Wednesday, January 24, 2007


Friday, December 08, 2006


Last post here. I may or may not start a new blog.
I feel this one no longer represents “my” practice.
If it has helped you, made you laugh or cry or feel something you thought you had lost or glimpsed at something bigger, that’s great. Move on. There is nothing left to see here.
If I start a new blog I will provide a link to the left. Here and now I don’t think I will.
I will continue to update the shakuhachi files when I can.

Be well and happy

Thursday, December 07, 2006

A Quarterly (sort of) Review.

Like with practice I do not want to judge things on a good or bad level but just look back at what I have learned for myself since I have started this “blog Experience”

1. How you feel pain is relative to how you feel about pain.

2. Warming up before practice makes the practice a bit more bearable.

3. Find a good Councilor. Not easy but well worth it.

4. First impressions are not always correct. Try not to judge.

5. I really need to find a good teacher for the Shakuhachi.

6. It is all about you!

7. Every thing is impermanent. Even mountains and rivers.

8. The mirror principle

9. Being compassionate is part of the practice. It can take time.

10. An Elephant will Squash a Tiger to protect its herd.

11. There are some amazingly good people out there.

12. I really need to find a good Shakuhachi Teacher.

13. Some people like to jump in front of rifles.

14. having fun has consequences.

This journey has been a learning experience for me. Thank all of you for your comments and support. May you be well and happy!


Tuesday, December 05, 2006


After the tone of my last post I thought it was time for something fun, to the tune of any other Marine practitioners should be very familiar with….






I fire my weapon

When I fire my weapon, weather or not in the sitting, kneeling, standing or prone position, some things remain constant. I look through the rear sight aperture, line up my target with my front site tip to ensure the front site tip is centered in the rear site aperture, and ensure the front site tip is center mass on my target. Focusing on the target, and not the front site tip, a slow steady squeeze of the trigger. The round will travel down range and either hit or miss the target. If I miss the target I will adjust the windage and elevation knobs of my sights and fire again.
Some people I have come to care about give the impression not to know the function of windage and elevation.
Taking the same stance with the same sights over and over, not making adjustments, and continue to send rounds down range with the same result, missing.

The target is in front of you.


Sunday, December 03, 2006

Shakuhachi Files up

For anyone interested there is now a link to the left for my shakuhachi files.
I can only upload 30 second clips for now and I don’t know what the cap will be when I am done with the probationary period.

No perfect sounds from me. I am still getting to know the 2.2 and my embroshure is leaving me wasting some breath.

Every new shakuhachi I get I seem to have to start from the beginning learning all the lessons over again just to be comfortable with the flute.


Saturday, December 02, 2006

The beneficiary of greatness

The beneficiary of greatness

Today I am still concerned for the tiger.
I would like to thank him; he has helped me clarify something I had not been thinking about.

On to more important things! I have been the recipient of a magnificent act of non-attachment.

I have removed the name and edited the e-mails at my benefactor’s request.

I came across your blog from your comments on Brad's blog which I read upon occasion. I am ex-military stationed on the OMITTED and am also a Buddhist among others things. I also occasionally save turtles (most of mine were during a solo bike ride I took from OMITTED to OMITTED earlier this year, though they were considerably smaller than your turtle). As part of my Buddhist practice of non-attachment I like to give away things that I have to people I think would make better use of them. I have two shakuhatchis that I had made for me back in grad school in 98 when I first encountered the instrument and became interested in learning to play. Since then, while I still love the sound, I have not had the time to really pursue my interest in the instruments nor am likely to anytime soon. Rather than continue to gather dust I would rather have them used by someone who will appreciate them. The pair cost me about $700 back then, custom made by someone in the OMITED area who, while not a master, had been making them for about 10 years at the time and so while they are not concert quality they are better then something you are likely to pick up in a music store. The larger one is in the key of B and the smaller one D (if I remember correctly). They larger one has a hairline crack in the top which I have filled in with beeswax though since both have cast resin inserts it does not affect the sound as far as I can tell. If you will send me a mailing address I will ship them both off to you gratis with the following stipulations:

1: you enjoy playing them.
2: If you record any songs with them you send me a copy occasionally as I sometimes like to meditate with shakuhatchi music in the background.
3: if you get a $20 million recording contract playing them you give me a cut so I can pay off my student loans this incarnation.
4: if you know a secret to sitting zazen all day long without legs falling asleep or kneecaps catching on fire you let me in on it.



