Kyudo Monday – June

27 06 2007

warriorI rode the ZenCycle over to Berkeley last night for Kyudo Class. My condo complex had it’s monthly meeting so I took advantage of that and cancelled my Kung Fu class to attend Kyudo since they were meeting in the club house.

I pulled up in time to catch someone near the door to let me into the Shambala Center where the Kyudo class is held.

It was a small class tonight. Some of the regular senior students, well most are regular senior students to me being a new kid. Most are nice, I say most because, one acts like I’m invisible unless there is something she needs to say to me, like those mats go there, never just a simple hello. Hmmm I am a classmate. Not doubt a carry over from my Kung Fu training, we train together, we are family, more so proper behavior/manners for a senior of the clan…different mind set Japanese, Chinese… No matter, I am not there to socialize…Chisaii koto, I digress…

Onisan Hans was there. He was out my last visit. He was my guide into basic training and is always helpful. While we were changing into our Hakama’s he said something about Kyudo and Zen after I said my Job is “Zen” practice. He said I have found Kyudo to be most “Zen” when it is just being it’s self. ( there are different sides/states to Zen) Not when it’s like something. I took to mean, in it’s natural state the total act, art of Kyudo is Zen, not Zen like. Unlike the meaning what some people term Kyudo as Zen archery. It is not really “Zen” it is Archery done with Mindfulness, which is a state of “ Zen” and the fullkyudo shot1 act of shooting mindfully, the blending of the the bow, the arrow, your stance, your breath, your draw, your focus , the total of it centered and mindful, the being at one with the wholeness of it, is “Zen” ( any of that make sense?) No seperation from the bow, arrow, self, target, ki. With that mindset, any archery is “zen” archery. As I have said the same of doing Tai Chi , Kung Fu, Sailing, even Jamming with a Band. On the other hand, I could be wrong 🙂
It happens…

As always beginning meditation. Rinsing the spirit, cleaning off the road dust. Purifying, centering. “A shower for the spirit” nice phrase!

On to practice. We have a saying in Tai Chi, that it takes, 10 yrs to understand the basics…In Kyudo there is the 10 yr grip. That is what Lucy correct me on tonight, also Onee-san, the speakless 🙂
So while working on being mindful of each step, my draw ( a full lesson it self, from last time), my arm position, I’m now thinking about how to make this grip work. I was told I am holding too tight ( my grip) on the bow. The proper grip allows the bow to turn/rotate in one’s hand upon release of the arrow. My sense tells me to grip more when I feel it shift. Wrong, maintain control but let it spin…difficult. Mentally I get it, but not phycially. Like Push Hands in Tai Chi. Being soft, yet controlling at the same time. A this point to me the grip is not natural feeling. I know, I know, I need to do enough to have it feel natural. That goes with out saying, duh! 🙂

kyudo shot 2I asked Oniisan to take a couple of photos for me. That helps me to see where my errors are, also something to post heheh. He was kind enough to stop his training to do so. While in the process pointed out my errors in shoulder and arm placement. Helpful to pinpoint where I need to focus my training efforts.

This will be a long road to travel. However I am in no hurry, I have no goals other than just to do it. Another form of “practice” And that brings it back to Zen…

Advertisements




Heart Chan (Zen) III

24 06 2007

lotus

It was our third session of six lessons with the Heart Chan group. As with our second visit we are the only non-Chinese there. However it does not feel that way, like we are outsiders. One of the opening statements made by the group leader was welcome brothers and sisters. Then explain why in oneness of all how that is true. All ideas of separation and duality are illusions. Not exactly his words but my translation for here of the meaning.

We went through a few focusing drills today, first solo then as a group, to feel the difference, if any in the awareness or sensitivity of the focus from a single person to a group, as well as a practice to maintain it. Then a chakra breath drill.

We also after doing a few minutes of “zanzen” went into small groups and discussed our ideas, feelings and whatever about our practice. In my group two of the five were scientists, one of those was Catholic, he said he would not have come if this was about “hugging the Buddha” yet, we held one belief about the nature of “Chan (zen)” and the practice. It is beyond labels of religion and faith. It is the underlying truth of the universe, it is all things, yet none of them. One has to give up nothing to practice, yet can gain everything, enhance whatever path you walk. It is about your connection to the Universe not the form, shape, color of your manifestation. We agreed that it is not about something you believe in, it is like acupuncture whether you believe in it or not, it works. Sometimes the results are right away, sometimes it take a few sessions.

