Zen Blog

This blog collects various internet feeds aimed towards information, experience and technique exchange in support of our shared spiritual journey.....

”Namaste - may the light in me, honor the light in you…”

Poems of Walking and Sitting

After a whole bunch of years living in San Francisco, at last, it was time to leave. But how to leave? How to say goodbye to a home that through my twenties had always been more than crowded streets and tall buildings, had always been the human scene plus the surrounding waters, the fog and wind, the redwoods, the songbirds and seals?

I developed a project, a fare-thee-well tour, and thanks to support from an outfit called the Awesome Foundation (check ’em out, they’re awesome indeed) was able to devote myself to it entirely. Each day that December, rain or shine, I walked a random route northward from my apartment, exited the metropolis via the Golden Gate Bridge, and trudged into the chaparral hills of the Marin Headlands. There, I sat on a cliff overlooking the ocean for a couple hours, scribbling poems and watching the sun sink, before finally tightening my shoelaces and returning to the city beneath night’s first stars.  

These were huge outings, at least 20 miles a day, sometimes closer to 30—driven yet aimless. Perhaps I was trying to grind myself down so I could better commune with the Bay Area, so I could better appreciate the ways that “nature” and “civilization” interpenetrate one another. Perhaps this was a spiritual exercise, an exercise in humility and perspective. Perhaps it was a kind of ecopoetic meditation. 

Honestly, I don’t know. All I can say for certain is that my legs hurt and my heart ached and the cars honked their horns and the pelicans glided past without beating their wings. The following poems are a selection from a book-length poetry manuscript that emerged from the project, Golden Gate: Poems of Walking and Sitting

           —Leath Tonino

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Buddha Buzz Weekly: Pandemic Guidelines for Faith Communities

Nothing is permanent, so everything is precious. Here’s a selection of some happenings—fleeting or otherwise—in the Buddhist world this week.

CDC Releases Pandemic Guidelines for Faith Communities

On May 22, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released new guidelines for faith communities that choose to reopen during the coronavirus pandemic. The guidelines include instructions on hygiene practices, face coverings, disinfection, and social distancing. Although President Donald Trump last week deemed places of worship “essential” during the pandemic, CNN reported that faith leaders across the country have stressed the need for caution. Rev. Elizabeth Eaton, presiding bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, told CNN that God “has given us the gift of science” and urged her congregations to abide by the CDC guidelines. “Protecting others is a faithful response,” she said. 

Many Buddhist centers remain closed while continuing to offer online teachings and meditation sessions. (Tricycle’s live online meditation sessions will continue as well.) In an update explaining their decision to keep their doors shut, the Insight Meditation Society said, “The alleviation of unnecessary suffering is a way to honor our mission even when no one is sitting in our meditation halls.”

Tibetan Nun Found in Rare Meditative State

A Tibetan nun, Ven. Tenzin Choedon, died on May 22 at age 82 and was found a few days later in a rare meditative state called thukdam, reported the Central Tibetan Administration. Thukdam is a phenomenon in which a person is deemed clinically dead but their body shows no signs of decay for days or weeks without preservation. Some Tibetan Buddhists believe this is a sign that a realized master’s consciousness remains in the body despite its physical death. Over a decade ago, His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama commissioned research from Russian scientists to try to better understand the neurophysiological science of thukdam, according to the Central Tibetan Administration. The research remains ongoing. 

Japanese Temple Expands Wedding Ceremonies for Same-sex Couples

After the city of Kawagoe became Japan’s 48th local government to legally recognize LGBTQ partnerships through a “partnership oath system” on May 1, a local Buddhist temple expanded its wedding ceremonies to include services for same-sex couples. According to Yahoo News Japan, Saimyo-ji temple now offers weddings (photography and traditional outfits included) for 200,000 yen—about $1,858 USD. “With the increasing understanding of LGBTQ in society as a whole these days, we’re working on creating a new temple with people who are sexual minorities,” vice priest Akihiro Senda told Yahoo News Japan. He also said that the ceremonies will provide “rainbow malas” and rainbow-colored kesa [Buddhist vestments] for the couple to wear. While Saimyo-ji is not the first temple in Japan to provide same-sex wedding services, it may be the only Buddhist temple that offers these sartorial accompaniments. 

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Change Your Mind: Free Mass Meditation

Meditate together virtually with people from around the world on June 13.

By TricycleMay 29, 2020

Since we started our livestream meditation series, over 25,000 people have registered to participate. Now we are inviting all of these participants and more to join Tricycle and Sharon Salzberg for a free 30-minute group meditation at 12pm ET on June 13. The session will be hosted on YouTube Live and will feature mindfulness and lovingkindness meditation instructions.

This free virtual event is an iteration of Tricycle’s Change Your Mind Day, a free public offering of meditation instruction that started in 1994 in New York City’s Central Park. Then, as now, all experience levels are welcome.

Click below to stay tuned and receive a reminder email to join in at the scheduled time.

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How to Bring More Peace and Presence to Family Life

Many families are spending more time together than ever, under extraordinary circumstances. In this video, psychologists and mindfulness teachers Elisha Goldstein and Stefanie Goldstein talk about the mindfulness techniques and skills they’re employing with each other and their three sons to make their family time richer, deeper, and more peaceful.

7 Things Mindful Families Do Differently

1. Embrace Imperfection

Even in the best of times, none of us are perfect parents: We get triggered, overreact, and say and do things that we wished we hadn’t. During this strange time in the world, parenting probably feels different, and harder than ever before. 

Let’s be clear—you are going to make mistakes, you are going to hurt your children’s feelings, and you are not going to be able to show up in all the ways you want to or the ways your children want you to, but NONE of that makes you a bad parent—it only makes you a human one.

When we beat ourselves up over our mistakes and imperfections we create more pain, fear, and disconnection. 

Maybe your kids are watching more TV than usual, or not eating as healthy as they used to. Rather than being hard on yourself, embrace this imperfection. Remind yourself: there is no book written on how to parent during a pandemic.

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5 Lessons to Remember When Lockdown is Lifted

A lot of people I know have been starting to wonder about life after the shelter-in-place orders have been lifted. What will it be like? What will the new normal be?

The answers to those questions will depend a lot on where you live, what your experience has been like, and what you make of it all.

Living in a city that imposed shelter-in-place orders 10 weeks ago, as of this writing, my own life has been a mixed bag. I shifted to working at home pretty easily, but it’s been hard finding a routine and avoiding distractions. I’m connected with friends online, but I miss their physical presence. Plus, my sleep and mood have suffered as anxiety looms over the future of our society.

I don’t want to negate these feelings or ignore our losses. But, as a writer for Greater Good, I can’t help but see some positives coming from this crisis, too. Reflecting on this moment has been a learning opportunity for me and for all of us—a chance to focus more on what matters and to think about living life differently going forward.

Here are some lessons I want to hold on to once sheltering in place is lifted.

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