الخميس، 27 أغسطس، 2009

Some Words on Practice


It may seem natural to believe 'I am what I think and feel'; 'If I don't feel like that, it is not me', 'I and the world are separate'. There are all sorts of ways of physically, mentally, emotionally holding assumptions about this functioning life. Even as we sit, as we practice, assumptions arise; holding to them, we live in the midst of all sorts of blinders which result in difficulties and suffering.

Practice is always straight-forward-functioning this moment-in the midst of assumtions. Being present. Saying it more crudely, inhabiting this physical sensory world moment. Beware; it is not a matter of thinking about that! Unfortunately, we often want to practice based on assumptions such as 'I'm going to do it my way, the way I think it should be'. Practice is the functioning beyond the limits of these assumptions-being this moment, experiencing. Straightening your sitting cushion is adjusting mind. Sitting is being the Brrrr street sounds, the air of the zendo.

Washing dishes is nothing but washing self. Even if we are not attentive, crash! All of a sudden dropping a dish, right here we are re-minded, have the opportunity to notice, to be present. Sitting together in the zendo is a practice support of zazen, of being bodily sensorily present. We can make use of all sorts of practice supports to re-enter being this moment.


Assumptions arising, passing, are no problem in the midst of being present-in zazen assumptions and beliefs are revealed as transparent as they are. Sky is not hindered by clouds.

Practice with so-called inanimate objects seems easy when compared with practice in human and social circumstances. Washing dishes, cutting grass, those are easy practice venues, though easy and not easy are irrelevant. We may become emotionally upset about how a car works, or the weather, though it is more common that we will be reactive or emotional upset with human interaction and social circumstances. In any case, reactiveness is the opportunity of noticing. When anger and greed arise in reaction to so-called inanimate objects, if we make the practice effort it is straight-forward to see self-centeredness. With human interaction it may be more difficult. For instance, at the checkout counter we are often blind to assumptions. We do not see that there is only self paying self.


Words heard criticizing or judging may result in reactiveness, in uncomfortable feelings. Are we aware that it is our voice speaking? Do we hear the empty voice? Are we the empty listener? Clarifying, discomfort and suffering are transformed. For each of us individually it is important to find where and how in our life to make the experience alive, to notice our assumptions and make our appropriate practice effort. As said, often it is easier with physical objects to notice assumptions; with people, especially in the midst of reactions, it is more difficult to notice assumptions-yet this is our practice. Being this functioning we are, right now. This is our opportunity.

Thank you.


Elihu Genmyo Smith



Salam,

Cherine

مرآة


"لم يكن بين أبى و ابن التبريزى شىء سوى التوحد فى الأجتهاد..

سيطر كل منهما على فكر الآخر..

قبل أن ينطق أحدهما بالفكرة يكتبها الآخر..

لم أر توحد ذهنى بين شخصين كما رأيت بين أبى و ابن التبريزى..

كان عقل كل منهما مرآة للآخر..

كان انعزالهما زهد و اجتهاد..

لكن الناس لا تعرف الحقيقة.."


راوية راشد

"مسرحية جلال الدين الرومى"


السلام عليكم و رحمة الله و بركاته

شرين

الأربعاء، 26 أغسطس، 2009

السهروردى


السهروردى يتنفس ملء الفضاء و يقسم الخبز

و السمك النيلى المفضض.


عفيفى مطر

من كتاب : "فى محبة الشعر" ، للأستاذ/جابر عصفور


السلام عليكم و رحمة الله و بركاته

شرين

الاثنين، 24 أغسطس، 2009

Just This


Because so much of life is caught up in self-centered dreams of thoughts, feelings, emotions, we believe it is whom we are. Even practice can become a form of self-centeredness. Life is being this wisdom and compassion that we are. But because of delusion and attachment-we don't see it, don't live it. So practice is seeing and working with body-mind. Not to fix it or change it, but so that the self-centered delusion and attachment of body-mind do not blind us to who we are, do not keep us from being who we are, from functioning as our life.




Master Tongshan practiced with the question 'Who can hear the non-sentient preach the Dharma?' When he asked his teacher this question, Master Yunyan lifted his whisk. The preaching of the Dharma by the non-sentient is inconceivable. If you try to hear it with your ears, it's hard to understand. When you listen with your eye, you know it.




All of us know about habits that are not yet exhausted, habits that arise.




'Why seek mind somewhere else?


Solitary now am I, and independent.


I meet my true nature everywhere.


Though I am all dharmas, I cannot become them, for they are already me.


Understanding it this way,


I can be as I am'.




Why seek mind somewhere else? Why seek any thing somewhere else? 'Wandering freely, I meet my true nature everywhere'. Be free! Meet it everywhere! People revile you, meet it here, being reviled. See, what is 'Just this?' As soon as we make it into some 'thing', it is something extra. Holding onto it, it is a dualistic idea. 'Just this', right-here-now is so straightforward, immediate, most intimate, and yet if we limit it to conceptual understanding, physical understanding, we miss; not because it is somewhere else, or something else, but because conceptual understanding, emotionality, reaction functioning, is not adequate, blinds us, is not the whole of who we are. It is not the whole of the reality we encounter. And yet there is nowhere else, nothing else. Not some thing, nor other than. Always, this is our practice. Giving self to self, being as we are. 'Just this' is simple, and yet most difficult. Not one millimeter separates us. And yet, mountains and rivers separate.




