Thursday, June 21, 2018

Eat right Shit right.

Is this all there is to it? This is the top of mystic mountain, you say. How often does one gets here in a lifetime? Not so often? Well what does it takes? It takes work and commitment and passion and dedication and so forth...Sounds like old school to me! So what does it really takes. Common old guy, you know a thing or two let it out man! Share with the kid. Tell us how it is done in the Way of the Rambling MinD, school of thoughts. Don't die before you tell us, your little secret old man. LIke do you keep hearing music and birds singing in your head while others are running around like chicken without a head. How do you maintain, how do you conserve, how do you let go of what is irrelevant to your growth? All that kind of stuff you always talk about to us,  share it man what! 

Just breath, it is all in the breath and you can never go wrong! This is the simple truth about the Way of the Rambling Mind. Breath is like the swinging door, Zen story comes to mind everytime I decide to ramble on the the subject of Breath and breathing. I have written more than my share of idiocy in my blog to keep on repeating the same old anecdote every time an subject pops up in my mind. Just as you discover yourself in between the space of two breath where silence resides in the form of presence, I am there, this is me, this is who I am and who I will honor myself to become, I accept the role and the scepter of a healer of sorts. I will take on the role of handing out knowledge, firsthand second, second hand third hand even, so you who takes time enough to read this, deserves a chance at attaining liberation from this life, without, hanging or shooting yourself in the head or taking on massive doses of whatever it is that you take you sooth your nerves and calm you spirit.

IN the next instant all these thoughts will become memories and new ones will replace them with newer and better programs, update from Google. Oh I love my thoughts, don't get me wrong, my thoughts have been with ever since I received my first pain, the day i was born; when it hurts so bad , it got me to thinking. Till this day I am thinking, what is this all about?  So I listen to Peter Gabriel, Live -Red Rain, " Red rain is coming down red rain, red rain is going down, going down all over me... Over me...Red Rain." Where would I be but for my thoughts, I am here. Munching on some roasted long beans nuts, or kacang parang the Malays calls it, added a little salt to it to give it a kick. Not good for my high blood pressure, but.. a few grains here a tea spoon there, what the heck and now I am writing while waiting for my nephew and his children to drop by for a little visit, their first and so it is mine. And as Pink Floyd would have said it," the show must go on-n." Show Time!

What to show? Nothing out of the ordinary really except how to grow old elegantly, with pride and the dignity of a life well lived and for the benefit of all beings. What to show, but how to self heal one's mind and body through meditation and prayers, through scientific and biological understanding of the human body and brain. How does one incorporate Yoga and Quantum Physics. How does one recognize one's own 'Buddha Nature', or Ruhul kudus, one's Atman or who I truly am. I will soon die, but not before i have a thorough realization of what it is to have been alive as who I am. My name alone it meant nothing and my age it means less, I am just another soul drifting along this course of life and getting to know what it is a life to be empty of all consciousness, impulses, conceptions and perceptions, to free from imaginations and thought formations; without going through a lobotomy of the brain. Or in short how does one harness the power of one's understanding and transcend, this life of delusion and ignorance?

Perhaps I already have and just don't recognize it, like there is far greater explosion that is suppose to follow after every small self awakening experience. Highly doubtful, even if it does occur it will always be a personal experience that cannot be shared without loosing the essence of what was experienced. The power of healing happens from this bit of self realization of bodily functions as according to the right understanding of science and spirit. In the Zen tradition, "You eat right you shit right, you are alright!"       

Sunday, June 17, 2018

The Third Day of Eid Mubarak.

And on the third or is it fourth already of the Hari Raya, my lower back is seriously screaming murder! I cannot stand or sit without growling, but I can hear celebration going on in our neighborhood mosque; great to listen Malay oldies played on the loudspeaker, brings back fond memories of childhood days. In contrast, today I am rawling around the house sweeping and mopping, watering the plants outside and pick up here and there and Walla! My lower back feels better already. Nope, not really, the pain is still there and the caution word is, slow-motion. Every movement is a calculated risk with lower back pains, move with mindfulness. No sudden jerks and twists or getting up abruptly or sitting down, with lower back pain it is a matter of movement of your Chi or Ki or Prana or energy force that governs the flow of your bodily functions. Wake up one morning and and there it is, you do not at accident or lift up a piece of tissue carelessly and wham it hits you like a great cliche, a tone of bricks. It is agonizing to just sit and rise from the toilet bowl!

For those who have taken Yoga practices a little more seriously in their adult life, it is indeed a blessing for them as this awareness of the energy the permeates our entire system is paramount, only next to the awareness of breathing itself. All of existence is hinged upon one's breath for to stop breathing it all comes crumbling down seized out of existence; at least for you, it is game over and time to movee on to a better or worse pasture, all depends on Karma, dogma, and whatever charisma you may have that kept you going in life. But all is not fatal and hopeless, back ache or toothache it is all the matter of alignment of energy and matter, find the correct equilibrium and there is always and unobstructed flow of your inner energy at any part of you physical body; become more aware of your body engineering. 