After our small group talk we gather as a whole again and had one person speak on the group to the other groups. The results I think made us overall more connected as a group through the sharing. It is a totally different energy from the Berkley and SF Zen centers we attended. It is also different from the other paths I have tried in my journey for truth, meaning, peace, purpose. TM, Scientology, Born Again, etc, generally after a couple of sessions I’m feeling trapped, or these people are tripping, or WTF, or I do not get it or something of the like. Like with the Unity Church I like their philosophy of oneness with all things, we are from the same God who has many names, It is the foundation of life the universe, but when they hold hands and start swaying, that seems like it has crossed the line… cultish…why, do not know, but feels weird. But that is just me. As I said before we can hold hands and pray as a group, fine, but the swaying cumbaya stuff… anyway I digress.

Being some what of a sceptic about things of this sort I asked, “so what happens after the introduction sessions. Is there a fee , membership cost, this world runs on money. ” Peace, love, oneness is all good . but somebody has to pay to keep the lights on…I was told, there are no membership cost, dues, or fees or plans to have some. If you want to make a donation to help with the cost of renting the space, it is up to you. We feel it is worth while enough to share from out of our own pocket when needed. If you wish to donate to the main chapter’s programs on feeding poor, shelter and the like again that is totally up to you. I thought hmmm and checked my internal warning systems, they still remained neutral…

We will miss the next 2 session in July of the 6 introductions. I have my sailing class to teach, also the USA Chuk Kai Tai Chi Mantis Memorial Summer Events are in July, I will need to help & attend. The final of the beginning group is in Aug, we will be able to attend that. We were told, there will be nothing missed that will cannot catch up to if we continue to practice. Lady Z felt better hearing that. She told me on the way home she is really understanding this and it is directly connecting with some of the things she is reading from a book from a Japanese author on a different topic, but still dealing with life, Chi, death, energy, the Universal life connection, and after life experiences. She does not believe in organized religions, but firmly believes in a God, but not as a Old White Guy looking down on us from some throne.

There is a yearly Heart Zen retreat in Santa Barbara this year. Every year I am told it is someplace else. This year it is here and SB is not that far. I want to attend, it is over laborday weekend. Cost wise it is really not much, at least it was not when I was making a good salary, …now though only a couple of hundred …it seems out there. Everything is comparison in a lot of cases isn’t. I will put it out there as a desire for the Force to resolve…and see what the tide brings…





Everyday Zen

22 06 2007

bamboo

I started reading this book called Everyday Zen. So far it is pretty interesting, not really new revaluations, but sometimes it is good to have reinforcements. ne!

I’m just in the first couple of chapters. so far the jest of it it, “practice” is not just sitting on a cushion. The Zen moments happen all the time, mindfulness is not something you go to do, it is where you are and what your doing at the moment.

Zen and The Iron Pony zencycle

I have the ZenCycle back on the road today. Nice, It took almost all my extra money to get it tuned, service, new tire. I spent $40.00 a week in gas commuting to work, this should cut it down to $15.00. plus the reduction of stress from just sitting in traffic. So I’m thinking while riding this morning. Practice is everything every moment. Riding this bike is also practice. One needs to really be in the moment whilst riding. No thinking about dinner, what is on the radio, the cell phone, TV tonight, sailing. You need to really be in the moment. It is not just a matter of being in harmony and having a peaceful life, it is surviving. I shouldn’t even be thinking about how this riding is like practice, because that is not being here in the moment. Just then a fool in a car decides he wants IN my lane where I am and moves to it without looking. !!!!!

An there is the point, focus, mindfulness. Like when doing Tai Chi, if you are thinking about anything other than , being fully aware of every part of what you are doing, from toe to breath, you are not really doing Tai Chi, you are just doing the movements. You are not fully in practice. Well, perhaps a better way of saying this is you are in practice, but you are not centered in practice or deep meditation. You are just on the surface.

