Nembutsu…

23 11 2009

Sunday, I wanted to attend the service at the temple today. It was the last major service of the year. There was to be a vegetarian lunch afterward. It was the service in remembrance of the Shin Buddhist founder. Today I was able to get LZ to go. It was not a simple matter, but she went somewhat feeling giri…

After dropping off the rental car she used for the weekend we went to the temple. We were greeted by the Rev Sensei he came over and spoke as did a couple of others. The service was short as are all the services there. There was not as large a turnout as I an others thought . However it was ok, I guess about 30-40 people, mostly seniors. LZ was not familiar with what was going on for the most part. Even though the family in Nihon is of this sect, they never went to services unless there was a death or something big. Also things are run different here. She had a hard time following the sermon as it was in English and Rev Sensei has a thick accent. It would have been better for her if he spoke some in Japanese as well as English.

After service Sensei introduced her to the congregation and everyone was pleased to hear about the family membership in Japan. Part of the sermon today was speaking about the vegetarian meal that was prepared today, what the symbolism of it was. Sensei spoke of Tofu, Carrots and Mushroom. LZ while we were in line for the offering said. I can not eat that, I cannot eat even only a little. One is suppose to clean the plate it would be very bad in Buddhism to leave food , to waste it. I, she says, am allergic to shiitake Mushrooms, and me I dislike any mushroom. Ok, I said lets just go see what is happening we do not have to eat, then we can leave.

One in the dinning room, we checked out a plate of food that was on the table. It looked good! No mushrooms, just some traditional Japanese items, Tofu, dikon, beans and rice, some pickle dikon and some seaweed. We took a seat! Oishi says LZ, one of my favorites she said as she started talking. The more she likes the food the more she talks! She cleaned her plate all but one piece of tofu she gave to me. I had no problem with that, the Tofu had the same taste of Kisuni Undon noodle tofu. She said usually this type of meal has no flavor in Japan, one does not want to eat it. This was also repeated to me by someone else later as I was coming from the kitchen. LZ continues, but this is Oishii! I tease her about not wanting to eat and now cleaning her plate and smiling.

As we sat there eating and drinking tea, a few folks came over and we watched the interaction of the group. LZ says I see why church(s) is (are) a good things here, people connecting and socializing, more of a community. It is not like this in Japan. There people come to a service for whatever reason, but they do not know the other people and once the service is over they go home. There is no community sense and support like here. This is good, especially for seniors and others who do not get out much. This is one of the few things she has said is better here than in Japan.

Next we have cake, again Oishii, light taste, light whipped cream icing, not just the heavy sugar taste of American cakes. This was good, it had taste not just sweet!  We have a piece with some tea then made ready to leave, and cleaned our spots. While leaving to go outside and take a few picture of the light autumn scenery in the court-yard, Rev Sensei calls us back in to the room to get some homemade mochi cakes. Then we quietly left, it was a good morning for me. Even though I could not relate really to the service as a Non-Shin Buddhist, I was pleased I attended and LZ came along and met some of the temple and area community. We had a nice lunch and meet a few new people from the community. I’m sure it made Rev Sensei happy we attended, LZ was happy about the lunch, I was happy about both and attending.





Giri, Karma and LA…

23 11 2009

I heard a soft gong sound in the distance, once, then again, on the third ring my sleepy brain caught on to what was happening, it was 4:30 am and time to get up. I reach out for where the clock should be, unable to see in the dark and felt for the curve of the meditation timer. Not only was it dark it was cold, yuk. I was not into this, but it had to be done, and it was on me to do it, my Giri. My Chan brother had said, you must be special to be the one to help, I guess I replied, better to be the helper than the helpee ( a madeup word).