As it is, I am having a difficulty leaning over to type on the keyboard without triggering a sharp shooting pain from my lower back area, on this third day of Hari Raya Aidil Fitri-2018. Every single drama that is played out has its significance in one 's own inner development, acceptance of these dramas as such helps to turn around the negative inot what is positive. This is when the human sludge is turned into manure for the fertility of the bed of ground that future generations will grow from; learn from the lessons and turn them into skilfull means of sharing and understanding. Presumptuous of me to assume people like to read what I write, but it helps me more so to understand my own interpretation of what is; reality, truth, iman or faith? 

I have no intention whatsoever to spread any religion whatsoever in my writings, I too am looking for answers and  for me the answers lies in my being involved total in this so called life of mine. As I said earlier, for those who practice Yoga of any form, Tai Chi or any numbers of movements to do some body works, it is a better and better understanding of the nature of pain and pleasure in its physical form. The movement and flow of energy or as the Malays calls it 'Angin' or wind and in the negative form. You have to learn to manage this energy flow and learn how to conserve as much as possible for emergency situations; accidents happens, and heart attack or stroke is till the number one killer. But why dwell on the dark side of the moon too much lets step into the light and expose ourselves for who we truly are, answer your own Koan, Who am I?

Who is breathing in and out, who is observing the one breathing and making a note of the experience or episode who is watching all these taking place ad infinitum. Find out who this who is perhaps I might still be able to heal my lower back after all what else is there to do? Time to ease myself carefully out of this chair and do a little walking next, stretching , maybe, but got to get out of this seat.. the Buddha's Dharma never took offence when now and then you take a peanut butter and bread, break from all this talk of pain and pleasure. I love peanut butter and jelly or chocolate all mixed in the bottle already. Like one thick spoonful after another just licking away. yeessir, nothing like the taste of peanut butter coursing down you throat and washed down with hot black sweet Nescafe. Such little miracles of life who could ask for more and outside the wind is blowing up a storm, it is as it should be...

Saturday, June 16, 2018

There's a time to be sowing and a time to be reaping...

All over the country in mosques and suraus the Takbir is heard as the end of the fasting month is greeted by Aidl Fitri, "Balik Kampung!" or back to the village to celebrate Eid Mubarak. I am supposed to be in the East Coast by early this morning celebrating my second day Raya with my brothers and sisters, but that was not meant to be. It did not happen because my nephew who sent me to the station and I sat and awited for my ride from 11pm. till 2;30 am and the Van that was supposed to take me to Kuala Terengganu was still running around picking up passengers. I got tired just from sitting by the curb sniffing bus fumes and finally accepted that fact that I am too old for these unnecessary ego trips. My body is sure as hell giving me warning signals of limitations in an ageing body. I chose to stay home instead and eal my back pain and migraine headache. It was actually a blessing in disguise now that I look back on it, I am glad I did not not take on the challenge, it would have wrecked my body and not to mention my mind and spirit. 8 Hours of sitting in the most uncomfortable seat of a Van and driving through the wee early morning across the Main Range, was not my cup of tea; I gave up.

Such Is! I burned RM83 and with the feeling that i have been ripped off by a ghost syndicate that takes advantage of the unwary and put people in misery waiting; I felt sorry for the foreign tourists being victimized like me, but at least i have a choice where they don't. We offer the poorest service sometimes in whatever that we do, often with total disregard of the well being of customers. Their comfort and safety, their being kept informed and updated of progress towards getting them on their way. No, I simply would rather admit to myself that i had been taken for a ride and consider it a gift to the dark side and retreat into the comfort of my cave and meditate and contemplate and hopefully become enlightened! Yeah, Right! I know, not to be kept in mind, this glamorous idea, being awakened and the rest of it as JK used to say...rubbish! This is all part and parcel of your mental perception, that which your mind has manifested through past conditionings and experiences, these and the expression of a thought, one single question, " Siapakah diri ini?" or Who am I? What brought me here? Why and how am I here? Before my final breath it would be nice to be able to hear or witness the answers for better or worse.


Friday, June 15, 2018

The last Day of Ramadan- Blues.

This I feel, will be the longest day of the month of Ramadan, the last day. the day of reckoning, to see if you make it or break it.; I broke it by smoking a joint, I do this now and then to help me let go of my mental inhibitions or jar the mind from being bogged down in a rut and singing over and over rudy toot toot to the moon, like a broken record; I have been a marijuana or cannabis user for more than 40 years of my adult life and four years of my childhood days. I grew up hanging around ganja smokers ever since i can remember. I used to have eyes like Capt. Jack Sparrow as a kid and they called me, "mata nishan" or stoned eyes. 