So , what does Tai Chi, Kung Fu, meditation, riding a motorcycle relate to zen, “mindfulness practice”

Side note: It was nice to be riding again. sweet to be able to get in the commute lane and by pass the cars just sitting. It took 15-30 min off my travel time. I had forgotten about the hand sign from other bikers. Well not all. Once upon a time, before more and more cycles were on the road by Joe Blow one would always get a wave or peace sign from other bikers, (except Harley riders unless you were on one). Now a day were your average white collar guy is riding, you do not get the signs much, sometimes but not as often, unless you are on a back road. Still Harley riders mostly do not sign unless you are on one. They ignore rice burners mostly…not all but mostly, that has not changed.

Zen and The JOB

Another thing the book was saying is, that sitting, practice is not something that is always pleasant. Cramps in the legs, sore back, all that goes with zazen. One needs to go pass that, rise above it so to speak, center the mind to doing what you are doing, in the case of zazen, sitting, quietly. Training yourself, practice, centering, going past discomfort to raise yourself to another level, …so to speak. I need to think of this current job as that, practice. Being totally mindful of each moment. Not thinking about my feelings abut it, the stress from the Boss, wanting another job, any of that. Just doing the best in each moment, learning from each moment. The I-ching reading said a few months back. This encounter with this job, would seem like a romance in the beginning, but would sour in my mouth. It has. Now it is a practice I need to rise above like, cramped legs from zazen, like sitting in traffic, like all things in life that have a yin nature to the yang of pleasure. They happen, blues skys and stormy days, Yin and Yang, it is life, live the moment your best. When the wind blows the sea is rough, when it stops, it is calm, when the storm blows the bamboo bends, when it is over it reaches again for the sky.

Everyday zen is not being emotionless, feeling less. it is living each moment aware. When angry, being angry, then let it go, when happy, being happy, then let it go. There is no future, there is no past, there is no present, there is only now.





Jamn

18 06 2007

Panama Bay Cafe

Panama doorFinally the weekend after a stressful week dealing with my job, Of which I am becoming less and less pleased with, (but remain thankful for), I was told of this in my I-Ching reading back before I took the job. So it is not like I did not know…it is not that it is all that bad, I have had worse, however I dislike being micro-managed it puts me on edge. Anyway I digress, I was looking forward to the weekend. Besides not going to work, no traffic, I had a couple of gigs, only one was paid but even one is cool!

yeah baby yeah! 🙂

The Concord Xpress asked me to come by Sat. night and play harmonica. Playing harmonia is cool for a while but it is not my main axe (instrument) so I do not get off doing it for too long. It is a filler instrument for me something to be done while playing bass or guitar. However it is playing. I told the leader I would do so, but also to bring a keyboard and I would fill in on that as well.

I’ve played keyboard a little but mostly on my own recordings or song writing, not with a band. I figured it being just the blues I could swing it. I also brought along my flute, which I enjoy much more than the harmonica. I do not often get a chance to play it as I am usually playing Bass. Not two things that can be done at the same time. The last time I got to really play Flute was in Hawaii when I was sitting in with a couple of local groups. So I was looking forward to that part.

the band panama

So Sat night I show up and we are set to go. I got a spot in the corner and layed out my stuff. Funny thing, the leader and I both brought flutes and Harmonicas and sat at the keyboard. She asked later if we were twins…. She did not play her flute as I brought mine. All went well. I could not hear my keyboard much so only played on a few songs when I could crank it up to hear being sure enough of what key I was playing in and could stay there.

keys

Mostly it was flute and harmonica. Sometimes keyboard and harmonica, on the last song it was flute and keyboard. Yup same time, sweet, I had my mojo working, also name of the song 🙂 The evening was fun. Lady Z showed up after we started and took a few photo shots. I was not expecting her as she was not feeling well. She could not understand how I could come in an play without rehersing with them. Not really that hard, if you know some basics about Blues I said.fluteman 2
Anyway the evening was good, the people there enjoyed the music, we got one offer to play at some party for the Oakland raiders. (who knows if that was for real). I got to do some flute work, which was fun. It made the blues sound kind of jazzy, and added a different feel to things, I dug it. The event was recorded. Most likely will not sound as good as the live version because recorded you can hear all the mistakes and being as I could barely hear myself they would jump out on the recording heheh 🙂 However I’m pretty sure there were a few good tunes in there. It would be nice if I was given a copy. Anywhoo it was fun and I was not getting paid not even part of the tips. so no biggie on the bad notes, it was Jamn practice for me.

