Blog Post 9-25-22

black panther

“If you see something that looks like a star
And it’s shooting up out of the ground…”

The sun barely a few days beyond the equator. I can already see the light reflected simultaneously from top and bottoms of leaves. This trail faces due east, and a strong wind is blowing me directly up the mountain. The colors remain surprisingly vibrant: golden yellow and mustard yellow, violet and periwinkle, red and autumn orange, emerald and sea green. The scent of turned earth and scarred rocks and rotting treefall an unmistakable savoring on the tongue. High clouds are scudding south to true north. Stopping to sip water, I look above and the clouds as well have paused their journey, perhaps to tie a loose lace. Motionless together, even as we hurtle at 490,000 miles an hour through the Milky Way. The wind at my back nudges, and I’m once again escorted uphill. I will turn back soon. Perhaps this wind will keep me from falling completely off.

Dream Koan was remarkable this week. The koan “Nansen (Nanquan Puyuan) kills the cat,” Gateless Gate, Case #14, was chosen at random. This is considered a “Nanto Koan,” surprising, O WOW, difficult to realize. The story emanates from dream consciousness; Nansen’s dream consciousness. The monks are arguing. How often do we hear arguing around us – it rarely makes us want to kill a cat. Yet Nansen is really upset. He’s struggling with something. And the arguing within his very own consciousness, is really bothering him. It bothers him so much that he threatens to kill a cat. And then he projects the responsibility for his horrible threat onto the monks – “You have to say something to save the cat. It is your responsibility. Not mine.” The monks won’t let him off the hook, and none respond. Nansen kills the cat.

Can we for a moment imagine how horribly painful this is for Nansen. A person dedicated to Buddhist ethics, and yet here in his dream consciousness killing a sentient being. AAAARRRRRGGGGGGHHHHHHHHH Pain. Perhaps deep shame. Confusion. Anger.

Later, Joshu (Zhaozhou) appears in the dream consciousness. Nansen rcognises that he is not clear. Perhaps, like the rest of us, he will never be completely clear. AND, in true humility, he turns to Joshu. He turns to his student for help – Joshu as Guru Yoga. Nansen confides in Joshu about what has been happening for him. Joshu puts his sandals on his head and walks away. Nansen realizes something in this embodiment of Joshu. 

I have been listening to some podcasts. Lately by what are called “sense makers.” They are all quite adept at recounting their version of human history, and human evolutionary stresses, that have brought us to the point of environmental catastrophe. They all have an understanding that technology and “left brain” “Game A” thinking is core problem. I listen to them in the hope that I will hear a practice suggested that will be in service of healing our problems. I listened to Iain McGilchrist this morning on Rebel Wisdom. Same litany of problems spoken in upper class English accent. The solution? Have better conversations (despite the fact that language appears to have some left brain predominance) and develop better technologies to enhance better conversations. 

These podcasters are like the monks of the East and West houses. Incoherent chatter generating arguments of word castle conceptualizations. And I found myself, not unlike Nansen, getting angry. Expecting them to SAY something to alleviate the problem.

I took my sandals. Placing my feet above my head, I walked the mountain.

And then wrote this. So I ask, did the wind keep me from falling completely off?

“And the sound that I’m hearing is only the sound
Of the low spark of high-heeled boys”

Poem offering from Noah Seltzer

Sometimes I awaken to the 

Kiss of the morning sun 

And still mistrust 

The dreams 

That flickered from my 


I forget 

That the fire was

Burning for 


When we sat around singing

For I sometimes think

I must 

Run away to



At last 

But then again 

But then again

This moment 

And this one too

Has presented itself

To be 

the very 

Fabric of 


SCHEDULE 9/26/22-10/2/22 

8 Deep Bows

Zenho and Issan

Blog Post 9-18-22

The Lion And The Mouse Story - Interesting Moral Story for Kids

“Zuiban nagaku ikasarette itadaire orimasu ne (I have been caused to live by the deep-conditions of the universe to which I am humbly and deeply grateful)” – old Jiko in A Tale For The Time Being, Ruth Ozeki.