Dogen Zenji says, 'In general, hearing the Dharma is not confined to the spheres of ear as a sense organ, or auditory consciousness. We hear Dharma with our whole energy, whole mind, whole body, whole truth. There is benefit in each case of hearing the Dharma. Never say that there is no benefit hearing the Dharma without the involvement of mind and consciousness. Those whose mind has ceased and whose bodies are spent are able to benefit from hearing the Dharma. The Dharma is the truth, the reality, and those who are without mind, without body, are able to benefit. It is impossible for us to fully clarify the limits of body-mind.
This is our practice, whether we 'know it' or 'do not know it'. Be practice, be zazen. 'Knowing it', 'not knowing it', is extra to practice. No need to limit practice since in truth practice is not limited. To be the functioning that you are is beyond the limits of the words, beyond what you know. Being right here now, just this, no need to understand or add goals.
How does one hear the preaching of the non-sentient? How do non-sentient preach the Dharma? What is non-sentient? Non-sentient isn't something opposed to sentient. Insentient and sentient are just categories. This is our practice, to see clearly, to be, this non-dual life that we are. 'Not knowing is most intimate'. It allows us to be beyond what and who we think we are, which is exactly who we are. It supports us to be right-here-now.
'All phenomena are awakened sages who have put down their burden by realizing that no burdens were ever put upon them in the first place'. See, if we truly realize that there is no burdens in the first place, no limits, no knowing, no not-knowing, then we hear all phenomena, all dharmas, this non-duality and wisdom which is our life.
Keizan Zenji says, 'By revealing everything and being revealed by everything including the croaking of the frogs and the sound of earthworms, this Dharma preaches keenly and ceaselessly. It makes one raise eyebrows and blink. Our life is the functioning of non-sentient Dharma preaching. Not something else. Not two. It is not something out there, not some special feeling in here. It is not other than exactly who you are. Just this!
From the beginning, practice is being this that you are right now. This is exactly what we encounter from morning to night. This is Linji's, 'True person, no-rank, listening right here now'.
By/Elihu Genmyo Smith
Salam,
Cherine




الأحد، 23 أغسطس، 2009

Love and Compassion



Let us cultivate love and compassion, both of which give true meaning to life. This is the religion I preach. It is simple. Its temple is the heart. Its teaching is love and compassion. Its moral values are loving and respecting others, whoever they may be. Whether one is a layperson or a monastic, we have no other option if we want to give to this life.


Dalai Lama


Salam,

Cherine

الجمعة، 21 أغسطس، 2009

True Person


The Master Lin Chi took the high seat in the hall. He said 'On your lump of red flesh is a True Person of No Rank who is always going in and out of the face of every one of you. Those who have not yet proved him, look, look!'

True person of no rank is your functioning right now. Don't be distracted by the phrase 'no rank'. In one sense, no rank means no status. Even more, no rank means no boundaries, not bound by any particular status, by rules of status society, by ideas and concepts. So, no rank is this person of emancipation. Look at all the ranks that you believe and hold. We may even turn Lin Chi's phrase into some idea, 'practice is finding this no-rank'.

Do not think there is some 'true person' coming in and out other than this. This is exactly your functioning! Not a hairbreadth of separation! And yet, if we do not see this, live this, then it is not so.

The constant spinning mind is trying to create life in a way that will be pleasant, that will make us feel safe, secure, feel good. It is grabbing on to every emotion-thought that arises. So, allow thought, emotion, feeling, to arise and pass, be this open awareness that you are. Since you lack faith in yourself you run around seeking something outside; or seeking something inside. Even if through your seeking you find something, that something will be nothing more than elaborate descriptions and written words. In the end you will fail to gain the Mind of the living ancestor.


Is a shit-wiping stick different from the true person of no rank? Do not be fooled! My teacher Soen Nakagawa Roshi said 'I, too, am such a shit-wiping stick fellow, but also, this true man of no rank'. This true person is exactly our life. Not anywhere else, not something other than the exact life we are now. It transcends good, bad, delusion, enlightenment. Even shit-wiping stick and true person, it is NOT that and yet not anything else; this is exactly who we are. Lin Chi says it right here. 'This true man without rank, what kind of shit-wiping stick is he!' This is not a question. Look! What kind of shit-wiping stick he is! Only if we are not so, not clear, then this is not enough. It is our practice opportunity to be the shit-wiping stick fellow, though it may be hard or painful to be so in the midst of body-mind habits and attachments.

It doesn't matter what rank, doesn't make us better or worse. You are exactly this true person, nothing but this true person.


By/ Elihu Genmyo Smith



Salam,

Cherine

الخميس، 20 أغسطس، 2009

Not-Self, Not-Two


Being is just this. We need nothing extra, nothing special. This is simple and straight-forward. There is no particular thing to concern your self with; still this seems difficult.

Truly, no self to forget. And yet, we all are sure of self, sure of constancy of self. Not as a theory but as the way we function in the world, the way we function with so-called others, the habits and reactions we live. We are sure of constancy of who and what we and they are. Exactly this results in problems and suffering. We have a practice expression, 'forget the self'. This is the practice life of 'walking in the void', as Master Tung-Shan says. Reacting out of confusion about this life that we are results in all sorts of suffering and harm. Suffering and harm because we see what is impermanent as permanent. Noticing 'wanting permanence' is itself practice, an aspect of seeing the belief of separate, fixed self.


In fact, you are completely free in the midst of life. There is nothing to try to get away from. And yet, we are not free. To walk in the void is diligently practicing to not hold onto beliefs and ideas, onto physical form. So, Tung-Shan says, 'Forget physical form and obliterate tracks'. That means forgetting tracks, forgetting habits of attachments, of body-mind. This is forgetting self and is being present. Not inside here as opposed to outside there; not outside there as opposed to inside here. Just doing the whole universe of this moment. Complete doing. Being nothing, we can be anything. This is our practice, intimacy being, giving self away.


So much of how we live, of what we do, is based on beliefs, thoughts, judgments, of a life of self and other. I am in here, everything else is out there, things are something separate. This includes a pernicious attitude and belief of duality, which, unfortunately, we often don't notice. So our functioning is about me going out in the world and doing things, the world's things doing to me. This separation includes judgments about whether I am the way I should be, whether the world is as it should be and so forth.