I wonder if I will be able to find this type of niche in Japan… I do know a couple of musicians already, and as Gaijin in Japan we should be able to get some attraction if we formed a band…or even as the Lady Z and another friend says just myself as a Bass player of color (use what you got if it works) should be able to find some gigs.

Unity Center Church

Sunday was the paid gig at the Unity Church. This gig came about because of doing the circus show. There was a couple hours rehearsal on Thursday, which I went through the songs briefly and was given a tape and a bunch of charts to look over. Which I checked out Sat nite after the Panama show. This is suppose to be once a month through Aug. who knows what will happen after that. I would not have minded or will mind doing it for free. However even better getting paid to play for a Spiritual gathering.

Unity

This was an interesting gig. I had been the the Unity Center before a few years ago with my ex. She was not pleased with the holding hands and swaying at the end, I was not either for that matter, so we did not go back. I still do not care for that part, it is uncomfortable at least to me. I was glad I was on the stage and did not have to do it, today. Those are the kind of things I find not pleasing about those type of congregations. But that is just me and my hangups, shyness, ego whatever… I would like just a simple hold hands, group & prayer. However… I do like their philosophy about God and religion.

Today they had a guest speaker. He was a preacher from the Church of Religious Science. He was originally from North or South Carolina. He moved, looked and sounded like a Southern Baptist preacher. At one point he quoted from Dr. Martin Luther King and sounded almost just like him. However his sermon was not like a Baptist sermon. He spoke on the Oneness of all things with God not a duality of being. How in the beginning there was only God, so all things, including us, were made from parts of God, and therefore we all have God’s essence, which makes us gods. Not God with the Big “G” but god with the little “g”. But still part of the Great Spiritual energy called God. He spoke of his travels to India and followed the trail that Buddha took. All this was kind of strange coming from a person who looked and sounded like he should be in a Baptist Church preaching fire and damnation. He lead the group in meditation, also something like that seemed weird to be doing in a Church with this person sounding like he did, saying Namaste, anyway, It was all good! I enjoyed the sermon and the lesson. It was good for my spirit, it was the kind of thought I could relate with, not the limited fundamentalist view that I was raised knowing. There was a lot of energy there today. After that kind of sermon I wonder what it will be like with the regular minister speaking , who sounds like a radio commerical announcer. Even he said it will not be the same there after that type of speaker.

As far as the music. It was cool playing behind a choir. Such an energy that comes across with so many voices and music combining. It was very COOL, like theater. I always thought it would be fun to play which a church band, but did not want to deal with the dogma that goes with main stream Churches in order to get in with one. I was definitely lead by the Force to this one. The songs we nice, even had a couple of funky tunes in which I was able to get my groove on. These were not your typical church kind of music. I got called out during the two sessions (?) as the new Bass player and welcomed. Nicer than just called out as a new visitor to the church and an outsider. I never cared for that. Anyway, the music went well, There was a guest performer who played a song he wrote, and played with us and the choir on a couple of songs. Turns out this guy is a Grammy nominee. He does major commerical songs and other tunes. So playing with him was nice also the drummer was very good, so the whole experience was cool. Many thanked me for coming to play and said they enjoyed it, that was nice feeling being appreciated. One woman said, you were wonderful on that funky song. I really enjoyed that. I’m really chocolate on the inside, dark chocolate… I went ohh, ah so just smiled and said ah, …she meant well. So I took it in good spirit like it was given. The sound person there asked me if I would be interested in playing for a new group she is with, they are doing some variety stuff things. Of course I said yes. When the Tao opens a path, I should at least check it out. Who knows what the tide will bring…






Heart Chan (Zen) II

10 06 2007

TAC Chan

 

It is a warm sunny Sat. Not much in the way of a breeze. Lady Zen comes by Sisooks Tailor Shop, we meet there to head off for our Chan ( Zen) practice. We stop by the Kung Fu shool in back for a short talk with a couple of the senior students before heading off. This time we are more prepared for the trip so we thought…

As it turns out we got hung up in traffic, I missed the exit, we went the wrong direction after turning off at the next exit, so it was not a smooth a journey as we planned. However we arrived only about 10 min late. It was fortunate that we were not the only ones who arrived at that time. So the session basically started at that time.

