Category Archives: Zen

Winds of Change

seeing sky streaming ~d nelson

Rising with sunshine, feeling
gratitude for a brand new day.
Vowing to bring happiness
during morning, to myself
& others; & reduce misery
in the afternoon.

15th holiday season for Fang the Terrible ~d nelson

Recently a friend said to me,
“life’s always been tough.”
Me: “yet, has it
ever been this tough for
so many at the same time?”

full fall color

Walking slowly in nearby park
taking in an array of natural expressions,
i.e. miracle of life, continuing
in all its hues & shades.

play chipmunks

Feeling gratitude for nature’s gift
of renewal & smiles
experienced when being with
mother earth’s plants & critters.
A few images for encouragement
to take a meditative walk in wilds.

 

 

May we offer each other,
whoever we are with,
supportive comfort,
warmth & little lights shining,
moving into this season’s
winds of change.

 

 

Impermanence makes everything possible.
We are often sad and suffer a lot when things change, but change and impermanence have a positive side. Thanks to impermanence, everything is possible. Life itself is possible. If a grain of corn is not impermanent, it can never be transformed into a stalk of corn.
~Thich Nhat Hanh

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Mindfulness Sweetens Our World

Rain’s freshness Healing this Dry Earth ~d nelson. Below is a letter sent to friends in my meditation community on Thanksgiving.

How wonderful that it is now raining in Northern California.
From Native Peoples I’ve lived with, especially Hopi, I learned to express
deep gratitude I feel for rains, which sustain all life.
These current rains here are blessing us with clean air to breathe and putting
out the devastating wildfire. Thank you land ancestors for helping me express this thanks.

I’m feeling very grateful for having Thich Nhat Hanh as my spiritual teacher for the past couple decades,
as he has provided compassionate & wise teachings for experiencing well-being,
while continuing to offer a beautiful example of practicing them at 92 years of age.
Furthermore, using skillful means he has spoken honestly to me about impermanence, explicitly climate change,
preserving mother earth, human relations & other issues of concern to us all. Breathing through an air mask for these past couple weeks, when outside, I’ve felt accepting of dry, smoky, unhealthy conditions as they were.

Skies were also smoky here many weeks this past summer. I’m feeling more solid as a mountain than I could have without our practice of stopping, conscious breathing & trainings to not do harm to ourselves & all beings. There is a sadness I feel for descendants who will not have the privilege I’ve had of growing up in a seemingly stable environment.
May they be happy & feel safe in the world they inherit.

I’ve great gratitude for being able to take refuge in a mindfulness community or sangha.
Such a wonderful condition of happiness being a part of a community
that practices living in harmony & awareness;
that we may awaken from the illusion of separateness.

On Thay’s (affectionate Vietnamese term for “teacher”) continuation day last month
some lay friends on retreat at Deer Park Meditation center gathered,
expressing gratitude to him by sharing the benefits of, or fruit, of their meditation practice.
Some were quite new, with real beginners mind. Others were more experienced brothers & sisters. A clip of these heartfelt expressions, including images of Thay enjoying tea at Tue Hieu in 2007 (his root temple, at which he is now spending his last days)
can be viewed here, if interested: “mindfulness sweetens our world.”
Wishing you sweet fruit from the practice you’ve chosen to bring happiness, healing & insight.

fruit of our practice (click to watch happy video)

This, the Best Season of Your Life!

best season country lane ~d nelson

Spring’s natural freshness bloomed
curiosity from life’s brand-newness.

Everything seemingly warmed up in summer;
emboldened, proud, glories, defeats.

best season ridge-line ride

Letting autumn linger as long as it will
– pleasant days & nights
to calmly breathe
in graceful advance
of winter solstice.

Despite short bursts of regret & worry,
this present moment is wonderful .

(click for beautiful live seasonal sounds)

best season neighborhood

“Ten thousand flowers in spring, the moon in autumn,
a cool breeze in summer, snow in winter.
If your mind isn’t crowded by unnecessary things,
this is the best season of your life.” ~ Wu-Men

Have a Lot of Faith in Myself

mind, like pond, moves towards clarity & stillness ~d nelson

Looks like they are practicing Zen
sitting, walking, eating
& working meditations.
But are they really practicing?
Are we sure? And what about us?
Perhaps 50 percent,
or maybe just
10 percent of the time
or less, if being honest
with ourselves.

