Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Wisdom of Children

Today I wanted to repost something I shared with my sangha...

I wanted to share a bit of enlightenment my daughters bestowed upon me this morning.

While sitting at the breakfast table, my two eight year olds, Ciera & Cheyenne, were talking about a conversation that Ciera had with a neighbour friend.

"Stacy was telling me that she has so many presents that they can't fit under her tree!"

"Maybe she has a small tree."

Once again I find myself bowing deeply to two of my wisest teachers...

May all your "trees" be small,



Monday, December 20, 2010

Hardcore Sewing

Spent my first full day of vacation sewing. Yup, you heard right, sewing. Now, normally, it's my wife that threads the needle in our family. However, I was inspired after watching some videos on how to make a Nyoho-e Rakusu by Rev. Taigu, one of my teachers from Treeleaf sangha. Having some time off work and not a lot planned I thought it'd be an excellent opportunity to spend some time trying to learn this intricate technique.

The Rakusu is representative of Buddha's robes that he donned when he began his search for enlightenment. As such, when Zen Buddhist take the precepts and follow Buddha's example, they will prepare a Rakusu for Jukai ceremony.

What I have found most amazing about this process so far is the focus that is required along with the meditative aspect that is reached while in the midst of sewing. Furthermore, there is a great appreciation for the thought and detail that is put into how the garment is designed.

Kojun Kishigami Osho (Dharma Heir of Kodo Sawaki Roshi) has a wonderful lecture on the Zen Road page called "Wrapped in the buddha's robe." In it, he explains the logic of the design beautifully:

As you can see, the central piece is raised, which would allow the water to flow from the center towards the right and left, in the way that mountain water flows into a rice field. To obtain this elevation in the center, the pieces are layered on top of each other.

Furthermore, on this kesa, the measurements of the central piece are double those of the upper piece, indicating the maturing of the wearer’s Buddha-mind. This garment is worn by disciples; it is imbued with the Buddhist teaching and vision of the universe.

The depth and meaning behind this little piece of cloth grows with each stitch. I am looking forward to sewing my Rakusu for Jukai next year and am thankful for all the work Taigu has put forth in preparing the training for us.



Sunday, December 19, 2010

What would Buddha do?

After a few moments of contemplation and consternation I decided to start up a blog about my Buddhist experiences. This was brought on buy the recent Blogisatva awards. I'm a regular follower of Vincent's Buddhist Geeks site and was pleased to see they earned an award for their work. Additionally, I have enjoyed reading the blogs of several members of my sangha, Treeleaf.

Lately, I had been struggling with the desire to be a part of the upcoming Jukai at my sangha. I am not ready for it. But something inside me feels impatient with having to wait 6 months until I can begin the process of studying the precepts and sewing my rakusu. My teacher, Jundo, having supernatural mind-reading powers (just-kidding), instantly perceived my struggle and without provocation commented:

"The real "Jukai" is just each moment when we act so as to avoid harm to self and others (not two, by the way), and in ways healthful and beneficial to self-others, and to learn from the Buddhist Teachings. The ceremony is just a celebration of that fact."

This instantly reassured me and brought my mind to peace. Everyday is a new opportunity to learn and deepen my practice. I have been studying Buddhism now for over five years and am constantly amazed at how much I have to grow. May I always have a beginner's mind, even if I try desperately not to.