Saturday, 23 October 2010

This mind of mine.

Well, I'm still struggling with this wall of noise between my ears. I know it shouldn't be a struggle, just a calm letting go, but I struggle with it. Sometimes I can sit so well, in utter silence of the mind, and then at other times it's as if there is a troop of chattering monkeys marauding around the inside of my head. My teacher said that the first step is to recognise the malaise of mind. Then to believe that it can be overcome, and then to engage in a practice which can bring it to an end.

Wednesday, 25 August 2010

A visit with Nishijima Roshi.

I finally got to visit Gudo Wafu Nishijima Roshi in recent days. An amazing man for his 90 years. He asked me to wait at a train station near his home in Tokyo and said he would come to meet me and bring me to his apartment. I was shocked when I saw him, tiny and bent double on his walking stick. I thought he'd be more spritely, given that he was happy to come to meet me. We greeted each other and began the walk to his apartment, which was only a short distance from the station.

Friday, 9 July 2010

I might have found a teacher.

I had a fortuitous and totally unexpected phone conversation with Nishijima-san, the Tokyo-based Soto monk and founder of Dogen Sangha. During our conversation I told him that I can't find a teacher and he offered to teach me and has invited me to Tokyo to meet him and "study Buddhism together". I have accepted his offer and I will make arrangements to go as see him hopefully some time this month.

Saturday, 29 May 2010

A strange sitting indeed.

I went to Eiheiji Nagoya Betsuin (永平寺名古屋別院) today in the hope that I could join their zazenkai, but I got the timing wrong, again, and there was no sitting. However, the monk at my usual temple told me that the zendo at Eiheiji Nagoya Betsuin is always open, so I asked if I could sit alone, but the monk I spoke to told me that I couldn't use the zendo and offered to let me sit in the hatto, the main temple. Well, I had arranged a meeting for two hours afterwards so I was happy to be able to sit, rather than find a coffee shop and sit around twiddling my thumbs, so I accepted the offer.

Friday, 14 May 2010

Some photos of the uni zendo

I finally managed to get into the university zendo by myself today after my class finished. Now that I've done it, it seems that it won't be a problem to go every week. I brought my phone in to use as a timer, and I used it to take the photos, so they're not the best quality, but you'll get an idea of what the place looks like. What's really cool about it is that it's quite far from any roads, so there's virtually no traffic noise, or any noise for that matter, apart from the trees blowing in the wind and the distant voices of the students moving around the campus.

Wednesday, 12 May 2010

University zazenkai yesterday.

There is a zazenkai open to the public on the second Tuesday of every month at the Soto Zen university I teach at, and I went there yesterday. It was the second time I've been, the first time being well over a year ago, maybe two. I should point out that I don't teach in the Zen faculty, but in the English language faculty. It is a standard university, with history, maths, computer and language faculties amongst others. It just happens to be run by the Soto Zen sect.

Monday, 10 May 2010

A definition of Zen.

This is the definition of Zen offered by the Aichi Gakuin University's Institute of Zen Studies in their introductory pamphlet. I liked it so much that I immediately thought of posting it here. It is as follows:

'Our daily life is under the complete influence of thoughts, ideas and conceptions, which are nothing but the outcome of the self-consciousness caused by various desires. The real life-to-be, or the real "I" cannot be anything conceived in our brain, but can be the real fact that "We are living". Needless to say, it comprises the personal building up of other's selves as well as one's own self. To attain this state, one should be devoted to the practice of "Zazen" with a pure motive and firm a determination.'

Wednesday, 5 May 2010

Got a job at a Zen university.

There's a Sotoshu university not too far from my house, just on the outskirts of Nagoya, and I've been lucky enough to secure a class there. I'll be teaching every Friday morning and then I'll be free for the rest of the day, which means I can make use of the zendo. If you follow the above link you'll see that there's in Institute of Zen Studies at the university. So far I've not met anyone involved directly in the Zen faculty, but I have asked the woman who is in the zendo office if I can use it and she said I can, and that I just need to get the key from her.

