Deer Park, Day 16

Sunday February 23rd, 2020
Day 16

Dharma is the path
Of understanding and love
Sangha is the way

Early morning, time un-jotted down (tearoom)

Something I just read and enjoyed from Wisdom Within, teaching and poetry of Zen Master Tue Trung Thuong Sy (1230-1291):

“If you follow a routine and don’t truly live the profound meaning, you will become a robot. Tue Trung just tried to take them out of the land of robots.”

The land of robots. Love it.

Walk in Zen, sit in Zen,
then you will see the lotus blooming in fire.
When your will becomes weak, strengthen it.
When your place is peaceful and suitable, just stay there.

– Tue Trung


Being an island unto our self and practicing the better way to live alone (both teachings in our tradition) might sit in paradoxical confusion for many of us when paired with our tradition’s pronounced focus on community building and taking refuge in the sangha. Thay has said: “even the Buddha without a sangha cannot do much.” What then are we to make of this? Non-duality is a tricky, sticky mess for most of us.

Both things are true. As practitioners, we apply effort in both directions: cultivating self-sovereignty AND cultivating community. It’s not one OR the other, it’s both.

I think this can be especially confounding to us because we so easily get caught in form. But as from the book in the mention above, if we follow a routine and lose the meaning and spirit of it, we become like robots. Form is beneficial and important but only so much that we keep it infused with the spirit of why we’re engaging with it.


6:50am (DH)

Percolations during my sit. Mike is my person but I am my own one true love. I’m in this life with myself the whole way through. Wherever I go, there I am. There is nowhere I can go where I won’t find myself.

I actively invest in watering the seed of love for my husband Mike and I actively invest in watering the seed of love I have for myself. Both are worth while endeavors. Both are important usages of my time and energy. Both are necessary if I am to keep my relationship fresh and alive with Mike and fresh and alive with myself. This for me, is the better way to live married and happy.



Today was a public Day of Mindfulness. The Brother who instructed us all in the outdoor walking meditation shared about the imprint we leave as we’re walking. He asked us to be aware of what kind of imprint we leave behind on the earth. This, of course, applies not only to our session of walking meditation but also in life, day to day. What imprint am I creating in my wake? In the wake of my energetic presence; my footsteps; my actions; my speech.

The Brother led us up to a spot he called Mindful Mountain, above where the stupa is situated. I don’t think I’d ever heard it called that but I appreciated having a set name for it, as in all these years in coming here, I’ve often felt it needed a proper handle.

Sister Abbess gave the Dharma talk today in the Big Hall. Her talk was in Vietnamese, so for those of us who needed it, we had headphones plugged in to a port, in order to receive the English translation. As part of her talk, she read the Discourse on Love and offered some commentary about it. Here are some notes I penned down:

Loving speech is not possible when guided by the ego, by arrogance. We need to practice humble loving speech, to lower our self down a bit, with kindness. Choose your words so you can create harmony, not division. Our words are very important. Words can cause a lot of damage, even death.

Live in simplicity, humility, and love.

This morning in the tearoom, I read an article from the winter/spring 2019 edition of the Mindfulness Bell magazine. The article featured the oldest and largest lay practice center in our tradition, located in Germany, called Intersein Zentrum. The article opened with a quote by Thay, which Mike and I both really resonated with (I had Mike read the article just a little bit ago):

We need to establish retreat centers where we can go from time to time to renew ourselves. The features of the landscape, the buildings, and even the sound of the bell can be designed to remind us to return to awareness. The residential community there does not need to be large. Ten or fifteen people who emanate freshness and peace, the fruits of living in awareness, are enough. When we are there, they care for us, console us, support us, and help us heal our wounds. Even when we cannot actually go there, just thinking of the center makes us smile and feel more at peace. – TNH

Mike and I’s aspiration to start such a place as Thay describes, grows stronger every time we come here to Deer Park. I just wish I knew the way to proceed forward with manifesting our vision.

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