Free Full Functioning


Good morning!


We have a sunny spring Sunday morning with our sesshin (embracing and touching the heart, 摂心・接心). Earlier this morning I saw the bright full moon, which represents the Buddha’s heart, calm and clear, illuminating the world. It is free from karma clouds and full in the dharma world in unconditioned peace (nirvana) and unsurpassed awakening (bodhi).


I worked weeding, cultivating, and sowing seeds yesterday until it got dark. I saw vines climbing over bushes and trees, shading, choking, and killing them, if not removed. Cognates of “freedom” in Sanskrit and Pali are priya-dhāman and piya-dhāman (familiar relation, lit. beloved domain), knowing karma and properly dealing with it for holiness (wholly wholesome way world).


This is from karma to dharma, or from preoccupation to prognosis. Recently there is road construction on Brentwood Boulevard. My karma leads to it unless I am wakeful and take precautions (prognosticate) for another route to Hanley Road, which is even faster but with fewer natural views. Especially in an advanced civilization with nukes, etc., we need awakening and prognosis.


We must sit still, still our karma, see, serve for the holy dharma, and save all in holiness, goodness, truth, and beauty.  Our full function freed through this cultivation and culture, we work for the wholly wholesome way world. As our karma is strong for survival since life started, we must strive for the salvation of all, saving the world from destruction, as the Buddha did.



















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Great Person’s Heart



Good morning!


We have a peaceful bright Sunday morning with abundant beautiful flowers, especially after our sitting and service. Magnitude 7.3 and 7.8 earthquakes in Japan and Ecuador, however, took 42 and 246 lives. More are missing and many injured and evacuated. The Japanese quake caused an unusual chain of earthquakes in addition to hundreds aftershocks, with operating nuclear power reactors on the connected fault line. Why can’t they be stopped for life, not for money?


Uchiyama Roshi’s Fostering Together has a chapter on a great person’s (大人) heart, not a small person’s (小人), rather than an adult’s and child’s heart. He quoted an incident of a child at a temple he used to visit to give his talks. The child, accompanied by another child, happened to come to a brush fire on the way back home. He caught a puppy coming by and put it into the fire. His father, learning that his child killed the puppy, pondered seriously overnight.


He made a bonfire and, taking his child there, asked if it were true. He admitted it. His father picked up him and asked if it would be okay to put him into the fire. Listening to the child’s denial and clinging, he told him never to do it again. Uchiyama Roshi advises us to drive our life’s car interconnected well with brake and accelerator, moment by moment. He quotes the Buddha’s words coming out of the great person’s heart:


All tremble with violence; all are in dread of death.

       Comparing to oneself, don’t kill; don’t let others kill. 

The Dhammapada, 129


All tremble with violence; life is dear for all living beings.

       Comparing to oneself, don’t kill, don’t let others kill.  

The Dhammapada, 130


  As a mother protects her only child, even sacrificing her life,

        So generate the limitless heart for all living beings.

The Suttanipata, 149


The Buddha left the Great Person’s Eightfold Awakening as his last lesson to us. The first one is the “least desire with satisfaction.” The Four Holy Truths tell us that craving (taṇhā, lit. thirst) is the cause of suffering (du-kha, wrong-going, lit. dissatisfaction). Happiness consists in contentment. Civilization (craving for matter and power, lit. urbanization for comfort and utility) is itself the source of suffering. Cultivation (culture for life and heart) is itself joy.





















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Good morning!


April 8 is the Flower Festival commemorating the Buddha’s birthday. It is the time when all kinds of flowers start to bloom, which bear fruit in the fall. The legend is that the Buddha walked seven steps and, pointing to heaven and earth, said, “Above and under heaven the self is solely precious.”


The self he mentioned is not the karmic self – karma machine – but the dharmic self – dharma body. Karma machines create only karma products – samsara suffering. The dharma body develops fruits in flowers – unsurpassed awakening in unconditioned peace or anuttara samyak-sambodhi in nirvana.


Dogen wrote the Universal Recommendation for Right Zazen (Fukanzazengi) and the Realization of Universal Truth (Genjokoan), in which he describes how to realize universal truth in peace, avoiding the slightest discrepancy in delusion, which would lead to liking and disliking – desire and divisiveness.


