Death: Not What It Seems


Finish Line: Overnight Suicide Prevention Walk San Diego 2017

After today’s meditation in our Blue Sky Zen Morning Service, I’m convinced that Death, once the “dust” and the emotional reaction to dying, settles, feels like meditation.

That to be dead is to be pure awareness, consciousness so vast that it perceives itself.

It hears the birds, and the neighbors walking by, and those sounds are oneself. It sees bugs crawling on the flowers on the altar, and it is the bug and the flower too, which now fills the awareness for love, in love with its own beingness.

There is no need for embodiment, for movement is in the awareness, and it is everywhere. Embodiment into form is actually a type of prison, and formalization, a containment into individuality, that which is not individual in its fullest form.

I’m afraid of the pain of dying, the loss of my attachments and loves, but truly, nothing is ever lost. All of our dead beloveds are right here, in the space between our atoms, our cells, the molecules that individuate us, and all the space in between.

Death is a grieving of a loss of companionship in individuated form. But that person is still here, still integrated into the vastness of consciousness.

I had a dream once that I was in a car that plunged off a cliff.   I was in the passenger seat, terrified as we crashed and died. But the dream didn’t end there. Then, I was dead, but it was hilarious. All I could do was laugh, because my fear had been so ridiculous, for everything was already the same. Just no particular body.

It might take some time for this insight to be integrated into daily consciousness, but it’s a relief, and it’s a biggie.

OASIS: Photography From Around The World


Awe inspiring waterfalls of lush abundance in Multnomah near Portland, Oregon.

OASIS is an online gallery of galleries — curated photos of inspirational places from around the world.  Visions from my eyes to yours. You’re welcome to join and receive updates when a new place is added. My aim is to leave the viewer refreshed, with a greater sense of wonder.


Torrey Pines State Park is a majestic coastal sweep in Southern California.


The Japanese Zen Garden in Portland is an exquisite haven of tranquility and harmony.


Before you know what kindness really is
you must lose things,
feel the future dissolve in a moment
like salt in a weakened broth.
What you
kindnessheld in your hand,
what you counted a
nd carefully saved,
all this must go so you know
how desolate the landscape can be
between the regions of kindness.
How you ride and ride
thinking the bus will never stop,
the passengers eatin
g maize and chicken
will stare out the window forever.

Before you learn the tender gravity of kindness,
you must travel where the Indian in a white poncho
lies dead by the side of the road.
You must see how this could be you,
how he too was someone
who journeyed through the night with plans
and the simple breath that kept him alive.

Before you know kindness as the deepest thing inside,
you must know sorrow as the other deepest thing.
You must wake up with sorrow.
You must speak to it till your voice
catches the thread of all sorrows
and you see the size of the cloth.

Then it is only kindness that makes sense anymore,
only kindness that ties your shoes
and sends you out into the day to mail letters and
purchase bread,
only kindness that raises its head
from the crowd of the world to say
it is I you have been looking for,
and then goes with you every where
like a shadow or a friend.

Is Buddhism A Religion?

christandbuddhahuggingIt depends on who you ask. That is, it depends upon the form and the way Buddhism is practiced. For some, yes, it is religion. For others, no. Those of us that practice  Buddhism as a non-religion tend to look upon those that practice religious forms as good Buddhists who are nonetheless either incapable of actualizing, or otherwise missing the ultimate, non-dual point of the Buddha’s teachings. This may seem to be a put-down, but it is not intended as one. Just as there are Catholics and Greek Orthodox who are extremely traditional and rule-oriented versus, say, a Gnostic Christian who follows the spirit, rather than the letter of the scriptural law, there are Buddhists who are rule-oriented and scripturally bound.

Telepathy & The True Nature Of Reality


The reason that science hasn’t been able to test telepathy is because they’re looking for the wrong thing. Telepathy isn’t about transmitting messages. In telepathy, there isn’t technically a sender and a receiver. This is because telepathy exists outside of time, in that non-local soup where all our consciousnesses connect.

The Japanese concept of Ishin- is closer to what telepathy actually is than a transmission of messages. It means ‘unspoken mutual understanding’, and is often translated as ‘heart to heart communication.’ In Zen, it means ‘direct mind transmission’, and it is indeed through Zen that this concept found its way into Japanese culture, via China, from India, where Ishin-denshin referred to the first Dharma transmission between Gautama Buddha and Mahākāśyapa in the Flower Sermon.

Our Native Americans Need Support!


Ways To Help:14379799_10101559799945478_6440149618203633204_o

Sign the petition to the White House to Stop DAPL:…/stop-construction-dakota…

Donate to support the Standing Rock Sioux at…/standing-rock-sioux-tribe–dakot…/

Donate items from the Sacred Stone Camp Supply List:

Call the White House at (202) 456-1111 or (202) 456-1414. Tell President Obama to rescind the Army Corps of Engineers’ Permit for the Dakota Access Pipeline.

Contribute to the Sacred Stone Camp Legal Defense Fund:

Contribute to the Sacred Stone Camp gofundme account:

Call the Army Corps of Engineers and demand that they reverse the permit: (202) 761-5903

Sign other petitions asking President Obama to stop the Dakota Access Pipeline. Here’s the latest to cross my desk –

Call the executives of the companies that are building the pipeline:

a. Lee Hanse
Executive Vice President
Energy Transfer Partners, L.P.
800 E Sonterra Blvd #400
San Antonio, Texas 78258
Telephone: (210) 403-6455

b. Glenn Emery
Vice President
Energy Transfer Partners, L.P.
800 E Sonterra Blvd #400
San Antonio, Texas 78258
Telephone: (210) 403-6762

c. Michael (Cliff) Waters
Lead Analyst
Energy Transfer Partners, L.P.
1300 Main St.
Houston, Texas 77002
Telephone: (713) 989-2404

(Reposted from Myke & World Indigenous News )


When settlers arrived in America, they killed the natives. Those they couldn’t kill, they made treaties with. All those treaties were broken, and Indians were placed on reservations thereafter, where their mental and physical health began a steep decline.


