Category Archives: lost & found

The view is great from here…

Talking with a friend the other evening we got on the subject of being nice to others even though we don’t feel it. My friend thought that there was an aspect of in-authenticity or just being phony when we were nice to needy annoying co-workers. while not feeling that way, at all.

My thoughts were that the only thing that matters is how we act, not how we feel. Our feelings are extremely mutable; we feel rancor towards someone and they bring us a little gift when we have a birthday, now we like them. We feel friendly toward someone and they don’t respond to us in a way we want and now we’re on the fence about them; so on and so forth…

If we act in a kind or neutral way, despite how we feel, we are developing a mental/physical habit that will, in time, often change how we feel. This is good.

The phoniness comes from our intentions in acting nice. If our intentions are mostly selfish, then we are in phony territory, ready to homestead. But just a natural human aspect that could use a little help or tidying up.

Most of our “personality” and our general response system to the world, is just an accumulation of old habits (some of them older than we may know), that are so ingrained that we falsely use them to identify us, as “me”. One proof of this is the fact that many of us have had the experience of transforming some old and unhelpful habits that were not useful and during that process we were somewhat surprised that we had never noticed the negative aspects of that part of our “personality”. Hell, we may even have thought is was cute or manly.

The tricky part of this is to see the situation(s) clearly and our part(s) in it. We have to face and look very closely at our most cherished possession; our story of ourselves, and that many times, we just sort of scroll roll past those parts of the story that we know to be unhelpful, or just not fair, right, honest or even true. It’s tough to face the fact that mostly we are full of baloney; or just straw. We grow the straw, and lord knows we slice the baloney.

The good news is, that is not a problem, it’s the human condition. Not seeing clearly. Not being able to step back just a few inches, or feet, or miles from our insitence that our view may be blocked, or skewed and generally inaccurate.

That is the place where change is initiated, not just waited on while simultaneously waiting to die.


The view is great from here, its filled with me, 

I like what I see, except when I don’t;  and

A voice-over starts, just like in the movies,  that

Explains me, and how I act and feel, to me; and then

And there my view changes to go along with my story,

About me, you, them, those, this, that; and all them

Things that seem outside of the me, yet some-

How I know can’t exist without. How, how to

Connect? Is the truth just a glance away? Maybe?







The Mind,

My Mind.

It is. The

Object and

The observer.

Somewhere between

Those distinctions lies

the Truth of the

Matter.  Yet  I  can

See  that the fact is

I  forgot  what  I  was

Going to do,  yet one

More time.  Is anything

Going wrong?  No, not ever,

Just,  there’s always another

Tomorrow to  remember you,

And me, and them,  ‘n those

That  were then.  Or was it

Another time,  yet again?  I am

Not sure,  but one thing I do

Know;  is,  it is all,  slowly, going

Away,  Never to return.  Nor will

I.  We are all going a way,  One

Way,  or another.  This Thing,

It  is  an  Open circle  that  lets

Everyone in  and  not One  out.

Because  It  can not  contain.

We  go away,  on our  Own.

Memory and forgetfulness.

Birth and death,  in-between 

We spend  and invest  our time.

There’s so little of it  and 

So  much  too it all.

Right here.

Whoops! Gone. 

Any One Mind?



All the choices in my life today are staggering when I stop to consider, that within a fairly wide range, I can do just about anything that can be dreamt of. On some things I would have to spend every penny that I have in one day, still I can actually live the life of the Gods of not too long ago.

I can be anywhere in the world in one day. I can eat food from thousands of places around the globe; fresh. I can be in snow and within hours be on a warm beach. I can send a thought or a clear image to thousands of people instantaneously. I can fly. I have at my fingertips the accumulated knowledge of mankind, of every tribe, every empire, every clan, every school that has ever kept records of its teachings.

It’s all at my beck and call.

What am I doing with this awesome power?

I had a peanut butter and jelly sandwich and a cold drink of tonic water and lemon.

I’m watching a group of local Warriors engage in modern athletic competition (war), with a group that is known for having Blazed a Trail all the way to Portland, OR from far-flung distant points to the East many years ago.

I am connected to another person through a small device that lets me plan a future meal, while also connected to yet another person to arrange a meeting three weeks hence thirty miles away across a cold and deep Bay in the Pacific Ocean; 7,000 miles from where I was born.

