tisdag 26 maj 2015

Bookreview: Cave of tigers


John Daido Loori was born in Jersey City, New Jersey 1931. He was raised Roman Catholic, and only later on found his way to Buddhism and was ordained as a priest in 1983 and later on received dharma transmission in both a Soto and a Rinzailineage and was the dharma heir of the influential Japanese Zen master Taizan Maezumi Roshi. He is the author of numerous books and also the founder of the Mountains and Rivers Order and Abbot of Zen mountain monastery. He died of lungcancer On October 9, 2009.

Dharma encounter is an public interchange between a teacher and student.. The Dharma encounter can happen after a teaching or reading of a text, but it is not required. It has an long history, but can look very different depending on the sangha, although there are some very ritualized, formalised occurrences of its useage. In the book Cave of tigers we are invited to recapture edited dharma encounters (also know as dharma combat or dharma assembly) Zen mountain monastery between students an John Daido Loori.
The dharma encounters we encounter in this book are not the ritualized form, but rather a soft flowing back and forth between two long time friends. The subjects brought forth has something for the whole spectrum of zenpractitioners, whatever their level of understanding is at, presented in an modern context. What unfolds in the mix might sometimes confound you, and might require several readings before you get it, but when you do, it is a gem.

I like these kind of books who do not try to drag a specific teaching out. In the book, Daido Loori gives an short text and then adds an couple of friendly back and forths corresponding to the initial text. This gives the short text, and the Dharma encounters, an extra depth and although that is not really needed, it is very appreciated.
He covers both a lot off different subjects and an important part of the Buddhist tradition, that of the public back and forthdiscussion that is, in my view, a good practice. I only hope that we get to see more of that in the future, and it no be shyed away, because there is so much to be won in presenting it more..
But you don't have to wait that long, you can get engaged right now, right here.

Thank you for your practice.


onsdag 20 maj 2015

1 john 3:18


Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth.

-1 john 3:18

Buddhism is all about action, or if you want, doings.
Put into words, Buddhism is all about verbs.
Not subjects, adjectives, but verbs.
And if you didn't know, verbs is what you get paid for.

Thank you for your practice.


Bookreview: Inside the grass hut


Ben Connelly is a Soto Zen priest in the Katagiri lineage at Minnesota Zen Meditation Center. In the book he has taken on a thirty-two linepoem by Zen master Shitou (700-790) called "Song of the Grass-Roof Hermitage" and uses it as a stepping stone to illuminate the meaning of spiritual practice, humility, simplicity, and living lightly.
Even though the language in the book, and poem, is easy, has an air of zen aesthetics, and talk about the simplicity of life in a down to earth kind of style, they are not an light read in the sense of thoughts and the impact they will leave on you. Both the poem and the book opens up a spectrum of thoughts and inklings to the features of our hut.
Each chapter in the book focuses on a single line of the poem.
By doing so Connelly lets the reader immerse himself thoroughly in each line, explore it and then step out for air before moving on to the next line/chapter.
Line by line, chapter by chapter, Connelly shows the reader how the poem draws on and expresses elements from the thousand years of Buddhist thought that preceded it, how it is applicable in living a daily, simple, life with a deep connection to all things.

The book is going to be an valueable companion to life in general and Shitou's poem for anyone, not just Zennies, who find these gems.

Song of the grassroof hermitage

I’ve built a grass hut where there’s nothing of value.
After eating, I relax and enjoy a nap.
When it was completed, fresh weeds appeared.
Now it’s been lived in – covered by weeds.

The person in the hut lives here calmly,
Not stuck to inside, outside, or in between.
Places worldly people live, he doesn’t live.
Realms worldly people love, he doesn’t love.

Though the hut is small, it includes the entire world.
In ten square feet, an old man illumines forms and their nature.
A Great Vehicle bodhisattva trusts without doubt.
The middling or lowly can’t help wondering;
Will this hut perish or not?

Perishable or not, the original master is present,
not dwelling south or north, east or west.
Firmly based on steadiness, it can’t be surpassed.
A shining window below the green pines –
Jade palaces or vermilion towers can’t compare with it.

Just sitting with head covered, all things are at rest.
Thus, this mountain monk doesn’t understand at all.
Living here he no longer works to get free.
Who would proudly arrange seats, trying to entice guests?

Turn around the light to shine within, then just return.
The vast inconceivable source can’t be faced or turned away from.
Meet the ancestral teachers, be familiar with their instruction,
Bind grasses to build a hut, and don’t give up.

Let go of hundreds of years and relax completely.
Open your hands and walk, innocent.
Thousands of words, myriad interpretations,
Are only to free you from obstructions.
If you want to know the undying person in the hut,
Don’t separate from this skin bag here and now.

- Shitou Xiqian

Thank you for your practice.


lördag 21 mars 2015



Several people have said that i, apparently, is a lot like the character ”richard from Texas” in ”eat pray love” played by Richard Jenkins, who is one of the ”teachers” that Liz gilbert (played by Julia Roberts) meets.
So i thought i'd write something up about the teachers we meet in our practicelives.

Just so we get one thing absolutely clear, there are many teachers out there.
Some who claim they are and some who don't, some good some not so much...