After cleaning out a mouse nest, I have finished putting new insulation in the attic. Hot and sweaty. The Sandia Mountains have just finished covering the last rim of today’s Sun. The sun that shines equally on mouse, and scattered bird-now-mouse seed, and insulation and sweat and me. The Sun is gone, and It is somehow seen more clearly. Just where you are, just this moment, how do you respond to this empty sky that is completely, utterly, radiantly full. Quick. Don’t be bashful.

Noah Seltzer’s poem of the week:

The wind 

As she blew the ancient oak down to its 


Was doing her best 

The water 

That swallowed the homes of those who prayed 

Couldn’t do it any other way 

And I 

In each rhythm of my heart

Meet this moment the best I can

And one day

I will know that this exhausted exhale is the 

Perfect offering to the trees 

In the silent morning 


SCHEDULE 9/18/22-9/2/22



THE NATURE OF DREAMS points to the innate clarity of the natural, or resting state of mind. Emanations of mind in dreams are ornamentation of primordial or unconditioned awakened mind.

We have been enjoying a remarkable experience of discovery and awakening in the Dream Koan Group! As we engage in the imagery of our shared dreams we are able to experience and embody the arising of the dharma in its purest form. Saṃbhogakāya, the subtle body of limitless form, and the movement of Tzu-jan; the burgeoning forth of things of themselves. Unencumbered by the duality of ego-mind, fresh and clear, pregnant with possibility and juicy with nourishment we plunge into the indivisible basic space of pristine awareness together. When engaged with one another as a Dream-Sangha we coalesce into the transpersonal reality of One Being-ness in the ship of dreams as our vessel. True, that for each individual there arises a personal cache of feeling-tones and imagery that constellates one’s personal experience, the undeniable reality is that we are all drinking from the communal well as we quench our thirsts for inner meaning. It is a truly amazing experience!

Please join us on this amazing journey as often as you can. As with all things, time ripens the fruits of this practice.

Please note: Dream Koan Group Practice has moved to Monday nights at 7 PM at the Tea House or on ZOOM. This is the new link: DREAM KOAN MONDAY

SCHEDULE 9/11-9/18





Travel notes: Issan & Zenho will be out of town Thursday-Monday for the

International Conference On Zen Bluegrass Buffoonery

being held in Flagstaff, AZ at the Pickin’ in the Pines Bluegrass Festival.

Deep peace, great love,

Issan & Zenho

#12 Grimmwauld Place

#12 Grimwauld Place

Dear Sangha,
12 Grimmwauld Place.
Those with an eye to see, know it is there. A place of refuge for the Order of the
Phoenix. It is a place that appears suddenly, out of nowhere. Ordinary laws of
space and time do not apply. Sirius Black gave his love and his life in offering this
refuge. Generous.
We have been talking recently of altering the courtyard space. In part to be able
to offer Dokusan with some privacy. I spoke with Scott the other day. He likes the
idea of a simple platform over our Zen garden. He is also interested in changing
the heat for the Zendo to radiant heat in the floor. This will save on heating costs
long term.
I asked Scott about our CPOP finances, and reviewed the donations to
Eighthwave Community. I found that only 3 members of the Sangha have made
any financial contribution in 2022. We cannot sustain ourselves at this level of
Most often, I find that people arrive at the Zendo at the stroke of 6:30 for sitting,
assuming that everything will be ready for them. The same with Zoom Dokusan.
I truly ask “What is happening?”
Shakymuni offered profound teachings on generosity. As a guide, I prefer to point,
and allow other’s relationship to the pointing to bring the teaching. I can see that
I have not been pointing well!
I will be more direct, spill my guts, as it were. There is something hidden in
generosity. When giving is undertaken without thought of giver-receiver, without
thought of addition or subtraction, without thought of benefit or loss, the very
fabric of time and space dissolve. The time that we didn’t think we had, suddenly
appears, like 12 Grimmwauld Place. The money or material goods that we
thought we lacked, suddenly change, like 12 Grimmwauld Place. And it is not
magic. It is the very fabric of reality being revealed in generosity. The very same
generosity that the cosmos offers to each of us, through each of us.

