Katagiri’s Persimmon

Katagiri Roshi liked persimmons but may have enjoyed the persimmon most as a metaphor for spiritual development. I remembered this last week while grocery shopping. At my local supermarket I spotted a few lonely persimmons tucked between the grapes and the strawberries. I know persimmons well from eating many during my stay in Japan. They were on a very short list of fruits and vegetables served at the monastery. So I bought a couple and served a ripe one last night at the Dogen study group. Sw … [Read more...]

With Begging Bowl In Hand

(A Zen monk doing Takuhatsu - begging) As the year draws to a close, I've been getting year-end solicitations in the mail, as you probably have too. Then today I looked at the Wild Fox bank statement… there wasn't much there and I quickly put the two together. Now I want you to know, I'm committed to offering what I can here on a donation basis, and will continue doing so whether I ever get another nickel. What I'm offering is not contingent upon donations, so it’s not required that you give any … [Read more...]

Visions of Awakening

Taigen Leighton's book, Visions of Awakening Space and Time: Dogen and the Lotus Sutra, is now available in paperback, and at $24 its about 1/3 the price of the hardcover. This book is an academic and serious (sometimes ponderously so) reflection on the deep importance of the Lotus Sutra for fully appreciating Dogen's Zen. This is a significant contribution to Dogen studies.  The Lotus Sutra was Katagiri Roshi's favorite sutra too and he lectured on it for several years (although it seemed like d … [Read more...]

Steve Earle and Emmylou Harris – Goodbye

http://youtube.com/v/qYj8lU-0sAQWhoa now. Get your tissues ready. This one is so sweet. Seems like a good follow-up to the relationship post of a few days ago.Like the Tibetans say, meeting will end in parting, after all, love. … [Read more...]

More on the Tail

Here's an excerpt from the talk that James alludes too in his comment to my previous post.Click here and you'll get the whole beast - minus the tail, of course. Looking into your own heart and mind, what is it that is holding you back? What keeps you from being open? You don’t have to dig very far to know. Something presents, then just look below that. It isn’t very meta; it isn’t very far away from what you do over and over and over again.Now take that, that tail of the cow, and make that your k … [Read more...]

That Wonderful Tail

This morning in the woods I caught Bodhi's tail in a shot unexpectedly and thought of one of my favorite and bedeviling koans, Gateless Gate # 38: Wu-tsu's Bffalo Passes Through the Window. Later on, with the winter approaching and the daylight shrinking, I turned to savoring some old Dogen poems. I stumbled on Dogen also chewing on this wonderful tail. So first the koan with verse and then Steven Heine's translation from A Blade of Grass (apparently out of print):Wu-tsu said, "It is like a buff … [Read more...]

Flowers Fall, Weeds Grow

Though this is so, flowers fall when we cling to them and weeds grow when we dislike them.In this fourth sentence of the Genjokoan, Dogen moves from talking about the faces of reality to directly showing it with live words. "If you take them to the dokusan room," said Yasutani Roshi, "they make a wonderful koan. If you start to lecture even a little bit you'll be chased out of the dokusan room by the master's bell." Indeed, because it is so simple, it takes so long to clarify. Yet Bokusan Roshi s … [Read more...]

Marriage and the Swirl of Sameness and Difference

Question: What is your opinion on marriage? Is it attachment itself? And, is that a negative thing?I was reading a book by Anthony De Mello…THE WAY OF LOVE. He says, “If you seek to make yourself special to anyone—that is attachment…you will lose your freedom…and you will suffer.” If so, how does one deal with a marriage partnership? If I observe myself, I am very much in this with my partner—not married yet. I feel it is a bit of a crippling fact at times. I think the fear of loss of the person … [Read more...]


Here's a little excerpt from a talk by Katagiri Roshi:Even though you have a custom of seeing this total situation in terms of your view point, practically, please be flexible, magnanimous.  Take a deep breath right in the middle of confusion.Don't see this situation only from your own point of view, your own self-grasping.  In your everyday life, please be right in the Universe.  If you see this situation of being in the Universe in terms of your understanding only, your life becomes rigid … [Read more...]