“Marking boat,” wherefrom one loses one’s belonging, is the karmic “here now,” which must be seen in dharmic perspective. Bodhi (awakening) in nirvana is the marvelous miracle wherefrom one can flower and fruit in marked masterpiece or minor mistake, with karma kinetics in the karma ken.

















































































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Cherry Blossoms



Good morning!


We have a bright sunny Sunday with many flowers – lilacs, redbuds, forsythia, cherry, and so forth. Garyo sent me pictures of Zuioji with cherry blossoms the day before yesterday, so I posted them in our website’s blog, along with pictures of our weeping cherry in the backyard and the one in my yard.


It was just around this time that I first visited Zuioji monastery, seeing beautiful cherry blossoms in the bright warm sunlight after one week tangaryo – all sitting from early morning until late at night, except meal and bathroom visits, in cold air due to the location on the mountain.


Yesterday I watched a film titled Takamine (Japanese title: The man making cherry blossoming in America), who first crystalized diastase, adrenaline, etc., and who worked to have cherry trees planted on the Potomac River, realizing photographer Eliza Scidmore’s dream of showing them to Americans.


They were the second shipment, as the first couple of thousand trees, an earlier gift from Tokyo Mayor Ozaki to Mrs. Taft, became infected. President Taft gave a speech saying that unlike European countries that sent warships and generals, Japan sent cherry trees, representing peace.


Cherry blossoms are gorgeous, especially in a multitude, but they are quick to fall naturally, and much more so with wind and rain. So they are the representative of flowers (hana) and impermanence. Thus they symbolize cleanness, calmness, non-attachment, decidedness, bravery.


So, people look for the daily news of the sakura-zensen (cherry frontier) approaching and enjoy hana-mi (cherry viewing, lit. flower viewing) with food and drink under the cherry trees. Cherry blossoms are like national flowers of Japan (none decided).


NHK reported a Syrian awaiting the day of peace, enjoying cherry blossoms with his friend sending a hundred cherry trees. Many poems, songs, essays, wishes, etc., on cherry blossoms have been composed in Japan since ancient times. Here is a popular poem cautioning impermanence:


The vain cherry of the mind

That thinks of existence in the morn.

Who can say that there’ll be

No storm at midnight?



Omou kokoro-no


Yowani arashino












Note: Shinran, Founder of the Pure Land Buddhist School in Japan, is said to have composed this poem when Jien, Head of the Tendai School, told him to ordain him tomorrow, as it was already night.









Zuioji with cherry blossoms







Zuioji  Dragon Pond filled with cherry pedals













Zuioji former abbot Ikko Narasaki Roshi

In front of Garyo at morning service







Bodhidharma with calligraphy (the entire world flying in the space)

by Tsugen Narasaki Roshi, the present abbot of Zuioji







Garyo and Tsugen Narasaki Roshi at her leaving Zuioji




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From Endless Enmity Enigma to Wholly Wholesome World



Good morning!


We are in sesshin, which means embracing (摂心) or touching (接心) the heart and mind. Our hearts and minds are normally going out, but are rarely embraced or touched. We seldom protect, much less touch them, thus we let karma drive them.


The compiler and editor of my paper “Zen and Science” asked me to comment on how Zen Buddhists deal with ISIS. How can we solve such problems as ISIS terrorism? The ordinary way is endless tit-for-tat, with more massacre and bloodshed.


Even if religion means reunion with holiness (wholly wholesome) from sin (separation, selfishness), and Muhammad said killing a person is killing humanity, and Jesus said to turn the other cheek – still, religious passions incite religious wars.


The past Paris and recent Brussel terrorist attack groups planned to attack nuclear plants, and a current presidential candidate advocates a nuclear attack on them. Such is the truly MAD (mutually assured destruction) mind and hellish heart!


This is due to the karma of survival instinct. Unless we still our karma, see the truth of the interdependent nature of our existence, serve it, and save all, we will never end ego delusion, divisiveness, and desire, and will spiral into devastation and demise.


The Buddha said,


Enmity is never appeased by enmity here,

But by non-enmity. This is the truth forever.


Better than the one conquering thousands upon thousands in wars

Is the one conquering oneself. He is the greatest of war conquerors.