The Baharul Alam Soccer Club which is still standing today in its third generation series, was the children's hangout, like a magnet it attracts us to watch bellows of smoke pouring out of the smokers and they would blow it out at us, trying to drive us away, we stayed and became second hand smokers.  I do not need to justify myself to anyone not even to myself, I have enjoyed smoking pot, weed, spiff, joint-call it what you may, to me it its my medicine, my vitamin, my high blood control among other things I learned about it over the Internet and even way before; smoking ganja, or dam (dumb)  is like drinking tea, only a little stronger. 

Ya, I feel like I am half as good suddenly, the moment my mind opens another can of worms from the back of the closet. My favorite anecdote to this matter is the story I enjoy sharing about my encounter with my seventeen year old son, who flew halfway around the world from Berlin Germany to Malaysia, to a stop over in San Francisco on their way to Green Bay, Wisconsin and after that back to Berlin. ON one quiet moment my former wife, Nazri's mother told me seriously, "The school makes it mandatory that the father 'Dokusan' on drugs, use and abuse. Okayy! Yep, yep yep!, My son was a Battalion Commander of the Berlin American High School, ROTC. What can I possibly say to the kid? So we decide to drive to Green Gulch and hang out on the farm. When we got there my friend Peter Rudnick the Farm Head was there I introduce Peter to my son and we took a drive into the back of the fields in an old pickup truck with my son stuck in the middle between us. Peter parked the truck and pulled out a joint and lit after a puff or two passed it on to me and I took a drag or two and passed it to my son. I never saw a more speedy exit a kid could make trying to refuse to smoke, yelling no thanks dad... He was almost out of the truck and grabbed the neck of his thick Berlin American High School Jacket and yanked him back in. I looked into him and said,"If you can say no to your father, I don't see how you cannot say no to anyone else, now you can go run around with the dog. This is my talk with you about drugs." Today he is a Flight Captain for Emirates Air.

On this last day of the Ramadan, I wish you all SELAMAT HARI RAYA AIDIL FITRI! Yeah! I almost made it! I wish you all, my children, my siblings, my relatives and my friends, I wish you all Peace and Blessings and of the Lord's Grace, may it always be your guiding spirit within. And when you have found it, know that this too will pass, and this too will pass.


Thursday, June 14, 2018

Who wants to know?

Xian Tzu
2 hrs

When the wind howls shaking one's house to its very foundations, does yelling back at it do any help? or rather does sinking your foundations very deep and making your house very resilient, pliable and strong not mitigate and weaken the force of any wind that comes along?
The Buddha once said, “Anger is the wind that blows out the lamp of the mind.” Yelling at the wind, only fans the flames of anger.
Tian Xin.

This quote perhaps from one of the Chinese Chan masters was posted on my facebook link by Xian Tzu, about two hours ago. I enjoy receiving such quotes every so often and it helps me keep being reminded of my connectedness to the teaching of Buddhism or more closely Zen perception of what is. Off course others reminds me of how great the prophet was in His administration of the daily life of a Muslim, the Internet has allowed thoughts and aspirations to be shared in abundance from all corners of the world and from sources that one would never have thought possible. Quotes happens from the ancient Taoism to the modern scientists and philosophers and they each in their own way are meant to touch the right note in your heart and often times open a window in your sense of perception to see things in a newer and better view; there are those who even attained a Satori after stumbling upon a quote posted randomly on facebook. 

Astaghfirullah Al Ghofururrohim!
In the Name of Allah Subhana Watala, Lord of the Universe, , the Lord of Mercy and Compassion: in the Ninety Nine Beautiful Names of Allah.

Two more days left of the Ramadan, the fasting month, it seems just zipping by, poof one month went by where you did some mental and spiritual discipline as ordained in the scriptures. The you, is addressed at me, it is just the way I think and write, or so it seems. It has become a tedium, an effort to put in print what goes through my mind so I will take a break from this habit and visit my siblings on the second day of Hari Raya, first Raya in Penang, second day in Kuala Terengganu, InshaAllah! 
I do not look forward to the long 8 hours bus ride through the night from Georgetown to Kuala Terengganu, I always end up with a bad case of lower back pains a few days after, but, such Is! The Month of Ramadan this year is the most memorable month in a more positive way, especially in my spiritual purification, outer and inner being. It has brought even closer to The Lord, in Form and in Spirit; I feel His Presence in me and I can only say, Astaghfirullah, forgive me my Lord, forgive me my sins, big and small, known and unknown, committed and will be, I now fully avow...I surrender my being unto You. On the morning of the 27th of the month of Ramadan, I bear witness that there is No god! Only Allah (SWT) and that the Prophet Mohammad, is the messenger of Allah. 

