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Morning Treasures

Daybreak at the MKZC. During kinhin, the first sunlight slants in through the blinds, casting faint shadows on the wood-patterned floor. Morning has become my favorite time for zazen, and this room the best place to celebrate the beginning of a new day. The birds outside sing to the rising sun. It is difficult not to indulge in exaltation when sitting here in the morning. One imagines the whole universe conspiring to kindle joy. The love of mornings is new to me. In only two years, this practice has become a central part of my daily life. I find it difficult to remember that not long ago I disliked early mornings, was indifferent to nature, and believed that the Intellect could somehow grasp

Reflections on Kennedy Retreat

When the opportunity presented itself to make a Zen/Christian retreat with Robert Kennedy, S.J., I had no decision to make. Of course I would, despite my knowing how painful it is to get up so early and sit for so many hours. After four and a half years of practicing Zen, I am still constantly integrating and balancing Zen with my Catholic religion and training that has claimed such a large portion of my life, and that I have embraced at such a deep level. Catholicism showed me St. Teresa of Avila’s description of the Interior Castle and St. John of the Cross taught me about a way to pray without words and the necessity of letting go of desires. These teachings nourished and offered meaning.

Our Undivided Way

Editor’s Note: This post originally appeared in the MKZC Zen Journal, Volume 12, Number 1 Winter 2007 Through the great benevolence of the teachers and sangha of Maria Kannon Zen Center, I was able to participate in a personal retreat – an individual sesshin – from May 24-30, 2006. It was a true joy to be welcomed so warmly and to be supported so fully as I plunged into the teaching stories of our ancestors in the form of the koans. As many of you know, the Soto Zen tradition in which I have primarily trained and in which I have taken ordination, does not have a systematic program of koan study. We utilize koans as a source of wisdom in our teaching, but our central practice is shikantaza –

A Tale of Two Seekers

Editor’s Note: This post originally appeared in the MKZC Zen Journal, Volume 12, Number 1 Winter 2007 Rabbi David Rosen lived and taught a century ago in Eastern Europe. Though the circumstances were humble then, his community was known for its strong, traditional spirit. The rabbi used the best means he could devise to serve his people. And over the years, he became known his for skill and ingenuity in guiding disciples and responding to the urgent matters of life. As most rabbis, Rosen relied on his knowledge of the Word. He was always a strong student of it. Also at work among Jewish congregations in this time was inspiration from the legendary Baal-Shem Tov – Rabbi Israel, Master of

Zen and Hospice

Editor’s Note: This post originally appeared in the MKZC Zen Journal, Volume 12, Number 1 Winter 2007 At the very beginning of my medical practice, when I was fresh out of medical school and residency training, I got involved in Hospice care. Although the bulk of my practice involved Family Practice — providing general medical services for adults and children — I started seeing a few nursing home patients a few blocks away from the MKZC zendo then located at Grace United Methodist Church. I hadn’t planned to make a career out of nursing home work, but the most wonderful, dedicated and stubborn social worker I have ever known in my life, Martha Carver, dragged me into it. Every time I told he

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