Mystery: what happened to Chahnez El Mokadem?

28848_100169973362963_2931767_nThe lovely person in the picture died sometime before June of 2015, presumably in France, but location of her death, or why she died at such a young age, is a mystery, and it weighs heavily on me.

She was my friend from a long time ago, in the days before the Internet. We lost touch. It bothers me that I can’t find any reference to her manner of death. It’s not normal to die at 46 in France. I’d like to know that she was remembered by someone. Her memorial Facebook page is empty of any close friends or family. None of the area newspapers, or papers in Paris, carry an obituary for her.  According to the Cannes Soleil published in May 2015 by the Ville de Cannes and available online, Chanez El Mokadem is among those ‘no longer with us.’

Chahnez last lived in Cagny-Sur-Mer in France, where she had incorporated her own business. It closed in 2014. Before Cagny, she lived most of her life in Paris, where we were friends. She was of Algerian descent, born around 1970. In France, or in Algeria, I am not sure. Any information on her death, please let me know at I’m grateful for your reply.  If nobody wrote a death notice, I will compose a tribute for the papers where she lived. Surely she would be missed by many, if they knew she’d died.

May her spirit rest in peace.


CHAHNEZ EL MOKADEM: Que lui est-il arrive?

La belle personne sur la photo est morte entre 2014 et 2015, probablement en France, mais l’endroit de sa mort, ou pourquoi elle est morte si jeune, est un mystère qui pèse lourdement sur mon ésprit.

Elle était ma copine dans l’epoch avant l’Internet. Nous avons perdu contact. Cela me dérange 28848_100170176696276_4801305_nque je ne peux trouver aucune référence à sa manière de décès. Il me parait que ce n’est pas normale, de mourir à 46 ans, en France, sans aucune avis dans les journaux locaux. Je voudrais savoir qu’elle a été rappelée par quelqu’un. Sa page de Facebook est maintenant vide des amis proches, ou de sa famille. Aucun des journaux de la région ou de papiers à Paris, portent une nécrologie. Selon le Cannes Soleil publié en mai 2015 de la parte de la Ville de Cannes, Chahnez El Mokadem est parmi ‘ceux qui ne sont plus avec nous’. La liste est longue, sans explication.

Chahnez vivait et travaillait récemment dans Cagny-Sur-Mer en France. Sa boite était fermée en 2014. Avant de Cagny, Madame El Mokadem a vécu la majorité de sa vie à Paris, où nous étions amies. Elle était d’origine algérienne, née vers 1970, en France, ou en Algérie — je ne suis pas sûr. Toutes informations sur son décès seraient beaucoup appréciées. Ecrivez-moi, s’il vous plaît, à Je suis reconnaissant pour votre réponse. Si personne a écrit un avis de décès, je composerai un hommage pour elle.

Qu’elle repose en paix.


What is Zen?

BodhidharmabyYoshitoshi1887Some forms of Buddhism center on monastic practice, or other aspects of the Buddha’s teachings, but Zen centers on meditation and mindfulness. It is a word that comes to us from the word Dhyana, which is Sanskrit for meditation. When Bodhidharma* brought Buddhist meditation from India to China around 527 AD, the word dhyana  was translated by the local Chinese to ch’an. From China, Buddhist meditation spread to Korea and Japan, where ch’an was pronounced by the locals as son and zen, respectively. Blame the habits of the human tongue and palate, then, for the exotics, because the word zen simply means meditation.

However, there are implications to the word. Consider the Buddha himself, with his exquisite Flower Sermon, understood only by his disciple Mahākāśyapa.  Ananda was the Buddha’s cousin and principle attendant, and stood out for his retentive memory. Ananda wrote down all the teachings he heard,  passing on the Sūtra Piṭaka (The sayings and discourses of the Buddha, plus poetry) part of the Pali Canon, the earliest written form of the Buddha’s Teachings. But Ananda, who was known for being well-liked, was not the most realized of the Buddha’s disciples.

It is  Mahākāśyapa, the one who understood the wordless teaching of the Flower Sermon,  that inherited the dhyana meditation lineage. When we read the lineage chant at evening service, we are, ideally, reading a list of unbroken telepathically transmitted enlightenment.

When a person consciously holding the Buddha’s transmission is leading a retreat, offering a Mondo session,  conducting an interview, or walking down the street and greeting people, (s)he transmits more than just words or instruction. There is both exoteric transmission, and esoteric transmission underway. It is a face-to-face transmission, best understood by the idea of one candle lighting another.

In this way, meditation, and various understandings and other transmissions of dharma (which basically refers to fundamental mechanics of nature and the universe, often briefly defined as ‘truth’) are passed on from teacher to student, down the line of time. From Bodhidharma’s Chinese lineage, it was Nampo Shomyo Zenji (Chanshi, Zenji, see the pattern?) who brought the Buddha’s transmission to Japan. And from Japan, it is Junpo Kelly Roshi, my Zen Master, that has transformed this living tradition into a more palatable vehicle, leaving out the racism, misogyny, rigidity and any non-inclusive and unnecessary traits, and refocusing the order on meditation: the Buddha’s dhyana, or zen.

So that’s zen – basically a huge, psychic game of telephone from around 500 B.C. Pretty cool, huh?

*Bodhidharma is known to my order as Pu Ti Ta Mo Chanshi, the 29th Zen Master in our Hollow Bones Rinzai Zen Lineage.