Yes, there are times when the when things don't go well, there is something you can lay the ultimate blame on; God is not fair. This is when the simple practice of mindfulness in attention kicks in; caution, take a deep breath and don't get carried away trying to justify God; it is a losing game that the mind is so into and thus the Fasting Month. It is during the Fasting month that you get to confront your worse nightmare, and that is yourself. Your habits, your tendencies, your expectations and your dreams, your thoughts and ideas, your belief and faith, in short it is through fasting that you are forced to witness your nafs or ego. Even if the Buddhist mind says there is no self to cater to, the Muslim Spirit says only The Lord knows the Truth, the Reality, the Whole Story; my consciousness says it is the truth; I  am born again in mind body and spirit. I feel His Grace more than His Anger, more His Love and Compassion that His Wrath...or something to the effect...I like how I feel.

It is a tired feeling of fulfillment in some small ways, small miracles do happen if you are aware if and when it happens; this is Being in the Here and Now. The act of fasting, not eating or drinking or smoking or ingesting anything at all into the body from sunrise to sunset, is One Month Seshin as according to Zen Practice or any other Buddhist schools of Practice, Hinayana or Mahayana or Vajrayana, Ramadan is a month if intensive Practice on purifying the body mind and spirit. Bringing the Spirit closer to the Source of Power, knowing that without this Source of energy, life is lost, you just stop breathing, the curtain falls and end of story. And what have you to say for yourself, my friend? The 70 odd years of your allotted time on earth, what have you got to show for yourself? Any Legacies to speak of? Great accomplishments? Charitable, kind and full of human waste, at times but salvageable to turn to good manure for the next compost pile.  What did you do with your-Self? What silly questions? I stayed alive, keep figuring out, I keep asking questions I keep looking into my mind and discover if I can, who I truly am. How far or how near am I towards attaining the next level of spiritual attainment, or is there such a thing even as levels of attainment, to what? Awakening? Liberation? Heaven or Hell? 

Who is asking? The Monk asked?
Who is listening, the Master replied.

I just made that up.

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Still trying hard to make sense out of nonsense.

And how does one put meditation into everyday practice? How does one maintain an equilibrium throughout, body, mind and soul? How does one become totally absorbed in the here and now doing, sitting eating singing making lantern stars and painting the color of you rooms green? How does one become one with this act of doing instead of becoming an observer, a witness, standing apart from
that which is, reality itself?  How does one become one with God? The Divine Spirit, the Lord of the Universe, the Lord of power, the omnipresent omni Being Lord of Compassion and does remain attentive to this realization in everything one does?

During this month of Ramadan, the fasting month, it is said that all, devils and demons, all the evil ones are being temporarily imprisoned in hell throughout the duration of the Month of Ramadan. So in essence, any sin one commits is the result of one's own weaknesses and lack of faith or whatever else that one is inflicted with, There is none to blame no, devils or demons, n Jin or restless souls that is there for you to use as a scapegoat for your failings. It is a battle between you and your Nafs, or ego or lower self or the small mind, call it what you may, this is the Jihad the Prophet of God said that all man shall face even after they have won the battle of Badr. With victory there came greed over the spoils of war and so forth and so you may have won the external battle , you have yet to win the war within.

The advert Buddhists especially the Zen and Vajrayana schools of Buddhism has no such similar problem for there is no self to deal with in the first place. hence if you are a Muslim practicing the Buddha's approach to life you will have some reflections to do, No one can give the whole truth as to what is right or what is wrong but every once in a while you catch a glimpse for your self what is the right or real of reality itself. Science is close to confirming the we are all merely atoms, of waves and vibrations pulled together by gravity and so forth. in short we don't exist as who we think we are, we don't exist period. But as a lay person, bottom of the food chain kind of person who understands only the simple layman's ideas about life, I find it still hard to die and proof myself right, that i do not exist. Everytime I hear someone tells me he or she does not exist, i am tempted to reach over and grab their face covering their mouth and nose to stop them from breathing and when they struggle to be free i would ask, who is this struggling to stay alive?

Billions of Muslims since the days of the Prophet have believed in the afterlife and the days of judgement and heaven and hell, I should add that billions of Christians and Jews do too as according to their Holy books. How does this principle relate to the Buddhist believe in non-existence of the self or annata?

"Buddhism, the term anattā (Pali) or anātman (Sanskrit) refers to the doctrine of "non-self", that there is no unchanging, permanent self, soul or essence in living beings.[1][2] It is one of the seven beneficial perceptions in Buddhism,[3] and along with Dukkha (suffering) and  Anicca (impermanence), it is one of three Right Understanding."