I was glad I went to bed on the early side to prepare for the trip, it was a beautiful sunset the night before. I was able to get a full night sleep, even though it was chilly in the morning once I got out from under the warmth of the down comforter, and away from the soft warm legs of the sleeping Lady Z, I was good to go.  I had time this morning for a short meditation before gathering myself and getting on the road to LA. Most of the trip down to LA was cold. I had disconnected the heater in the truck, due to the heater core leaking and I have not had the money to repaired. So therefore no heat until the sun came up and I reach a more moderate latitude. I was glad I took my gloves with me for the trip, a couple of sweaters and my jacket and hat. It was cold and the air vent being open did not help matters. One really is grateful for the warmth of the sun, after being in the cold of darkness. I mean this on a couple of levels…

My youngest brother was back in the hospital from the nursing home. I needed to go down and find out what was going on, not only at the hospital, also at the nursing home. We wanted him transferred at some point closer to family. For now I was the closest some 6-7 hour drive. I needed to know what was involved with that process and could it be done. Also his roommate is moving out of their Apt and I need to pack his stuff, music instruments, electronics, clothes, book whatever was there. There was some issues about back rent, what to do with his stuff, etc. At this point he could not even recall who I was, so getting an inventory was out of the question as well as asking what was important. I just had to go for it and hope that if he recovers I picked the right stuff.

It was weird going through my brother’s things and having to decide what to keep and what not to keep. It is unsure if he will recover and what he will be able to do when he does. Going through personal items, gathering data, sad and weird. This is what people do when a family member passes, but in this case he is still around…

I could not help but wonder about his karma to have this happening in his life, as well as mine being the one to have to do it. Him being the youngest and me being the eldest, yet, he is the one in the hospital most of the time lost in non-reality, and having a machine, for the most part keep him alive. Without being hooked up to it, three times a week, he would be gone. While packing and sorting, I think about the many faces of karma, the ripples in the force that both of our karma touch, the other lives as well as our own. Even now maybe his purpose is being filled or both of ours. The turns life takes, I come across some of his childhood pictures and think I never ever dreamt I would be doing this or he would be in this in this space. It also think… it could have been me. Living alone , the lone musician, still trying for a break, playing from time to time, writing, hoping…getting burnt out. Life is interesting, the turns, the twist, the hills and valleys. It can also be very scary. One needs to not only be strong, but I really see the need for some kind of faith, belief in a purpose, or be cold and Jaded, which is more of my lil bother’s path. He wanted so much not to get the family involved with his problems, but in the final stages, it is his family even with great distance between us, it is his family who has his back. His friends, did what they could, but as they fade…family. Of course, and sadly , that is not always the case, sometimes friends are there when family is not. Hmmm, maybe to do with the Karma of those around us, the compassion…we give and take. Some are not so lucky, blessed to have family or friends…

I am up until 3:00 am packing his stuff, some clothes, mostly stuff, he spent more on things, than clothes. Finally I sack out. Sat, will be loading the truck and I’ll see how all this will work.

The next day after 4 hours of sleep I am up packing the truck. I’m good at this and so a couple of hours later I have every thing, stuffed in everyplace that something can fit. I only ended up leaveing two boxes of stuff I had not planned on taking anyway, but was for the most part forced on me by the roommate. It was left for charity with the rest of the stuff. There were a few expendsive things that were missing, I am hoping his friend sold them at my brother request. Anyway, I did what needed to be done there at the Apt. The next stop was at the hospital.

I had brought along my Kyudo equipment hoping to get some Kyudo in while in town. However due to waiting , packing, waiting, waiting, travel that never happened. So around three in the afternoon, I had had it, and hit the road again.

Another long ride back north with the chill of winter creeping into the truck cab as I ride higher into LA mountains. I start adding layers of clothes as the sunsets off to my left and the road dims with shades of darkness. I pop a record cassette tape of my brothers favorite tunes from the 70 & 80 into the tape deck.  I reflect…life, what a long strange trip it is…I say a prayer for the suffering.





Kyudo no Unko mada Kuso desu… part III

19 11 2009

I was of the mind to let this topic slide until the next encounter …however…with the large feedback and some of the content of that said feedback I felt I should touch upon this briefly. Also having  heard from a few others on similar matters which redirected my thoughts back to this topic…I’m dong this for a couple of reasons. 1. No one is talking about this part of Kyudo…yet !  Everyone talks about how wonderful an art this is. and they are right! It is a wonderful Art, however like anything, formal Religion, Art, Politics, Sport, it is the whacked people behind these things, that put the bad slant on it. NOT ALL but enough that there is some taste of bitter and some are more sensitive let’s say than others to the taste. 2. From the comments I am guessing some people think that it is all abut me, I’m the only one seeing, feeling these things. WRONG! 3. Sometimes it is good to rock people’s world. wake them up. Like the wack the monk gives the mediators in Japanese Zen sittings to help them with their enlightenment. Perhaps the smell of this dirty laundry on front street will help with someone’s enlightenment.