There is another factor that may be contributing. We are a bit of a hierarchical
group. It may be necessary to develop a different organizational structure.
Allowing the Sangha members to determine the direction we’d like to follow, may
well change our group dynamics.
I am telling you what I have experienced in generosity. And truly asking each of us
what direction we wish to pursue.
8 Deep Bows,
p.s. On another topic. Io has been generously inviting me to participate in Ecstatic
Dance on Tuesday evenings. She does not have any flexibility as to the evening
this can be offered. I am going to take her up on this offer. Therefore, I will have
to change my availability for Dream Koan. This week, Dream koan will be at usual
time on Tuesday 7PM. Starting next week, I will offer it on Wednesday 7PM. I
hope to see you there.

Here’s our poem for this week from Noah:

I wander through a field 

I’ve returned to before 

the field where I tasted the texture of the robin playing in the 


but the trees all look the same today 

and alone I walk ahead 

and only realize that I just want to lie down on the patchy grass path 

when I trip on a root and fall

-Noah Seltzer

SCHEDULE 9/4-9/11








Rohatsu 2022

Noah Seltzer, one of Zenho Sensei’s students is offering a weekly poem to the sangha.

Here is the poem for this week:

It turns out it is not what I thought it was

those mornings

traversing the excruciations of the mind 

would not 

ungrasp me 

that I would not figure it out 

find the solution 

after all

tear open the gates of this 


to be let in 

at last

but instead 

I would have to let the revelation 

unfold me

unveiling herself like magic 

like that one day when I could finally 


see the sunset blooming into the evening after a day on the beach

and then sit 

and let the lyrics of the morning light

soften my 


Rohatsu is the Buddhist celebration of the Buddha’s enlightnenment after sitting beneath the Bodhi tree for 8 days. It begins on December 1 and ends on Bodhi Day, December 8, it is the day Siddhartha opened his eyes, saw the morning star, touched the earth and said at the moment of the his enlightenment, according to the Avatamsaka Sutra (or Flower Garland Sutra),“I now see all sentient beings everywhere fully possess the wisdom and virtues of the enlightened ones, but because of false conceptions and attachments, they do not realize it.”

In Zen Buddhism, Rohatsu is customarily preceded by a sesshin, a weeklong retreat involving intensive meditation. One the eve of Rohatsu, practitioners often meditate through the night in recognition of Shakyamuni’s all-night vigil culminating in his enlightenment. Rohatsu is the most important sesshin of the year.

As much as we might like to offer a week long sesshin for Rohatsu we realize that most could not participate due to our lay commitments..

This year for Rohatsu sesshin we would like to propose the following schedule:

December 2, Friday evening: 7-9PM

December 3, Saturday: 6:30AM-7PM

December 4, Sunday: 6:30AM-7PM

December 8, Thursday, Bodhi Day: 7PM-9PM

Please prioritize participation for the full program if at all possible. It is an important time for us to be together and to be supporting one another’s practice. We would appreciate the input of all sangha members regarding this schedule so we can make it work for as many of members to participate for a s much as possible. Please let us know how this works for you.

A note on dana regarding sesshins, zazenkai and ceremony: Sangha members who participate in these events, celebrations and ceremonies are encouraged to make dana to the sangha/teachers. We have explored the reasons for dana in a previous post. The dana can be offered by sealing it in an envelope and leaving it on the altar anytime during the sesshin or ceremony.

Schedule 8/28-9/4

Monday, 6:30AM, Zazen at the Tea House

Tuesday, 7PM, Dream Koan at the Tea House or ZOOM

Wednesday, 6:30AM, Zazen at the Tea House or ZOOM

Thursday, 6:30 AM, Vajrakilaya Sadhana, Tea House or ZOOM

Friday, 6:30 AM, Zazen at the Tea House or ZOOM

It was so amazing to be with you this weekend for zazenkai. So many beautiful awakenings manifested, challenges to our practice, good works done and the concentration of our hearts as one.

Thank you to all who attended!

Deep peace, Great love,

Issan & Zenho

What is Zazenkai/Sesshin

At Upaya, Santa Fe, NM

Sesshin is a period of time, usually ranging from 2 – 7 days, in which silence is maintained and the focus is on zazen. Sesshin is a cornerstone of Zen practice for which there is no substitute—it is essential for any practitioner who hopes to gain insight into their true nature.