As I have  mentioned in many of my past ramblings on this same subject, I tried to bring an understanding the correlates to this issue as viewed in Islam and that is Islam also at the end of the day suggests the state of fana' or total annihilation of the soul which returns unto its Owner, the Lord of Creation, AlaHak, the Owner. Hence the truth of the Oneness of Allah, without a second. For so long as there is you or I, and there is the worshipped there will always be two. Jesus is said to have said the one has to die a second death before one is purified before God...or something like that.

"The above two verses (13-14) are God’s Guarantee that when you first believed the **gospel** of your salvation, you were sealed by the Holy Spirit of promise until the time of your redemption, (until you are in heaven in the very presence of God).  You can never lose your salvation because you now belong to God, I Corinthians 6:19-20: 19 What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? 20 For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God's"

In my limited understanding, I have always been attracted by this principle as taught by Jesus or Isa alai Salam, ever since i first came across this gospel. However I feel like it is not a complete statement to say, "therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God's" It should, be "in your body , mind and spirit." Mind is the crucial ingredient that is missing in this verse. As we today have more than acknowledged the fact that our mind, plays a pivotal role in our choice making among other human traits and virtues that we have. Perhaps I am over zealous in trying to tie up the Judeo Christian and Islamic to the Buddhist concept of existence or Buddha Dharma. Perhaps it is my way justification of who i am at least in my perception at the thought level, knowing full well that the more i try the less i am convinced, myself.

Friday, June 08, 2018

My Twin and I

So, what just happened? I wrote something about self discovery and  was headed towards making a connection between Ramadan and my practice, or my way and poof! All gone! Now i am more determined to write what is actually transpiring in my mind and how i am dandling it; It is kinda exciting and yet a little too much to chew at times and sometimes it is nice! I realize how I worry myself about matters that are beyond my control and most that don't hold any reality in my consciousness; yep! I worry too much!
When I start using words like consciousness, I am having my anxiety attack! Words like reality and faith, just kills me! I can understand a few like LOve and Compassion, pride and integrity but even these often seems like illusions of a deluded mind.

It is a great time of reflection and letting go of past experiences and emotional attachments, just being in a state of equilibrium and steadfastness to the realization that; this too shall pass...and this too shall come to and end and this too will be let go of. Mind is the manifester of reality as an expression of time and the Universe is the MInd! Along with the single grain of sand found along the banks of the Ganges is also Mind. The former the Universal MInd and the later the Inner MInd, the anti-matter MInd. These are the Dual thinking minds of opposites, the Alpha and the Omega the Yin and the Yang, the right and wrong, the good and evil; The Omnipotent and the Insignificant. The human mind is too precious to be wasted, too great to be ignored too fragile to be left alone. This the study of the workings of the human mind from the perspective of a soon to be seventy year old mind that has evolved both in the East and the West,, this is my version of who I was and who I am and who I could become before I take my last breath in this human form.

If the 93 year young  Malaysian Prime Minister can handle a country still, why I am sure i still got a bit of a mileage left in me InshaAllah. I am no Doctor like the PM and nor do I have a wife who is a doctor to look after my health, but i am inspired to do my best to last as long and be worthy of my age. If this month of Ramadan has any meaning to me it is in the fact that I am living a life of dichotomy, In the modern scientific term, I consider myself a schyzo Yes I am a man who lives life looking into the mirror of who I am not and making believe i am who I am. The fact that I have an identical twin brother and he and I were born with half an hour difference, is the physical manifestation of this schyzo identity or personality.

I have related my childhood stories time and again and i am still not convinced of the whole truth till this day, my Blog is a testimony to how i grew up along with my twin brother on the east Coast as a teenager, most of it sad to say was not a happy memory to keep repeating and it gets worse the more you write about it. At the end of the day, after almost 70 years of existing together we are at last seeing eye to eye, whatever that entails. I have come to the conclusion that we are old enough not to hold our punches nor apologize for past experiences but simply accept our differences and look back only with what a great childhood we had otherwise. I feel like we were the most lucky twins to have grown up the way we did and the family we had around us and the rich environment of sea and rice fields just next to each other. We may not have done much together, but we sure did much more on our own.

Thursday, June 07, 2018

Stii What is Zen - to me?

“Life and death are of supreme importance. Time swiftly passes by and opportunity is lost. Each of us should strive to awaken. Awaken! Take heed, do not squander your life.” 
― Dōgen

Zen Master Eihei Dogen must have been quoting Shakyamuni Buddha's words to the effect; " In this human form, it is possible to attain liberation from this cycle of life ,death and rebirth, so don't waste time!"