Not-two reminds us of what is so. Not-two is the way it is, the truth of our life. Only in self-forgotten are the ten thousand things functioning as me, I am functioning as the ten thousand things. There is no holding to separate me, no creating and maintaining dualism; so we can say the ten thousand things function as me. Exactly what we are doing right here can't be anyplace else. And yet, we try to be elsewhere. We get into all sorts of trouble because of judgments and should-haves and could-haves. 'If only I did such and such, I wouldn't be...' more of these poisonous words of permanence that we hold to. I don't say not to use the words but when you see the words arising out of tracks, out of habits of body-mind, take them as practice reminders. There are a number of different ways to practice with this. A simple way is to look 'Who shouldn't ? Who couldn't?' Or simply, 'Who says this?' Just turn it around and look. Or simply just be present, be exactly this moment.


To encourage us, Hakuin Zenji says, 'Don't try to enter, just don't exclude'. Don't remove yourself. Right here is where you are, can't be any place else. Nothing else is needed, the whole universe is just right here, everything that is needed is just right here.


By/ Elihu Genmyo Smith



Salam,

Cherine

Meeting the Challenge


Barriers are nothing other than ourselves. And the way we encounter a barrier, the way we practice it and pass through it is the way we live our lives - Daido Roshi.

It is only love that gives one the liberty, the courage to go inside and see who am I really. We can love our challenges even when they take the form of our deepest grief, anxiety, or rage.

We must be willing to encounter our greatest obstacles without looking away. Taking 'the backward step' of zazen can help us relinquish our fixed positions and self-centeredness, so that we may proceed clearly.

Zen practice constantly points us back to our true selves. As Daido Roshi says, there's no road map, no directions, no handbook on how to heal the world. The challenges we face demand nothing less than seeing and hearing with the whole body and mind - and replying with our entire being. How can we do it? We must have the courage to look inside, get to know ourselves, forget ourselves, and step forward.


Valerie Meiju Linet, MRO

Mountain Record, Editor




Salam,

Cherine

Creativity and Zen


Convention brings about a comparison between the creative 'elite' and ordinary people. There is an absolute division between those who comprise the consuming audience of 'non-performers', passive recipients of arts and entertainment ( either not capable of performing, or waiting their turn to perform ), and those who are 'on'.

The effect of the 1960's experiments in street theater, was to intentionally erase the line between what is the performance and what is not.

In Zen, we are called upon to discover the root source of creativity, and to apply it to the greatest, broadest and deepest medium of all - life, or existence itself. Artistic activity in Zen is simply pointing at the creativity of the mind itself. In creative exercises, there is a built-in duality-a subject and an object. The problem we are solving in design, the content of the work, is the object of the exercises; and we are the subjects. We apply methods of defining the problem, generating solutions, and identifying the most fitting of our choices. We then proceed to implement the solution. But the object of the exercise for the true artist is not the resulting work of art. It is more the engagement with the process itself. Thus, it is said that good drawing is simply good seeing. The object of drawing as a creative act, is not the drawing produced, but the experience of the act of drawing.


Through the practice of Zen, we re-fresh our experience of the world. We re-learn it. First, we must un-learn previous opinions and misconceptions, after which, in their stead a fresh view emerges.


In Zen, the most important thing is to come to experience creatively. This creativity is innate in us, and inherent in ordinariness.


Atlanta Soto Zen Center



Salam,

Cherine

الأربعاء، 19 أغسطس، 2009

Ordinary


In facing difficulties, confusion and suffering, we have the opportunity of noticing missing life. In making and clarifying our practice effort we are opening to exactly this life that we are. So the Ancestors have said, 'ordinary mind is the way'.


What keeps us from being who we are is our holding to habits of emotion, feeling and thinking. We usually call these ordinary and natural, though they are not. We do not see these habits for what they are because we are so used to them. More significantly, we do not see that in holding to habits, reacting from them, and living out of them we hinder and limit this ordinary functioning we are, and so suffer and experience all sorts of difficulties. Living out of habits, out of self-centered views, we turn activities into something that serves expectations and conditions. And we usually blame difficulties and suffering that arise on people and things 'out there'. Even hearing the phrase 'ordinary mind', we limit the word 'mind' to thinking and concepts, and get stuck in this misunderstanding.


Ordinary is being ordinary functioning. It is being the ordinary intimacy of what ever we are doing. Ordinary functioning is not a particular state of mind. In each and every aspect of our life, this is exactly who we are. Because of emptiness all things are possible. Because of ordinariness, being ordinary, everything is possible. Being plain water, we take on any form, taste, shape, color because we are ordinary, because we enter intimately into the moment, because we give self away to the arising circumstance moment. This is the simplicity and the richness of sitting-entering the moment. This is the emptiness that responds to suffering; that clarifies how self-centered habits of body-mind create and perpetuate suffering.


Our practice needs the effort to notice what is added on to the ordinary moment-if need be to over and over see the words and ideas we make this into, that we try to squeeze reality into. Seeing exactly what we are up to allows this ordinary functioning that we always are. From morning to night all we encounter are forms of emptiness, our original face. Clarifying form is emptiness. This is the whole of our life. Whatever arises is taken care of. Being clear how to take care of this is the functioning of ordinary. Every one of us as we are is ordinary; not when you attain some other skill but as you are, not as anyone else is, not as any picture you have of what other people have told you how it is, but exactly as you are. There is not a single thing you lack in being this ordinary functioning.


Intention enables us to truly taste and savor the life we are, to see to the extent we can. Being who and what we are is this opportunity, this ordinary functioning, this ordinary life, nothing other than the life of the universe.