Anyone can sit, still karma, see dharma, serve it, save all, and attain unconditioned peace (nirvana) and unsurpassed awakening. This is the Zen Buddhist way of conquering not only oneself, but all in a wholly wholesome way and world.




































































The above pictures were sent from Japan taken by Garyo,

who has been practicing with us at MZC and

whose travelogs with pictures appeared here often,

who is now staying at Zuioji Temple practicing together with monks

(the above pictures were taken on her first full day stay),

one of the 88 temples to visit in pilgrimage in Shikoku Island,

after her 33 day pilgrimage trip there.

Her travelog in Shikoku with beautiful pictures is here:
















Above two pictures were taken at MZC after sitting


This picture was taken in Rosan’s garden,

keeping blossoms even after the strong wind siren

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Cooperation or Competition


Good morning!


This is the first day of spring or the spring equinox, which we call Higan, Yonder Shore, meaning nirvana, because it is equal in day and night, chill and heat. We say heat and chill up until the equinox. However, we had snowfall, making the world white. It covers everything in one simple color, looking beautiful, but if it continues, the abundant beauty of the multicolored life world becomes frozen and forlorn.


Uchiyama Roshi in his Nurturing Together tells about the danger of modern education, reflecting society in competition for economic growth, resulting in doom. He sees modern people divided into four groups: a group believing in cooperation, that is marginalized; another believing in competition, in stresses; another working neither in cooperation nor competition, in neurosis; and the last speaking of cooperation, but engaging in competition, in prosperity.


The Buddha said:

Enmity is never appeased by enmity here,
But by non-enmity. This is the truth forever.

                                                                                                The Dhammapada, 5


            Better than the one conquering thousands upon thousands in wars                                           Is the one conquering oneself. He is the greatest of war conquerors. 

                                                                                                 The Dhammapada, 103 


Gotama was awakened to the truth (Dharma) of dependent co-origination, that is, all phenomena (dharmas) are dependently co-originated on causes and conditions. This means that all are interdependently intertwined in creation and destruction, cooperation and competition, like the Indra-net whose crystal balls reflect all others infinitely and endlessly in space and time. One can’t be selfish, separated, and short-sighted.




































































































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Wakeful Way World




Good morning!


Earlier this morning we had a very thick fog and it was difficult and dangerous to drive. Now with dawning the fog is dispelled and we can see dew on branches and daffodils on the ground. All beings, especially humans, as karma-machines are mostly in the long night of nescience, like a thick fog, where it’s difficult and dangerous to drive, and much more so in an unfamiliar place and uncharted ocean.


Our problems and sufferings first of all come from ignorance of this fact, of our being karma-machines driven by karma, now functioning as the triple poisons of desire, divisiveness, and delusion. We scarcely suspect they are poisons. There is no end of problems and sufferings in continuing and contriving, only different karma combinations like laisse faire, free market, power politics.


The Buddha said that one cannot reach the limit of the world by walking. He did not mean that we can reach it by other means, but only by going beyond karma and the karma-realm. That is stilling karma (bodily, verbal, and mental action) and the karma-realm (social, environmental system). Concretely sitting still, simplifying styles, stabilizing systems, saving synergies.


The triple learning of morality, concentration, and prognosis, the four limitlessness (Brahma-vihāra: pure living) of friendship, compassion, joy, and equanimity (lit. renunciation), the four embracing matters of giving, loving words, beneficial action, and sameness, the six perfections, the seven awakening limbs, the eightfold holy path are concrete Buddhist ways and worlds.













Dazzling Light








Dawning Light

The above pictures were presented by Mr. Noriyuki Otsuka

at the recent photo exhibition of the Shimoda Shayukai (Photo Play Club)

to which he belongs

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Unsurpassed Awakening in Unconditioned Peace




Good morning!


We have a bright sunlit spring Sunday with our nice sittings and service. All springs up. Recently I received my paper on Zen and Science, edited with comments. I found that the unique Zen/Buddhist point of nirvana, no wind of karma, is not understood, thus the ethic issue is missed (causing such wrong changes as “global ethnic” from “global ethic”). Science, deriving from the Indo-European root skei (split), is analytical knowledge, splitting atoms, splicing genes, vivisecting specimens, causing nuclear disasters, genetic manipulation, global warming, mass extinction, etc., tied to technologies and the triple poisons of delusion, desire, and divisiveness.