There is a Go-Dan who is writing an article for Black Belt magazine. Some of the things I spoke about he is writing about, not the same thing, but in general. I wrote about my experience. I was asked what I thought about his article now after my experience. Do I still think he was too hard. I said, The article was good then, it is good now. However  my opinon had not changed on the modification I suggested. Which was to use more ” tack” on certain areas. Shaolin Tao is one of Compassion.

His words : “The sensei in Japan want you to learn, they want you to feel good about your training experience  and I feel they go out  of their way to make you feel welcome . Not in the United States”. This is a person who has trained here for many years.

Ok, here is another thought from a Go-Dan, a Renshi here in the states not from CA. ” I’m a believer that all forms of Kyudo polish the heart of the participant. Some people who have spent years walking the Way of the Bow seem to not understand any of this. Then again, I wonder, what would they be like if they had spent no time at all on the Path.”

say it together …WoW,

How about a view from another,  a Ni-Dan this time:

“Members of one school are not allowed to practice with the others, and members of one dojo are not allowed to practice elsewhere. This creates an insular culture and inhibits progress, for everyone.”

There is another teacher, who is now considered a “Ronin” he was a senior member in the Zenko clan. This is due to no wrong doing on his part, but someone’s ego got all in a knot, perhaps behind some jealousy …

The moral of this: words from a Go-dan:

“You would think this group would not have politics like other martial arts groups with political problems. It does because we all are human and as long as we are human we will have ego “

One of the biggest challenges, evils, demons we face in this world is ourselves, our egos. This is our largest mountain to climb. I heard the other day at the Extreme Buddhist gathering, the Leader said. “We need our ego, to interact with the world. To do business, etc, etc. However we can not let the ego control us.”

I say, The ego it is a tool for us, we should not be it’s tool or it’s fool

All this means, if you have a good teacher, be grateful, if you have a good practice, be grateful, Just becasue you are walkingin Sunshine does not mean there are no clouds somewhere. If you are struggling with your practice be grateful you are not alone and yours is not the only Dojo, seek out your spot, if you can not locally, there are things coming, developing, falling in place to help you walk the middle way of Compassionate Kyudo…BuddhaKyudo I’ll call it. (^_^)

Anyway have heart , as I said there are some Kyudo Lotus flowers. I tracked through some mud and muck just in my short time and found some…for now Ganbatte!

Here is the thing as I said before, in my most popular post, Kyudo – life in a small space.  It is about the shot, doing your best shot. Just like life. You have good days, bad days, good bosses, bad bosses, good relationships, bad relationship, but each day, each hour you have to give it your best shot. Deal with the Politics, the haters, the ego, the general BS that life throws at you and still give it your best shot. It is about the shot, not the Kuso. Look for the flower in the desert, the lotus in the mud. Ganbatte, Be the Shin Zen Bi.



Flower In The DesertWritten by Loki
A short story from Loki of the Sioux nation approximately 200 years ago. It is said to have been given to her by a medicine man. This happened many many summers ago. There was a young flower in the desert where all was dry and sad looking…It was growing by itself…enjoying every day…and saying to the sun “When shall I be grown up”? And the sun would say “Be patient”—Each time I touch you,you grow a little”…And she was so pleased.Because she would have a chance to bring beauty to this corner of sand…And this is all she wanted to do—bring a little bit of beauty to this world.One day the hunter came by—and stepped on her.—She was going to die—and she felt so sad.Not because she was dying —but because she would not have a chance to bring a little bit of beauty to this corner of the desert.The great spirit saw her, and was listening.—Indeed,he said …She should be living…And he reached down and touched her—and gave her life.And she grew up to be a beautiful flower…and this corner of the desert became so beautiful because of her.