And my own response:

Gassho! Of course I am the turtle I spend most of my efforts trying
to save. The one in the picture is a desert tortoise I met while in
29 palms playing OPFOR (the bad guys) during my last MEUEX. He was
crossing the dirt road when we were headed back to main side, when I
saw him we stopped and waited for him to go on his merry way. I was
grateful for the opportunity to meet such a rare and magnificent

I am sorry to here that you are unable to play and would be happy to
be the beneficiary of your non-attachment.
I will put my address here because I know I would enjoy them and they
would be played (poorly but lovingly) but before I do this I will also
recommend that you may want to consider placing them on E-Bay and
donating the money to a worthy cause?

If you decide to pass them on to me I will certainly play a rendition
of my three songs and some Suizen as soon as I am able to put a
microphone on my computer.

To answer your stipulations:

1: I would enjoy deepening my practice with these flutes.
2: I will make a special effort to ensure you get a recording of my
playing, I will likely even practice more knowing there is someone
3: In the unlikely event that I get any money from playing Shakuhachi
I will ensure you get a cut. Although after I send you a recording
you may see that it is not likely.
4: This one I can actually help with. For the legs falling asleep try
to only sit on the edge of your cushion. That should prevent
the circulation from being cut off, for preventing your kneecaps from
catching on fire try this,
A: do not try and sit Zazen all day, try
to keep it between 30-40 minute intervals.
B: Between sitting intervals, do some walking meditation or even better some basic Yoga stretching.
C: in the morning before you sit try the exercises outlined here: some of the
translation is a bit dodgy but if you just follow the pictures it is
I find a huge difference in my own practice when I make time to do
these exercises and when I do not. I hope it works for you as well as
it has for me.

Be well and happy!

The flutes came Thursday and they are beautiful. The larger produces a booming Ro that is truly amazing. I have a Microphone for my computer and will begin trying to figure out how to do a recording soon. If anyone out there reading this knows the “skillful means” of putting sound files on blogger please let me know and I will post sounds up here on occasion.

One last thing, my benefactor asked to remain anonymous for fear it may swell his ego.

If your ego can encompass the whole universe it is just big enough not to exist.

I was going to write something about non attachment, but I think this is fine for now.


Thursday, November 30, 2006

Compassion for tigers

Compassion for tigers

I am concerned for a tiger. I hope he understands the sincerity of my question.
It was not intended as a trap. But he seems to have made it into one and fallen deeply into it.

The background is as follows.

A teacher (an Elephant) and student (a Tiger) have had a difference of opinion on different subjects and their relation to Buddhism. This has created strife for a long time in an online community that I have been enjoying for quite some time.

For the sake of context I will place the conversations here:

It has been said by a tiger that an elephant holds on to views that are not the teaching of the World Honored One. It has been stated by an elephant that a tiger holds on to views that are not the teaching of the World Honored One. The result to this is great suffering being caused by an elephant to a tiger and to the elephants herd by the tiger.

Can elephants and tigers free themselves from their attachment to views and end the cycle of suffering?


The Tiger responded:

I think that people who haven’t got enlightenment need not ask or discuss or worry about lesser problems but should ask about enlightenment.

Elephants and tigers who have got it already should make their effort to clarify to others what the method might be.

Wanting to get enlightenment by practicing Zazen, over 25 years I have come up with thousands and thousands of new ideas, competitively one after another, about how I might get my paws on enlightenment.

-End conversation-

I will not respond to this on the Masters blog because this is the exact type of thing that disrupts the community.

To the tiger I say I am sorry that you have fallen into this trap. My intention was only to free you.

I have yet to here from the elephant.

For clarification relating to what the tiger has said to me:

I am not seeking enlightenment.

I am concerned about constructing an enjoyable and valuable dialogue about Buddhism.

Great apologies to suffering tigers every ware.