By/ Elihu Genmyo Smith



Salam,

Cherine

Nurtured by Life


To be awake, alive - this is what most of us want! Are you nurtured by life? If not, how not? Let's explore. Imagine if you only ate food that was square shaped and red colored; would you notice or be attentive to foods that were round or green? The result of limiting eating to only square red food would limit nutrition. This might result in illness. Nevertheless, we often exclude aspects of life that do not fit our ideas and emotions. This self-centerdness also manifests in strong reactions to what we do not like. We assume our ideas of inclusion and exclusion are valid, even though these likes and dislikes limit nurturing, limit the richness and quality of life. Often this results in functioning as if on-automatic, living out of habits of body-mind. Doing so, we miss our life.


Being this moment is being nurtured by the universe. Yes, the universe nurtures our life. Zazen is allowing nurturing, opening to this nurturing universal life, experiencing this. In fact, the universe is exactly our life; right now, we are the awakened universe. Because this is so, we can be nurtured. Nevertheless, ongoing actualization is required for me, for you, to manifest this. Actualizing is being this moment, actualizing this functioning, giving self away, forgetting self. This is clear in sitting upright and still, being non-thinking. If we limit nurturance to self-centered body-mind habits, to the likes and dislikes or habits of emotion-thought, there are consequences. Holding to self-centeredness becomes a way by which we limit this Awakened life we are. There are mental and physical consequences. Though we can be nurtured, it may be inadequate; at times it creates and perpetuates suffering and harm. Despite these consequences, we justify self-centered limitations because we believe that they will protect us, keep us safe from what we fear. We fail to see these very fears and justifications for what they are : self-centered misconceptions and dualistic notions. To paraphrase Eihei Dogen, when we engage life based on self-centered limits and expectations, this is delusion; when we allow life to engage us freely, this is realization. Embodying life as it is nurtures and heals us into this moment. Embodying is being bodily present, feeling, hearing, experiencing this body-so. The more we open to this universe right here now, the more we manifest this very life as it is, this universe that is our life. Stated another way, the more we open to the Dharma, the more the Dharma opens to us.


What about discomfort, what I do not want to feel? Or don't want to hear him say? Or when I want to shout angrily, or even storm out? Emotions and thoughts which arise often seem true because they are so familiar and comfortable. Just because a thought or feeling arises does not mean life is so. We act on them without seeing what they are, without noticing or questioning any dualistic or self-centered notions they are based on. Taking thoughts, emotions, feelings as reality, rather than simply as thoughts, emotions, feelings, cuts us off from nurturing reality. Trying to make the world fit emotion thoughts results in misery and suffering.


Because Zazen is nothing special, being just this, it is difficult/easy. Being just this, actualizing this functioning, is manifesting the universe as it is, the awakened life of joy. Being present is not a particular or special state. Being this, of itself the awakened life is manifest as this body-mind functioning. Of itself life is illumined.

The functioning that is reality, that sees the emptiness, the impermanence and the interconnectedness of all things is the wisdom of seeing life as it is. Out of this, actions grow naturally; not as an imposed rule but because action is the natural fruition and functioning of seeing.


Compassion is manifesting this life, actualizing the life we are. On the other hand, manifesting compassion clarifies and reveals who and what we truly are, supports being this moment. And compassion begins in experiencing this present moment. 'Even what is uncomfortable, noxious, or painful?' Yes, when this is so. Very much like a tree surrounded by smelly, sticky horse shit, left after the horse has eaten the tree's leaves. The very process of life transforms the shit into nutrients. The tree is nurtured in absorbing this, as the horse is nurtured by the leaves. Likewise, experiencing-which is our life, which is ongoing practice- is to be nurtured by what ever arises, inside, outside. And this ongoing practice nurtures the arising life. Zazen is not gaining anything, it is not putting another head upon our own. Zazen is living fully. Enjoy.


Elihu Genmyo Smith



Salam,

Cherine


الجمعة، 14 أغسطس، 2009

التصوف 1


يا ولدى قالوا التصوف العملى تجربة تصل بك الى التذوق و الصفاء و المشاهدة ..

و سبيله العلم و العبادة فلا يغنى عنك فيه سواك.. فأنه لا يمكن أن يتذوق لك منه غيرك كما لا يمكن أن ترى بعين رجل آخر..

فالصوفية أرباب أحوال لا أصحاب أقوال..

و لم ينل المشاهدة من ترك المجاهدة.


المحمديات - مجموعة أوراد و أحزاب و أدعية الطريقة المحمدية الشاذلية

فضيلة الأستاذ الأمام / محمد زكى أبراهيم - شيخ الطريقة المحمدية رحمه الله.


مطبوعات و رسائل العشيرة المحمدية



السلام عليكم و رحمة الله و بركاته

شرين

Authentic Success




'The real moment of success is not the moment apparent to the crowd'.






When you were a child, you got report cards filled out by teachers to tell your parents how you were doing in school. It's difficult to make the transition from external judgment to internal acceptance, but it's a journey we all must make to reach our essential selves as adults. Authentic success is internal. Often, other people aren't even aware at first that you've reached it. The moment of success is the awareness that 'I can do it' or 'I have done it'. And it's comforting to know that this can't be taken away from you by an external event. Talent is like electricity. We don't understand electricity. We use it. You can plug into it and light up a lamp, keep a heart pump going, or you can electrocute a person with it. Electricity will do all that. It makes no judgment. All of us are born with talent.






The first image that usually comes to mind when we think of the word 'settler' is that of pioneers - those courageous, adventurous, and interpid individuals who pushed past their well-padded perimeters of safety and security to seek better lives for themselves and those they loved. Pioneers may be picturesque figures, but they are often rather lonely ones. I find it fascinating the way the ancient Chinese belief of yin and yang - the complementary opposite female and male energies inherent in the Universe - runs as a pattern through every aspect of our lives. Career and home, dark and light, cold and heat, sorrow and joy, intimacy and solitude, aggression and passivity, Earth and Heaven. Push past or stay put. There's no way around it, only through; on our deeply personal journey to authenticity we must all become pioneers and make peace with settling before we can move on.




