Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Shin Tai Gi 2010

Shin Tai Gi 2010 Cassie's Farm
 This year's Shin Tai Gi went well as we raised a good chunk of change for the local domestic violence shelter. The women who live and work in these situations are true warriors.

Our host, Cassie Hitzman (white gi by dog), had just finished renovating an outbuilding on her farm into a dojo. We initiated it with Zen Meditation and an Andean Shaman Despacho healing ceremony. Thank You Cassie...the dojo is awesome!

Our Guest Speaker/Healer this year was Teri Nehring (first row to the left in the blue). She is known as "Little Warrior" has studied with the Andean Shamans of Peru and conducted the ceremony. It was really neat to learn about the Andean Shaman traditions and to participate in a healing ceremony. Thank You Teri!

I want to say 'Thank You' to all participants and a special thank you to Joe Pounder of Original Martial Systems out of Appleton for his generous donation as well.

I have had some people who couldn't make it requesting to have another one soon. Maybe a winter retreat will be in order. I'm game.

In Gassho,

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

The Empty Boat

A classical Zen/Taoist story regarding Emptiness. This version comes from The Way of Chuang Tzu as translated by Thomas Merton.

If a man is crossing a river and an empty boat collides with his skiff, even though he is a bad-tempered man he will not become very angry.

But if he sees a man in the boat, he will shout at him to steer clear. If the shout is not heard he will shout again, and yet again, and begin cursing. And all because there is somebody in the boat.

Yet, if the boat were empty, he would not be shouting, and not angry.

If you can empty your own boat crossing the river of the world, No one will oppose you. No one will seek to harm you....

Such is the perfect man:
His boat is empty.

Hands palm to palm,

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Musashi's Land of Bliss

"Under the Sword lifted high
There is Hell making you tremble:

But go ahead,
and you have the
Land of Bliss."

Miyamoto Musashi
(from my 9/14/10 Zen Calendar)

Hands palm to palm,

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Sahasrara Chakra & Gi: Equanimity reigns

Sahasrara or the Crown Chakra is located just at or above the crown of the head. It is associated with enlightenment and spiritual freedom. It is about living in the here of the eternal now. It is our connection to the spiritual nature of the cosmos.

The Samurai treasured Gi. It is associated with making right decisions from equanimity. Seeing deeply into the nature of all things removed any fear of death or dying. It has also been translated as rectitude. With recititude, death has no grip. Attachment to mind and body has been dropped. Entering into the battlefield took on new life.

Becoming free from fear was a big thing for the Samurai. This seventh principle was an ideal sought after and practiced through zen and other indigenous ascetic practices, such as Shinto. Being able to operate from this source made legends of many Samurai.

Well, that's all for now about the 7 chakras and their similarities to the Samurai Bushido 7 Virtues. I will, overtime, write more on these subjects as I explore them more intimately on an energetic level rather than just an intelletual one. If any readers have insights or suggestions...let me know.

Hands palm to palm,

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Ajna Chakra and Yu: Bravery

Yu is about having courage but it is not just mere bravery. It is about doing what is right, when it is right to do so. Any warrior can run into the thick of battle and be slain. The Samurai termed this a ‘dog’s death’ and not true bravery.

True bravery comes about by having deep insight into non-duality and being open. This is the spinning of the Ajna Chakra. Often called the Third Eye, it is considered the sight of deep spiritual insight. It is here we see deeply into our truest nature, freeing us from the shackles of our deepest fears. When all fear has been removed, courage tinged with bravery has a chance to grow. This is what many Samurai were looking for....the removal of fear and the growth of bravery, heroism, courage.

Ajna Chakra is also considered the sight of our psychic nature and insight into the wonders of the universe. This Chakra is very white. I had an experience with it many years ago during zazen. I had been sitting for about 30 minutes and one of my legs had fallen asleep. When I switched my leg positions, a white-laser beam of light shot in between my eyebrows almost knocking me over backwards off my zafu! It was strong and left a deep impression on me. I'll never forget the intensity of that light.

A simple candle meditation can help simulate and stimulate this chakra and the quality of bravery. Sit in a meditative posture with a lit candle in front of you. Gaze at the candle for a few minutes. Then close and cover your eyes with your hands and just allow the after image sit in your vision. Notice how when you try to 'see' the flame, it will move...just relax and allow it to be it will be there. This allowing opens your nature 'to be', which requires bravery of a kind you have to practice. It is openess that can feel vulnerable as well. Too often we strain to takes courage to see without seeing, by letting go. Sounds weird, but try it. You'll discover the quality of Yu.
Many blessings.

Hands palm to palm,

Monday, September 6, 2010

Vishuddha Chakra and Jin

The throat chakra, or Vishuddha Chakra, guides our energy towards benevolence and compassion as expressed in the concept of Bushido's Jin. It is here we totally surrender our will to that of a 'higher' power...and it is here we find our true voice.

The essence of Vishuddha is Faith. Faith in that which is invisible to the eye. Faith in that which gives rise to our true essence and allows us to see a bigger picture than before. It gives rise to the spirit of deep compassion of Jin. We begin to see that the 'other' is ourselves. Those we thought of as enemies are no more. We can only see ourselves. This requires faith and the ability to communicate from our heart.

About thirty years ago I visited a counselor friend of mine who was an intuitive and could read chakras. She told me I was doing pretty good, but my throat chakra was a bit stuck. As I looked in myself, I realized I wasn't being true to my inner voice, but listening to others and wanting to please them more. Her insight helped my find my voice and faith within myself.  Then about seven years later, I met Nonin, my Zen teacher. He gave me the Dharma name of Shinzen. To have faith in zen.  I had to dig deeper and realized I was still hampered in this area.

This writing and the publishing of my book is a result of opening my throat chakra and speaking from faith and my inner voice...and I am hoping it blesses people. I still care how others percieve me, but I am less apt to be a people pleaser. I also have more faith in general. Faith that everything is okay just as it is.

Vishuddha Chakra and Jin. An expression of Faith.

Hands palm to palm,