Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Regina Spektor - Laughing With God (Official Video)

I heard this on NPR yesterday and wanted to share it with everyone. This is brilliant and insightful and melodic.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

The Life Of Father Bede Griffiths

"A Hu­man Search -​ The Life Of Fa­ther Be­de Grif­fiths"
(More Than Il­lu­sion Films, 1993)

An enlightened soul on the path who found it by natural process, you must watch this video. Bede Griffiths OSB Cam (17 December 1906 – 13 May 1993), born Alan Richard Griffiths and also known, by the end of his life, asSwami Dayananda ("bliss of compassion"), was a British-born IndianBenedictine monk who lived in ashrams in South India and became a noted yogi. He has become a leading thinker in the development of the dialogue between Christianity and Hinduism. Griffiths was a part of theChristian Ashram Movement.

Monday, July 30, 2012

We never give up on anyone! by Haeja Sunim

Have you ever made a mistake, known it was mistake, and vowed never to repeat it, only to make the same mistake yet again? I know that I have made mistake after mistake seemly without end. When do we throw in the towel and accept defeat?

“We never give up on anyone!” I want to thank Wonji Sunim for saying those words to me. I have no idea what we were talking about at the time. Maybe I wasn’t paying attention or I forgot.
Nevertheless, those words have had a profound impact on me. There are times when everything can look bleak and one feels like giving up. But can we really give up and spend our lives sitting in a corner sucking our thumbs? As the old Chinese proverb says, “Six times knocked down, seven times get up.”

Perhaps you teach others and someone you work with seems to waste your time. Over and over you have offered a solution to their “problem”.  After a while it starts to feel like you are wasting your time.  Recently after a friend had committed to begin kong’an practice with me for the umpteenth time, he did not even bother to show up for the first phone appointment.  I had the thought, ‘If this guy wants to start in the future, I’ll tell him that I don’t have an opening.’

Right after that thought went through my head the next thought was “We don’t give up on anyone!”  In this case the second thought was the antidote to the first.  I am not always that lucky.  If I had let that thought loop around unchecked I would have unleashed a mountain of misery upon myself.  Here is a taste of the mistakes that would have compounded quickly.  I would be guilty of claiming supernatural powers like foreseeing the future.  The first precept against lying or to affirm the truth would have been broken. 
In the future if I were to carry out my thought, I would have been holding on to my idea of my friend and not be willing to see him for who he is in the present.  We are currently in the month of Ramadan, the month that Muslims all over the world commit to letting go of attachments and habits and focus on the One.  They would call my mistake “shirk”, which means making partners with the One. Oneness with reality is called “tawhid”. Shirk is the greatest sin in Islam.  In Zen we may call it “making separation” which pops us directly into duality and suffering.  I hope the pattern is obvious without belaboring the point.

In Zen we brashly vow to save all sentient beings.  For me that would include my friend, my wife, myself, and my cats for starters.  The list continues with every being in Illinois, the Midwest, America, the world, and finally the whole universe or universes.  I will save no less then all beings everywhere.  How is this possible?

From the perspective of the individual, it is not possible.  We can’t even save ourselves. No matter how hard we try the next mistake is right around the corner.  What can we do?  The problem isn’t the action that we label a mistake. If you think about it, mistakes are necessary.  Without taking an action and noticing the effects, how could we learn and grow?

We are supposed to make mistakes.  How can we know that?  Because we do; it’s reality.  Reality is always true.  Reality is not the problem.  The problem is our interpretation of reality.  We create or make an opinion, holding on to it and using it to judge ourselves and others. 

The reason that we do that is because we believe that we are separate and special.  Making and holding on to an idea of I, me, and mine is our original mistake.  All desire and hatred comes from this fundamental delusion. One meaning of saving all beings is to let go of this idea of self in each moment that we notice it.  This letting go returns us to the One.  In the One, all beings are already saved because there are no separate beings.  This is the theme of the Diamond Sutra.