 

A lot more details were covered about the practice after some review of the 2 weeks ago session. This time it was spoken in English with Chinese filler. We did a bit of “motion zen” with is just a few relaxing chi building drills, then more of the sitting Zen was explained. I found the phrase of “mediation is like a shower for your spirit” a graphic reference. We take a shower to clean our body from the grime of the world, we meditate to clean our spirit of it as well.

 

After a 10 min meditation there was a Q&A session, in both English and Chinese, with me filling in a few things in my limited Japanese for the Lady Z for clarity.

After that was over we sat for a bit a chatted. Shrxiong ( elder brother ) joined us and we spoke of misc concepts and questions on the practice. He explained fully a few misconceptions we both had about it and some comparisons to other “zen” practices and answered a few more of Lady Z’s questions also gave a few pointers and guides.

 

We received the hand outs for the second session and once again left feeling comfortable and like it was a well spent 1.5 hr.

Lady Zen after reading the material for the day felt even more pleased with this path of mediation practice. She is now even more encouraged to practice on her own. She has been monitoring her blood pressure regularly since starting the practice and even within the 2 weeks has noticed a reduction. It is encouraging to see recordable results even within a short time. To her it is not about enlightenment, it is about healing her body and spirit from the unbalancing effects of a woman aging cycle. A Zen master we met with in Japan said to us, that one can not become enlighten in this life, once you die, everything becomes clear. Meditation is about learning about yourself. I think there are forms or levels of enlightenment as there are levels of meditation.

 

If you are interested in meditation, the Zen philosophy I recommend checking into this path. If you meditate already, perhaps this will enhance your practice. It is not about robes, shave heads, sects, being or not being a Buddhist, Christian, Jewish, Muslum, bells, chanting, incense or any of that. (it is also free) It is about balancing , Health, healing on the 3 levels of our being, Phyically, Mentally, Spiritually and helping others raise theirs, even if it is just by being around them with our own heighten chi emissions. The principals of Buddhism are there, but these are also the basic principals of all humane philosophy’s and religions. In the most basic terms as the saying goes,” We are the world”, we are not seperate from others, or the things of this universe. We share the same spirtual connection to life, with all life and elements.

Improve ourselves, improve the world…zen

 





No barriers…everyday people

8 06 2007

This post is a re-iteration from another post on my sailing blog. Only a few read both so I thought I’d put it here changed a bit for this venue as there are surprisingly almost twice as many readers here as there. Which is a big surprise. With that in mind I am doing something different and doing a double post although this one is a bit different from the original.

NP

There maybe no barriers according in life according to Neal Petersen but there is for real, Bad traffic, accidents, slow downs. This is what I’m thinking whilst Lady Z and I are on our way to San Fransisco…

( it helps while you read the following below if you have “it’s a small world” playing in the background)

The Internet is a amazing place, when you really think about it, how you can reach out and touch the world from your home while sitting in your favorite chair in your briefs if you like.

Places and people you would never come in contact with, most likely on your own. Add in the boat and sailing factor, things expand, yet narrow and the same time.