Erotic Phalaenopsis

OrchidSuch delicious tension
In the essence of orchid.
The intensity to every petal
stem and leaf
move me, as this being
arches, strains and grows,
ever increasing its own vibration,
blooming into a saturation of light.
See the dew drops shivering
On each humming filament
Of orchid-hood.
See its callus dangling erect
Like a clitoris on fire,
each phallus of buds rising, despite the
weight of its own future lusciousness.
Oh, the erotic tension of an orchid!
Male and female in one peaking display:
Life’s profusion represented
in one aching, exquisite form.

Agnosticm – admitting what we might not know

Idon'tknowTo some, being agnostic, or admitting you don’t know, seems a position of weakness. But let’s think about it. Being uncertain is uncomfortable. Not knowing – whether we’re talking about the existence of ‘God’, the love someone else feels for us, or the nature of reality, is uncomfortable. It’s not for the weak of heart.

Is your spirituality Maverick or Custodial?


Not Here {by RUMI}

TherGreeningCoppere’s courage involved if you want
to become truth.  There is a broken-

open place in a lover.  Where are
those qualities of bravery and sharp

compassion in this group?  What’s the
use of old and frozen thought?  I want

a howling hurt.  This is not a treasury
where gold is stored; this is for copper.

We alchemists look for talent that
can heat up and change.  Lukewarm

won’t do.  Halfhearted holding back,
well-enough getting by?  Not here.

There’s a shredding that’s really
a healing, that makes you more alive!

For safekeeping, gold is hidden in a desolate place, wheregold
no one ever goes, not

in a familiar, easy-to-get-to spot.  The proverb goes, Joy
lives concealed in grief.

I saw grief drinking a cup of sorrow
And called out, “It tastes sweet, does it not?”

“You’ve caught me,” grief answered, “and
you’ve ruined my business.  How can I

sell sorrow, when you know it’s a blessing?”

Sub-personalities & Integration

Ken Wilber Quote on Sub PersonalitiesAuthorities on the subject say that every adult has at least 12 subpersonalities, and often more. In extreme situations, these subselves might become completely dissociated, resulting in Multiple Personality Disorder. But in most cases, we simply dissociate, or ‘split off’, parts of ourselves, as a defense mechanism, or as a result of internalization of a role we play.

Nondual Q & A

IMG_3882I asked a master
What is bondage?
She said:  The belief that what you perceive with your senses is real.

I asked a master
What is family?
He said:  The three jewels, not the double strands.

I asked a master
What is commerce?
She said:  Exchanging what is wanted for what you want.

I asked a master
What is friendship?
He said:  It is commerce.

I asked a masterDSC_2044
What is kin?
She said:  It is fire that warms, transforms, deforms or destroys.

I asked a master
What is happiness?
She said:  It is peace.

I asked a master
What is birth, and what is death?
He said:  It is life.

I asked a master
What is change?
She said:  It is samsara.

I asked a master
What is attachment?
He said:  It is fear.

I asked a master
What is fear?
He said:  It is a mirror that points to your death and shows you the path to freedom.

I asked a master
What is love?
She said:  That which sets you free.

I asked the master
Knowing all of this, what should I do?
They smiled,  turned, and walked away.

What does ‘jihad’ mean? Test your Muslim IQ

With so-called terrorism in the news daily, it’s important to be educated about Islam, rather than simply terrified by a bogey monster named ‘Muslims’. Let’s start with what the recent attacks in the USA, Germany and France aren‘t. Jihad, which we’ve come to understand in the West as the ‘holy war’ championed by Muslim terrorists, actually means ‘struggle.’ Although it fills many of us with alarm, dismay and judgment about the religion, jihad is intended to improve oneself and society as a fundamental religious duty.

The word ‘Allah’ or ‘God’, written in Arabic outside the floating mosque in Thailand’s Andaman Sea.

There are four major categories of Jihad: jihad against one’s self, jihad of the tongue, jihad of the hand, and jihad of the sword. There is a source text that quotes Mohammad the Prophet referring to Jihad against oneself as the ‘greater jihad’, with all other external forms being ‘lesser’. The practice of ‘inner jihad’ is one of the most universally applicable teachings of Islam.

Imagine how much pain and suffering in the world that could be alleviated if we went to war with our lower natures, instead of with each other.We all struggle with ourselves every day – we are our own most worthy opponents, and often our own worst enemy. It is easy to project our issues onto the external world, and to blame others for our misery, suffering, and problems. But in truth, if we learn to take responsibility for everything that happens to us, we will mature more quickly as spiritual beings.
Hate has never yet dispelled hate. If you don’t believe me, read the Christ’s words, or the Buddha’s. Only love dispels hate. This is the truth, ancient and inexhaustible. Adults have at least 12 sub-personalities. It takes a village of subpersonalities to raise an inner child. That is struggle enough, for a lifetime. There is no need to quarrel with the multitudes within others. When we hurt others with righteous justification or vengeance to accomplish an external victory, the ‘victory’ is an empty one. When the external oppressor is gone, the internal oppressor remains. Wherever we go, there we are.On the other hand, when we conquer ourselves, we become more pure, more enlightened and more free. We are able then to inspire others, and to cause external change from a much more powerful position – by our own example. People resent externally imposed change, but when change is inspired to come from within, it sticks.
Transformation of self and struggle against one’s ego and one’s lower nature is truly the noblest form of jihad. If we are going to practice religions, we should be sure we are practicing them for ourselves, and not for anyone else, else, it is moral hypocrisy. If anyone is out there counting sins, you can be sure that the weight of the heart will determine the fate of the spirit.