måndag 30 augusti 2010

When life hits you in the face...


What do you do when life hits you in the face?
What do you when your old mum is dying, your child is resisting, your wife/husband leaves you,  life is acting crazy or your computer had enough?

There has been many things said about this, and a great many books written on the topic.
Some of them are good, some...
But i like to say some things in the subject to.

First of all, the thing we are talking about here is Dukkha and samsara.
I am not a Zen teacher and only in training as a priest, and as such is not to be viewed as an authority of any sort but Dukkha is sometimes interpreted as impermanence, change, suffering and it derives from a word often interpreted as uneasy.
I kinda like the word uneasy in this situation, it goes along the lines i'm talking about now.
Thats what it's all about.

Why do we feel it to be uneasy?
It's because we want something to be different than it is.
Even though we see it as it is, we interpret it as something else, and as something as we do not want or want it to be.
I often explain it as a "wheel that is out of focus", as a "wheel with the axis not in the middle but out towards one side", so that it wobbles forward.
That means it goes at a little different "speeds" when it rolls forward...
We are "suffering" because we want it to go smoothly at the same speed all the time, which it doesn't, and therefore creates an un-smoothness.

So, What do you do when life hits you in the face?
Some say "nothing!"
Some say "Sit with it!"
Some say "It's all good practice."
But it doesn't matter what people say, it matters what YOU DO.
And as long as you do as good as you can in the situation at hand with the righ intention, you are, according to me, not so far off.

In the Garland sutra, buddha supposedly says this
I should be like the sun, shining universally on all without seeking thanks or reward, able to take care of all sentient beings even if they are bad, never giving up on my vows on this account, not abandoning all sentient beings because one sentient being is evil.
This shows to the right intent, doing something for the sake at hand, not for getting some credit.
And in some sense it says "love your enemy".
No matter what it is, love your enemy.

I would like to end with a story about what to do with people that is not as everyone wants.
When Bankei held his seclusion-weeks of meditation, pupils from many parts of Japan came to attend. During one of these gatherings a pupil was caught stealing. The matter was reported to Bankei with the request that the culprit be expelled. Bankei ignored the case.
Later the pupil was caught in a similar act, and again Bankei disregarded the matter. This angered the other pupils, who drew up a petition asking for the dismissal of the thief, stating that otherwise they would leave in a body.
When Bankei had read the petition he called everyone before him. "You are wise brothers," he told them. "You know what is right and what is not right. You may go somewhere else to study if you wish, but this poor brother does not even know right from wrong. Who will teach him if I do not? I am going to keep him here even if all the rest of you leave."
A torrent of tears cleansed the face of the brother who had stolen. All desire to steal had vanished.
It's never easy to deal with people.
Especially people who don't do as they should or as you think they should do.
But in the end, if you just "do as good as you can" and "love your enemy", your not to far off in your practice.

Thank you for your practice.

May the force be with you

torsdag 26 augusti 2010

What happened? Or my view of the treeleaf online shukke tokudo 2010...


What is the meaning of “Shukke tokudo”?
Shukke Tokudo is the ceremony of ordination marking the passage from layperson to what we call a monk, nun, or a priest (the japanese term of is Unsui- cloud and water). Tokudo means ‘ceremony,’ and Shukke is ‘leaving home.’ so in a sense it's a homeleaving ceremony, although there is no home to leave and more in the lines of coming home...

So how does it work? What do you do?

The ceremony is supposed to be composed of three parts, or so i've been told.
One known by all, one known by the teacher and one ”unknown”.
And it really was all of it.
My brother came by train from gothenburg early in the morning, and from there the circus was on.
Before long i had had the head shaved, been interviewed by both radio and the newspaper, gotten the outfit on and off a couple of times, standing barefoot before a computer all clad in white and hearing the words ”the ordination ceremony...”

As for the ceremony settings, it was just me, my brother and a computer as we were doing the ceremony online.
We did some ceremonies, some bowing, some chanting.
It was more or less like anything you do in life – ordinary, simple.
The ceremony itself wasn’t so impressive.
Or maybe it was.
Maybe that was what made it so special.
Because we deem it so special and important, made it special and important...

