Sunday, May 6, 2012

Once again I have a new location for these occasional observations about the unexpected wonder of being alive. 

Hopefully this will be my last move for a long time. Thanks to all who found your way to this site, I look forward to you finding your way to my new web site and blog home.

Friday, May 4, 2012

Borders, Barnes, and Noble Dreams

Four years ago, I had the opportunity to spend a few days in the high desert of New Mexico with a Native American medicine woman named White Eagle.  While with her, I had a dream in which the book I was then beginning to write was prominently displayed on the front table at Borders.  It seemed like an impossible fantasy.

     But I recently went down to New York City to have lunch with the head of purchasing for the religion section in Barnes and Noble book stores.  She was a delightful and unassuming woman who brought along a dog-eared advance copy of THIS TRUTH.  She told me how much she liked the book and how much she thought her readers would too.  She said she especially appreciating reading a religion book that was not preachy or dogmatic.  
     I was delighted to hear her positive reaction.  Having my book appreciated is a little bit like hearing how wonderful my daughter is.  I could listen all day.  I feel proud and also, in some important way, it's quite clear that it's not really about me.
     I was also delighted when she told me that Barnes and Noble will be featuring THIS TRUTH in the front of their largest stores across the country when it is released in early June.  So be sure to visit your local B&N in early June and look for my book on one of the front tables.
     So maybe in the dream I just misread the logo on the front of the store.

     To pre-order a copy of THIS TRUTH from Barnes and Noble Click Here

Monday, April 30, 2012

First Lilacs of the Season

Memories of grade-school summers as I walked down May Street this afternoon.  And the smell....

Sent from my Verizon Wireless 4G LTE Smartphone.

Radio Interviews and Sock Puppets

Melissa posted a lovely duet between Kermit the Frog and Liza Minneli  on her blog a few days ago.  I watched it for the third or fourth time yesterday and began to wonder about Kermit - or, more accurately, about the person attached to Kermit.  Where is she?  Is she lying one the floor at Liza's feet?  Is she crouching between Liza' legs?  Or is it a guy?  Maybe a very small person?
     Obviously, thinking about things like this changes one's experience of Kermit and this sweet duet.

     I'm thinking about this because I'm doing my first radio show interview about my book this afternoon at 1:00.  Dennis Raimondi - the host of 'Speaking Freely With Dennis.'    

     I just realized that my book is a little bit like a green sock that's over my hand.  Two buttons are sewn on for the eyes and the lips drawn on with red magic marker.  I'm crouched behind the table that has a sheet over the front so the audience of my friends and family can't see me.  And I get to speak through this green sock - through this book of a hundred some odd pages.  
     What does this book have to say?  What is the essence this collection of reflections, wanderings and wonderings?  Kermit's voice is so particular and lovely.  How do I discover that essential voice for this particular manifestation of God that has come through me?

Saturday, April 28, 2012

In Memorium

Marine biologist, Zen teacher, and nature writer Anne Rudloe died yesterday.  I had the opportunity to meet her and sit with her on a few retreats George Bowman and I had led in Tallahassee, Florida, near where she lived.  We connected most recently because she had just written a book: Zen In A Wild Country and was looking into how to publish it.  She was a long-time student and recently full teacher in the Kwan-um School of Zen so we shared the same grandfather teacher.  Anne was a dedicated practitioner with a great love for the creatures and the aliveness of the sea.  Hard to believe she has journeyed beyond this realm of water and waves - of alligators and oil spills.

May the Buddha and Bodhisattvas guide and protect her.  And may the spirit of compassion and kindness be with her family and loved ones as they journey through this time of sadness and mystery.

Link to Anne's blog and info on her book:

Friday, April 27, 2012

The New American Zen

I’m thinking this morning about what’s different about Zen as it is developing here in America.  While we feel our current practices are an authentic expression of the tradition of Zen Buddhism, almost all our practice centers would feel quite foreign to a Zen practitioner from Japan, Korea or China. 
These changes are an unavoidable and natural outcome of one world-view being understood from new perspectives and practiced in a new context.  These cultural changes and adaptations are a part of the history and living tradition of Buddhism.  They occurred when Buddhism went from India to China – when it traveled from China to Japan and Korea – and now, as this ancient tradition comes from Japan and Korea and takes root in America, more change is in process.
Three major areas of change occur to me:
Egalitarian impulse – Zen, as it has come from Japan and Korea, has traditionally been extremely hierarchical.  In the US, there are still clear lines of authority, but we are also creating governance structures and practice structures that honor the wisdom and counsel of all participants.
Non-monastic practice – American Zen, from it’s beginnings in the late 1950’s has included a strong emphasis on lay practice.  You don’t have to be a monk or a nun to seriously practice Zen.  There is still a vital monastic stream in American Zen, but Zen meditation and retreats are now practiced by a vigorous lay community who are balancing daily life with practice life.
Whole person focus – There has been a broadening of the range of what is discussable in Zen practice.  It is clear that ‘spiritual attainment’ by itself is not the complete answer to the human situation.  Spiritual practice has to be balanced with emotional/personal/daily-life growth and practice.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Spring Coming Quickly

This early morning the welcomed rain continues to fall as the sky edges from black to gray.  The trees through the window are no longer lacy branching silhouettes but have nearly fully leafed out in the past week.  I swear it was just one week.  I wanted it to be slower, but there was no holding back. 

This spring feels like a young man who is so thrilled by the beauty of his lover – so utterly taken with the flesh and touch of her, that he cannot contain himself – cannot be measured in his response.  Despite all the books he’s read and desperately recalling the batting averages of his boyhood baseball heros, he comes on contact.   Almost immediately and way too soon for anyone’s liking. 

But uncontained exuberance is also perfect timing.  The issue now is simply how to continue to enter into the full and sticky mess of  spring.  I recommend to my imaginary friend the we simply continue to appreciate what we love. 

It’s not really over. 
It’s just beginning.