When do we accept defeat for ourselves or cut off our love from others?  Isn’t this now an empty question? Even if we believe that we are separate we aren’t.  We can only cut ourselves off from ourselves.  It would be like our left hand being angry at our right hand and cutting it off.  The reason doesn’t matter because whatever the reason, the action is insane!

Then what do we do? Please consider giving yourself and everyone else a pass. No one is the same from one moment to the next. First we become clear by letting go of our thinking and paying attention to what we see, hear, taste, smell and touch in the present without interpretation. Then if our mind is clear we can sincerely ask, “How may I help you?” This is great love and compassion in action.

 Letting go is the essence of forgiveness. We forgive for ourselves as much as for the other because making separation is painful to everyone. When Jesus was asked, “How many times should we forgive our brothers? Seven?” He said, “No, seventy times seven.” In Buddhist terms we might say “84,000 times, or 10,000”. They all mean infinity. In the words of a modern Zen master, “We never give up on anyone!”

Friday, July 13, 2012

Gregorian Chants & Buddistic Shómyó

I want to thank both Karima and Bob Ebert for bringing this lovely video to my attention. A dialogue of two spiritual cultures based on the musical repertoire of the Buddhist and the Christian tradition - Schola Gregoriana Pragensis & Gjosan-rjú Tendai Sómjó(Buddhist Monks from Japan).

Meaningful dialogue between religions is no doubt one of the most pressing challenges of the modern world. Developments over the past few years clearly confirm what a significant role this aspect of human communication represents. Despite breathtaking technological breakthroughs and the related trend of rational scepticism, man still remains a religious creature. Ignoring this sphere of human personality not only leads to an impoverishment of the spiritual culture of a nation, but also to mutual estrangement of nations. And so what a wonderfully enriching experience it is then two cultures meet in mutual dialogue rather than confrontation.

View, listen & order the CD at 
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Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Gaelic Guerrilla

Our New Student Karima Wicks sent me this link, it is interesting that I could be related to Che Guevara through my Irish roots....

Sunday, June 24, 2012


By Rev. Bruce Ohjok Foley

No small wonder that the opening words to the Rule Of Saint Benedict begins with, “Listen carefully...” What'd he say? “Listen-Carefully.” The “Holy Rule,” as it is often referred to is an ancient text found in western monasticism, still very much alive today as it was over 1700 years ago. Old St. Benedict had to be doing something right. His program still works. It seems that having the ear of good listeners was a problem way back then in Benedict’s time as it is now. The human condition. The more things change, the more things stay the same. Benedict goes the extra mile when he takes the “how to”of listening to a deeper level when advising monks in Latin “Et inclina ausculata.” “Incline the ear of your heart.” A similarity to this approach in the east would be the Japanese, “hara,” the gut. That still point of wisdom just below the navel. Thus the term, “Go with your gut instinct.” Each tradition designates a place where the process begins and unfolds. Master Joshu was never heard saying, “Incline the ear of your belly button,” but any serious martial artist or Zen practitioner will note well that the hara is where it's at. The heart is often referred to in western spirituality as the seat of wisdom and by definition Benedict's phrase implies the handing over of one's entire being. Here, Benedict is speaking to monks, yet thousands of lay practitioners of the Christian path still use his Rule everyday to guide their steps along the spiritual journey. You see, even monks needed to be reminded of the importance of listening despite being considered the elite sect of the interior life, as monks are perceived still in many of the worlds great spiritual traditions. Disciples are disciples and Buddha no doubt had his own share of students who had yet to awaken to that place of practice where one enters a deep and detached disposition of listening. Listening seems to be the best place to start when placing one's intention toward awakening. An empty cup can only be filled. Listening is the essence of beginners mind. Only experts can afford not to. Jesus and Suzuki see eye to eye, “Take the last place,” and “The greatest among you shall be servant to all.” Here, humility is aligned with attentive listening.