Extreme Buddhism…

16 11 2009

Yawn…

I had been thinking about going to the Berkeley Buddhist Temple today for the co-gathering of the East Bay Buddhist ( Shin Buddhist ) temple founder service. Why, well to see what goes on mostly. I was on Sat night. This sect is different from my Chan group. Then I read that even though their main Buddha is not Shakyamuni , it is Amida they still do not consider him a “GOD” more like Manifested Universal Spiritual Energy. So I was ok with that. Yet this morning I felt, Berkeley do I really feel like the trip. After my morning meditation I thought, yeah step outside your comfort zone and do it.

BBT

It was a somewhat cool Sunny Sunday Autumn day. I am always nervous about going into new places and usually being the smallest minority. But I did it. I walked in, got some info and sat down. I few minutes later I felt a tap on my shoulder. A girl asked me was I a member here and some other stuff. I’m thinking, oh am I sitting in the wrong place? However it was cool. It was her first time there also, she was a journalist student from Berkeley doing some kind of writeup about the change in the service or something like that from Japan to America. We chatted a bit, she was from Osaka sort of, same as LZ. She was really from Kobe, but loved Osaka. Her husband to be was moving to the states from Osaka.

We talked for a bit on the modification of things Japanese once it is in the states, then service started. An Oba-chan who was sitting next to me, who had moved in and out a few times I spoke to in Japanese. She shared her “song” book with me. After the  service we chatted a bit she was nice, she said it was very nice to met me. The service was a combined effort of the three temples. There were four ministers who spoke, each one gave a short talk and the whole thing was over in about 1 hour. One talk was on peace, another was on it’s a small world and we all share it we are all one, another was on The three A’s,  the third Sensei wrapped it all up combining the topics.

There was another part to the service later and lunch, but I headed out. I wanted to make it to Kyudo practice, then to the Extreme Buddhist event in the City later. I was pleased with myself for going and stepping out my comfort zone.

On the way home, I have car problems, a water hose breaks, car over heats, I stop, get water, fill up , drive , stop, etc, etc. So much for Kyudo. I limp the car home. This is not a simple hose and LZ has to go to work. Oh well, I adjust my plans and take steps to deal with the situation. That  is all one can do most time is to flow with it…

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While in Chinatown last week I came across a poster that said Extreme Buddhism. I liked the graphic however it struck me as some New Age Get some new blood in the mix marketing thing. I invited my Chan sister to come along to see what was Up an spoke some about it at the Chan meeting. Shijie could not make it, and I had considered not going if I needed to miss Kyudo, Then Kyudo was set for 2:00pm so I could make both. Well then the car water hose broke. Anyway to shorten the tale. I went to the Extreme Buddhist gathering. It was hmmm. ok. I hated , hated the music! The leader a woman, Buddhist Priest casual dressed in jeans was in charge. THe stage had a VERY nice Chinese screen with a dragon, There was one chair on the stage with a large vase of flowers next to it. Low key understated, classy. She spoke of many good things and at no time said anything about joining her group. However the playing Rock and metal to meditate really did not do it for me. It fit her style but not mine. The best music was Bob Marley songs during the cookie break!

Anyway, it was good marketing, selling without selling, basically Chan for Middle America. Nothing really ground breaking for people with Meditation practice.  She drew from Yoga, Christian, Zen Philosophy. It was though a good non-Asian intro for those who’ve not been exposed or understood this “Chan” type of thought . Would I recommend it…Well nothing was said about the cost of having this woman as a teacher. She did say it was not easy to be taken as a student. Sounded like good marketing to me. Also bring s to mind, the saying if you have to ask, you can not afford it. The Hyatt Regency is not cheap to rent! Also reminds me of South Park, Cartman had a playground, He said it was not for just anyone, so of course everyone wanted to come.

Would it be worth it…? Depends on the person. Everyone is different…





Drama this , n Chan that..