In the time I have been blogging which is just a little over a year. I have met, encountered, contacted, or corresponded with some pretty amazing people. Some of which I’ve had face to face talks with. There is the retired history professor who sails and plays Jazz both locally and internationally. There is the Zen Master who sailed around the world when he was young in a home-built boat. Another retired sailor from Ca who lives in Japan and runs a sailing school,  who turned me on to the ASA and teaching sailing. The writer from the great NorthPacific of another blog on Sailing gear and such, the world famous couple who are considered one of the foremost small boat sailing authorities. A couple of local sailors, one of which has the same boat as me, the other who visited my marina. Those who I have not met but have chatted with, the retired sailor merchant marine, who has a made in Japan wife with almost the same name as my wife, who sails the same type of boat as mine, who’s wife making an amazing recovery after under going Reiki treatments, there numerous contacts from SailFar.net, all of whom have been helpful and friendlier than many regular folks one meets in real life. There are the folks we met from Gaijin-in-Japan/Oyamake Ceramics & Kobe Kung Fu we’ve met up with in Japan, via the net who took around, fed us and offered help and advice on relocating. There is the sadly now missing, Blasian couple from Japan we hung out with a bit, the Ca Heart Zen leader. Then there are the other few that I have had just small side conversations via email, but not met in person, on things like Zen/Tai Chi/Ceramics, etc, like Stepping Stones of Truth, Three Fold Twenty, Art by Linda Lou These are all significant because in our day to day lives we do not often met people we can relate to, we have few friend interactions. Just what do we call friends these days…has the definition of a friend, friends changed in these days and times of less personal interaction with people. Out of all the people I have met through the years, very very few I am still in touch with, not for my lack of trying…for some… for others not so much 🙂 We have many acquaintances these days, but do we have friends…I digress, that is another topic…

Plus others who my brain is too tired to think of, but the point here is the world has become much smaller, and broader at the small time.

So now I add to the list an award winning author, world class yacht racer, and a professional lecturer, who speaks around the world in front of thousands of people.

All this is going through my head as we inch our way past the accident on the Bay Bridge, on our way to have dinner with Neal Petersen.

I had corresponded with Neal several times over the last year or so, after becoming aware of him via the SailFar board . After a very brief bit on the chat section of SailFar one evening and reading his book “Journey of a Hope Merchant” ( if you have not read this book I recommend it) I had a couple of questions I was wondering about while writing one of my blog entries, the one on Spiritual Sailors. I had sent Neal a email asking a short question or two. To my great surprise he had written back almost right away. Unlike an local unknown writer who ignored me, anyway we exchanged a few emails on the topics and said hope to meet some day…Fairly common statement that rarely happens I figured. Times passes, as time does, and one day while looking at his site, I notice a couple of lectures on his schedule for in the Bay Area. I drop him a short note, saying if you have time and want to met for a break from the hussle & bussle please let me know. Again to my surprised I am contacted, yes, he says.

The Lady Z and I pick up Neal at his hotel and drive over to Lil Osaka, Japan-town. We pick a shushi place the Lady Zen spotted on our last visit and we have a light meal and conversations there.

It was a pleasant evening, even with Lady Zen a little sick. We ate and spoke of world events & conditions, the environment and our undeniable connection to it, our future with and because of it. The government here and it’s sad state, even more interesting coming from someone not from here and has lived in other parts of the world. Also of course boats and sailing. His Japanese friend who just last year I believe sailed around the world solo at 70 yrs old, setting some kind of record. Maybe the oldest man to single-hand around the world. This same man had not started sailing until he was 50 yrs old (that should be inspiring for us silver sailors). Now he, the friend sails in major world class races. To add to that, he sails to the races from Japan, then races throughout the world then sails back. Lady Z had her own questions about being sea sick (many use half of the patch now-a-days to help) and Neal’s wife and her sailing. His wife currently loves to sail, but had not always been sailing ( a little FYI). Neal currently owns and is redoing a 40ft or so Catamaran. His wife, he said was the one who was instrumental in his buying this Cat. Sadly It was damage in the hurricane there in Southeast and is being repaired. It was interesting to hear someone who has raced in world events yacht races say that they did not really like to sail heeling that much either, in response to Lady Zen comment about sailing on a Cat.

So another pleasant, informative and surprisingly nice contact with a person who I was able to reach out and “touch” ( hear the it’s a small world theme playing in the background) due to the world wide web. It a good name for it when you think about it, we are all connected via this web of wireless wire…there are no barriers( firewalls, yes …heheh), but no barriers…and even the rich and famous can still be and meet, everyday people…Sugoi ne! ( amazing)