Next to Ikkyu and Bankei, I consider Alfred E. Neuman one of the greatest Zen Masters of all time. I do know he is fictional, but, well, aren't all of our story lines fictional?
What we tell ourselves about what has happened to 'us' is nothing more than a story fabricated from fractured memories, is it not? Think about it. Our ego makes up the stories where we are the hero, the villain, the victim and the trickster. It is all fictional. They are all fairy tales and cartoons in your head.
But don't let that disturb you too much. Master Neuman would just tell you to chill, have a good laugh and scratch your ass. I believe Ikkyu and Bankei would have read Mad Magazine and perhaps would even place a copy on their altars...or used it to stuff their zafus.
Master Neuman's greatest Koan is, "What, Me Worry?" Contemplate it and may it's teaching penetrate to the marrow of your bones.
Saturday morning and enjoying the aroma and taste of my first cup of coffee of the day. This cup of coffee reminded me of a dream I had Thursday evening. I was enjoying my last cup of coffee.
The dream started off being chased and shot at by Nazis while outside my home. I quickly ran into my house as fire bombs began to hit. My family was in the basement and I joined them huddled on the floor as smoke was filling the air.
In my hands I had a thermos and a cup of coffee. I sipped the coffee and it tasted sooooo goooood! I then huddled with my family and the dream faded away.
When I awoke, I felt fabulous and had one of the most well-rested feelings I have ever had. This sense of peace and everything is okay stuck with me all day. What a dream.
Just got done with some early spring house cleaning. Dusting, vacuuming and scrubbing. And I feel great! House looks good too.
Cleaning reminded me of time during sesshin at the Nebraska Zen Center. We would have Samu, or work period. I would look forward to it as it gave me relief from sitting on my ass for hours. It also soothed the pain in my knees and back. During samu we would clean the zendo. This included cleaning Buddha, scrubbing floors, toilets, raking leaves, cleaning altars and vacuuming zafus and zabutons. Work...it never felt so good.
There is an old Zen saying that 'cleaning clears away delusion'. I am a strong advocate for this saying. Next time you find yourself upset, no matter what it is, start cleaning. Doesn't make any difference what you clean. Just clean. Focus your mind on the details. Get into it! Notice how you feel when you are done.
Did you know you are perfect right now just as you are?
Yes, it is true. All you have to do is open your eyes and 'see'. There is nothing you need to add to your life or take or clear away. When you can 'see' the impermanence of this world and that nothing will satisfy you, whether it is adding or subtracting, everything becomes just as it is. Herein lies completeness and perfection.
Your ego may be screaming right now and says it needs a new car, or more money, or a different job, or a new relationship or you need to clear out your mind of negativity or past memories...but all of this is a delusion that actually feeds the ego. It is a trick of ego-centricity.
Yes, we do need to eat, have shelter and clothing, but when you can 'see' the interdependency of all changing phenomenon you will see you are supported by reality, by the bigger self, the source of creation. It will support you...you just gotta have a little faith.
Your eyes will also open to the illusion of a separate self...you will see how you have been caught in a trance of separation from the creative source. You are the creation and the creator...all at the same time.
So, just now, as you read this words you are perfect...just as you are.
While shopping for a variety of beans I was going to use in my chili I had an interesting experience. I was in the bean section of the grocery store and found my kidney beans and black beans and placed them in my cart.
I began looking for the garbanzo beans and couldn't find them. I looked up and down the shelves saying to myself, "I can't find the garbanzo beans...damn, I can't find the garbanzo beans" I was getting frustrated as I wanted to finish my shopping.
It then dawned on me that my mind was shaping my reality of not seeing the garbanzo beans. So I stopped myself. Closed my eyes, then said to myself, "When I open my eyes I will see garbanzo beans."
Guess what? Those garbanzo beans were right in front of my face!
The mind is so powerful in determining your reality. So, when you tell yourself you get headaches a lot, that's what you get. But if you tell yourself you are a healthy, self-healing, vibrant person...well the possibilites are endless.
Just wanted to share my garbanzo bean moment with you. Watch for this phenomenon yourself.
(Oh...by the way...I see dead people too....LOL!!!!!)