But part-time Buddha’s
are capable of strong aspirations
for diligently practicing virtues
with all their hearts
in order to transform
suffering & find peace
& well-being for self & others.

Mindfulness is to recognize
& know we have a body at this moment.
Mind may be shy to acknowledge this.
But then, with body, speech & mind
in perfect oneness it’s possible
to stand & truly behold
the expansive sky, the deep-rooted tree
and hear their whole stories.

When we plant a tree
& have faith it will thrive,
there’s hope for its future.
A mother’s belief that her child
will grow up is also necessary.
Without faith the tree & the child will prematurely die.
The same is true of our practice.
We may have failed a thousand times
but with faith in wholeheartedly practiced noble teachings
our full potential for awakening remains achievable.

This is the Best I’ve Ever Eaten

plant-based mushroom rolls ~d nelson

Now, the best thing ever eaten
exposes electric experiences
of Heavenly tastes, textures,
scents. Sometimes
memories arise.

real sweets memories

Preferring plant-based food
to care for myself & mother earth.
All the nutriments this son
of the earth needs for survival.

earth’s jumbo burrito

But being truly hungry
humbled his-self’s appreciation
of whatever foods are offered,
as they’re all gifts of the universe.
Hands extended, & receiving.

 

Hearing of those who raised funds locally,
then purchased food to prepare,
bag and serve to any who present
themselves as in need of eating,
as I did & do, when required,
still brings me to my knees in gratitude.

teamwork

  1. This food is a gift of the earth, the sky, numerous living beings, and much hard and loving work.
  2. May we eat with mindfulness and gratitude so as to be worthy to receive this food.
  3. May we recognize and transform unwholesome mental formations, especially our greed and learn to eat with moderation.
  4. May we keep our compassion alive by eating in such a way that reduces the suffering of living beings, stops contributing to climate change, and heals and preserves our precious planet.
  5. We accept this food so that we may nurture our brotherhood and sisterhood, build our Sangha, and nourish our ideal of serving all living beings. ~Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh’s 5 contemplations

Note: I’ll be on mindfulness meditation retreat in Oct. Look forward to reconnecting with WP friends by the end of the month. Wishing you happiness & well being, david.

Motoring to The Other Shore

ride 2 other shore~ d nelson

Dreaming of reaching the other shore
of Freedom & Enlightenment.
Once safely there, fulfilling the last letting go
of the supportive vessel which gets me there.

ride 2 other shore 3 ~d nelson

Being a dream, I fancied a vehicle,
a bit different from a hand-made raft (which itself is a metaphor for wisdom teachings & practice),
but rather like the one my uncle restored
in 1972 while listening to Beach Boys 45’s,
long ago when I was a kid.

ride 2 other shore 2

Confident that I’ll release this transport,
along with all desires & notions
once on the other shore,
I’m indulging now in a little model
fantasy of color, horsepower & chrome.

ride 2 other shore 5

Sweet, this dream of venturing on highways
inward to find that peaceful, distant peaceful shore.
Perhaps, with mind calm, this vehicle cleverly
decelerates slow enough to out-maneuver
fire’s smoke many of us are breathing,
and skillfully bring peace, understanding where there’s
injustice, hunger, anger & divisiveness, discrimination, misperceptions,
& sad circuses; going on in places high & low,
near, far & all around right where we’re cruisin’.

ride 2 other shore 7

“In the same way, monks, I have taught the Dharma compared to a raft, for the purpose of crossing over, not for the purpose of holding onto. Understanding the Dharma as taught compared to a raft, you should let go even of Dharmas, to say nothing of non-Dharmas.” ~Buddha, Water-Snake Simile (simile of the raft), Alagaddūpama Sutta

 

Being Humble

(originally posted Sept 27, 2012)

done fishing today

done fishing today, Lesbos, Greece inner sea ~ D. Nelson

Last week after some quality time cultivating my garden of mindfulness at Deer Park, I packed up the camping gear and slowly drove out of the hidden mountain valley. Neil Diamond’s glorious Jonathan Livingston Seagull soundtrack CD was playing, as I rolled slowly across bouldered hills into the fog of Escondido. Still on my mind’s consciousness was young brother’s talk, which included reference to the ancient Chuang Tzu story of an empty boat. Chuang Tzu was a Taoist sage, living sometime before 250 B.C.

