This is my latest Sumi-e image of my enso "Circle of Serenity" which includes my given Zen ideograph and seal and will form my logo for my new watercolour gallery "Enso Gallery" which I hope to open here at my home in mid-June.
These photographs are of the Zaike Tokudo Group all of whom took their Bodhisattva vows together at the Salt Spring Centre of Yoga on November 15, 2015. The ceremony was quite beautiful and will be in my heart for ever. Norman Fischer presided, assisted by Peter Levitt, our teacher, and Judith Daylen acted as jisha for Norman.
I have been given the gift of a new name today. It is Kõya Shõsei and translates to 'open field, illuminating vow'. With this beautiful name came a profound poem, which I am slowly beginning to absorb into my being:
The heart holds no obstruction,
the formless field is revealed.
Vow illuminates what we have
always been, clarifies our seeing,
and the seen. Life is fleeting;
there is only the gentle doing now,
the soft voice of winter stillness
sings the dharma blossoms of spring.
I have received the Zen Buddhist precepts today and am now a lay Zen Buddhist practitioner. Now my life begins!
Today saw the culmination of an amazing journey on my Jukai path. I finished this rakusu at lunchtime and have had such warm feelings of relief and accomplishment. There have been moments along the way when I was tempted to throw the whole project out of the window, when just one more jab of the needle in my fingers would be the final straw. But there were also moments of peace and quietude when the stitches seemed to flow into place effortlessly. I had time to reflect on the vows I am about to take in November, and realized that this whole process was the Precepts in action.
I am studying Shohaku Okamura's Realizing Genjokoan and have made a small step forward in my understanding of "to study the Buddha Way is to study the self. To study the self is to forget the self. To forget the self is to be verified by all things. To be verified by all things is to let the body and mind of the self and the body and mind of others drop off..."
My daily meditation or zazen is the time when I study myself to forget myself, in spite of the myriad thoughts that whirl around me. I am realizing that through zazen I can begin to feel the interdependence of all beings. We are living in times of rapid climate change which must inevitably mean that our relationship with the earth, with nature, with animals and fellow human beings must become one if we are to survive. Sitting in zazen is not a time to contemplate these things, but a time when one realizes the dropping off of the separation between oneself and others - others being other human beings, animals, nature and the planet.
As I study the Precepts, I am allowing their light and guidance into my daily life. Today I stepped out and had coffee with a new friend. We shared our enthusiasms, our hopes, our shortcomings, our humor and so much more. Where will this encounter lead us as she steps away for a long hiking tour in Europe, and I continue to sew, paint and enjoy the warmth of summer on Pender Island? Will we meet again? Will we share again? I shall follow her journal on Facebook and just maybe our paths will cross once more.
Understanding the Practice of Zen Meditation
"When you give yourself to practice through and through, which means through and beyond feelings and thoughts, little by little you begin to allow something great to surface, something without beginning or end. That's as it is."
"In traditional Zen spirit we don't emphasize the stages in meditation practice or anything we think we've gained. We emphasize having strong confidence in our original nature. That's the spirit of Zen, and this confidence unfolds through the cultivation of practice."
(No Beginning, No End - The Ultimate Heart of Zen by Jakusho Kwong)