All of the things that I can do today are possible through the help and effort of countless other beings, humans and otherwise. Beings that invented, built, transported, wrapped, delivered, set-up, and in some cases made possible by giving their lives during the thousands of discrete transactions that had to take place, so that I could have this evening as a small God-ling on a small planet in the incalculable immensity of the Universe, and still, I  suffer from the mistaken idea that I matter.


I can make a small difference


That matters



Just a thought…

A nice day started with a powerful acupuncture treatment, a shopping trip to Costco and a bunch of other stuff including staying in touch with old friends in far-flung places from disparate  parts of my travels from there to here, physically and temporally.

We are all challenged by being whoever we are, especially if we have any degree of self-awareness and are working on being that way, and that’s the only kind of people I choose to spend time with nowadays, life is too short. However, it can be even more of a challenge to be our friend, or partner, or mate, or any combination thereof.

I used to comment to my wife that she was driving me nuts, and she would point out that it was a putt, not a drive. We all have some real Bodhisattvas in our lives. People who not only put up with us, but choose to spend time with us, and, often choose to live with us. Yikes!

I have certainly been blessed with the people that I can call friends and those that act that way towards me. Go figure!

In a conversation with a friend this evening a formulation occurred regarding dealing with hurt feeling or a sense of personal affront. It went something like this.

We offer the “resentment” up in the opened palm of our hands, both of them, as if it were a stunned bird we found on the ground. We hold it up so it can become aware and gather its energy up for the flight back to where it belongs.

It may take some time for this to take place. So we wait, palms open.

In the meanwhile we also see (visualize) our hearts opening up in the same way the palms are offered. Open and up. Then, we can see that our open palms are also in the position to accept the help that comes to us from the Eternal. And, we need not know what the particulars of that help are, just be prepared to be, in a position mentally, physically and spiritually to accept what is given.

We will be aware of something going on in this process because it will actually feel like the right thing to do. And that, is sufficient.

Just a thought…

A movement of the mind,

The heart, the body; all

Three in concert being

That whole which is

Greater than the parts.


5th of the Five Thoughts

This last of the Five Thoughts sort of roll together all of them and the key word is acceptance.

“We accept this food so that we may become enlightened.”

I think the basic premise in this thought is to remind ourselves as to our real purpose in life. What could be more important than to become aware of our True selves, our actual purpose for life; to really come to know a peace and depth that we did not know was possible.
We accept this food so that we may stay healthy and continue our training and practice to become as the Buddhas and Ancestors, for they were once as we are now, and we will become as they are now.
We accept this food so that we may become more than the small roles we have assigned (or resigned), ourselves to.
The Truth is never far away, it just seems that way because we can’t imagine it.
We accept this food because we intuitively know that the whole of life is contained in our attitude towards sustaining all of life and seeing the inevitable end to that condition. If we can accept this we can get at the root of our own suffering.
We accept this food because there is more and we want to see …

It is good to remember that these Thoughts are just helpful pointers to keep in mind during our daily activities. I have tried to substitute these Thoughts when engaging in a variety of human activities, and they have the same use as before a meal.
Stop and look!
Stop and see!

Accepting this food and linking it to “becoming” enlightened is the big hint towards the Truth that we already are Enlightened, we just may not be aware of it because we are hampered in our awareness by how we act.

These Five Thoughts can be the beginning on how we act, interact, look at, see, treat and allow the various conditions in our lives to be our teachers. They can be the beginning because we have a consistent opportunity to practice and look at them every time we eat.
Accepting is accomplished with hands and heart open, and trying to see that everything in our lives is a gift.
Accepting is not receiving, getting, or acquiring something.
It is acknowledging a gift with small smile and a slightly bowed head or sometimes, with a full prostration and an aching heart; and all the various possibilities between the slightly bowed head and the full prostration(with or without aching heart); depending on the situation or circumstance. 

Acceptance and Gratitude….Horse and Carriage.

Five thoughts revisited…

   Below is a portion of a blog post from five years ago. I will post parts of it for the next five days, it is about the “Five Thoughts”. previously I published in an altered form of these posts on the “Five Thoughts” in the Journal of the Order of Buddhist Contemplatives.    Current thoughts I’ve added in this color.

Before every meal I say the “Five Thoughts”, a portion of the formal mealtime ceremony in Soto Zen. I say the 5 Thoughts to put my life into perspective. It is one of several ritual observances that I find helpful and comforting on a daily basis.

