Once torpor, stupor, and sleepiness
Have been swept away,
The natural state of mind with appear:
Clear, empty, naked.
Immaculate like the sky of autumn.
Join us for the 7-day silent sesshin to commemorate the day of the Buddha's Enlightenment. The retreat will be at the Norbertine Center for Spirituality in Green Bay, Wisconsin, from November 24-December 1, 2012.
Meru Doug Spzer and Vimala John Nemick will receive inka, dharma transmission, during this sesshin. Click here for more information or to register.
Amsterdam Teacher Training
The dharma seeds planted in the European
Venwoude garden have sprouted, and the Dutch and
European sanghas are growing. At the Mondo Zen Teacher Training sesshin just
finished, three women took jukai, two from England and one from
Anne Buiskol - Jiko
Tessa Martin - Daiki
Debbie Burch - Shinku
What can I say about
sesshin? Every sesshin is just becoming deeper and clearer. The next
sesshin at Venwoude is March 11-17, 2013.
Hopefully see you all at sesshin sooner rather than later. Do not hesitate to awaken! Remember practice is awakening!
Let true dharma continue,
Sonoma Sesshin Reflection
I arrived at the September Hollow Bones Zen sesshin in Sonoma County pulling a big load of tension and fear due to my recent separation from my partner of more than 15 years. This agitated state of mind and emotion would prove to be the ground for a profound awakening.
Although I wasn't aware of this at the time, the insights had already begun to arise immediately after leaving my wife. Out of the relationship bubble, I started to gain perspective on just how deeply troubled our relationship had become. And I started looking at other couple's relationships with more interest and curiosity, a new experience since it had been one of my unconscious coping strategies to assume that most relationships were fucked up.
As you might imagine, I was deeply unsettled during the first few days of the sesshin. Nonetheless, with diligent effort and the support of Doshin (Roshi), Engo (Jiki) and the other staff and participants, I eventually achieved long periods of deep meditative awareness.
After the retreat, riding the buzz, I joined some brothers from the sesshin at Harbin Springs, a clothing-optional new age resort. In the hot springs, I watched other couples touching, hugging, cuddling and gazing deeply into one another's eyes - again, with genuine interest to see how mates express their love. Reflecting on my own romantic relationships - not only the one that was now ending but all prior ones back to my first make-out session as a teenager - I realized I had never given any of my partners that kind of attention.
After the infatuation phase, I always lost interest in sex with my partners and either cheated on them (in my younger days) or directed my sexual and romantic energy toward fantasies about other women and (in the modern era) Internet porn.
Memories flashed through my mind in an instant, and the multimedia collage that came together was one I'd never seen before. Even though I was familiar with all the scenes and elements and had "worked on" many of my sex and intimacy issues, this was the first time the whole movie played.
Descriptors such as “tragic” and “a terrible waste” came to mind, and then the words "total catastrophe" arose as if involuntarily.
The next sound out my mouth was deep, joyful laughter as I realized that none of this "shameful" history defined me or had the slightest hold on me in that moment. I grasped intuitively and immediately that even if I had had the most fulfilling and mutually satisfying sexual relationships of any man in the history of the planet, that wouldn’t change who I am, a breathing, sensing, purely aware being. I saw that the relative views of my ego were a myth, and in that moment I was "far beyond upside-down views at last."
I was absolutely giddy the rest of the night. I tried to explain my insight to some of my buddies, but I don't think it came across well. No matter. Hopefully they're reading this.
Although the intensity and clarity has faded, in the days since that experience, I've held on to this new understanding, seeing my ego as a self-referencing figment of my imagination. My attachment to that figment and its view is the cosmic joke, and I burst out laughing many times a day as I notice how I'm identifying with my ego's pride, plans, cravings, anticipations and fears. I've been experiencing that "new state of freedom, gratitude, compassion and enjoyment of conscious being" that the Hollow Bones Sutra books describe.
On my first night back home from Harbin Springs, I went to a barn dance. Normally, I'd feel anxious about how I looked, who else was going to be there, etc. I noticed those feelings as I drove up through the fog to the venue, chuckling and savoring this new freedom.
(continued next column ...)
November 9-10 - Evening presentation and one-day retreat in Woodruff, Wisconsin, by Jun Po Roshi. Details TBA.
November 24-December 1, 2012 - Rohatsu 7-day Sesshin led by Jun Po Roshi at the Norbertine Center for Spirituality in Green Bay, Wisconsin.
January 19-25, 2013 - 6-Day Mondo Zen Sesshin led by Jun Po Roshi at Sonoma Mountain Zen Center, California. This retreat is full. Contact Kevala at email@example.com to be placed on the waiting list.
March 23-29, 2013- 6-day Mondo Zen Sesshin at Pendle Hill in Pennsylvania led by Jun Po Roshi.
May 11-18, 2013 - 7-day Teacher Training led by Jun Po Roshi at Sunrise Ranch in Loveland, Colorado.
Prerequisite: Participation in at least one Mondo Zen retreat.
June 15-22, 2013 - 7-day specially designed Mondo Zen Sesshin at Dai Bosatsu in New York State led by Jun Po Roshi.
Visit the Retreat Calendar on the website for more information.
Doshin Roshi led the 6-day sesshin for 16 participants at the Sonoma Mountain Zen Center in California from September 22-28. Profound silence. Deep gratitude.
The Junpo Roku
Authored by Daju Suzanne Friedman, The Junpo Roku is a record of the early teachings of Roshi Junpo Denis Kelly.
This book captures Junpo Roshi's depth, humor, and wisdom while presenting his dharma talks and various lively Zen exchanges between him and his students.
This roku, or official record, addresses such topics as Zen meditation, the nature of mind, the ego, koan practice, form and ritual, sutras, everyday dharma, and the Zen Buddhist approach to thoughts and emotions.
The roku is available now through CreateSpace and also for Kindle.
Jun Po's Biography
A Heart Blown Open: The Life & Practice of Zen Master Jun Po Denis Kelly Roshi by Keith Martin-Smith is available on Amazon.
Listen to Ken Wilber interview Jun Po about his biography (courtesy of Integral Life).
... Sesshin (cont.)
I spent the night whirling around the floor,
smiling like a virgin who just got laid, giggling when I noticed my ego
making up stories and judgments. I noticed my attractions and didn't
make a big deal of them. I enjoyed the touch of many bodies, young and
old, male and female. It was a total blast!
Of course, my ego has
been going crazy all this time, wanting to brag about my enlightenment
and charge around trying to put all this new freedom and energy to work
getting shit done and impressing people.
So it's back to the cushion, again and again and again. What a gift. Thank you.
He drew a circle that shut me out- Heretic, rebel, a thing to flout.
But love and I had the wit to win:
We drew a circle and took him In!
~ Edwin Markham
Mary Stuart's Prayer
Keep us from pettiness;
let us be large in thought,
in word, in deed.
Let us be done
with fault-finding and
leave off self-seeking.
May we put away all pretense
and meet each other,
face to face,
without self-pity and
May we never be hasty
in judgment and
Let us take time for all things;
make us to grow calm,
Teach us to put in action
our better impulses - straightforward and unafraid.
Grant that we may realize
it is the little things of life
that create difficulties;
That in the big things of life,
we are as one.
And let us not forget to be kind.
~ Mary Stuart, Queen of Scotland