Sesshin, while commonly understood as a Zen retreat, literally means to unite the mind. It is an opportunity to gather together one’s energy and concentrate it in order to clarify the great matter that is our life. We do sesshin as a group as the support that each person gives to the others is vital for a strong sesshin.” (Stolen directly from Upaya’s website)

Zazenkai is generally understood to mean a shorter session.

We encourage all sangha members, especially those preparing for Jukai or Tokudo, to attend the zenkai.

Zazenkai Saturday 8/27-Sunday 8/28Schedule

Saturday 8/27/22

         6:30-7:00            Zazen

         7:00-7:10            Kinhin

         7:10-7:40            Zazen

         7:40-8:10            Council: Taking Refuge

                                    What is the personal meaning

         8:10                    Heart Sutra

         8:20                    Breakfast

         9:00-9:30            Zazen

         9:30-9:40            Kinhin

         9:40-10:40          Samu

         10:40-10:50        Kinhin

         10:50-11:20        Council: 3 Pure Precepts

                                    What is the personal meaning

         11:20-11:50        Zazen

         11:50                  Identity of Relative and Absolute

         12:00                  Lunch

         1:00-1:30            Zazen

         1:30-1:40            Kinhin

         1:40-2:10            Zazen

         2:10-2:20            Kinhin

         2:20-2:50            Council: Bowing, ritual

                                   What is the personal meaning

         2:50                    Shin Shin Ming

         3:00                    Break

         4:00-4:30            Zazen

         4:30-4:40            Kinhin

         4:40-5:10            Zazen

         5:10-5:20            Kinhin

         5:20-5:50            Council: 10 Grave Precepts

                                    What is the personal meaning

         5:50                    4 Bodhisattva Vows

Sunday 8/28/22

         6:30-7:00            Zazen

         7:00-7:10            Kinhin

         7:10-7:40            Zazen

         7:40-8:10            Council: Feminine Buddha

                                    What is the personal meaning

         8:10                    Heart Sutra

                                    Green Tara Sadhana

         8:30                    Breakfast

         9:10-9:40            Zazen

         9:40-9:50            Kinhin

         9:50-10:40          Samu

         10:40-10:50        Kinhin

         10:50-11:20        Council: Masculine Buddha

                                    What is the personal meaning

         11:20-11:50        Zazen

         11:50                  Identity of Relative and Absolute

                                    Vajrakilaya Sadhana

         12:00                  Lunch

         1:00-1:30            Zazen

         1:30-1:40            Kinhin

         1:40-2:10            Zazen

         2:10-2:20            Kinhin

         2:20-2:50            Council: Sangha

                                    What is the personal meaning

         2:50                    Shin Shin Ming

SCHEDULE 8/21-8/27

Monday 6:30am Zazen at the Tea House with Madison opening

Tuesday 6:30am Zazen at the Tea House with Madison opening

Tuesday 7pm Dream Koan at the Tea House or ZOOM

Wednesday 6:30am Zazen at the Tea House of ZOOM

Thursday 6:30am Green Tara Sadhana at the Tea House or ZOOM Dokusan with Issan Sensei

Friday 6:30am Zazen at the Tea House or ZOOM and dokusan with Zenho Sensei.

Deep Peace & Great Love,

Issan & Zenho

Dear Sangha,

Foothill frog added to state's endangered species list - The Sun-Gazette  Newspaper

“I have a firm belief in this now. Not only in terms of my own experience, but in knowing the experience of other people. When you follow your bliss. And by bliss I mean the deep sense of being in it and doing what the push is out of your own existence. And it may not be fun. But it is your bliss. And there is bliss behind pain too. You follow that and doors will open where there were no doors before, where you would not have thought there would be doors, and there wouldn’t be doors for anybody else. There is something about the integrity of life and the world moves in and helps. It really does. And so I think that the best thing that I can say is follow your bliss. If your bliss is just your fun and your excitement, you’re on the wrong track. I mean, you need instruction. Know where your bliss is. And that involves coming down to a deep place in yourself,” – Joseph Campbell

Many of us came to Zen practice looking for bliss – in all the wrong places. We wanted to trade in our pain, suffering, frustration, anger, grief, lust, fear of whatever, for some of the Zen bliss that seemed promised on the postcards from the romantic past. Well at least Zenho did. “Yeah. I want some more of that Satori stuff.”