'Something More, Excavating your Authentic Self'


Sarah Ban Breathnach




Salam,


Cherine

الخميس، 13 أغسطس، 2009

Resuscitation - Keeping Body and Soul Together


'Surviving means being born over and over'.


Like an understudy waiting for her big chance to strut the stage of our lives, survival disguises herself in various and often surprising roles. There's one perfectly suited for each of us. Our personal scenes are specifically rewritten so they can be performed on the pulse point of our vulnerability, that delicate membrane of ancient memory where emotionally, psychically, and spiritually, our soul is weakest. The scar tissue needs to be build up.

When you are living at a survival level, do not feel like you are a failure. This is simply the way you have chosen to learn many important lessons and experience the essence of who you are.


The silent hemorrhaging of the soul..

We bruise when we bleed within. One of the more horrific ways to die is through internal hemorrhaging, the uncontrollable bleeding buried in the body's cavity. What makes this particular exit route even more insidious is that internal hemorrhaging is most often painless to the victim. There are no visible clues signaling the tiny trickle that starts when a small blood vessel begins to leak until it's become a fatal flood. Self-loathing is the silent hemorrhaging of the soul. You don't feel or see the life force fleeing until it's no longer there, and then, of course, it's too late.

Loathing is grief that has festered; the rampant infection of self-pity.


You cannot begin the search for authenticity, you cannot embark on a spiritual path within, and not see it reflected on the outside. 'As is the inner, so is the outer'. Time well spent in meditation gives you more serenity and it shows on your face. Taking joy in life is a woman's best cosmetic. Learning to accept ourselves exactly as we are today gives us the motivation to move forward to the next step. With enlightenment and self-awareness, we can re-guide and realign our whole selves: our bodies, by finding new ways of moving and feeding; our souls, by connecting them to the earth and to each other.


'Something More, Excavating your Authentic Self'

Sarah Ban Breathnach


With Love and gratitude to my ancient small serpent.


Salam,

Cherine

الثلاثاء، 11 أغسطس، 2009

Openness 6


Look! Look!

The door is open!

enter into

Green trees, blue sky.


By/Pei Li



Salam,

Cherine

Openness 5


Look! Look!

The door is open!

enter into

Green trees, blue sky.


By/ Pei Li



Salam,

Cherine

Commit to Living by the Truth


If we value reality and truth as we value sunshine, clean air, and clear water, we might realize it is the breath of life. In our journey to truth, we start having deeper conversations that simultaneously can be relieving and anxiety-provoking because our secrets, hiding places, and devious thoughts will be exposed. Coming into reality means stepping beyond the grip of fear over and over again. Ultimately you risk losing everything but yourself and your connection to the flow of life. Once you truly experience that anything but the truth hurts inside-it creates uneasiness and tightness-you become all the more motivated to get to the truth as quickly as possible and allow the internal sunshine and soft breezes to return.


Being real with people does run the risk of evoking conflict and can lead to loss. It also has the potential to deepen understanding, draw you closer together, and change the direction of a relationship. Our connection grows stronger, we drop into silence together, and there is more love available between us than we ever could have dreamed of. Once we commit to living in reality and telling the truth as best as we can, life becomes simple. We accept the outcome, even if it is very difficult, we become one with reality and we live with integrity.

One day on a camping trip with a friend and her daughter, we got into a hot situation and I dropped the facade and started to cry. 'What should I have said?' I asked my friend. 'Just say the truth!' she shouted in frustration. 'Say what's true - what you like or want or feel..and let the chips fall where they may!' I was stunned. It was like waking up to a burst of bright energy. Just let it all happen. My life was forever changed.


Commiting to living by the truth is similar to saying, 'I will not live in fear', because fear is the prime motivator for distorting the truth. When you can say to yourself, 'Let it all fall apart, let me be alone, disliked, broke, but I will not live in fear, I will not tolerate this knot in my heart', you are free.

To be unstuck is to broaden our vision and live by the greater truths..to feel our relationship to all people and all sentient life. To love others is to feel love inside. The only way we stay fully in reality is to see and accept our connection to the reality of the whole. This means a level of listening and attuning that takes us beyond our conditioned self. You start by realizing that you don't know another person's experience, nor can you generalize from your own history. While we can't know another person's experience, we can listen with the heartfelt intent of understanding. This nourishes us at all levels because it assuages feelings of separation. There is no one reality in the amazing web of lives drawn together in the mosaic of humanity. There is everyone's experience. If you are willing to come to the table with all your friends, you will go far deeper into yourself than through any book. Every encouragement that flows between us is like the milk and honey of human existence, softening our hearts, soothing our nervous systems, bridging our sense of separateness.


Feeling safe in life means you can reach out for help when you are in need and someone will reach back and take your hand.


'Zen and the art of a happier life'

Charlotte Kasl


Salam,

Cherine


Embodying Life


A cool wind, bright green spring leaves blowing, a cloudless sky. Seeing this, feeling this, I am all of it. This alive world is joy!


Life reveals life.

Sitting, being present, we may see and sense this interconnected life we are.

At times we are sure that what we encounter is not us! 'I do not want this', 'This hurts', 'This is unacceptable, intolerable'. Memories of past mistakes or misdeeds are not welcome. Naturally I want to avoid suffering. When suffering occurs I think I should change something, the circumstance or cause, try to fix it or get away.

We like feeling good. It is great. Since we often connect 'feeling good' to particular conditions and circumstances, either external or internal, inevitably there are times we do not feel good.When this is 'not good', or feeling good does not arise, then what? When something is lacking, then what? We try to do what will change the feelings. We try to distance our self from what we don't like - doing all sorts of things to get away.