Before I begin eating, I arrange my food so that it is tidily in front of me. If utensils are required I put the main one on the opposite side of the food plate from me, with the handle pointing away from me. This is to indicate that I am willing to share my food with others.
I then recite:

We must think deeply of the ways and means by which this food has come.
We must consider our merit when accepting it.
We must protect ourselves from error by excluding greed from our minds.
We will eat lest we become lean and die.
We accept this food so that we may become enlightened.

“We must think deeply of the ways and means by which this food has come.”   This first thought has to do with truly looking at the food we are having, seeing it for what it is, where it came from and how it got here. It also invites us to look at the forms of life that have to die in order for us to have sustenance. It asks that we pay attention to this food in front of us as if it is our last meal, and to honor the life that was taken/given to provide us with the where-with-all to continue our own life.

I may also reflect on the plates and chairs and tables and the people I’m eating with. How they got here? How I got here?
One can indeed go very deep with this first thought about food.
We are not asked to think of all of these things each and every time we eat but we are asked to recognize the reminder that there is more going on than “fueling the machine”. There are of course times when we do indeed ponder deeply this idea of our actual lives in reference to other lives. Those that are eaten and those that do the eating.
We are asked to see interdependence as the only way that we can live, grow, survive, learn and be aware of what it takes to be alive.
This is the way to compassion for all living things.
Without their offering, we just wouldn’t be. Here.  Furthermore, it enjoins us to not be wasteful with these lives that have been offered .

   It is also a good starting point for practicing this view in relation to all of the things that come into our lives. Just substitute anything for “food”. People, places, things, the phenomena of our world; of our minds, our bodies and how they change; sometimes, just as we thought we’ve learned the “truth”of the matter. It is always good to reflect that we can learn the truth of the matter, much more thoroughly if we see the change as an inherent part of all existence. Change is a major component of the truth. A component not all of it.

early morning exchange…

“Sometimes I get these feelings of being completely out of place. Distant from understanding anything. Then they pass. I don’t get them often. I kind of like them because they help to re-order my thinking. Regain some perspective. Yet, they have an undefinable wistfulness them that seems important. So I try to honor the feeling because it seems like a type of teaching I am being given.
Actually the above paragraph (?) is truer than I thought it would be. I think I’ll use it as a taking off point for my blog and personal writings. I always feel truer around you . Weird, huh?….”

Isn’t that how the mind works? Thinking, feeling, assessing, worrying, and then revisiting some more and, sometimes, sharing. In the sharing the process changes from being inwardly convoluted (bound), to outwardly expository and revealing (loosening). A shedding of light by exposing intimate process to another. Similar to the experience one can have when involved and concentrating on a task at hand that has a private aspect to it; (Drawing, creating, sanding some wood to good finish, sewing, assembling something intricate and useful, any activity that draws us into it.) and, while we are in the activity we sense another person watching us intently. If we are connected in some way to the watcher it is slightly different than if the watcher is someone we either don’t know very well, or not at all. In either instance we get a heightened sense of awareness of ourselves, the activity, and the presence of the watcher. A fuller view of something.
This is the process of sharing.
When truly done, it has transformative potential for the doer, the observer, the exchange between the two, and the activity (the doing and the observing thereof), itself.

Yep, the above is how the mind works. One of them anyway.

The quote is from a text I sent to a longtime friend at 6:00 a.m. after I had texted earlier that I was feeling out of sorts and, in response, was asked, “Why out of sorts???”

That’s what friends do.

They ask?

We ask.

They respond.

We respond.

The small exchanges.

The day after…

In every conversation I engaged in today people expressed that they were very glad the holiday was over and that they hadn’t enjoyed it.  At all!  How did we end up at that point?

Presumably it has to do with expectations. Casinos and expectations and most hope in general is/are based on a false premise.

Every time I’ve tried this it turned out THAT way. This time it will be different; it will turn out THIS way.

As an old Irish acquaintance used to say, “You can’t have every which way!” Still we try.

Oh, well. Maybe next year will be different.

I was at an AA meeting today and heard a young woman talk about the experience of having her first sober Christmas since her early teens twenty years before. She was so grateful for having socialized with people and family as a sober responsive person. One who didn’t drown all her, mostly self manufactured (she has now realized), sorrows in a bottle or drugs. It was a really wonderful thing to witness. I hope she’s around to say the same thing next year.