The ordination ceremony itself went well, some minor glitches is supposed to be in to perfect it even more.
I don't think what had been done really hit me until put on skype after the ceremony and there was maybe 20 people trying to call me all at the same time...

The reception in the evening was another thing all together.
We had an reservation on the local chinese restaurant, and it was just an short walk for me and my brother to get there.
When we got there, there were a lot of pictures taken, some hugs and some congratulations.
All in good order.
When we got in, it was another thing.
Suddenly i had almost the whole restaurant staff standing there, wanting a photo and everything.
All chatting excitedly in chinese...

The next day i went to gothenburg, to see my brothers lifepartners first dangraduation in aikido (she passed).
Luckily enough i went early in the morning.
As i found out later the frst radio transmission had taken place at 15.30, my time, and the first customer asking for me had come in to the bookshop were i work part time 5 minutes after that.
And it had continued to come in more customers on friday and on saturday i was in the papers...
Luckily i missed all that commotion, but thank you for the kind gestures.

The end?
The thing about Shukke Tokudo is not the ceremony itself, that’s just the “end of the beginning of the journey”.
And it isn't really about the ceremony, that's just a ceremony.
Even if i hadn't done the ceremony, if the lightning had struck out my connection or whatever, i would still be here doing this.

In my lineage we were supposed to sew our own Kesa and study texts, as well as have showed some deepened comitment.
It’s not just to step up and take a ticket.
It’s hard work, and it has only begun.
And don't get me wrong, i think it should be, in some sense.
This is all part of the practice.

I'd like to end this post with a quote from my article about Jukai, please replace jukai with ”Shukke Tokudo”.

I learned more from the journey towards Jukai than I have leaned during the rest of my “life as a Buddhist”. The question is if it will change anything.
Now, I may anger some people by saying that taking Jukai isn’t such a big thing. It was not for me. It doesn’t involve earthchanging moments, no strikes of lighting to the head or anything dramatic like that. It just confirms what you already know and do. For me it’s not a big thing, but for some it might. Ultimately, the real significance of Jukai will be that which every recipient finds for him/herself.

But in the end what does this make me?
I see myself as a humble Ordained Zen Priest, and not an authority of any sort.
Please respect that, and don't make me something i'm not.

May the force be with you

måndag 23 augusti 2010

Simple practice?...


I got the question on how you could practice, when "not sitting on the cushion".
So i'd like to offer three advices.

1. smile
2. Straighten your fingers
3. Say "thank you"

Now to go through them and why i chose those.
Often people say you should do this, this this and so on and it ends up being a book, or something like that.
I don't go there.
For me simplicity is the key.
So we end up with three things.

And here we go.

1. smile
Always have an smile on your lips.
This makes not only you having an positive mindset.
It also spreads like a disease to people around you, making more people having a smile/positive mindset making...

2. straighten your fingers
When we are practicing zazen, we should maintain a proper posture.
Our posture linked intimately with our mind; if our posture is sloppy and lazy, our mind is also sloppy and lazy.
Therefor when straighten out the body, you straighten out the mind.
In remembering to straighten out your fingers you unconsciously straighten your body/mind.
It is also an good practice in mindfulness, in that you are mindful of straightening your fingers.

3. Say "thank you"
Humbleness is a good teacher.
And there is no better humbleness training than to say "thank you".
In doing this you raise th other up, while not lowering yourslf.
You make him/her conscious about her/himself and about the act at hand.
That is to say, in saying thank you, you are not only teaching yourself, but also others.

But in the end it's all good practice.
Thank you for your practice.

May the force be with you

torsdag 19 augusti 2010

i made the news...


I made the news...


It's all good practice.
Thank you for your practice.


torsdag 12 augusti 2010

The buddhist teachings...


When I’m asked to describe the Buddhist teachings, I say this:
Everything is connected; nothing lasts; you are not alone.
Though it may seem like restatement of the traditional Three Marks of Existence: impermanence (anicca,無常), suffering or unsatisfactoriness (dukkhā,苦) and not-self (anattā,空), i think it encapsules the teaching quite well.
If you leave them out, you're missing the important core of buddhist teachings and in doing that you miss an important core of zen buddhist teachings.

As i'm going to be a priest soon i often get questions like the the one above.
I also get a lot of reactions from people.
These reactions differ from people who think i am crazy to people who run like crazy to people that want to know more.
These reactions tie together nicely with how i explain the core of buddhist teachings.

