The call to do some form of proper practice in meditation came to me one day in the print making studio at UWGB where the print making club members were busy polishing plate, keep watchful eyes on the acid bath, drawing fine likes on the copper plates.... I was standing bside an elderly member of the group a Mrs. Rossela Kelly, perhaps in her late sixties , we were both busy polishing our copper plates and she elbowed me and said out of the blue, Sam, I think it time for you to make a change!" Yes I believe so, Madame!" I replied without hesitation. My son, Dennis is being ordained a Zen Monk in New York and is planning on opening his own Center, why don't you go and join him." Two weeks or so later I was in Sausalito. San Francisco Bay Area helping Dennis to open his ZenYoga Center at Corte Madeira, Marin County, Ca. I can say that Dennis was my first Zen Instructor, friend and spiritual elder Brother. Despite what happened later in our relationship, I still hold him to be one of the best gift as a Guru, I could not ask for a better 'Nutcase', to crack my consciousness wide open when I needed it most. Dennis Junpo Kelly went on to become an abbot of his own Zen school, The Hollow Bones Zen. To me Dennis is one of those westerners worthy to wear the robes of a Rinzai Zen Master and teach the Way of Zen in the Rinzai Tradition.
Although for a very short time, I was initiated and became a member of the Zen community of the SF Bay Area by Dennis who coached me in the meditation as well as the 'Guirilla Yoga' techniques Ashtanga Yoga; Dennis was a student of B.K.S Iyengar. One can easily Google for more detailed information on this and will undoubtedly prove a useful knowledge. Dennis was at the time a very impressively built handsome man and commanded respect from all his peers. Having spent three years castrated at the San Quentin Federal Penitentary for drug related issues, upon his release chose the spiritual path which took him to India and Sri Lanka where he studied Yoga and meditation practices. He was a true self made man who took on life grabbing the bull by its horns and I was awed and inspired by his presence.
One day while about to enter the Green Gulch Farm Zen Center Dennis turned to me and shouted out of the blue, "Bahari San! What is an imperturbable mind?" I was given my first Zen Koan to work with whether it was intentional or not and the question was imprinted into my consciousness till today. Whenever I thought of my first Zen Teacher these words comes into my mind and I would meditate on it as a subject to ponder upon and it has seen me through many a circumstances late in my life. Although we parted ways in the worse possible ways one can imagine, I still hold a high regard for my teacher and friend, who took me under his wings and set me on a course towards my own self liberation. He may not forgive me for what had transpired between us that involved his teacher, Eido Shimano Roshi, the only regret I have is that I had lost a great opportunity to transcend my self deluded egocentric nature possibly if I had I stuck with Dennis in his quest to propagate Rinzai Zen in America...that is another story; but the Dharma works in mysterious ways too.
It was at green Gulch Farm Zen Community that was able to do my time as a Zen student for almost two years straight. It was there that I learned to sit and to listen, to heal and become in tune with others who had similar karmic debts like did to work out. It was at Green Gulch that I discovered my unbounded Buddha Nature, my strength and weaknesses. It was here that I was able to pull myself out of the rut that I was in prior to my life in San Francisco; I owed the Zen community back then my life and forever am indebted to the Teachers and fellow students who I had the opportunity to work with. My gratitude goes out to my Teacher Paul Disco and Blanch Hartman, Ed Brown and several fellow brothers and sisters in the Zen community who were able to accept me despite the fact that I was incorrigible to begin with. Among these practitioners I learned about who I am and where my destiny lies; Gasho!
"Meditation, if it is real, is an act of Love, of becoming Love, of the commitment to Be Love and to renounce the desire for Love and the objects upon which we project our Love and to make us proxies and substitutes for Love. We must accept no substitute...The first step in meditation is to become free from belief.
" - Sunyamurti Teaching @ Sat Yoga Ashram.
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