15 11 2009

Wow…

This is from my dashboard:

Top Posts (the past week)

The Storms continue… 73 views

Kyudo no Unko mada kuso desu… part II 13 views

Friday night Kyudo 8 views

Watashi no Shugyo Renshu 7 views

Heart Chan/Zen @ Berkeley 6 views

Bamboo in the Storm 5 views

The Finger Pointing To The Moon 4 views

Kyudo, Life in a small space… 4 views

So what you may ask. Well, here is the thing…Up until last week my all time consistent top post for the week for months and months has been : Kyudo, Life in a small space. I wrote that a couple of years ago , but still it gets major hits. Last week I posted about the problems I am dealing with, no money, health issues with the family and my hits on that went off the hook. People like to read about other peoples problems I guess. Makes theirs seem smaller, or misery loves company?? I guess that why bad news sells papers??? Yet out of all those readers only a few left a comment, thank you those who did for your show of compassion. Anyway seems people like to read about Drama and people issues more than anything else, at least here.

My other high viewer, though not as big, last week was about Kyudo. I generally get more folks stopping by to read about Kyudo. Very few other than my on-line buds leave comments. But this time, whooohoo, a couple of guys got their Hakamas all knotted up about my experience. My relating of what happened to me. Kind of funny really. Many of their points were valid, but hey. Like the finger pointing to the moon, depending on where you stand the angle is different, but it is still the same moon. Nor is the finger the moon.  I’m telling from my angle. Still thanks guys for saying something, few leave tracks in the sand. Again though it is Drama, controversy that got the draw.–

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So a little update for those who care. My Step father is improving, we went out to see him a few days ago, he was awake and even able to try to laugh at a remark I made about my Mum’s Cooking, in addition to leading a group prayer of thanks around his bed. His improvement made a big difference with my Mum’s attitude. As for the house, it seems to be working out that they can rent for up to 90 days. Another major blessing. That will give them a chance to make ready for a big move to the East Coast where family property is kept up and life will be gentler financially. I still need to deal with my youngest brother’s situation. Thanks again for your well wishes.

_/|\_

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I went to our monthly area Chan meeting on Sat. It had been awhile since I went, do to whatever reason. Today I made a point of attending. One of the elders was in town and attending. I relate well to him. We took him out to lunch at a local Chinese place and got to chat as a small group of “elder” family. It was warm and comfortable. Without any close friends around it was good to feel the “chi” of the group. After lunch we took a stroll around the local park before going to the meeting.

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At the meeting we had a long meditation session and practiced a new form of Chakra meditation. I was good for about 45 or so, then lost focus once the soreness kicked in big time on my legs. We had a discussion afterward which I will not go into, but it did help me feel better about some things in my head and heart even though we did not talk about “those things” in the discussion, however for me there seemed to be a message.

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It was a long day starting with Tai Chi /Kung Fu class in the morning, ending with a Chan class in the late afternoon.  A day of good blessing.

Coming next Extreme Buddism





The Storms continue…

9 11 2009

“May you live in interesting times”, I have heard is an old Chinese curse.

storm

Hmmm let see,

My youngest brother is in a nursing home, some 8 months, he can not walk, he can barely see, getting dialysis three times a week due to diabetes

He has no income.

His roommate is moving out of their apt because she can not afford it alone.

He is in LA.

I am the nearest relative… 7 hours away

My Stepdad is in the hospital recovering from heart surgery last week, he is not recovering quickly

A company took their $4,000 to get their mortgage payment of 3,500 lowered and did nothing.

The last house payment sent in was returned

The bank sold their home from under them

My Mum , 85 yrs old got served noticed she needs to move from their home in 3 wks or get put out.

They are in Sac.

I am her nearest relative…1.5 hours away

Our condo, was suppose to be sold, but the buyer lost his loan due to the slowness of the mortgage company

The law firm wanted another 3,000 to work a deal with the mortgage company so the condo could be relisted for sale

The mortgage company is calling now, foreclosure is on the horizon

My ex-wife sent a note thanking me for the money I sent and reminding I was still behind on payments

My unemployment benefits run out in 3 months….

The company were we have been practicing Kyudo for free is closing down and getting evicted.

Things could be worse…and are worse for many…still

storm 2

…I would say these are interesting times.

Remember to be grateful

for those moments of joy.





Kyudo no Unko mada kuso desu… part II

3 11 2009

Before I go into more, let me do a bit of review, let’s take a ride on the “way back machine” to my beginning contact with the NorCal Renmei. There are basically three Dojo’s here in Nor Cal. By my first contact, I was told, if I could not commit to every practice session then he ( the sensei) did not want to be bothered because after 10 yrs (or whatever) of teaching he was tired of repeating himself to people who could not remember. Nice! Very impressive instructor, reeks of warmth and a fine example of Shin Zen Bi…not!