When my dear friend of many years and ever present source of wise counsel Rev. Paul Lynch wrote to me recently saying,”More people of the Catholic/Christian tradition are showing an interest in Zen,” I stopped to consider, “What might be a topic of interest that speaks to the unity of spiritual traditions rather than all that which so obviously differs?” We never get far in any relationship holding onto differences that define our distance. I avoid using the more common language of, “religious traditions” because as quick as you can say, “Mu,” there will come the outcry of a zealous Zen student,”Hey! Zen is not a religion!” Relax. Don't get caught up in form. Words are like the shells to peanuts. They need to be cracked open to get to the nut. The good stuff. The inner meaning. The best definition I ever heard of conveying the proper spirit of listening is being attentive in a way that we give ourselves over entirely to those who speak to us or to that which is to be heard in silence, contemplative moments of reflection. In the act of Lectio Divina (spiritual reading) the Christian monk/nun is trained to select a phrase of scripture and sit with it while ruminating on what the text may be saying to him/her. There, in deep silence with a disposition and posture of stillness and attentive listening, one reaps from the text an experience which becomes the stuff of personal transformation. Listening gives way to that which is offered, more of a gift, an intuition of insight, where the self is gently put aside. Whereas thinking grasps and seeks to create, denying the process of the intuitive faculties by imposing the self aggressively into the process.

The western monastic practice of Lectio is not about “thinking” but “listening” so that what is gleaned is a thing received, not fabricated. Sort of like sitting with a koan, or the wise instructions of one's teacher. At some point the word thus pondered breaks the hard shell of “this I” created by the false self and at the same time shines a light within that bestows a greater self knowledge. One step closer to the true self or our original nature. Our true ground. When practitioners are asked to define this moment from experience, a common response is, “It felt like coming home.” One now enters the contemplative dimension of living. An integration of becoming more fully human takes place and having tasted the fruit harvested from the work of attentive listening, we now direct our will to being still, less talkative, with an increased awareness of our speech, behavior and overall attitude. One guided by attentive listening.

Silence and listening. They go together well. Spiritual disciplines, vehicles that bring us toward self realization and insight. Listening it would seem is aligned with breathing inasmuch as this in breath follows the next out breath, so too does this now moment of listening follow the next now moment of responding to life as we move outward to benefit others. The better the listening, the better our response to life. Listening takes on a keen awareness that reflects our correct situation and response to it.

I had a friend over one evening to view the movie, “Into The Great Silence.” This is a very powerful film about the life of Carthusian monks. Hermits of western monasticism, known to Roman Catholicism. This order was formed in 1098 by St. Bruno and has not since changed much with exception to the installation of light bulbs. In this film there is no speech offered the viewer as the monks go about their daily life in one of the worlds most austere expressions of monastic life, high up into the French Alps of Grenoble. Silence and solitude are the underlying current that carries the monk along in a steady flow that leads to awakening. If you have not seen this film, I suggest you may consider doing so. Of and by itself it offers a profound teaching on listening and being present to this now moment.

About half way through the movie, my friend turned to me fascinated and said, “This is Zen.” Knowing full well what was implied, I just nodded with a smile and replied,”Yes, it is very much like Zen, isn't it?” No speech. Just, “this quiet mind.” No hurry. Just, “being with what is.” I have enjoyed watching the expression on friends faces when they watch this film. A deep peace settles over them. They relax and become still. Just from watching monks live their life. Would that we embody such a style of our own to effect the same on those around and near us. How is it then that this effect takes it's hold on the monk and becomes his every life's breath? Attentive listening, a listening with the ear of the heart. This is what Benedict means, listening with one's entire being. The monk shuts the door to the thinking mind to welcome the sound of silence. The monk cherishes silence not because of a vow, that's myth. He seeks an inner quiet so as to listen. He enters a place of no thought so as to hear the whisper of truth in all things that surround him. In listening attentively, all things reveal their true nature to us just as they are, “just like this,” and not as the thinking mind would have it. In listening with undivided attention we attend to hear that which is not fabricated by the notion of “I, me and my.” We take what is offered from a place of silence, filtered in silence. The value of which is that much more pure in the receiving.