Fortunately, right here is the opportunity of opening. Simple and straightforward being this moment as it is , is being this body-mind world. Of itself, life is naturally revealed, naturally seen. In fact, right now, body-mind world are not separate, are certainly not three things. Our encounter is always right now. Considerations of so-called past or future can turn this encounter into something else, and then we miss this, this which is nothing but our self. Past and future, as well as present, are right now. This is our practice opportunity; nothing lacking, nothing extra. Zazen is a way to do this. Zazen is being what is - inhabiting this moment life.


Everything we encounter is exactly our self. So, our life is serving everything we encounter and is being served by everything we encounter. If we limit serving, limit self, to what 'I like' or 'dislike', then there are difficulties. Ongoing practice is inhabiting this moment. Serving is inhabiting this moment, giving self away to self. Serving - whether I want to or not, whether it suits me or not. Serving what does not feel good, what feels uncomfortable and painful. Respond appropriately to what is needed. Needed by what? By life - not as an extra or special effort but as exactly what is required by the whole of this moment, this universe which is exactly our life. This life as it is exactly this wonderful opportunity.


Honey and nectar are wonderful, but only a bee lives on this; you can not live on only honey and nectar. Yes, enjoy honey. However, attempting to stick to a life of honey will keep us from the life we are. A life limited to only the comfortable and the luxurious does not sustain. A practice that is too comfortable, a 'country club Zen' that cushions us from cirucumstances and avoids fear, does not nurture life. Practice is not a mens to be safe and comfortable. A good practice is sustained in the midst of life, including life's inevitable discomforts and disappointments. We do not require only what is likable, only a diet of honey. The varied diet of arising circumstances, which are our life, is the nurturing of the joy we are. The varied tastes and flavors, sweet and bitter, all the arising circumstances are the present moment diet which sustains us, sustains this great joy. Inhabiting this moment is being sustained. The many forms are the reality of our life, this great joy is seeing and being who we are. This great joy is our life as it is right now. So, being this joyful life, enjoy.


By/Elihu Genmyo Smith




Salam,

Cherine

الاثنين، 10 أغسطس، 2009

Openness


Look! Look!

The door is open!

Enter into

Green trees, blue sky.


By/Pei Li




Salam,

Cherine

Openness 4


Look! Look!

The door is open!

Enter into

Green trees, blue sky.


By/Pei Li



Salam,

Cherine

Openness 3


Look! Look!

The door is open!

Enter into

Green trees, blue sky.


By/Pei Li



Salam,

Cherine

Openness 2


Look! Look!

The door is open!

Enter into

Green trees, blue sky.


By/Pei Li




Salam,

Cherine

The Sacred Adventure


'An adventure is a transgression you don't regret'..


The search for Something More is a sacred adventure, one that will provide you with all the amusing anecdotes, profound turning points, and provocative choices you'll ever need to be able to live this life without regrets.

'True adventures start with desire, an inclination to enter the unknown in hopes of finding more of yourself..of the world'.

You need to make a conscious choice every day to shed the old - whatever 'the old' means for you - old issues, old guilt, old patterns, old responses, old resentments, old rivalries. We no longer have the luxury of wallowing in what's held us back; this is the emotional baggage we're supposed to be getting rid of this time around.

This is the choice standing between your dream of living authentically and its coming true. This is the choice that is not optional if you want to discover your Something More. Both authenticity and adventure require a point of departure, the willingness to shed what's safe and predictable in order to embrace the new - people, places, predicaments, pleasures, and passions. Your new, authentic life.

'I believe we have two lives..the life we learn with, and the life we live after that'. So how do we get to this second life?

Starting over..'We must be willing to get rid of the life we've planned, so as to have the life that is waiting for us'.

'True life is lived when tiny choices are made'. 'Tiny choices mean tiny changes. But it is only with infinitesimal change, changes so small no one else even realizes you're making them, that you have any hope for transformation'.

After breath, is there a more precious gift than free will?

Most of the time, our memories are fragmented, like shards of pottery found during archaeological excavations. We need to do our perfect work as we piece back together the child we left behind.


'Something More, Excavating your Authentic Self'

Sarah Ban Breathnach


Salam,

Cherine

الأحد، 9 أغسطس، 2009

Openness 1


Look! Look!

The door is open!

Enter into

Green trees, blue sky.


By/Pei Li




Salam,

Cherine

What is Zen


Zen is very simple...What are you?


In this whole world everyone searches for happiness outside, but nobody understands their true self inside. Everybody says, 'I'..'I want this, I am like that'..But nobody understands this 'I'. If you sincerely ask, 'What am I?' sooner or later you will run into a wall where all thinking is cut off. We call this 'Don't Know'.

Zen is keeping this 'Don't know' mind always and everywhere.

When walking, standing, sitting, lying down, speaking, being silent, moving, being still..At all times, in all places, without interruption..One's mind is in calmness.

Meditation in Zen means keeping don't-know mind when bowing, chanting and sitting Zen. This is formal Zen practice. And when doing something, just do it.

Finally, your don't-know mind will become clear. Then you can see the sky, only blue. You can see the tree, only green. Your mind is like a clear mirror. Red comes, the mirror is red; white comes the mirror is white.

There is no desire for myself, only for all beings.

That mind is what we call Great Love, Great Compassion.


By/Zen Master Seung Sahn

The Delaware Valley Zen Center



Salam,

Cherine

Zen : Everyday is a Good Day


If Zen is to be of any use to our lives we must be able to bring what is discovered to our daily life. Zen does not remove us from life and the world but gives us the insight necessary to help better it. The ability to apply the teachings of Zen to daily life is very important. Zen uses our ordinary life as a vehicle to enlightenment. One must always keep mindful of what one does. One must understand the importance of ordinary activities, that they are methods of Zen.