(Partial Reprint From Wikipedia – ReZpect Our Water)

In the summer of 2016, a group of youths from Standing Rock ran from North Dakota to Washington, D.C., to present a petition in protest of the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline. The petition was delivered as part of the international campaign called ReZpect our Water.[6] The tribe believes that the pipeline would put the Missouri river, the water source for the reservation, at risk. Defending their case they point out two recent spills, a 2010 pipeline spill into the Kalamazoo River in Michigan which costs over $1 billion to clean up with significant contanimation remaining and a Bakken crude oil spill into the Yellowstone River in Montana in 2015.[6][7][8] The Tribe is also concerned that the pipeline route may run through Souix sacred sites. In August 2016 protests were held, halting a portion of the pipeline near Cannon Ball, North Dakota.[9][10] Peaceful protests continued and drew indigenous people from throughout North America as well as other supporters. As of September, the protest constitutes the single largest gathering of Native Americans in more than 100 years.[11] A number of planned arrests occurred when people locked themselves to heavy machinery.[12]

Security workers use dogs and pepper spray

On September 3, 2016, the Labor Day holiday weekend, the Dakota Access Pipeline brought in a private security firm when the company used bulldozers to dig up part of the pipeline route that contained possible Native graves and burial artifacts and was subject to a pending injunction motion. The bulldozers arrived within a day from when the tribe filed legal action.[13] Energy Transfer bulldozers cut a two mile (3200 m) long, 150 foot (45 m) wide path through the contested area.[14] When unarmed protesters moved in to stop the bulldozers, the guards used pepper spray and guard dogs to attack. At least six protesters were treated for dog bites and an estimated 30 protesters were pepper sprayed before the security guards and their dogs exited the scene in trucks. A woman that had taken part in the incident stated, “The cops watched the whole thing from up on the hills. It felt like they were trying to provoke us into being violent when we’re peaceful.” [15]

Frost Kennels of Hartville Ohio acknowledged that they were involved in the incident on September 3.[16] Geoff Dutton, executive director for Private Investigator Security Guard Services, said Frost Kennels and its owner Bob Frost are not licensed by the state of Ohio to provide security services or guard dogs. The Morton County Sheriff Kyle Kirchmeier said they were investigating both sides in the incident, including wounds inflicted by the dogs, and that they had no prior knowledge of the use of dogs until a 911 call was made. Kirchmeier was questioned as to why the deputies that witnessed the incident did not intervene. He said, “The agency’s goal is making sure everyone is safe, including officers. We’re not going to put them into a situation to where injuries could happen or if they’re not at a point where they have to escalate the use of force, it is not worth it at that point.”[16] In a press release Sheriff Kirchmeier stated that according to the security officers hired by the pipeline the protestors were violent using fence posts and flag poles to jab and hit at them and knives were pulled on them as well. Kirchmeier said:

Any suggestion that today’s event was a peaceful protest, is false. This was more like a riot than a protest. Individuals crossed onto private property and accosted private security officers with wooden posts and flag poles. The aggression and violence displayed here today is unlawful and should not be repeated. While no arrests were made at the scene, we are actively investigating the incident and individuals who organized and participated in this unlawful event.[17]

The entire incident was filmed by a crew from Democracy Now![14] and is also available at Youtube.[18] Footage shows several people with dog bites and a dog with blood on its muzzle. Speaking on Democracy Now! on September 4, longtime activist Winona LaDuke said, “North Dakota regulators are really, I would say, in bed with the oil industry and so they have looked the other way.”[14]

On September 7 a North Dakota judge issued a warrant for the arrest of Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein and her running mate Ajamu Baraka in Morton County with misdemeanor counts of criminal trespass and criminal mischief. Stein spray painted “I approve this message” and Baraka wrote the word “decolonize” on a bulldozer.[19][20] A warrant for the arrest of the journalist responsible for the dissemination of the video (Amy Goodman of Democracy Now!) was also issued by Morton County on September 8.[21][22]


After viewing footage of the attack a law enforcement consultant who trains police dogs called it “absolutely appalling” and “reprehensible”. “Taking bite dogs and putting them at the end of a leash to intimidate, threaten and prevent crime is not appropriate.”[16]

The American Civil Liberties Union of North Dakota spoke out against the use of dogs and pepper spray as well. They asked that the state officials “treat everyone fairly and equally.” [16]

A former K-9 officer for the Grand Forks Police Department who now owns a security firm which uses dogs for drug detection said after viewing footage of the incident, “It reminded me of the civil rights movement back in the ’60s. “I didn’t think it was appropriate. They were overwhelmed and it just wasn’t proper use of the dogs.”[16]

The federal government has ‘paused’ all work, but the situation remains unclear.

Your Place In The Family Of Things

You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
for a hundred miles through the desert, repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.
Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you turtles hatch and waddle to sea, as seabirds circle above. Cabo San Lucas, Mexico, 2014
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes,
over the prairies and the deep trees,
the mountains and the rivers.
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
are heading home again.
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting –
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things.”
Mary Oliver

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.