Inside all of us there is this false persona that follows us around, attempting to speak incessantly, projecting itself onto everything and everyone we encounter, until we recognize the voice, of ego. You know, the voice that sounds like a broken record that repeats itself over and over, again and again, in a stream of mindless chatter and delusion. The self of likes, dislikes, criticism, opinions and imagination. When the voice of the false self takes over it is an indication that we've slipped out of attentive listening and being fully present to just this moment. True solitude is interior. We do not need to climb the Alps or enter a monastery. Just sit. It's about learning to be still where we are. Right now. Being faithful to the practice which effects the transformation, we become the stillness. And that's a good place to be. Becoming that stillness is a gift we give ourselves.

If we can only remember that each day we are beginners.

The “mind before thought” and “attentive listening.” Are they the same or different?

Christian monasticism's “ear of the heart” and Zen's “hara.” Are they the same or different?

Joshu's “oak tree in the garden” and Jesus' “lilies of the field.” Are they the same or different?


There is much to learn from one another, no matter what path we are on. A documentary filmed in total silence about Catholic hermits has brought this home to many. Structures found within western monasticism are much like those found in Zen. Wisdom is not exclusive to one path only. Awakening can not be placed in a box. Exclusivity is another way of saying duality. In dropping the notion of “my path to enlightenment” or wearing it around like a badge, which is a subtle pride at work, pride being ignorance, and learning to appreciate methods found in other traditions, we leave behind forms that point to the moon. In putting down distinctions while listening attentively we can hear an ancient and familiar call that speaks to the heart of all cultures and all traditions.

It was there before thinking mind. It is that which speaks of an experiential oneness. Here, we can all sit together as one and with Ryokan, enjoy this beautiful moon.

Are you listening?

Bruce Ohjok Foley is a member of the Kwan Um School of Zen, an affiliate of the Five Mountain Zen Order and a former Catholic monk. He resides in Las Vegas, Nevada where he works with special needs children. A Nidan Black Belt in Shotokan Karate, Ohjok also teaches and practices various martial arts.

Friday, February 10, 2012

My idea is correct

My idea is correct! These words are still reverberating, with the operatic bravado of Zen Master Seung Sahn’s deep baritone voice, and rattling around somewhere within my eighth level of consciousness. This simple statement, as with many of the euphemisms that somehow found their way into the minds of students lucky enough to have studied with this great Bodhisattva from Korea, is an extremely powerful insight into the rampant global malady of the twenty–first century. Zen Master Seung Sahn would often return to this point repeatedly; sometimes it was during public talks, and other times it was during one of the many kōan interviews that I was lucky enough to have with him. However, there was one particular morning that a group of us were lounging around in the living room after breakfast at Dharma Zen Center in Los Angeles.

Someone in the group asked, “If dharma is the truth, why can’t we just make people understand this truth, it has always seemed to me that we should not have wars and should not be killing people, yet it seems that the problems keep getting worse. Why can't you just tell the Pope and the other world religious leaders to follow the truth or the dharma?” Zen Master Seung Sahn answered the question in this way,

“It is quite common to hear people say that their own beliefs are correct, and that any other belief structures cannot be correct because there is only one true belief structure and that is the one that I adhere to! Some may even go so far as to say that if you do not believe the same thing as I believe, I will kill you! Today this is humanity’s number one problem. However, earlier you asked me what we can do about this problem. This morning I woke up at four thirty and bowed, and chanted and sat meditation. However, many of you believe that this is not enough.