You see, we think that we know what is on the other side of all those doors, all these gateless gates. And what will be best for the Cosmos that holds us – “Yeah. What will be best for the Cosmos is me getting more Vermont Maple syrup!”  The first Zen Peacemaker precept is “Not knowing,” and we’ve added “No ‘no’ing” (No-‘no’ing to the gates presented for us). In “knowing” I project something onto reality, in the process killing my curiosity, killing the juiciness of suchness before it has the opportunity of breathing and blooming. The evil that crushes the isness out of our lives.

We are going to be gathering as Sangha in couple of weeks for Zazenkai. We are going to delve into the precepts. Bliss upon bliss, regardless of what lies behind door #1. We will have an opportunity to explore our personal intimacy with the precepts, and the different flavors that arise through exploring the precepts within the refuge of Sangha. I’m really curious.

Dongshan was by a stream one day, washing his bowls alongside a fellow monk. Two birds hurtled out of the sky grabbing up a frog. Flying in opposite directions, they tore the frog in half. The monk screamed in anguish “Why does it come to this?” After a moment, Dongshan responded, “It is only for your benefit.”

8 Deep Bows

Issan & Zenho

Other stuff: Issan Sensei and Zenho Sensei have returned from wanderings 

Schedule, 7/31-8/6

Monday: 6:30 AM Zazen at the Tea House

Tuesday: 7 PM, Dream Koan, at the Tea House  zoom and in-person

Wednesday: 6:30 AM, Zazen at the Tea House zoom and in-person

Thursday: 6:30 AM Vajrakilaya Sadhana

Friday: 6:30 AM Zazen and Dokusan at Tea House Zoom not offered



I was reading two books this past week (actually 3 or 4), switching back and forth from one to the other. One day, I found myself reading the same poem from Ancestor Keizan in two:

“Though we have vast billions ranging to the clear blue sky in autumn,

How can it compare to the hazy moon on a spring night?

Some people want it pure white,

But sweep as you will, you cannot empty the mind.”

And then this from Ancestor Xuedou:

“The dragon’s jewel is found in every wave;

Looking for the moon, it is found in this wave,

And the next.”

We gather together, or sit at home in apparent solitude. Sweep as we will, we will never empty this mind. Isn’t the haze surrounding the moon beautiful, arising unbidden. Melting away with no notice. This haze envelops us all. We are each and all connected, wave after wave, the gems of each wave, arising unbidden from the empty source eternal. Our dreams the hazy of the moon. Our sweeping, the wave after wave. Our breath the waxing and waning of our dragon’s breath. While seeking earnestly on our cushion, the dragon soaks its wings in wave refreshed, and circles the moon, sprinkling equally light side and dark side. Sitting together with friends in the Zendo, we soak the entire moon with our enjoyment and distress before dragon can even think of breathing its next fire on water-mist.

What might this have to reflect on the precepts, on taking refuge. If we do not believe that we are Buddha, that we are dragon, that we are mist, that we are moon, that we are wave, that we are Sangha, that we are Dharma, we will not possibly accept that we are the precepts through and through. We will not embrace that we are refuge in all ten directions. Accepting this fully, without limitation, we become the actualization of precept and refuge. In not limiting ourselves, we free the pure action of the Sangha. In relaxing into our hazy moon dragon waves, we become refuge fully. We bring our joy and distress, our love and anger, our faith and fear. Sharing fully, moons and waves are revealed as moons upon moons, and waves upon waves. The whale sings, not knowing if its actions are big or small, and its voice is heard from one ocean to the next. Why would we ever think that our actions in the Zendo, in our community, in our solitude at home, is not heard in the next wave, the next ocean?

8 Deep Bows

Issan & Zenho

Other stuff: Issan Sensei will be heading to New Hampshire (the homeland of the most suprememaple syrup) for my 31st year at the Craftsmen’s Fair, August 2-16.

