My eyes refocused on Ginny’s. There was nothing more that I could say to describe what I was feeling.
“It sounds like peace,” Ginny replied wit…

The Mind of God

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God's first language is silence. – St. John of the Cross

Mathematics is the language with which God has written the universe. – Galileo

This post is not intended for the believers of the world. There is probably little that I or anyone can say to a believer that might change what he or she thinks of God. Rather, this post is intended for the seekers and questioners and doubters of the world, for it is you who have not yet forged a case-hardened steel conceptualization of what God is or is not – whether in reality or in the minds of humans. So, please bear with me for a bit – even if we’d have a difficult time getting you to admit that maybe, just maybe, something of what others call ‘God’ resides for you in the nooks and crannies of the mystery or unknowability that you experience from time to time; even if ‘God’ for you is merely a construct that is of interest precisely because so many other people so immensely overvalue it; even if ‘God’ for you is like a stain on your psyche th…