The life of Dogen Zenji was somewhat a tragic one, however it was also the life of a man of  courage and adventure, at least according to the YouTube video made by a Japanese Educational Network and Japanese tends to stick to the truth of the matter when setting straight historical events. Dogen had what Shunryu Suzuki Roshi, founder of the San Francisco Zen School, a Beginners's Mind when he set off in search of Zen in China. Dogen would have been like a modern day back packer off to find Yoga in India or some obtuse Tibetan teachings.  His first teacher was a cook at a temple who straightened him out as to what or where he should or would find what he was looking for. 
Upon his return to Japan and opened his own school Dogen became a pawn in the feudal game of the ruling warlords and samurai warriors vying for power and domination. His life was in constant danger and he had to flee for his life from one monastery to another due to persecution. Dogen's Zen was born out of brimstone and fire and out of the challenges of life of his day he was able to tame the country through his Zen practices which in time gained popularity and respect. The Japanese recognized Dogen's way as the way to be freed from the tyranny of  persecution, through body speech and mind. 

"The mind is the root from which all things grow. If you can understand the mind, everything else is included. It's like the root of a tree. All a tree's fruit and flowers, branches and leaves depend on its root. If you nourish its root, a tree multiplies. If you cut its root, it dies. Those who understand the mind reach enlightenment with minimal effort. Those who don't...practice in vain. Everything good and bad comes from your own mind. To find something beyond the mind is impossible."- Bodhidharma.
- Bodhidharma 

"When we walk like (we are rushing), we print anxiety and sorrow on the earth. We have to walk in a way that we only print peace and serenity on the earth. Be aware of the contact between your feet and the earth. Walk as if you are kissing the earth with your feet."


Kinhin - 
Members of Kanzeon Zen Center during kinhin
Walking meditation, also known as kinhin (Chinese経行pinyinjīngxíngJapanese pronunciationkinhin, kyōgyōKoreangyeonghyaengVietnamesekinh hành) is the walking meditation that is practiced between long periods of the sitting meditation known as zazen.[1] The practice is common in ZenChan BuddhismKorean Seon and Vietnamese Thiền

Thich Nhat Hanh, the Vietnamese Chan master with whom I had the opportunity to do two Vipassana retreats at Green Gulch Zen Monastery, is big on walking meditation and he is famous for walking alongside of Martin Luther King Jr. on the "Freedom March' in Washington DC sometime ago. Thay as he is known among his students is always reminding us of our mindfulness when walking that we observe close attention to our inner and outer being in relationship to the external world especially the ground we walk on.

Dogen instructed his students to perform this meditation in between their long hours of meditation especially during a sesshin, a seven days or five of sitting meditation. It is with this walking meditation that the student steps out into the outside world of daily existence, thus engaging life with full attention of a meditative mind. This meditative state of being is apparent in every action that is taken albeit cooking or sweeping the yard or writing a poetry. Buddhism is not static it is dynamic and engaged in the daily activities of body, speech and mind. All in all, Zen Buddhism trains the student to stay in focus with the breath and allows for action to happen effortlessly without too much if any at all of thinking or thought formations. This is attained mainly through sitting meditation, or Zazen.

Tuesday, June 05, 2018

For those interested in Zazen.

What in heaven's name or (WTF) is Zen? Zen is the Japanese word and version of the Chinese word Chan and the Hindu/sanskrit word Dhyana or simply in English means Sitting Meditation. This is how and why Buddhism came to the West, to spread the teachings of the Buddha about meditation; the rest are details. Buddha's way is about simplicity, to make life as simple as possible and what can be more simple than just 'Sitting'? Sitting is midway between the act of laying down and standing up, it is the most restful state without falling asleep. In sitting Zazen there is much more than just quieting the mind, there is the alignment of the physical body and the management of the flow of energy throughout within and without. Sitting also helps to readjust the state of mind and body from one action into another by simply focussing on the breath especially when waking up or going to sleep. It is an unwinding of sorts so as to go to bed clear headed and to start a new day with the same and if you do this often enough you will find clarity all that you are confronted with as you take on life day to day.

In Soto Zen or the Zen of Dogen Zenji, you are constantly in a state of meditation even when you are off the zafu or cushion and carrying out your daily chores or running a consortium, working on your painting or trimming the hedges. The spillover from your sitting consciousness is carried into your next activity and your next, you are doing 'Zazen' with no end or beginning. It can be said the same of most meditational practices to achieve such similar state of perpetual meditative state throughout one's life and not just when one chooses to sit at special times. However it is wise to follow a session or two of a Zen practice period in order to acquire a good and thorough understanding of what Zazen is all about. Living in a Zen Community and observing the precepts and rituals of Zen practice is a prerequisite towards becoming a wholesome being, an awakened being. 

Joining a Zen center in America is like joining a country club with a few serious runners and the rest are mostly window shoppers and thrill seekers for the soul or weekend Dharma warriors. However little amount of time you sit and for whatever reason, it is still worth more than not having done it at all at least consciously.