“If a man is crossing a river and an empty boat collides with his own skiff, even though he be a bad-tempered man he will not become very angry. But if he sees a man in the boat, he will shout at him to steer clear. If the shout is not heard, he will shout again, and yet again, and begin cursing. And all because there is somebody in the boat. Yet if the boat were empty, he would not be shouting, and not angry.

If you can empty your own boat crossing the river of the world, no one will oppose you, no one will seek to harm you….

Who can free himself from achievement, and from fame, descend and be lost amid the masses of men?

He will flow like Tao, unseen, he will go about like Life itself with no name and no home.

Simple is he, without distinction. To all appearances he is a fool.

His steps leave no trace. He has no power. He achieves nothing, has no reputation.

Since he judges no one, no one judges him.

Such is the perfect man:

His boat is empty. “

(20:2, 4, pp. 168-171) Chuang Tzu. The Way of Chuang Tzu. Translator/Editor Thomas Merton. New York: New Directions Publishing Corporation, 1965.

watery clear lake divide

Embracing that thought of the empty boat as a koan I began the drive home with clear, blue southern California skies and end of summer heat. Recalling the front tire blowout (mentioned on my “finding the key” post) on the way down I was planning on taking it easy driving the interstate back. As I first met cars an intentional remembering that these cars are empty. Empty of anger, ill will, and ultimately, empty of having a separate existence. We are flowing on this river of time and space together. Cooperating like the cells of my body, and not competing. Even though my quickly judging mind might think, “hey, these people are in a hurry, seem impatient and my slow mindful driving is not making them any happier”, I adjusted best I could to support harmony on the road out of Escondido. Breathing and smiling holding the wheel of my empty boat. Fortunately the early morning traffic was light and spacious. No tailgater, no tailgatee.

 

full of everything ~d nelson

On the way down it seemed, in my memory, that the air was mostly clear. So as I approached the high San Gabriel mountains which were obscured by smog I sighed to the air that could be seen. Over the grapevine my empty boat journeyed through the San Joaquin Valley farmland with fruit and nut trees next to the roadway and an occasional fruit stand with fresh produce. Sometimes the freeway went across the California aqueduct, a canal which brings water from the north into the valley and southern California bringing it life, keeping it from returning back to its natural state of being a desert.

 

Empty boats of different colors, dancing up the interstate at the speed that is not too fast, not too slow, but just right for them. Well sometimes the big truck passes the other big truck and goes kind of slow, relative to the vehicles that were doing 90 until forced to go 60 while the big boat was in the fast lane. But knowing that it’s an empty boat I felt happy. Seeing truckloads of bright, red tomatoes make me happy. Seeing an occasional bunch of tomatoes that bumped off and smashed on the freeway made me happy. Cruise control made my leg happy. When the afternoon heat kicked in the a/c made me happy. Missing the large pieces of rubber tire retread across the highway made me happy, also. I was mindful to help my empty boat not hit anything, this time.

water contact ~d nelson

May all beings be happy and safe, be aware of obstacles and arrive alive. After awhile I notice a vehicle on the side of the road with a flat tire. Having been in that situation a couple of weeks earlier I had understanding and compassion. So I pulled over and offered to help. She seemed nervous at my presence and told me that triple A was called and already on the way. Wishing her well I smiled and got back into the boat. After several more hours, getting close to the Bay Area, I spotted smoke and soon approached a fire engine on the opposite side of the road. It was just finishing putting out the fire on a completely burnt out shell of a car. Couldn’t even tell what kind of car it used to be. No evidence of the occupants but I was sending metta that they are free from injury. The traffic was backed up a couple of miles slowly passing that scene. Instant reminder of how fragile we are. How quickly life goes by. After taking my time driving it was wonderful to regain my land legs and do some walking meditation through my neighborhood. Perhaps a step closer to realizing the empty boat inside myself. Although it will take many more rivers, that’s ok. One breath in awareness at a time, still a happy and imperfect man.

Talks from that retreat, as well as many others, available as a podcasts at: http://deerpark.libsyn.com/iamhome/2012

Post in memory of Phap De (young brother, 1935-2016)