As I walked along the Vallejo waterfront this afternoon there were several groups of kids with their parents on new bikes(the kids, not the parents), and scooters that Santa had brought them. In kids their wish for gifts is still natural and their joy (mostly) at getting something is quite intense, although usually short lived. Perhaps there is something we can learn from observing this yearning and wishing for things that make us feel better; and relatively soon the feeling vanishes with familiarity. We’re all that way. We can see it in the children and call them childish when they behave this way. Yet we do the exact same thing. For essentially the same kind of stuff. Anything new. Anything is better than the old. Anything.

Happy New Year! All beginnings are new.


2014-09-14 13.28.54

As far as the eye can see, 200,000 people showed up a block from the temple for the Solano Ave. Stroll. If you look real close you’ll see me about twelve blocks down the street, waving. Oh, Wait! That can’t be me. I’m taking the picture.

Lots of nice people out for a Sunny stroll. Kids with their faces painted. Young women with temp henna tattoos and groups of young men trying to look cool and unconcerned about, anything. Lots of rock, jazz and soul bands with 50-somethings (to be kind),dancing by themselves in some re-creation of an ancient (70’s), festival they may, or may not, have been at. Plenty of food and snacks and police and potties and emergency personnel, and lot’s of room to just Stroll; with the odd baby-carriage log-jam as young parents stop to admire each others babies, and each other for having the wisdom to have babies born into a (for now), fortuitous circumstance. Ahhh, youth and the unending brightness of the future. Yet, the worry is there, because it is becoming clearer that we may not have all the answers to some real concerns that loom just a tad past the brightness.

Nevertheless, it was a beautiful day and that can never be changed.

What we can change though is the way the future plays out, by how we do things today, after all, the future is just another way of saying tomorrow, and that’s almost here.

God, grant me the Serenity to accept the people I can’t change;

The Courage to change myself, and

The Wisdom to know the difference.


I look at the modest little yard at the temple I’m living in and can’t help but smile at the abundance in modern life,  in California in particular. We have two lemon trees, a cherry tree, a plum-tree, a fig tree and an apple tree. Figs and apples in the salad with lunch. California, for sure.

Another aspect of living here is the tortuous path political correctness can create syntactically (is THAT even a word?). I go to some AA meetings and when there is reading to be shared from the AA literature (most of it written in the 30’s 40’s and 50’s), and almost all gender references are male with a lot of “God” as “Him”: it often sends the readers scrambling to replace and insert gender-neutral or gender-equal terms. The impulse is pure, but it sure makes for stilted reading and listening and is sometimes quite amusing.
The steady schedule of meditation and activity within the temple is doing its work on me and I seem to be regaining some lost (and much-needed), perspective; kind of like turning the Queen Mary in mid-Atlantic. Very wide turn..
I’ll be here for a while longer, some things may be in the offing as to future choices but nothing that need any attention as yet or in short-term, so I can buckle down a bit and let go of my opinions, judgements and all those pesky fears, doubts and worries that are the handmaidens of the opinionated and judgemental mind.

This weekend we will be setting up a little booth at an event called The Solano Stroll, which is a 15 to 20 block-long street-fair on Solano Ave. which is just a block away from us. Solano Ave. is half in Berkeley and half in Albany and they expect an attendance of almost 250,000 people. So, a big event. Our little booth will be put in a section where they are clumping together all the religious spiritual groups that will have booths, and right across from us is the booth for the Atheists. Buddhism doesn’t actually take any position as to whether there is or isn’t a “God”, but we are taught that all beliefs require respect, and that would of course, also include active non-belief. To make the whole thing a little more amusing is the fact that all these groups are clumped together in the area of Solano Ave. where all the various therapists and counselors have their offices, and since this is California there’s a bunch of those too.

The cultural contrasts abound abound. The surface differences between Bay Area California and the eastern side of Washington State seem many but they pale in comparison to the wonderful humanity shared by all these diverse groups. We really are all doing our very best to live sanely; and that is hard to do no matter which area of the cultural or social spectrum one one identifies most closely with.

We all yearn for a slightly

different Good Old Days;

None of which ever existed

Except in imagination. Is

That true of the present

Too? Makes you wonder…