What does tafakkur mean?

Question: What is the importance of tafakkur in Islam?
ANSWERTafakkur is an important act of worship in Islam. Tafakkur is to meditate over your sins, creation, yourself and to take lessons from the things Allahu ta’âlâ has created. When the good people are praised in the Qur’ân al-karîm, it is declared as follows:
(They always remember Allah while they are standing, sitting, lying on their sides, and they meditate over the creation of the heavens and earth. They say, “O our Lord! You did not create them in vain. You are far from it [from creating useless, meaningless things]. Protect us from the torment of Hell.”) [Sûrat-u Âl-i ‘Imrân, 191]
It is stated in hadîth-i sharîfs:
(A momentary meditation on Allahu ta’âlâ’s Grandeur, Paradise, and Hell is better than spending a night in worship.) [Abûshshaikh]
(Tafakkur is half the ibâdah.) [I. Ghazâlî]
(No other act of worship is so valuable as meditation.) [Ibni Hibbân]
(Meditating for a while is more valuable than one year’s [supererogatory] worship.) [K. Sa’âdat]

From - My Religion

When the great Indian sage Bodhidharma arrived in China he brought with the essence of the Buddha's teaching and that is Dhyana;

Definition - What does Dhyana mean?

Dhyana is a Sanskrit word meaning "meditation." It is derived from the root words, dhi, meaning “receptacle” or “the mind”; and yana, meaning “moving” or “going.” An alternate root word, dhyai, means "to think of."
In Hindu traditions that are derived from Patanjali's Yoga Sutras, dhyana is a refined meditative practice that requires deep mental concentration. This kind of meditation is taken up only after engaging in preparatory exercises.

Bodhidharma transferred his teaching through what is known as the direct transmission whereby knowledge and wisdom is transmitted between two individuals without the benefit of utilizing words; one may call it telepathic. In order for this to happen both the giver and the receiver's mind has to be empty of any thoughts, it is a spontaneous and synchronized effort on both parties. As most probably the Indian Sage did not speak Chinese much less deliver the essence of the Buddha's doctrines, the direct transmission technique made sense for Mahayana Buddhist tradition to be expounded in  China initially. Chinese sages of the time were already great meditators in their own tradition before the encounter between the Indian and the Chinese masters.


Monday, June 04, 2018

The Zen Train

I like to 'Sit' allot and what I mean by sitting and what most Western practitioners would mean by, sitting is to sit in meditation or as in my case 'sitting Zazen'. I studied the Zen school of Buddhism art of sitting meditation. The school I attended was a  Rinzai Zen school for a brief period and then I transfered to the Soto Zen school. What's the difference? I hate to say it, but just to remind, google it, on YouTube and in Wikipedia you will find all the information you will need on the subject. The school I helped my first Zen Roshi open was located at 20, Magnolia Blvd., Corte Madeira, Marin County, California. It was roomed in two classrooms combined that my teacher Dennis Junpo Kelly had rented and turned into a Zendo where he taught Ashtanga Yoga and Zazen meditation in the Rinzai tradition. The center was called, Kanzeon Zen/Yoga Center. So I had my first taste of Zen and (Guerilla)  Yoga in the Ashtanga tradition as well the Rinzai meditation and Teachings given by a man who spent 3 years at San Quentin Federal Penitentiary, 3 odd years in Sri Lanka and India and who just recently been ordained as a priest from The new York Daibosatsu Rinzai Zen Temple under Eido Shimano Roshi; details.

I liked the Rinzai school of meditation practice but it was too tight and rigorous for me, I needed something more gradual and subtle to counter my already messed up character back then, perhaps still is but...who is keeping tab? When i fell ill with pleurisy I asked to be taken to green Gulch Zen Center where i knew that was my only option with nothing and no one to my name and being critically ill, i had to beg my way into the community and was accepted out of perhaps being sorry for my status, by my next Zen Teacher, 
Paul Discoe
A ordained Zen Buddhist priest, Paul Discoe studied art history and philosophy as an undergraduate in the United States and Buddhist temple design and construction in Japan. He became a student of Suzuki Roshi at the Tassajara Zen Mountain Center in California, and, after four years, Suzuki sent him to Japan to train under a traditional master builder for five years. Discoe founded Joinery Structures in 1988. His projects include the Kojin-an Zen temple in Oakland for the Akiba Sensei, the founder's hall and kitchen at Tassajara, the Lindesfarne guesthouse and Wheelwright Center, and the abbot's house at Green Gulch, as well as several private and public projects internationally. Paul recently completed the interior of The Perennial restaurant in San Francisco, and the amphitheater for the new BAMPFA building designed by Diller Scofidio + Renfro in Berkeley. For Workshop Residence, Paul has designed a series of cheese boards, "molar" stools, and tabletops, all made from salvaged, locally sourced wood.