Frequently I lecture on the Buddhadharma, yet the true Buddhadharma is not Buddhadharma, also, neither the sun, nor the moon, nor the star ever said, ‘I am the sun, I am the moon, I am the star.’ Likewise, Śākyamuni Buddha never said, ‘I am the Buddha;’ nor did God ever say, ‘I am God.’ The true God, just like the true Buddha has no name. Additionally, the true sun, the true moon, and the true star also have no name. All names are created by mind alone; these are names like Buddhadharma, truth, and Christ Consciousness. The only true Buddhadharma is no Buddhadharma and the ultimate truth is no truth. The true Christ Consciousness is also no Christ Consciousness, but you must watch out! If you create Buddhadharma then you will have Buddhadharma; and if you make Christ Consciousness, you will have Christ Consciousness. Nevertheless, if you cut off all thinking, and then everything in this cosmos and you will become one.

In addition, if you attach to some idea, then you only have some idea, and you lose everything in the cosmos. If you relinquish every idea of your own, then you already have everything in the universe. This means that you must, throw away Dharma, Buddha, and God, and you must also throw away your understanding. If you can do this you will then realize the true Dharma, the true Buddha, true nature, and true substance.

Once you realize this, then everything you see, everything you hear, and everything you smell, is Dharma, Buddha, and truth. If your mind perceives the correct Buddhadharma, then everything is the correct Buddhadharma. If your mind perceives the truth, then everything is the truth. If your path is correct, then everything is the correct path. This is Buddha’s teaching, that everything is made by the mind alone. However, how do you just now, moment to moment, keep your correct situation? This is the point. So if you make your idea completely disappear, then everything you see, everything you hear, and everything you do, all is Buddhadharma.”

I have been practicing Zen for more than twenty-six years, and with patience, I have slowly digested many of the extraordinarily simple euphemisms that Zen Master Seung Sahn would use. In light of the recent situations occurring throughout the world the actual subtleness of a simple statement like “my idea is correct,” has caused me to reflect upon the situation, which faces humanity in this twenty–first century. Additionally, as I have reflected upon the teachings of Śākyamuni Buddha, Jesus Christ, Mohammed and many of the other great Spiritual Master’s who have continued in this unbroken chain of enlightening this world of its darkness, it seems that we haven’t made much spiritual growth as a human race. These teachings were first revealed almost five thousand years ago and contained in the stories and metaphors of these ancient teachings are representations of the same problems that most people continue to complain about today.

Part of the problem is that we all have opinions; even Spiritual Master’s and enlightened teachers have opinions that are held close to the heart. This is a very important point, because there is a new–age belief that we can completely rid ourselves of all of our opinions. Fundamentally, it is easy to let go of the opinions that are not good for us, or cause us immense suffering, and after even a few months of practicing all meditators begin to shed some of their unnecessary and unwanted ideas. The danger is that these ideas quickly are replaced with new ideas about our own spiritual path. We begin to think that everyone should be doing what we are doing because this has helped us so much. Then we start to think that we are doing this right and begin to correct those around us. This is what Zen Master Yúnmén called, “the stink of Zen.”

Over the years, I have come to understand that the best we may aspire to achieve with some of our opinions is to not attach to them so powerfully and desperately and to see the ultimate transparency of all of our thoughts. One of the fundamental requirements of Zen Practice is to aspire to relinquish attachment to your opinions, your condition and your situation in an effort to allow the truth of each and every moment to shine though with its own undefiled luminosity. However, this is a very tall order for those of us who practice meditation everyday and still live in this modern twenty–first century world.

People are extremely dis–satisfied with their lives, their jobs, their families, their spouses, etc. However, these are just the immediate dis–satisfactions, because they are also overwhelmingly unhappy with their governments or someone else’s government; their religion or someone else’s religion. Many of the seven plus billion people on this planet think that their own religion, government, ethnicity, and so forth, are the only right views in the world. They also believe that the ‘others’ are causing them, or their county, or their religion huge problems by believing something different. Therefore, the individuals and their political leaders, and their religious leaders decide that the ‘others’ are wrong and must be prevented any further influence upon their children, community, countries and religious institutions. The human race has brought hate to the center of its focus and this has wreaked havoc upon all societies with horrible results over the last one hundred years. There have been about sixty–seven major wars since the beginning of the twentieth century. In addition, all these wars have needlessly cut short the lives of more than one hundred sixty nine million people. That, to put the number into perspective, is about half the total population of the United States. It was announced in the news that in 2005 the total global expenditures on war exceeded $1,000,000,000,000. Written out this figure is one trillion dollars.