People who think i am crazy, is showing that everything is connected.
Because where do they get the notion of what crazy is?
How have they learned what it is?
How can they put a label on you if you're not connected in some way?
And just a reminder, at the same time that they put they label on you, they put a label on themselves.
It may be unconsciously, but it's placed.

People who run away is showing us that nothing lasts.
Even this meeting that you had with this person didn't last.
Often these meetings with these persons has gone pretty good right up to the point when religion/Buddhism has been raised.
After that, it's all lost, already showing that nothing lasts.

People who want to know more, is sensing that they're not alone and want to understand things that happens around them.
These people often, in my sense, has had some encounter with buddhism/religion before and is open at heart - open in mind.

Meeting these people, for me, is valuable.
I'm not saying some are better than others.
They're all good practice.

Thank you for you're practice.


onsdag 11 augusti 2010

This thing called Karma...


In spring this year i ordered an Koromo and kimono for my priestordination from Yuko Conniff at Great Patience Zen Stitchery.
It took until yesterday until i got it and it was near that i didn't...

Here's the story.
After It had gotten to the us postal service it went to malmoe here in sweden, where it stayed in customs for two days (but not being opened must mean it wasn't so interesting...).
Then it went by swedish mail all the way to the bookshop where i work.
The thing is, there was only my name on it, not saying i was working at the bookshop.
So they looked for my name on any door, which there wasn't any.
At this point, i would like to put in that the mailbox is at the back of the bookshop...
So it went back to the postal office with a note saying, "Could not deliver."

Luckily, one of the postalworkers saw the package and asked herself if it wasn't for one of the ones working at the bookshop.
And guess what, so it was!
Having established that, i got to pick up the package, and got my robes.
Some times i wonder about this thing called KARMA!...


måndag 9 augusti 2010

Samu the whale...


Get off your behind and do someting useful!
The work is part of the koan.

Today i'd like to adress the subject of work, or rather samu.
I rather like the definition on Wikipedia is quite good...
Samu refers to work that is done to promote mindfulness...
Mindfulness means accepting reality just as it is. Samu is a means of finding Buddha-nature in everyday life, that reality has ever been pure from the very beginning...

Samu is one way to go beyond the self and is one way to integrate practice into daily life.
Samu is sometimes translated as "daily work practice.
And i would say that Samu is vital to Practice.
In fact, Samu is "working Zazen"!

Being part of the Treeleaf sangha, Samu is something that is somewhat encouraged, but up to each person to do, as we are a "worldwidesangha", and not always near another person.

At treeleaf, we are encouraged to do some hands-on, actually helping people while doing Samu, not just pulling weeds and raking the gravel.
Some hands on work with the sick, the abused or suffering.
However, this should not take out the time to take care of family, children and such, since that is ALSO Samu, done properly.

How much should you be doing?
Well, that is a another question.
I would say, just enough.
When you do it, do enough.
Not to much, not to little, just enough.
If that is just giving a smile and a hand in something simple, and that is all you can, thats enough.
If you can put off some hours each week sitting with the needing, then that is enough.
I can't say what is enough for you, you have to feel that yourself.

The second thing i would like to say, do it so it feels, but not more than enough.
In fact, it is even good to choose (if you choose) an activity that you resist ...
If you do it so it doesn't feel, it somewhat diminishes it's value, and you don't get the right things out off it....

There is an old story which is an favourite of mine...
No Work, No Food

Hyakujo, the Chinese Zen master, used to labor with his pupils even at the age of eighty, trimming the gardens, cleaning the grounds, and pruning the trees.
The pupils felt sorry to see the old teacher working so hard, but they knew he would not listen to their advice to stop, so they hid away his tools.
That day the master did not eat. The next day he did not eat, nor the next. "He may be angry because we have hidden his tools," the pupils surmised. "We had better put them back."
The day they did, the teacher worked and ate the same as before. In the evening he instructed them: "No work, no food."

I'd like to end this by a saying supposedly from the buddha.
“Work out your own salvation. Do not depend on others.”

These works in quite well with Hakuin's quote in the beginning, "work is part of the koan".
No way around it.
Get to it.