Monthly Archives: June 2014

Sunday noodlin’

A nice quiet Sunday. A good friend and Zen monk who live in nearby St. Maries ID came for a visit and we had lunch and chatted. We’ve been very close friends for almost ten years, he moved to the area about six months after we did. I had known him by reputation for many years since he was head of Berkeley temple just before I began attending there. He is a quiet and serious person with a deep and incisive sense of humor that just sparkles, he also contains that depth and surety in the training that allows for ready and true refuge for those of us who seek it. A true Master of Zen.

When I first was attracted to Buddhism and started reading about it I was always taken by those books by people who hobnobbed with Zen Masters; picked them up at airports and such and had all sorts of marvelous encounters with them, That’s what I wanted to do, hang out with Zen Masters. Well sadly, in the days when I was reading those books, I was way too distracted by a variety of lifestyle choices that kept me truly removed from serious spiritual seeking or training and probably not the sort of person a Zen Master, or too many other people wanted to hang out with, but I did enjoy reading about that sort of thing, it was almost like doing it, or so I thought.

At some point I dropped a lot of those choices I had made and got clean and sober and was able to take up more serious pursuits like Zen training as a layperson. After training for some time we had a yard sale at the temple I was attending at the time and I realized I could sell all those Zen books because I was doing it.I no longer needed to read about other people doing it.

I had made it real for myself and it was nothing like I had read about or imagined. It was, and has been, very difficult and as it gets more subtle it also gets more gritty and grainy and sometimes, very unsettling. After I got sober and started staying that way and meditating and training with a real practice I began to feel better and that was the good news. The bad news was that I began to feel everything better, including the pain and discomfort of daily life that I had become adept at covering up through drugs and alcohol and, in this later stage, covering up with unawareness and distraction.

A great revelation did indeed occur for me, seeing life clearly can be painful, and very joyful, and exhilarating. Sometimes in rapid succession and in no particular order. Heady stuff indeed.

Today that process continues and I am appreciative of two Zen “motto’s” that I find helpful.

1.)  Fall down seven, get up eight.

2.)  Hope for the best.  Expect nothing.  Do the Possible.

and here’s one of my own:

Mid-stream is a silly place to change horses.


Went for nice walk to our little town cemetery, takes about 50 minutes of moderately brisk walking and is sufficient to turn my head around when needed; and generally helpful in the grounding of a graveyard experience. No pun intended.

I worked there for the first two years we lived here and it was a great way to get introduced to the small town and its history. Later, for five years I worked as the P/T janitor at the elementary school (100 students) and that got me to know the other end of the towns “timeline”. It’s always good to see the little changes along the way and yes they do seem to occur at a more rapid rate as I get older. I’m having a lot of small physical problems that I’m trying to get info on, another doctors appointment next Wed.,in these mundane matters what I’m experiencing is the continuing unfolding of the simple fact that everything that comes into my life now is something that I experience alone. No one to share or bounce things off of. The transition from “coupledom” to “singlehood” is actually jarring.

I’ve already had the experience of trying to develop a friendship and found that I may be tone-deaf to the nuances of a grown-up friendship. Or, this attempt was with someone I never actually knew, because I was too blinded by the bells & whistles of beauty, brains, spirituality and my yearning for long-term proximity, to see that I was dealing with another human being just as lost as I was. Us human beans, we take a long time to cook up proper.

Which brings to mind one of my favorite sayings, attributed to Daniel Boone,

“I’ve never been really lost, but I’ve been bewildered a few times.”

Rattlesnake Canyon…


I can stand by the

Roadside in the 

Mountains, and wait

For the love of my 

Life to come by. Or,

I can love life as

It is, and be Still.


That Bird in

This Canyon.

Being, fully bird

Here. This life;

No other,

Not ever. For now.

 All of it.



In trying to prepare for this move I am put into the position of having to take a very careful look at my life. All the things I have to move are things that we either brought with us from the past, or acquired here; and some of them are things that only I brought along and acquired. The latter being generally in the realm of thoughts, ideas and so forth that felt personal to me.

Now, that I am committed to this change of process/venue I see that I must do more than glance at the baggage I’m choosing to take with me and that which I leave entrusted to a future, which currently is wide open. Of course the future is always wide open, we rarely see that because of our own  plans and designs having primacy in our view the world(s).

The earth revolves around the Sun and we think it also revolves around us and our concerns. Turns out, one of those is not true.

In dwelling I seek a refuge from

That, which doesn’t tarry:,Those

Thoughts, feelings, yesterdays,

Tomorrows, ideas and plans,

Hopes and dreams; the Stuff of

Distraction, the Unpresent where

I find only a me, a dock, a platform,

From which I dread to venture. Thus,

Yes, thus, is the road not taken…

Beginning anew…

My first post on this new iteration of my old blog with same name. My general purpose, if any, will be to post thoughts and musings regarding daily life in the context of training in Buddhism (Soto Zen; Order of Buddhist Contemplatives).

My wife of 28 years died 5 months ago and after a hectic four months of pursuing an obsession I finally have arrived at a point where I am in a position to slow down and take stock of where, what, and why I will be doing the next thing that seems to be coming up in my life. In a little more than a month I will be moving back to Bay Area, and will live in our temple as a guest/lay trainee. During that time I wish to tighten up my training and explore the area in a way I’ve never known it before. A solitary man aged 67, with very few ties and and a small income and with lots of things to sort out, none of it awful or too complex on the surface. Time will tell.

I am fortunate to have good health and and no real encumbrances, I’m fairly sane and intelligent and have a deep spiritual longing. I’ve been sober for 31 years (21st June) and have a hope to meet a woman who is no crazier than I am, hopefully a Buddhist, and reasonably healthy and willing to explore sane cohabitation or committed proximity. I want to explore some artistic impulses that I’ve allowed to wither over the years and basically wish to live an ordinary daily life. The how of it will be the fodder for this blog.

More tomorrow’ Oh, I forgot. I do “schmoetry” which is my word for my poetry, such as it is.

We are all waking up together,

Some were restless during the night,

Some snored, some kicked, or were still

and dreamed peacefully; then awakened


maybe cowered in fear.

Yet, refreshed

When the light shines on all. Waking

Up together and seeing the day as



If we Allow.