Green Gulch farm/Zen Center is part of the San Francisco Zen Center and it is located at Muir Beach, along a valley that ends up at the Pacific Ocean at one end and the Hope Cottage located at the top of the hill on the other. I had visited the place when I first arrived in San Francisco and need a place to stay for a day or two. I fell in love with the place at first sight and had decided that this was the place where I could heal myself even before i got seriously injured; it was more of my mental state that I had in mind. Had I not fell ill back then I most probably would not have been accepted to live at Green Gulch; providence? Perhaps. The cold and wet environment was not the best for my ailment but I was bound and determined to find the cure to my physical body as well as my mind; I was desperate and scared and I almost stooped to my knees to ask for the permission to stay.

I stayed for almost two years and never before was I more strong and healthy, cheerful and full of mischiefs than during those significant years of my life; I left the Gulch a changed man and am forever indebted to the Zen community at Green Gulch, Green Dragon Zen Center and just about everyone from the Abbot Reb Anderson and practice leaders like Paul and Blanch, Norman Fisher and Ed Brown and not to mention my practice period fellow students without whose help and tolerance, I could not have made it through. Hence I sat and I learned all I could about the Soto Zen tradition as handed down by Shunryu Suzuki Roshi; I was onboard the Zen Train and perhaps had never got off since.
to be contd.

Sunday, June 03, 2018

Before you Judge me!

My daughter woke me up early this morning and told me she was going to jog outside and at the same time look for our missing cat, Firbie. As always I sat on the bed and meditated and while at it i prayed, I said, Dear Lord, I know i am a doubter from way back when but when someone asked on FB yesterday if i believe in Miracles, i said yes. I believe in You, my Lord and this time I am asking You to perform me one." About half an hour later my daughter came in and sat on the bed facing me in my meditation and when I opened my eyes, lo and behold Firbie was staring at me. My daughter had found her on the fourth floor steps, eight floors down from where we live. I raised my two hands and uttered, Alhamdullilah, HirabilAlamin. Thank you my Lord, the Lord of the Universe for strengthening my faith.

Those who knows me not might think I am a devout Muslim out to preach Islam to the world in my Blogging; I wish, but I am not. I was born and raised a Buddhist for twelve years of my life and i grew up among my Muslim family relatives and friends all those twelve years with only two people who knew this, that i was a Buddhist. One of them is my uncle who adopted and raised me as his own and the other is me. I led a clandestine life where religion is concern and has always been ever since. Even though i was converted to Islam at the age of twelve I remained a free thinker rebelling against more than abiding by the mandates of the religion and this was partly due to my family relationship and environment growing up as a teenager alongside my twin brother and the rest of my immediate family when i was taken back to be raised by my immediate family. My relationship with Allah or God then was a love hate relationship of a very angry child to an uncaring father or so it seems then.

Then i got married to an American and moved to the United States and my life took a 360 degrees turn towards becoming a hedonistic, devil may care, lost soul; God stopped existing in my life. I never in my life called myself an atheist even though i was exposed to such ideas having read the likes of Sir bertrand Russel among others at an early age. I felt the existence of a God at the back of my mind despite every transgressions i committed and every sin i incurred; I felt something was watching me and sometimes even caring for my well being. I felt like i was being nudged from making a total wreck of myself through my insatiable appetites in drunkenness, sex and at some point self destructive. Today i am no more ashamed to let it all hang out simply because it has become much easier to do so through my Blogging over the years.

Hence if i say, "Thank you Lord or Alhamdullilah." it is a very much more significant expression than a normal Muslim would, like one who grew up well within the folds of Islam. I had realized sometime ago that I was chosen to lead a path less traveled in my spiritual growth as compared to my twin brother who embraced Islam with out a second thought. I consider him a very pious Muslim in his practice although as a man I find it hard to look up to him as a role model for being a good Muslim. Perhaps this is because of our sibling rivalry having grown up under separate roof for 12 years of our childhood life and later having to grow up as teenagers together vying for the love and affection from the rest of the family. I will not dwell on the details in this matter as it might  be incriminating and further exacerbate our already frayed relationship. 

I accept Islam on my own terms and condition thus far and to an average Muslim this would tantamount to being a 'Munafik' or an equivalent to a hypocrite or even an infidel. I only have my Lord to apologize to if i am deemed as any lesser a Muslim than my brothers as i have pretty much removed myself from being close to them and not because i hold anything against them but but because i feel that they have removed me from their care and attention. I figured if i am to be harshly judged throughout my life, I might as well live life as i see fit and not according to anyone else's dictums. I will face my Maker when the time comes and whether i am accepted as a Muslim or not I will let Him be the Judge.
WallhuAlam only He nkows!.