Zenho Sensei will be out of town, 8/3-8/13.

Don’t forget Zenkai Weekend August 27-28. 

Schedule, 7/31-8/6

Tuesday: 7 PM, Dream Koan, at the Tea House  zoom ONLY

Wednesday: 6:30 AM, Zazen at the Tea House with Mugen opening



First, I’d like to comfort you and address your concerns about Jukai and the timing thereof. I sincerely regret if I have created a feeling of anxiety in anyone by my incomplete communications. Zenho and I are planning to do a Jukai Ceremony, hopefully for a few folks together, whomever feels ready, in January 2024. If anyone feels ready and wishes to have ceremony before then, please talk to us to make arrangements. There’s no hurry! If January is not a good time for you, that’s OK! We are committed to having this be a deeply meaningful experience for you, whenever you and your teacher decide to take this step. Take your time, understand what you’re taking-up, sew your rakusu carefully and beautifully. Enjoy the ride!

Taking the vows of jukai are about becoming a Buddhist, officially. We take the vows of Refuge; in the Buddha, the Dharma and the Sangha which we’ve discussed in an earlier post.

What does it mean to make vows? “Ordinary people are those who live by being pulled by their karma (gosshō no bonpu): bodhisattvas are those who live led by their vows (gannshō no bostsu)”, according to author of “Living by Vow“, Shohaku Okumura.

We also vow to uphold the precepts.

The Three Pure Precepts, which are principles prescribing a particular course of action or conduct, are thus:

1.Do not commit evil.

2. Do good.

3. Do good for others.

The Ten Grave Precepts are:

  1. Do not kill
  2. Do not steal.
  3. Do not be greedy.
  4. Do not tell a lie.
  5. Do not be ignorant.
  6. Do not talk about others errors and faults.
  7. Do not elevate yourself to put others down.
  8. Do not be stingy.
  9. Do not be angry.
  10. Do not speak ill of the three treasures.

Although these are phrased as absolutes, who could possibly embody all of these at any given time?! As Susan Murphy, Roshi suggests, (in my new favorite book, “Red Thread Zen“); “You have to hold yourself toward your precepts. All appropriate and fit responses flow naturally from that.” The vows make sure.

Life/practice are inseparable. Embracing and embodying “The Four Vows” that we say each evening; desires as inherent purity, and boundless dharma gates, we are affirming our practice of holding living lightly, open-handedly but with awareness and reverence.

Roshi Murphy again; “A vow asks that I hold myself toward life with awareness and respect, and in this way moves life in more intent direction that’s subtly but remarkably different from “just coping”. Not only each of your immediate relationships and actions but the wider, larger fate of humanity and the life of the world begins to live in you and to ask searching questions, beginning with Who is this? And what is it to become like this?”

How should we uphold the vows we make? “When Zhaozhou ws asked; “What is the fact for which we must bear responsibility? He replied, “Though you search to the end of time you’ll never single it out”.

And this; When a Chinese nun of great enlightenment was asked by a novice; “How do you keep all these precepts” (there are 311 for Chinese nuns), She replied; “I only keep one. I just watch my mind”.

In spite of our refinement, enlightenment, grace and radiance, we are still messy, muddy, flesh bags, foibles of humanity stumbling about doing the best we can. Knowing that, those of us with this beautiful and amazing powerful practice in our lives are moving into, not towards, but into our awareness of our already awakened buddha nature. Each action we take such as Jukai, each vow we make, each precept we embody in the way of the dharma enriches our experience.

Deep peace and great love,

Issan & Zenho

Other stuff: I will be heading to New Hampshire (the homeland of the most supreme maple syrup) for my 31st year at the Craftsmen’s Fair, August 2-16. I am grateful to Zenho for taking over this blog for the next couple weeks!

Zenho Sensei will be out of town, 8/3-8/13.

Don’t forget Zenkai Weekend August 27-28.

Schedule, 7/31-8/6

Tuesday: 7 PM, Dream Koan, at the Tea House zoom ONLY

Wednesday: 6:30 AM, Zazen at the Tea House with Mugen opening