There is an old Zen tale about Chán Master Zhàozhōu, “one day Master Zhàozhōu and a student were walking in the forest when they came upon a rabbit in the path they were travelling. The startled rabbit immediately took flight into the wild underbrush of the forest for safety. This student was confused by the rabbit’s reaction, so he asked his teacher why the rabbit was fearful as he was obviously a great enlightened master and only liberated all sentient beings from suffering. Master Zhàozhōu said, “It is because I am the best killer.” This is the most important point we can realize about our own inherent humanity. We all have the potential to take another’s life. We try to defend ourselves from our own nature, but just as we have the aspirations of unfathomable love, we also carry the potential for utter horror and destruction. Zen Master Seung Sahn would often call this our internal nuclear bomb. The point of all of this is that we cannot begin to “save all beings from suffering” until we eradicate our own internal suffering, grief and dis–satisfaction.

When I was Abbot at the Golden Wind Zen Center, I sponsored a program that was open to anyone regardless of religious orientation or membership. At many of these meetings, non-Buddhists would show up and were looking to help. When asked why they chose to come to a Buddhist Peace Fellowship meeting they invariable shared their dis–satisfaction with other “peace” organizations. Most shared that there is too much conflict within these “peace” groups and many of the members disagree with each other; consequently, the peace activists’ end up yelling and screaming in the meetings arguing about the best way to achieve peace. Even worse, some of the members of these groups express a desire to violently overthrow the government, which was Master Zhàozhōu’s point. We cannot attain outside peace before we attain inside peace, and once we attain inside peace we can begin to fulfill our vow to save all sentient begins from suffering.

Invariably, the spiritual practitioner hears, “you must relinquish all attachment to your opinion, your situation and your condition,” and Americans seem to easily relate to this goal. However, what does this process of really letting go entail? Does this mean then that there is not truth or ultimate reality? In a way, the answer to this question is both yes and no. However, understanding this aspiration in the wrong way by answering the question yes or no or both ways can be a very dangerous proposition. There was once a tendency in America to be “tolerant” of other people’s beliefs as they might relate to religious theology, after all this country was founded on the principal of religious tolerance. The Founding Fathers held these principals as the cornerstone of the enlightened Democracy in which American’s are free to live today. I am not at all questioning or demeaning the U.S. Constitution or the American Government, however, and as you might expect here comes the opinion (perhaps), America has drawn a double standard about what religious tolerance means. Some, reading this article, practice a form of religion (that religious practice may even take the form of being non-religious) while others may still have a deep connection to the root faiths that they grew up with. Some have spouses, children and significant others who practice faiths other than the primary faith that their other family members have come to practice. Furthermore, if one is practicing a religion in the spirit of the original founder there should be no conflict with any other religion or person.

This where the question has begun to get more interesting. What is our responsibility to our own self nature? Furthermore, what then is our responsibility to our parents, family, local community, religion, country and ultimately with is our relationship to humanity? Finally, what is it that we extend out to all sentient beings? This is the question that faced Śākyamuni Buddha while he sat under the Bodhi tree. This is also the ultimate test of faith that Jesus faced on the cross when he said, “Father, why have you forsaken me?” Buddha’s insight into the nature of this question resulted in the four noble truths and the eightfold path. From this humble beginning, Buddhism was born and eventually blossomed into a rich and diverse tradition with eighty four thousand scriptures illuminating the darkness of the mind. Jesus ultimately is said to have returned from death, having attained complete and utter union with God. From this insight, the Apostles set out on a path to create Christianity.

If we understand the inner meaning of Jesus’ resurrection and realize that it might possibly be a metaphor that allows us to be reborn into the world in which we have already been living. Or perhaps we may study the four noble truths, follow the eight–fold path, aspire to the four great vows and keep the precepts close to our hearts. Ultimately, to eradicate any doubts we can answer this one question for ourselves. What am I?