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Next, I go by to see another Sensei ( 2 of 3).  I spent the afternoon practicing with him. He seemed nice enough. Helpful. However when I ask him via e-mail about the requirements for a kyu (which is one step above nothing) ranking, I am totally ignored. Ok, not really a big deal, but… that did not leave me with a good impression…made me feel blown off,

Ok, next school. I ask about visiting a class. I am told because my email address has “Zen” in it, I would be better off going to another school ( were I first  started Kyudo) because they ( his school) teach the True Budo form of Kyu-do. None of this shoot for enlightenment stuff. I should look elsewhere I’d be happier. I went to visit anyway. Later i was told, by the main Sensei they already have two or three new students and there was no time for another, maybe next year.

On Page 9 of the Kyohon * this is the Bible for the AJKF) it states:
Kyudo is not simply a way to create well-being and train the body, but a way to bring enhancement and cultivation to your life… we, as practitioners of Kyudo, who are expected to master such virtues as discipline, modesty, gentleness, self-restraint, and reflection through the shooting, can realize these qualities in our own life.

hmmm, I seemed to have missed this in my contacts so far…

Ok , on to SoCa. The So Cal group was very welcoming. It was a most pleasant change from the other contacts. I spent the weekend practicing with them at several venues. They were pleasant. I enjoyed the added “Zen” touches from the Sensei. However they had internal issues, which I will not go into and there was an internal split somewhat later. One of those somewhat common Martial Art things…anyway the “Zen” Sensei is basicly a Ronin from the Renmei Daimyo …sad.

But wait… there is more. I found out later there another chapter of the So CA Renmei Group. I never met this Sensei however I did read some of the correspondence to one of my Tanuki bothers, which was not very heartening about the open-mindedness of the very “serious” members of the AJK who says “We are more serious about AKR Kyudo and making sure that it is practiced accordingly.”…Wow!

“When one door closes …another opens”

At this point I am pretty feed up with the Renmei in CA. I figure to just practice and  give up any thought of joining, testing, the like and if need be do things the long way once in Nihon. Shortly, I am contacted by a friend who says. Well I told you about the BS there, I figured it was best to let you find it yourself. There is another way. The Kyudo Alliance is about welcoming people and advancing the Art of Kyudo without the Political Unko. Also via them you can test , go to Japan to train whatever, because the head of the Alliance is the highest ranking Renmei member in the states. You can attend seminars, whatever including the upcoming one in January. You will still need to join a group, but that can be worked out. Shortly after I receive an email from another Ranking Sensei who is also a founding member inviting me to train at his school and attend seminars. He too is concerned about the current stat of affairs with stateside Renmei and says I am welcome to train with his group. He also states that the Senior , the leader, the Highest ranking State-side Dan is a breath of fresh air. Wow! finally The lotus blooms. I am delighted and amazed.

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The Lotus flower in Chan /Zen is a symbol of purity, enlightenment. The Lotus itself is considered special as it grows out of filth and muck to bloom into a beautiful flower that has risen above the yuk and muck.

but wait there is more.

Meanwhile, after the big let down from the letter from the SO CAL person about how closed the upcoming seminar was and feeling their superior attitude, I had written to the Sensei I had practice with one afternoon in Nor Cal. I asked him about training with him reguarly, he was my final hope for Nor CAL and the Renmei entrance…I thought. He is now the President of the Nor Cal Chapter. I asked about training with him, now that I was located closer to him and had all my equipment, ( I did not before). I was not expecting to hear from him once again, like the last time. However I figured, why not give it one more shot. I was not too surprised when I did not receive an answer for a day. However I was really shocked this evening when I did receive the answer that I was welcome to come train with him! Whoa shock! another Lotus

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So things have sorted out. The Lotus Flowers have risen from the muck.

There is a piece from the Tao Te Ching that I can not recall right now, but it sorts out to, after being in the dark , you are more grateful for the light.

The path gets interesting from here…

to be continued