Although knowledge is looked up on by most people as a key virtue, it is not so in Zen. Action is more important, and knowledge that can not be used to enhance life is of little value. Zen practice extends to the times we are just doing our normal duties. In this way we will find that everyday is a good day.


Life is always in a state of change and there is nothing wrong with this because it is teaching us something each day. If we can only detach ourselves from the past and enjoy what we have right now, how much better will we feel! We must learn to flow from one moment to the next. If we can do this, everyday will be a good day.



Salam,

Cherine

السبت، 8 أغسطس، 2009

Facing your Future by Excavating your Past


'She had been forced into prudence in her youth. She learned romance as she grew older - the natural sequence of an unnatural beginning'.


Archaeology is humanity's humble attempt to understand the meaning of life by looking at how civilizations and cultures lived before us. The term 'Archaeology' has come to denote the investigation of the remains of the human past, from the very first artifact all the way to yesterday's garbage.

You are embarking on an archaeological dig to excavate your Authentic Self. Our journey has brought us to the sacred site of your soul. The world of archaeology evokes adventure and romance. Going back and excavating our past won't always be easy. It will be fun. It will be fascinating. It will be thrilling. But it won't always be easy.

Excavating is not glamorous work on an archaeological dig. It demands painstaking effort under often harsh conditions. Tons of dirt must be removed carefully from the site if the search to uncover treasures from the past is to be successful. The thrill of discovery wouldn't be half so sweet if time didn't have to be invested in slowly digging through the dirt. No matter how impatient everyone on the dig is, the excavation process cannot be rushed. And when we hit a bedrock of discouragement, the undeniable romance of the treasure hunt will always save the day.

There are other reasons for us to begin to think of ourselves as archaeologists. The qualities that lead excavators to their spectacular finds are the same qualities that we must reach for our own breathless discoveries. An archaeologist's instinct means one knows where to find what one is searching for. What we'll be searching for are the moments that have made a difference in the trajectory of your life. To do that we'll need to dig deep: through the assumptions and expectations that have shaped you; through the successes and failures that have defined you; through the loves and hates, gains and losses, pains that have bound you; through the ruins that set you free. We'll exhume all the perfectly reasonable choices that derailed your dreams and brush off the clinging soil hiding the half-truths that have haunted you for all these years.
Pay dirt.
Sometimes when we awaken from the bad dream of disowning ourselves, we think that the sojourn to self-discovery is a new one. But it is an ancient quest. When you close your eyes, your Authentic Self picks up your story where you left off during the day, and it's always been this way.
Just as paintings can be impressionistic or abstract or can appear to be so real they jump off the canvas, so can our dreams. Dreams can also be like a 'collage', an artistic composition made up of various materials such as paper, fabric, and wood. Eventually, dreams are our spiritual illustrated discovery journals. In keeping a discovery journal, you'll be creating an authentic book of love that reveals your passions on every page. 'There is a lot of me, and all so luscious'. The journal - this astonishing insight tool - can be transformed into an archaeologist's site report as you document discoveries while excavating your past life, loves, losses, and longings. If you've never kept an illustrated discovery journal before, you're in for a delightul surprise. You can journal any quite time you feel you are better able to unwind. These exercises are your Field Work - mental and physical archaeological assignments meant to help you apply and absorb life. When journaling, follow your instincts. Then again, you might not have a clue as to what everything in you means; it's a Mystery. The French painter Georges Braque confessed, 'There are certain mysteries, certain secrets in my own work which even I don't understand, nor do I try to do so'.
You'll be happy to know that, unlike any other area of your existence, you cannot do the illustrated discovery journal incorrectly. Our discovery journals are vehicles for us to begin playing with our Authentic Selves. Write whatever you want. This is not intellectual exercise. The idea is to craft with paper what the poet W.H. Auden calls a map of your planet. It is a meditative insight tool as well as a playmate, which means you want to bring your full concentration to your collage. Your soul is writing for and about you. This is the most important work in a person's life. As far as I'm concerned, that's discovering who we are and why we are here at this point in life.
A lovely concept in the excavation process is searching for 'small things forgotten'. Because so much of our life is spent in a variety of commonplace activities, the search for small things forgotten is central to the work of historical archaeologists.. It is the archaeologist's task to decode the monuments messages and apply them to our understanding of the human experience. In our journaling journey we decode the messages of all the things in the past that we have forgotten. Our authenticity is found hidden in the small details. We think that it's the big moments that define our lives.. but really, these big moments are just punctuation marks of our personal saga. The narrative is written every day in the small, the simple, and the common. In the unconsidered. The overlooked. The discarded. The reclaimed. The things we shall take with us when we travel to ourselves will nearly all be small things.
Direct your eye right inward, and you'll find a thousand regions in your mind yet undiscovered. Travel them and be expert in home-cosmography. The excavation process could take several 'seasons'.
You can embark on a soul trip and be back before anyone even notices you're missing. They might be curious about that gleam in your eye and the flush on your cheeks, but I'll never tell if you won't.
It is entirely up to us to choose to transform through courage, risk, leaps in the dark, and what-the-hell moments. Most new discoveries are suddenly-seen things that were always there.
'The pages are still blank', the Russian writer Vladimir Naboskov tells us, 'but there is a miraculous feeling of the words being there, written in invisible ink and clamoring to become visible'.
'Something More, Excavating your Authentic Self'
Sarah Ban Breathnach
Salam,
Cherine

Excavating your Authentic Self


'The spiritual journey is one of continually falling on your face, getting up, brushing yourself off, looking lovingly and thankfuly to God, and taking another step'.