Monday, November 27, 2006

“Kind Speech”

“Kind Speech” means, when meeting with living beings, first of all to feel compassion for them and to offer caring and loving words.
Broadly, it is there being no rude or bad words. In secular societies there are polite words “take good care of yourself!” and there is the disciple’s greeting”how are you?” Speaking with the feeling of “compassion for living beings as if they were babies” is kind speech. We should praise those who have virtue and should pity those who lack virtue. Through love of kind speech, kind speech is gradually nurtured. Thus, kind speech which is ordinarily neither recognized nor experienced manifests itself before us. While the present body and life exists we should enjoy kind speech, and we should not regress or deviate through many ages and many lives. Weather in defeating adversaries or in promoting harmony among gentlefolk, kind speech is fundamental. To hear kind speech indirectly etched an impression in the heart and in the soul. Remember, kind speech arises from a loving mind, and the seed of a loving mind is compassion. We should learn that kind speech has the power to turn around the heavens; it is not merely the praise of ability.

-excerpt from: Shobogenzo, Bodisatta-shishobo- Master Dogen-
Translated by Master Gudo Wafu Nishijima and Chodo Cross

This may look a lot like the previous offering by Master Dogen but it brings up a slightly different reaction in me. In 2000-2003 I was a recruiter in Milwaukee Wisconsin and was putting in many hours just trying to get the “goals” set by higher headquarters. I had little experience in dealing with rejection and the long hours we put in as recruiters. There was one Recruiter who excelled at his job and seemed to be out of the office enjoying quite a bit of time off while still getting his “goals.” He had made it. He was a “successful” recruiter. At that time someone passed a little gem of wisdom on to me. “Fake it till you make it.” Of course you are not really faking anything. You are doing quite a bit of hard work honestly trying to show young people how they can benefit from serving. But you are “Faking” being successful at it. And in that faking being successful soon I started to believe I was successful. Shortly there after I became successful.

Tying these together: Life for most of us in the secular world is all about achieving goals and unfortunately in our busy lives we often seem to have little time for compassion. I am not endorsing you to “Fake” compassion, but if we just try and take little steps toward it and we can begin to soften our hearts. Using kind words and not using bad words is a start towards the direction of having compassion for all living beings. Try using kind words, even if it is a struggle, perhaps you will make them a part of you.


Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Love words

Love words
-From the Eiheiroku-

Love Words should always be used when we keep company with others. We should not utter violent words. With the people in general it is an important etiquette to greet them with the polite and sincere wishes for their good health.
Among the Buddhist priests, there prevails a custom to inquire after their health feeling grateful for one another. And again they are to love their parents telling nothing of it to others.
When we speak to others in genuine love-expressions such as we use to our babies, we are practicing love words. Let us praise the virtuous; let us show pity to the virtueless. When we are anxious to give the love words, their enlivening power will gradually expand. Then will come forth such precious love words as are usually hidden from us so long as we remain indifferent strangers to them.
When we use love words while we live in this world of ours, we shall be adamantine to any change of destiny. Even a deadly foe will be made to yield to the power of love words; still more, perfect harmony will come to be realized with the virtuous people.
When we hear people speak the love words, we feel calm and peaceful both within and without.
When we hear them spoken for the people having no chance to speak face to face, they will take root in the deeper part of our inner life.
Indeed the love words come straight out of the love mind, which is no less than that the reflection of benevolent pity. We should learn that the love words sincerely given have the power to transfer a big mountain to the sea. But only to appreciate a person’s ability does not have this much effect.

-Master Dogen-

This piece is what inspired me to find more of Master Dogen’s work. I had started with Moon in a dewdrop and then Bendowa until I finally was able to acquire the Shobogenzo.
I still have not found the Eiheiroku which I hope to find a good translation of some day.
In military culture there is a propensity to become callous that is even engrained into indoctrination. To quote Full Metal Jacket “it is the hard hart that kills.” The military is not the only source of this hardening. Daily life in our fast paced world commonly strips us away from living mindfully. We do not use love words and become poorer for it.
The first time I read this passage I cried. I had recently returned from a deployment and was drowning in emotions and delusion. Love Words helped break me out of that shock of returning to the “real world” my wife my daughters, one of which I had never even met.
I hope by my posting Love words here it will be read and help others along the way.


EDIT: Thanks to the efforts of Revrend Master Meiko and Ted for pointing me to Dogen's Extensive Record: A Translation of the Eihei Koroku by Taigen Dan Leighton and Shohaku Okumura.

Amazon dose not pick this up as the Eiheiroku
I actualy put this on my wsh list back in April without even being mindfull of what it really was.


Thursday, November 16, 2006


There are a lot of people practicing?

