What I think, and Ango, and Precept Study

Riding my bike into work today I realized that I am not as complex as I once thought. My thoughts, values, and ideals are not mine. I am a mashup artist of thought. If you made a playlist of talks by Allan Watts, Noam Chompsky, Brad Warner, Jello Biafra, Hunter S. Thompson, and Cory Doctorow you have my day to day thoughts. All rushing at 132,32456,732,932 Miles/second. That being said I think I may have had the thought but these men put into words something that I just could not.

And now for something completely Different…

ANGO IS COMING!!! The study period is fast approaching. At Treeleaf is from September 1st to December 1st. Many (almost all) are surly asking themselves, ‘What in the hell is Ango?’

Ango, literally “peaceful dwelling”, is a period of concentrated and committed Zen practice, usually lasting three-months in the Soto Zen tradition. The roots of Ango arise from the earliest days of the Buddhist monastic community in India, when monks and nuns would cease their wandering and settle together in one place for the rainy season.

This will be happening at the same time I am doing Precept study in preparations for Jukai which I plan to do in January.

Jukai is a ceremony in which one “takes refuge in the dharma” and receives a “dharma name”.

All of this will be going on as I work full time, join the Leadership track in Kung-fu, and try to find time for my girlfriend and our new house.

Your prayers/positive thoughts/metta would be very much appreciated :)


This practice is nothing special…..

My brother Yugen posted this today on the forum at Treeleaf. Just thought I’d share.

I don’t as a rule post much or reply a lot on the forum(s) here…. I do visit every day and feel very close to all of you. I just do not feel as facile at commenting or going with the flow of discussion threads. I do, however, increasingly find myself wondering throughout the day how each of you are…. and I think about Eika and his wife, Louis and his sister, Jennifer and her cat, and our sangha mates who experience loss, illness, suffering, and the many occurrences of daily life that we would just rather avoid, ’cause they just hurt too much….

I find that each day I say metta for my friends and a silent prayer. My sittings have grown in length, I chant and say wellness prayers, I read the Heart Sutra, I send time in the morning silently cataloguing the things I have to be grateful for. For me, this is a big deal.

You see, for much of my life I have been a very selfish, self centered individual. I need this practice because without it, I am am not a very nice person. Many vistas have been opened for me since I have been hanging out with you – I cry randomly sometimes when sitting, I think of my friends, and silently breath in and out, sending them warm energy and thoughts. I have also found great joy in snowflakes and monarch butterflies…. In the process, I have found that this practice is nothing that special, because it does not confer any special benefits or powers. It just allows me to be a human being – to feel the joys of sunlight and laughter, to feel the sadness of loss and impermanence, to reach out silently when my friends here go through the ups and downs of life.

So this practice did nothing really special for me today when I got word in the morning that a dear old friend (in the hospital since Friday on a ventilator) had decided to put an end to his suffering – to go off the ventilator and pass on. He announced this to his wife and daughters at 9 AM, and at 2 PM he was gone. He had a mutiple myeloma as well as pneumonia, so the prognosis was not good. He did not want to be a burden to his family… . His wife called me late morning and asked if I would come to the hospital. I went to the hospital and said goodbye to my friend. I saw that he was radiant in the knowledge that he had made a decision after a tiring illness, and I was the one who was a mess – my feelings of loss have more to do with my own resistance to change, with my own struggle with impermanence (which I will lose), and the fact that tonight, I miss my friend. He taught me a great lesson today, even as he had only minutes left on this earth, in this form…. he radiated love and gratitude…. and he taught me something about friendship.

I cried all the way home…. what does Zen have to say about this – “When you feel like crying – cry-” …. I hugged my wife and kids extra hard this evening. I have lit a candle on the kitchen table for my friend, at the place where he used to sit and drink wine while visiting. I will have a small service for him tonight when I sit, and for a my friends here who are experiencing life “as it is”…. regardless of what we want, or desire, or wish to avoid….

This practice has done nothing for me…. so I am able to be just a human being…. the tears flow…. and so does the gratitude…. my time and your time and our time will come but it would not mean anything if we didn’t have only one chance at it. It wouldn’t mean anything if we didn’t have something to be attached to, something to lose, and therefore a practice to help us realize the suffering caused by these attachments and notions of permanence. I need this practice…. every minute of every day. So thank you for practicing with me.

A deep bow,

AHHH! Real Buddhists!

Utne Reader has a story called Bad Buddhist Vibes: Buddhism is America’s fastest-growing religion, and it’s making some people uncomfortable. The story is as follows:

At least 2 million Buddhists currently practice their religion in the United States, and many of their fellow citizens disapprove. A survey conducted by political scientists Robert Putnam and David Campbell, coauthors of American Grace: How Religion Divides and Unites Us (2010), endeavored to determine how Americans perceive the nation’s major religions and found that Buddhists rank second to last, above only Muslims, writes James Coleman in Buddhadharma (Fall 2011). The same survey reports that whereas a large Christian church coming to their neighborhood would be acceptable, a large Buddhist temple would raise objections from one in five Americans.

The negative image seems to stem from a lack of publicity, which has contributed to the sort of ignorance that fuels fear. “Buddhism has remained something of a stealth religion, virtually invisible to most people outside our cosmopolitan coastal enclaves,” explains Coleman, who entreats practitioners to enter the public discourse, especially since the faith has become America’s fastest-growing religion with numbers rivaling those of Mormons, Muslims, Anglicans/Episcopalians, and practicing Jews. Coleman points to His Holiness the Dalai Lama for inspiration, not only because of his peace-loving message, but also because of his carefully crafted public image.

Original Story: http://www.utne.com/Mind-Body/Buddhism-Fastest-Growing-American-Religion-Stigma.aspx#ixzz1i66GN09L