On another note, I've found out about a satellite temple of Eiheiji in Nagoya, about an hour from my house in Nagoya, less if I take the train. It's called Eiheiji Nagoya Betsuin (永平寺名古屋別院) and there are zazenkai every second and fourth Saturday of each month. I'll be joining the next one. 

Apparently they have a jukai ceremony every year, but I've also heard that it costs as much as $300 to participate. Certainly, between the university and this temple, I should be able to finally find a teacher and, I hope, gain some of the motivation I've been lacking this last while.

Saturday, 1 May 2010

Can't make it to a retreat.

I was hoping to join the Dogen Sangha retreat in Shizouka this weekend but life has conspired to keep me away from it. That's OK though, I'll be spending the time with my wife and kids, including a 7 hour return trip on Sunday, so it'll be a retreat in itself. If I can keep calm for the whole time I'll be proclaiming my achievement of Buddhahood to the world.

Monday, 8 March 2010

Being at ease right now.

It's easier to sit for forty minutes during the weekly zazenkais than while sitting by myself in the zendo. There is peer pressure in the zazenkais. I don't want to move and disturb the others. Nor do I want to seem weak, troublesome, not a good practitioner. When sitting alone it is easier to fidget, sniff freely or even lift one buttock off the zafu to fart.

Wednesday, 3 March 2010

Early to bed,early to rise, makes a man healthy and wise

Or so the saying goes. Right now, I'm feeling pretty shabby. I've a cold which I caught sitting in the zendo this last couple of mornings, and I'm tired, so much so that I'll be in bed in a few minutes, by 10:30pm.  I'll be at the zendo again in the morning, but dressed a bit warmer. We'd a couple of nice warm days recently so I wore my samue, but the last couple of days saw colder mornings.

Sunday, 28 February 2010

Rain and running water.

It was Sunday zanzenkai this morning and the heavens had opened on us overnight. At 5:30am I woke up, 30 minutes overslept, with only 25 minutes to get to the bell and drum to signal the start of the sitting. Because I'm sitting at the temple every morning now my samue was laid out in the spare room in my house, so getting dressed took just a minute. A quick bowl of cereal, a check of the football scores (English Premier League, Chelsea 2 - Man City 4!), and off to the car in the pouring rain.

Saturday, 27 February 2010

I don't like being me today.

I slept in this morning after going to bed too late last night after having a row with my wife for hogging the PC for most of yesterday. I was angry and rude to her last night and she didn't deserve it because she was right. My anger came about because I was caught lying. I was supposed to be doing research, not browsing aimlessly through the long list of Bookmarks on my browser. When she needed to use the PC I would quickly switch to MS Word and the document with two paragraphs that had taken me half a day to write.

Friday, 26 February 2010

Sitting alone.

I went to the temple 6:30am today to sit. It has been a grey, wet morning throughout, but the winter temperatures have left us and it's lovely and mild. I usually wear track bottoms and a top in winter, with several layers underneath to keep the cold from penetrating through to my skin, which it always manages to do, but from today I have started wearing my samue again, loose and light, very easy to sit in.

Thursday, 25 February 2010

Going to the zendo every morning during the holidays

The university holidays are very generous for me. I have two months off, so I'll be going to the zendo every morning for the next few weeks. I'll be alone, but that's fine by me. Sitting in the house in the morning is not an option given how frantic it is with the kids getting up. I'm off to bed now to get a good sleep before this new routine kicks off.

Sunday, 10 January 2010

This morning's zazenkai.

It's cold here and the Sunday morning zazenkais are becoming a test of physical endurance again. When we arrive at dawn at the temple everyone removes their socks, so everything is done barefooted. Thankfully this year there hasn't been snow, but it has been bitterly cold at 5:30am.