Aurobindo


Faith is the centerpiece of a connected life. It allows us to live by the grace of invisible strands. Maybe we sometimes look for love in all the wrong places. We look for the world to love us, when we were created by God to be God's beloved.

In his book 'Late Bloomers', Brendan Gill wrote about people who at whatever cost and under whatever circumstances have succeeded in finding themselves..to find oneself is to have been stumbling about in a dark wood and to have encountered there, unexpectedly and yet how welcomely, a second self, capable of leading one out into the safety of a sunny upland meadow. If the hour happens to be later than we may have wished, take heart! Sometimes a childhood once considered unremarkable is later revealed with fascinating incidents and people. So much cheriched is the bloom even if late. Many late bloomers were able to do the work they loved, to make a contibution, give nurturance and support. We have had our world as in our time, and if we relive it well in memory, it will bring us wisdom. We will come, each of us, to see our life as the whole that it is. Events that seemed random will show themselves to be parts of a coherent whole. Decisions that we were hardly aware of making will reveal themselves as significant choices, and we can honestly regret the poor ones and rejoice in the good ones. We can call up emotions that seemed devastating in their time, and recollect them in tranquility, forgiving others and ourselves. When we do this, we have truly had our world as in our time, and it is in our possession from that time on, giving us its gifts of wisdom and wholeness.


'Something More, Excavating your Authentic Self'

Sarah Ban Breathnach


Salam,

Cherine

الجمعة، 7 أغسطس، 2009

L'oraison matinale


'Peu m'importe, si je n'ai pas de harpe au reveil du matin: Pour musique j'ai mes soupirs qui demandent pardon a Dieu..'



Hafiz




Salam,


Cherine

Dedicating one's life to others


The more we are concerned about the happiness of others, the more we are building our own happiness at the same time. Never consider yourself to be superior to those you are helping. Whether you give them your money, your time or your energy, always act with humility even if the other person is dirty, shifty, stupid, or clothed in rags.


There are several ways of being happy, Some people base their happiness on the possession of material goods and the satisfaction of the senses. This is a fragile happiness. Even when you think you are really happy, if you take that happiness for granted you will doubly suffer when circumstances are no longer in your favour. Others believe that their happiness is due to moral attitudes and behaviour. This is the kind of happiness we need, because it is based on profound causes and does not depend on circumstances. If your attitude is not right, then even if you are surrounded by good friends and the best facilities, you cannot be happy. This is why mental attitude is more important than external conditions.


The world can appear as friend or foe, full of defects or full of qualities: it all depends on your mind. Generally, there is nothing that has only advantages or only disadvantages. Everything we use - food, clothes, buildings and so on - and all the people we live with - family, friends, superiors, inferiors, masters, disciples, and so forth - have both qualities and defects. That is how it is. In order to judge reality correctly, we must acknowledge the good and bad sides for what they are. From a certain point of view, we can see everything in a positive light. Even suffering can be considered beneficial. Those who have been through a lot of hardship do not generally complain at small difficulties. The hardships they have experienced have forged their temperament and given them a broader perspective, a more stable mind, one that is closer to reality and more capable of seeing things as they are.


Try to discern clearly between the person and his or her attitude in the moment. Do not react against the person but against the emotion or mode of behaviour. Reject any wish to harm the person himself. Try to help him change and benefit him as much as possible. If you restrict yourself to trying to put a stop to his actions, there is a chance that he will cease quickly from acting as your enemy. He may even become your friend.

Love is the ultimate way to transform people, even when they are full of anger and hatred. If you express love continually and steadily, without ever tiring, you will touch them. This takes a lot of time. One needs tremendous patience. But if your intentions are perfectly pure and if your love and compassion are steady, you will succeed.


Dalai Lama

'Daily Advice from the Heart'


Salam,

Cherine

الخميس، 6 أغسطس، 2009

Gardening With Weeds


Being who you are is Zen practice. Unsatisfactory and difficult circumstances arise when we limit reality to a self-centered perspective, to mine and not-mine beliefs. The entrance of essential nature is this mind-body-moment. Actually, to say entrance is not quite right because there is no where to go, no where else. Even to say essential nature or true nature is not correct, because this is not different from ordinary nature.

Practicing is being intimate, 'opening to' this body-mind moment. Being so, we live, function, respond to the circumstances that we encounter this moment. What are difficult, unsatisfactory circumstances for you? Clarifying these, we may discover the practice effort opportunities they present. 'Can you see the leisurely person of the way, beyond learning of the Tao, beyond the pursuit of knowledge; neither trying to avoid deluded thoughts nor seeking truth? Remember, not a single thing exists that we can call our own, neither mine nor not-mine.'

What is going on when greed, anger or confusion arise? We can make our practice effort with the so-called difficulty, upset or anger.


I like to garden, growing a few vegetables. If I pull up weeds or cut grass, as long as they are not noxious, I put them back on the ground where I have tomatoes or other vegetables growing. In a way, this is exactly our practice. We turn the weeds right back to this moment, this body-mind-world. Practice is not to get rid of weeds and go find truth elsewhere. Unfortunately, when caught up in weeds, they take nourishment and keep us from functioning as we are..take our ability to be present and to respond. Our confusion comes from believing that the weed is who we are.


What is your specific practice effort that allows the weeds to nurture this reality moment? How do you garden life? Not bargain with reality but garden in it. Difficulty or pain are good practice opportunities, they can nurture entering this moment if you garden with them, if you make the practice effort. Allow this to serve - no difference who is served; serving others is serving our self.

Not trying to get rid of anything, not trying to gain anything..step by step the garden grows. Upset, anger, and confusion are nothing but rain falling in the garden, appearing and disappearing. The weather changes, the amount of rain changes, the condition of the plants change.

Be present..be intimate..take good care of this moment and enjoy your garden.


By/Elihu Genmyo Smith



Salam,

Cherine