Diamond shards tap the glass
and wind whistles through cracks
in the window panes
as I resentfully pull on my boots
to shovel snow.
I call my 9 year old son,
“want to help me?”
“No thanks,” he says,
wandering to his room
to draw a treehouse
build an electric circuit
read Captain Underpants.
I wish I were so free.
But as I zip my puff daddy coat,
my father with his crooked back
steps forth from the darkened room where he sat,
looks into my eyes
for the first time this visit and says,
“Son, I wish I could…
A hard rain falls in the courtyard,
Pours off the roof of the cathedral.
Divine statues stare at each other,
Argue about who is most real.
Nothing compared to my mother’s white hair
That set the sky on fire.
When her chariot came, she just disappeared,
What’s real turned into a dream.
Mary seems frozen in stained glass windows,
But silence is a host.
She lives where my mother once was,
Where life has come and gone.
Where breath once seemed impossible
I find wind entering in.
She brings cricket songs in the evening
And enters me through my skin.
When we align with our Buddha-nature, we can appreciate our life, just as it is. Our Buddha-nature, or true nature, is amazing beyond description. The word “Buddha-nature” is a pointer to the nondual realization that we are not separate from the universe.
When we lose touch with our Buddha-nature, we are driven by craving in ways that cause ourselves and others endless suffering. To realize our true nature is one way to weaken a cycle of consumerism and exploitation that causes terrible harm and that will otherwise likely be our demise.
There’s a difference between needing to have our basic…
In her book, Mindful of Race: Transforming Racism from the Inside Out, Ruth King writes:
It would be wholesome for all of humanity if white people, as a collective, were to see themselves as racial individuals and to recognize whiteness as a racial constellation with roots, history, power, and privilege that negatively impact other races, and then to organize themselves to dismantle racial constellations of harm.
I love Ruth King’s book. In Boundless Way Zen, we are reading it in our recently formed Racial Justice Group. We also discuss race openly in Morning Star Zen Sangha.
Not everyone is entirely…
Dear Boundless Way Zen Sangha and friends,
We, the Guiding Teachers of Boundless Way Zen, grieve the recent murders of Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, George Floyd, and Rayshard Brooks. We also grieve the disproportionate suffering and death of people of color due to the coronavirus, which has exposed underlying inequities in our society. We recognize the deeply embedded and often violent ways systemic racism and white privilege deprive Black people of the justice, respect, and equal rights we have vowed to co-create with all beings.
We vow to practice the humility that is essential to listening deeply and that is…
Black Lives Matter
Based on a talk I gave at Morning Star Zen Sangha.
On May 26, I saw the video of George Floyd’s murder. A policeman casually kneeled on Mr. Floyd’s neck, hands in his pockets, while Mr. Floyd pleaded for his life.
Racist brutality is not uncommon in the US. We are a country founded on systemic racism. Black people have been uniquely, violently, and systemically subjugated in our society.The United States was built on the backs of slaves, and we can never fully compensate for that injustice, but we never even tried. Instead, we enacted racist policies…
What follows is a teisho, a Zen dharma talk, offered by Melissa Blacker, Roshi and me, Michael Fieleke, Sensei, during 2019’s Summer Sesshin at the Boundless Way Temple. It is followed by a dharma dialogue, which includes sangha members and Guiding Teachers Bob Waldinger, Sensei and David Rynick, Roshi. This is the first in a series of talks on the Gateless Gate’s Case 23, “Think Neither Good Nor Evil,” and on Huineng’s Platform Sutra. This talk set the scene for the talks that followed and launched our sesshin.
Melissa Blacker, Roshi:
This is the first of our series of dharma…
Love in a Time of Coronavirus
What follows is a dharma talk I offered to Morning Star Zen Sangha via Zoom on the evening of March 18, 2020. I explored Yunmen’s “Medicine and Disease,” from the Blue Cliff Record, as COVID-19 spread around the world.
Yuanwu’s Introduction: For the clear-eyed person there are no holes to fall into. Sometimes on the summit of a lonely peak the grass grows in profusion; Sometimes in the middle of the bustling marketplace he is naked and exposed. Suddenly the angry Nada reveals his three heads and six arms; Suddenly Sun-face Buddha and Moon-face…
Boundless Way Zen’s priest lineage has its roots in the Japanese Soto tradition through Peggy Jiyu Kennett, Roshi, the first woman to be authorized to teach by the Soto school in Japan, and her dharma heir and founder of Boundless Way Zen, James Myoun Ford, Roshi. Boundless Way Zen has a carefully considered set of expectations and hopes for our priests. Most essentially, becoming a priest is a call of the heart to live by the precepts, serve others, and embody our tradition for all beings.
In BoWZ, to be ordained, priest candidates must demonstrate a number of competencies. To…
In the first case of the Blue Cliff Record, Bodhidharma, who at least mythologically is credited with bringing Buddhism from India to China, was asked by the Emperor of China, “Who are you?” Bodhidharma responded, “I don’t know.”
In Case 20 from The Book of Equanimity, Dizang asked Fayan, “What do you think of wandering?” Fayan answered, “I don’t know.” Dizang said, “Not knowing is most intimate.”
Seung Sahn also used to encourage his students, “Only don’t know!”
What is this “no knowing” that is so celebrated in Zen?
As an English, philosophy, and Zen teacher, I have a hearty…
Zen teacher, priest & guiding teacher of Boundless Way Zen, practicing with Morning Star Zen Sangha in Newton & Waltham, MA.