What is correct practice?

I read to many Buddhist blogs and find that there are a lot of emotional beings out there posting without having the most important parts of being a Buddhist in mind. Maybe I am guilty of this too. Buddhism is Buddhism. We all have our own practice, be it at a temple or a monastery or someone’s basement or your own bedroom. Be a Buddhist! Look at the precepts, I think they are about the same for everyone or at least have the same intent.

Practice living as a Buddhist..


Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Getting cold

The weather is turning cold here in the North West and so am I.
My previous buzz of happiness appears to have come to an end.
That is not to say I am sad, not at all. The constant grinning I had has ebbed and I am afraid that I was a bit attached to it and hope it comes back soon. Now I recognize that it could be I am just reflecting my ego, but what reason do I have to not be happy? Ok everyone can look at their lives and say this and that are not going my way but I don’t really care about the things I don’t have or did not get or even the material things I want and are out of reach. I have a lot of things that I am thankful for like the Sangha I practice with and a great family. So why did the happy buzz go away and why am I even attached to it? It is just a feeling. If you are cold, warm your self if you are hot cool off.

I think I just an animal and want to be warm again, I think I am thinking of "I" too much.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Jimmy stare changed my life!

Ok not really, I don’t know him personally. We were deployed with the same unit at one point in time but I never even met him. I have heard some of his songs though, and I really did enjoy them. He wrote one song in particular that is stuck in my head. “I’m happy” I haven’t listened to it in a long time but the song says something like “I love the way my mic(microphone) stand, always gets stolen, I love the way my car, always seams broken” and the song continues like this with a chorus saying “But I’m happy, So happy.”

Now the reason this is in my head is this is how I have felt for a good bit of time now. No mater what curve balls get thrown my way, and there have been some nasty ones, I'm happy!

I could say it all started 30+ years ago or today. I am not sure if that really maters what point in space and time I got happy anyway. The point is I'm happy. There is an ancient recipe for happiness out there. You can even get it for free! No one is more amazed by this process than me. I spent a lot of my life angry and unhappy because of things not going my way or not having something I thought was important. Here is what is important:

The four noble truths.
1. Everybody everywhere suffers.
2. There is the origin of suffering, which is attachment to desire.
3. Cessation of Suffering, Desire should be let go of.
4. The Noble Eightfold Path(how to for Buddhists closely related to the precepts): Right View, Right Intention, Right Speech, Right Action, Right Livelihood, Right Effort, Right Mindfulness and Right Concentration.

All of this deserves explanation in detail. You deserve to discover what it means it for your self.


Wednesday, September 20, 2006


There is a lot of stuff going around in the blogs I read that I am having a hard time with.
I am not sure if it is my own ego that is judging it or other egos affecting my judgment. Since my confession I have been trying to keep my own comments on teachers in check but I am beginning to go back to Buddha’s final words “be a lamp unto your self”.

It is my understanding that part of the middle way is to try and take the third position.
These internet masters of late seem to be more concerned with them selves than saving all sentient beings. This concerns me. I think the truth is out there but it is getting buried in a bunch of useless delusion. It is my deepest hope and sincere wish that all of these teachers try and get back to the great mater.


Saturday, September 16, 2006

Oumano Oyako & Yuyaekoyake

After learning Hinamaru I immersed myself in Oumano Oyako by practicing and listining to it in my car on the way to work. there is allot of high register notes on this song and I struggled with it for about two weeks. After I finally got it down pat I moved on to Yuyaekoyake and nailed it on the second try. Kutsuganaru is proving to be a bit more challenging as there are allot of timing changes that I am not accustomed to making. I am sure it wont take two weeks to get down. In about three more songs I will have to start working on my Ri no meri so any help on meri and chumeri and go no ha I can get would be great.

Monday, September 11, 2006


I have recently become aware of my own shortcomings and want to set it straight.

From time to time I find something that dose not fit into my box for what right practice is.
Then I read from the Shobogenzo "Remember, the true real function is beyond the momentary manifestation of sounds and sights, and the real preaching of the Dharma has no set form...If you want to realize the Buddha-nature, you must first get rid of selfish pride” I have indeed been full of selfish pride and resolve to be more open in the future.