Here are some general ramblings in the topic of teachers from this old fool.

  1. The teacher is not there for himself or ”no ego”.
A good teacher is there for everyone. She is in it for the sake of everyone getting a benefit out of it. A good teacher respects. She's not in it just for her own fame and fortune, if she were then she would just suck up all the energy in your relationship and then leave you dry while moving on. Don´t forget that fancy names are good on paper, and a good teacher never leaves you, she's always with you...

  1. Where does she come from?

Finding out the backpack that she is carrying can be important. If you don't know what she brings, you don't know what you're gonna get. That can be a bit like a box of chocolates, but not nearly as nice. And don't be fooled by fancy wrappingpapers and such, often the simplest things are the best.
You don't always need to know everything, but its good to keep in mind, the backwater of the raft.
  1. Behaviour
How does she behave?
Does she behave accord to what she preaches?
Does she produce a lot of onesided clones or spirits free to live?
If she is nice, flexible and helpful it's all good. Watch out if she goes ballistic, goes into rages, tries to manipulate and other bad behaviours. If she only wants her ways and not listening to others, opening up possibilites asf i would watch my back, slowly walk out and run.
This does not mean that a challenging behaviour is bad. If done with the correct intent, that is necessary. Being challenging is quite different than being abusive.
She might be the best teacher in the world but quite abusive in her manners and where would that leave you? Abused. And do we want that?
We do not always realize that we are being abused either. We can continue the relationship happily thinking that it is a soaring one, while, in reality, it is a parachutejump where there is only one who has an parachute.
So what do you do?
You live.
You learn.
You stumble and fall.
Sometimes you will be the teacher to, then be the best teacher you can.
In the meantime, leave the bad and cling to the good and remember its all good practice, groceries.

Thank you for your practice.


Bookreview: Why i am a buddhist


The book takes a grounding in the life and thoughts of the author Stephen T. Asma. 
From there we go through the Buddhist basics in a ”no-nonsens with redmeat and whiskeyway” as the frontpage of the book says.Asma is professor of philosophy and interdisciplinary humanities at Columbia College in Chicago. He has written extensively on Buddhism and taught it at the university level.

Asma does a good job laying out the basiscs of the basics of Buddhism in a very elegenagt punchy style which will attract people of all ages. Providing just enough technical language to educate the reader without getting bogged down in Sanskrit terms or doctrinal details is another one of the upsides. 
His chapters on Buddhism and science and Buddhism and the arts are good. He deconstructs the quantum mechanics mysticism that seems popular in New Age thought and demonstrates the connection between Zen and the arts in a nice way. 
He puts forth the notion for thinking about Buddhism in terms of a "first language" (cultural Buddhism) and a "second language" (learned Buddhism). He also makes a great deal of the difference between what he terms "Chicago" Buddhism and what he sees as a more New Agey form of California Buddhism.
Asma also talks about how there are two main groups of Buddhists, all variations aside. There is the group which grows up with Buddhism and a a second group which comes to Buddhism later in life, seeking it out. A topic he covers fairly well in the exposee.
He also talks about the attraction of Buddhism and Buddha, and does a good job about it.

The author teaches philosophy at a Chicago college which makes me wonder why he wrote this book as he did, maybe as some sort of textbook to be used at his lectures, as there is plenty of anecdotes who would work there. But then comes the question on why would he then leave so much out that needs to be in a comprehensive  book about Buddhism and why does he include writings the way he does.
He attacks views of spirituality and schools of Buddhism and dismisses them right off, which makes no sense.
His discussion of cravings, for example, is all about romantic love, which could be a good start to the chapter, but where's the rest?
The chapter on parenthood leaves a lot, even though he showes he is protective of his kid, there is not much buddhistparenthooding in the chapter. His ending chapter, in which he looks at Buddhism and the global stage, he both outlines the attacks on and uses of Buddhism but includes an assault on Islam in favor of Christianity. It makes for an final example of the uneven quality of the sections in the book - some are very good and others are not. 
Near the end we come back to the message of balance. 
Buddhism is all about the middle road. 
Buddhism is a practice of both mind and body, you cant just read/write or just sit your way to it's core. 
But with a bit of practice, and/or editing Asma might might get it, just as you can.

Thank you for your practice.


lördag 14 mars 2015



One of my favourite words is unbuttoned.

A good, storytelling word. 
A word that makes you think.


There are words that really can tell a story.
Unbuttoned is one of them.

“He unbuttoned his jacket and laid back in the chair.”

“She unbuttoned the top button”

Just taste it, Unbuttoned.

Next up we have life...



söndag 1 mars 2015

To serve is to love


Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms.
-1 Peter 4:10

To serve another, to really serve, is the ultimate act of love.
To really serve means that you do everything you can for that person/s you are serving. The mindset should be much like that of faithful stewards. Once you really commit to that which you do for them, you are truly serving. Serving can take many shapes, we are all different, much like the drops in the rain, as different as they are, serve the earth with the rain. Much like the raindrops, we can all serve to the best of our ability
Life is our temple and its all good practice. 
Thank you for your practice.