If this trend continues, we can’t continue. The culprit is human karma – the most advanced bodies and brains, with technologies and languages that separate and strengthen samsara and the suffering caused by karmas. Human karmas create the triple poisons, which cause all problems, unsolved by other karma measures. Dogen’s Universal Recommendation of the True Zazen tells us how to solve them. The original word for “in exhaustive investigation” is 原(=源: source). At the source, before karma, the root of the (Awakened) Way is perfectly penetrating, freely moving, purely pervaded, and magnificently provided.


“The slightest discrepancy” separates one from the truth (origin, zero, original face), deluded in the separate self, thus the slightest liking and disliking, making the mind in confusion (triple poisons). Thus, one needs to sit, still karmas, see the Dharma (the root of the Way), serve and save all. “Learn the right form” (usually mistranslated as “groping for an elephant”) is to learn the Buddha-seal (Zazen posture and position – no physical and psychological fabrication, karma). “Never doubt the true dragon (great boa or elephant)” means no doubt in the true great ones who live the Way, not imitating miniatures or figurines.


The Zazen posture is the solid, stable, wholly wholesome, free, full functioning form with all parts of the body, brain, bones, blood, etc. integrated, interconnected, interlocked, interchanged, intercommunicating, inseparable, intensified, like a crystal ball reflecting all crystal balls and reunited in one wholly wholesome way world, or a raindrop, or a turtle retracting its limbs in safety, or a person retracting and assembling limbs and senses, reflecting on oneself and the world in safety and satisfaction, harmony and happiness, not reaching or running for or away, more united than the sitting figures in the Indus Civilization 35 centuries ago.




























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3/13: Socially Engaged Buddhism: Peace & Harmony



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Nurturing Numberless





Good morning!


We have our sesshin today with spring-like bright sunlight and warm weather. I received a book titled The Heart of Nurturing Together, by Kosho Uchiyama Roshi, from Japan yesterday. I read only the beginning part of it last night. This beginning part includes three episodes on how to nurture ourselves and others. The first one is about a mother whom he praises as “a person shining from the bottom” (of life) (soko-bikarisuru-hito: 底光りする人) with “a determined heart” (ketsujo-shin: 決定心), who was living her life at 96 or 97 with brilliance when this book was written.


Once while he was playing with his elder brother and a friend, his great aunt said, “Don’t play with poor children.” They went to their friend’s home and his friend told his mother about the incident. Unmoved, with a smiling “beautiful” (the author felt) face, with no bad words, the woman said, “Our home is poor, so it can’t be helped to be said so. Play together here, though small.” Another time, when this friend talked about his inferiority to his brother in supporting his parents, she said, “It’s okay for me to become a beggar, if you become one.”


The second episode is about two children, one Japanese and the other Samoan, who were far behind in their math class. The author tutored them after class and somehow they caught up to the topics the class was learning. He discovered they received full marks one day, and he told this to the class. Their classmates applauded their great success. When he left the classroom, the whole class followed him to the teachers’ room, applauding his success in helping the students achieve their success. He thinks the power of life itself is the contributor for everyone’s success.


The third episode is about his wife’s and his own TB. His wife had been told to observe absolute rest, not knowing that she had TB. This was due to the fact that TB was known as a serious illness in those days, just after WWII with much hardship and lack of food, and the diagnosis was never shared with patients or even their families. She was bed-ridden and soon lost her appetite, becoming thin, and at last passed away. Uchiyama Roshi got TB from her but endured the hardship even in his renouncer’s life, living on begging while the town’s people themselves were living in post-war hardship.


Uchiyama Roshi presents the formula of –α x -1 = +α, meaning that the negative factors we have become positive factors through reflection, that is, they become a remedying power, which is essentially a life power. I take this negative power as negative karma, a “stepping backward” power, that is, sitting and stilling karmas for the four applications of decreasing and stopping bad karmas and starting and increasing good karmas. The Buddha, Awakened One, became a beggar to live in the same way as the most humble, nurturing all together.


























The above pictures of Pacific Ocean from his home were taken and sent by Mr. Noriyuki Otsukafrom Shimoda, Japan





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