Monthly Archives: December 2014

Lots Of Capitals…

For the last five days I had been sitting with a friend who was on his deathbed. He died peacefully Saturday night. It was an honor and a privilege to be in his company; to watch and be with someone whose spiritual life and outlook informed his final days (informed, as in map and guidebook) was a great teaching and example.

Yesterday at the temple we included him in the Sunday service and then our monk and several lay trainees went to sit with the body and offer scriptures, incense and meditation. A fine day.

I am ever more grateful for all the opportunities in my life to learn. The man who died was a committed Catholic and yet helped, and practised with, our Buddhist Sangha for about 45 years. He helped our founder find a foothold when she came to the Bay area after nine years of monastic training at a Zen temple in Japan. One aspect of true teaching is to embody it and show it in one’s actions and way of life. Our friend never had a conflict between Catholocism and Buddhism. He concentrated on the teachings of love and compassion in both religions and tried to implement them into his daily life. The epitome of a life well lived. May you be at complete peace wherever you are Larry Donovan; Bodhisattva.

I am spending the Holy Days rather quietly. Going through the process of experiencing them alone, going through so many “firsts”.  It is just fine.

I am blessed with so many good friends and my heart is full of thanks and open to whatever unfolds.

A Heart at complete rest and stillness

Comes from Somewhere.

Has journeyed from afar and

Goes, Still, Farther; to No

Thing.  Set it in Motion

Originally through being

That Which Is.

The Eternal. Now!

At rest. Now! Moving.

leaves and grass

A nice day yesterday talking to an old friend who is going to his son’s graduation from nursing school. The same school my friend went to and the same school his mother went to. Three generations of helping people. The last two woud not be possible if my friend hadn’t gotten sober because of a bad mistake on his part while drunk. Because of his vow to change, a lot of good has been done and another generation is launched on the same path. A good example that the potential for good exists in every seemingly bad situation. Maybe not right away, but eventually.

Of course the reverse holds true also. What seems like a good thing turns out not to be so. We live in a world kept in some sort of balance by the ambivalence we experience through observation and our daily life experience. Yet it is hard to see eventual outcomes because we usually loose sight of these ships of activity we have launched when they clear our horizon of interest.

I find myself rushing headlong into something that seems good to do, and then when I see I was wrong; (in the reverse as well). I can sense that the problem often lies not in my intention, but in the “rush” part of the action to do good.

I’m trying to develop the habit of looking at things as neccessary to do, rather than good to do; and then wait and look again. Very difficult, but if I lessen a mistake inducing habit by even a little, that’s good.

Brown and Golden leaves

Glistening wet on Shiny

Green grass. Life and Death.

Coming and Going. A White

Owl flies across the Full

Moon. It appears Black.

Where’s the source of Light?

floating leaves

I was with myself today.

Apparently sufficient time has passed for me to begin becoming comfortable that not only am I alone, have always been that way and, will continue to be that way.

I have been very fortunate in that I have had good companions along the way; A couple of good relationships, a good long-term marriage and a variety of good friends and acquaintances. So today, having lunch with some good friends I could enjoy it and then go to the store and shop for one.

I still linger at the pet food aisle wondering for a moment whether the cat or dog need anything. Nope. No cat or dog. I am by myself. For some time now I have been surprised at the lonely and needy feelings that came up for me, but I think they are starting to morph into the “What Needs Doing and How Can I Do It Within the Precepts and Zen”? category.

And that’s good.

I am starting to explore, at the request of others (and that means I really have to go carefully because my head swells with even minute caloric changes in ambient temperature of the Self, the possibility of starting a meditation group in Napa. I’m told there is a lot of interest and several people would like me to sort of lead/start it all. That means getting a lot of input and suggestions to see if it is do-able. My first thought is “Non-religious Zen based meditation technique rooted in group discussion centered around essential religious concepts that lean slightly to the Seeking and Recovery modes identification”. I suppose the first thing would be to try and figure out what the previous sentence means. Anyway, lots of questions will arise for me and whether anything gets off the ground is not really the important thing. That will all unfold as I deal with my own intentions and whether or not I am being true to the spirit of my own training as it has been offered to me by my teachers and good spiritual friends.

I hope that anyone who may be reading this (all eight of you, and that may be a wishful number:), would feel they can chime into that field of inquiry and exploration by e-mail, phone or, if proximate, personal conversation.

It’s been raining all day and there’s lots of problems being caused, but nothing that a rich idle society like ours can’t cope with. Most of us seem to encounter gold-plated problems in our lives and we indulge in unhelpful reactions to things that 95% of the world wishes were their privilege. Our problems. Our problems.

The leaves fall from the trees

In the Spring new ones will

Surely grow. Yet, yet; There

Is sadness. Compounded it

Seems, by the sound of rain.

Float, Spin, Twist, Land.


A long walk along the Vallejo waterfront. Blustery and intermittent sunshine kind of a day, only encountered five people in about four miles. Two had dogs.

I suppose I left myself out of the count of encountering. I keep encountering myself, in various guises, but generally I end up in the same spot.

Right here. There is only me.

I text-ed on my walk, I talked on the phone on my walk, I connected with others and made some big decisions. A meeting tonight in Napa. Then a light snack and some reading and into tomorrow on the overnight slow train to and from Helmutsville;  pop.1; Founded 1947. (Currently undergoing redistricting and renewal). “Watch us Grow!”

Must go and grow…or maybe just settle  down a bit.

Good friends are hard to find and life is long.


I’ve been thinking quite a bit about the unrest and demonstrating and rioting and general misguided behavior that has accompanied the turmoil surrounding the death of the young man shot by a police officer. I don’t watch or listen to a lot of news but it’s been difficult to not be aware of the situation. A few thoughts come to mind.

The officer and the police and the media have a hard time dealing with one simple fact. That officer reacted out of pure fear and lost his composure and control and did indeed feel that he was in grave danger and had only one solution at hand. A gun. Often a permanent solution to a temporary problem. Ask the survivors of attempted suicide by gun if they would do it again? Obviously not, or they wouldn’t remain survivors. No one wants to talk about acting out of fear. We have a warped image of police. We have a warped image of courage. We have a warped image of how our police and soldiers should act. We forget, they are human and therefore inconsistent, and when they make a mistake it can be fatal. Acting out of fear is not a mistake. It is human.

Can we find room for mistakes in a culture that insists there are bad  people and there are good people? My experience is that we all have good doses of both bad and good in us and a huge portion of ambivalence and just plain old not-knowing.

How about those media-fed marches? The coverage of the mindless violence generated by groups of aimless people; black, white and brown just venting a huge array of justified, and in some cases manufactured, grievances.

Whenever people; singly, in groups, in mobs or in armies, set out to right wrongs, bad shit follows.

If not right away, pretty soon. Righteousness is the root of more mistakes than ignorance because it is ignorance compounded by insistence. A bad combination for sure. How many times have I indulged in that myself? A few too many, and I’ve probably got some more in me. We all do.

A tragedy is, when a righteous or sincere wish to do something good, either for oneself, or family, or country, turns on the instigator of the process and demolishes them. Who started all this discontent?

We did.

We are human and our intentions are good,

“Oh lord, please don’t let me be misunderstood!”

as the old blues song goes…