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Came from Equinox Mountain
Where he lived that name
Alone in the snow
An owl for a friend at night
Lost in Nirvana and loudly chanting
The Buddhas assembled here
Unaware of unfolding Karma
A hermit in a stone cell
A puddle of piss in the Pure Land.

Rev. Bruce Ohjok Foley

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

ocean of suffering

Many, many names and forms
pointing toward their own bolded type.
The always clear and true remains,
mindfully perceived or not.
How many,
flowers, fingers, sticks and shouts,
must bloom, point, hit and spout,
before their mystical secrets,
are plainly revealed.
All things as they are,
ever fishing for awakened smiles,
in the ocean of suffering,
and the sea of great doubt.

Rev. Joshua Wanji Paszkiewicz


Buddha calls you now
Becoming Stillness
Is a high price to pay
For such to be you will owe
Beginners Mind
Oak tree in the garden
Go wash your bowl

Rev. Bruce Ohjok Foley

Tuesday, February 7, 2012


some of those sleeping
are awake.
while there are others
who are awake
that are completely asleep.

some of those bathing
in the sacred pools
will never get free

while others at home
doing household chores
are free of any action.

Lalla Ded

Burning Incense

Incense burned sweet with smoke arising
Great Brightness shone in the Mouth of The Lion
With a new name he disappeared
Why hasn't that fellow a beard?
I'll give you a Jew on a wooden cross bleeding
You give me your Asian smiling serenely.

Rev. Bruce Ohjok Foley

Saturday, February 4, 2012

what is God?

one day when I was four,
lying on my back with my sister,
gazing up at the clouds,
lords prayer on the phonograph
playing repeatedly in the Sierra Mountains,
the cumulous clouds would take on amazing forms
my initiation into mystical experience,
an early communion with God.

one day when I was fourteen,
science seemed to hold the key.
now, only wanting answers,
the questions lost their meaning
a birthday gift from my sister;
John Lennon’s album “Imagine.”
understanding only his words,
I then lost faith in God.

one day when I was eighteen,
discovered hallucinatory drugs,
had a communion with a fly
in the high California Desert,
and lost the way completely.
so absorbed in a world of sensory stimulation,
looking for the truth,
trying to understand this mind with the mind,
turned always down a dead end street.

one day when I was twenty-three,
a personal trauma sent me
reeling out of control.
when a month had passed
I had returned to this world,
tried to go to AA meetings,
but the Higher Power thing
always got in the way.
believing humans to be the ultimate,
Einstein said: “man is destined to prevail,”
returning to scientific roots,
seeking the truth in Universities,
psychology would surely help me
unlock the secrets of the mind.

one day when I was twenty-eight,
I encountered a psychotic man.
he taught me that all my understanding was meaningless
and I was powerless to help.
beginning the decline again, into a world
of drunken nights and sexual pleasure,
every night enjoying the trip,
every morning knowing better.
this split mind was inside one body,
trying to go both directions at one time.

one day when I was thirty,
I met a chubby Korean man.
he became an impasse in my life
and stopped my thinking cold.
he told me; “Put it all down, don’t make anything.
only go straight, then find your correct direction
and keep a don’t know mind.”
eventually I became a Buddhist teacher myself,
it seemed the safest route to me.
I thought there was no God in Buddhism.

one day when I was thirty-nine
I came to realize
that God was just my idea and it was
this idea of God that didn’t exist;
not God.
the Upanishads call it ‘Atman’
the Hindu’s name it ‘Brahman’
Śākyamuni Buddha lectured on ‘Sunyata’
Laozu wrote about ‘Dao’
Moses said it was ‘Yahweh’
Jesus talked about ‘My Father’
Mohammed preferred the term ‘Allah’
now I don’t know what to call God,
I guess a name does not fit.

Yuanzhi Daoqing
December 25, 1997
Costa Mesa, CA