While I may not agree with playing organs or charging membership dues, the preaching of the Dharma is what is important. If playing organs, or charging membership dues gets the Dharma out there than go for it. I still think that singing to organ music is not for me and I wont pay to be a part of a Sangha except what I give in dana, but hey that is what I do.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Class at the Priory

Ok I went to the priory tonight for the intro to our practice and again I found something disturbing, maybe I am totally deluded or in delusion facing delusion, Maybe I am a hungry ghost or angry daemon or even an animal, but my gut tells me that singing, chanting and just about anything we do as Buddhists that dose not transcend all cultures is pretty much just window dressing or worse a distraction from the main truth and saving all sentient beings.

Buddha sat; this was the actualization of Zen. Buddha gave Dharma talks this is the teaching of Buddhism. WHY CAN WE AS BUDDHISTS NOT STICK TO THE BAISICS!!!.

PLEASE tell me there is someone out there who is not trying to church it up.

I believe I do have good council there but I am not sure if I can hang with the whole organ music and singing like a church group thing. Boo!

I am still going to the Priory and am enjoying the benifit of their company. The will to the truth is there, and so am I.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Found, good council!

Well I had nearly given up but I found a place near me that has got it right.
I can not explain with words how happy I am to have found the Portland Buddhist Priory.
I had a talk earlier last week with a Novice Monk and had a good feel for the place. I spoke with the Master today and it only confirmed my thoughts. I feel great about this one. Of course I am going to their obligatory "Intro to our practice" on Thursday but I am truly looking forward to joining a Sanga and getting the truth from without as well as within.

I had been to other Zen centers in the area and they did not feel right to me and I had nearly given up looking. Thanks to good ole Brad Warner I stayed at it. He will probably never see this but, Thanks Brad!

For those of you still looking or that have given up entirely, there is good council out there and yes some of them do have websites!


Saturday, August 26, 2006


I have been Making noise on the Shakuhachi for almost a year now and I am finaly able to play my first song. I had a few Japanese people on hand to authenticate me getting the song correct. It is a short song only 28 beats, but I am very hapy to have learned to play it. Of course when I tried to play this morning without warming up, Going from low to high registers sounded badly. A lesson learned here. In my daily Zazen practice If I dont do some streaching and "warming up" before I sit I will often find I have pain in my joints or my legs fall asleep. This causes my concentration to go badly. So warm up, Than practice.

Friday, August 25, 2006

More on pain

To review what Nishijima Roshi said:

"The ultimate method to overcome pain

(1) Don't have intention to overcome pain.

(2) Don't fear pain emotionally.

(3) Accept pain as it is.

(4) Just endure pain at the present moment."

This turns out to be a litle harder than it sounds, Here is my experiance so far, I saw the Navy Corpsman who said I would not be running for about six weeks, (boo) and the pain seemed nearly unbearable. It hurt enough for me to take the Corpsmans advice and see a real Doctor that afternoon. He in turn told me that I scould not be running for about TEN DAYS. Today my legs feel much beter.
The lesson I have learned from all this it that even though I was trying not to be emotionaly involved with my pain and to accept it as it was it hurt more because of my precived inability to go out and run. Next step? More Zazen!

Wednesday, August 23, 2006


I am in pain.
I know how I arrived at this pain.
I am not exaggerating this pain.
This pain is making right concentration very difficult.

I always thought that when one of my marines had "shin splints" that they were full of shit and should drink some water and get over their wimpy little attitude.

I did a five mile run on Friday. Not fast, really quite slow. Over the weekend my shins were sore but the pain was tolerable. On Monday I did a three mile interval run where I would jog for two minutes and run fast for one minuet. That evening I hurt bad enough for it to be noticeable even the next day. Today I had intended to go on a medium pace three mile run and could not even finish it.

Disturbed, I went to see the Corpsman. The "Doc" said that there are two possible explanations and assured me that I was not just being a pussy. Explanation one is that there are hairline fractures on my shins. Ouch. Explanation two is that the muscles on the front part of my leg are pulling away from the bone. Boo, gross even. He also said that I should see a real doctor so I scheduled an appointment for tonight.

This reminded me of Nishijima Roshi's "Zazen, a better way of experiancing pain" So I re-read the article and am trying to not be emotionally involved with the mussel separating from bone in my leg. This is more difficult than it sounds but I think it is working for me. Except when I get up and walk. I am interested in what the Doctor will say. I will let you know.