The Samurai's sword, or Katana, is known for its razor sharp edge. With it, the Samurai were lethal warriors, able to cut through muscle and bone. The first inch or so of the blade is the most dangerous of the blade as it coming at you with the greatest momentum and reach.
The Katana is a slicing weapon....not a chopping weapon and would leave an enemy slashed open, usually at the wrist, forearms or elbows. Samurai fights did not last long. So, what does this have to do with cutting through delusion?
Your mind also has powerful weapons as sharp as Samurai's katana. (warning: advertisement...I cover this in my book: Black Belt Healing)....Without getting into too much detail, your mind-swords also have a sharp razor's edge. It is called Gratitude.
When you find yourself worried about the future or regretting the past it is time to pull out your mind-swords and start slicing with the cutting edge called Gratitude. Be thankful for where you are right now, right here, with whatever situation you are involved in. Gratitude, when swung properly, will slice and cut through the delusion of your small ego-driven self and help you see the splendor of what it 'is'. Reality as it is 'issing' will be open to you and transform your life.
Gratitude is the razor's edge of now as it is nowing...is as it issing. It cut's open and bleeds out the delusion of separateness and incompleteness. You will be able to see as if your blinders were cut away.
Give it try....be thankful for everything that is right now, whether you are comfortable or uncomfortable with it. Swing that sword...train its use...and watch this sword give you life. This is Budo, the Way of the Warrior.
As most of you are aware, the universe at large is one great big energy pool...a field of unfolding possibility. Our way of understanding this pool is limited by our senses of touch, sight, hearing, smelling, tasting and consciousness. We can only perceive the field of possibility by these senses which are in some way like radio receivers that can only pick up certain stations...and they are also radio transmitters sending out signals into the vortex itself.
What you consider 'you' is just energy consolidating into a radio/transmitter. Here are some questions that have always run through my head (which I am sending out to you now).
When were you 'born' and when do you 'die'. What if you lost one or more stations? How many stations need to stop before you are not you? When do you stop being you? Can you learn to tune into different stations? Who is doing the tuning? How did all these frequencies end up in my radio? Can I change frequencies of transmissions? Is my frequency of sight (or any sense) the same as yours? If so,how do I really know?
Just some random thoughts this morning triggered by just the right amount of coffee.
Sensei's Rick, Verna, PJ and myself have started a new dojo at the Mohican Family Center. It is on the Stockbridge-Munsee Band of Mohican's Reservation near Bowler, Wisconsin. We've started off with two classes. One class for kids ages 7-11 and 12-18.
We had a great turnout last week and are expecting more kids in the next few weeks. I had forgotten the great energy young kids bring to the dojo. At the Broken Bokken my kids have all grown up and four of them will be graduating high school this year.
What is really special for myself is that Sensei's Rick, Verna and PJ (Patrick) are members of the Stockbridge-Munsee Nation. They are well known and respected in the community. Our aim is to give the kids another positive activity to do after school that incorporates teaching ancient wisdom of warriorship....that is also fun. We plan on bringing in elders and warriors to talk about what real warriorship is within their culture and traditions.
It is amazing that warriors from all traditions share a remarkable similarity in teaching respect, honor, dignity and many warriors evolve into healers of the community. I am looking forward to what the elders will teach...as well as the kids. They help me reconnect with my own inner child.
Now we just need to come up with a new name for dojo....been thinking of Many Trails Dojo, as the Stockbridge-Munsee Nation has been moved on many trails from the New York Hudson Bay area to here in Wisconsin, thus their logo. However, I will leave the naming up to the students as the dojo evolves....the name will reveal itself. (A side note: Jesse Frank will be testing for his Black Belt in April...I believe it was his grandfather who designed the Many Trails logo for the tribe....and Jesse himself is quite the artist)
Wish us luck...and Jesse too (we're gonna kick the snot out of him :D),
Thanks for visiting. My Dharma name is Shinzen. I began studying Goshindo Karate under the watchful eye of Shihan Paul Dean in 1969. Yes, I now have gray hair. I am also Lay-ordained in Soto Zen under the tutelage of Rev. Nonin Chowaney of the Nebraska Zen Center.