“Time to Die”

From 101 Zen Stories

Ikkyu, the Zen master, was very clever even as a boy. His teacher had a precious teacup, a rare antique. Ikkyu happened to break this cup and was greatly perplexed. Hearing the footsteps of his teacher, he held the pieces of the cup behind him. When the master appeared, Ikkyu asked: “Why do people have to die?”

“This is natural,” explained the older man. “Everything has to die and has just so long to live.”

Ikkyu, producing the shattered cup, added: “It was time for your cup to die.”

Is That So?: A Zen Parable

The Zen master Hakuin was praised by his neighbors as one living a pure life.

A beautiful Japanese girl whose parents owned a food store lived near him. Suddenly, without any warning, her parents discovered she was with child.

This made her parents very angry. She would not confess who the man was, but after much harassment at last named Hakuin.

In great anger the parents went to the master. “Is that so?” was all he would say.

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A new year, a new compost pile

From The Marin Independent Journal
by Annie Spiegelman

Last spring my compost pile was a total bust. The decaying vegetable and plant matter was either too dry and clumpy or too damp and lumpy. The residing worms, fungi and other microbial tenants collectively and bitterly revolted, calling their agents and complaining about the atrocious working conditions. They wanted out and they snitched on me.

Being a diva and an experienced Master Gardener, I knew this “situation” was unacceptable. I was paranoid that the president of our local Master Gardener chapter, if she found out, would rip my MG trowel-shaped name tag from my organic cotton T-shirt and accuse me of impersonating a real gardener.

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New year, New mind – Zen master helps others find enlightenment

From Deseret News

It seems the perfect confluence of life events may have brought Dennis Genpo Merzel Roshi to Buddhism.

Or at least prepared his mind for Buddhism to find him.

It happened in 1971 while on a trip to the Mojave Desert. Genpo Roshi had climbed a mountain and was contemplating his life and purpose. The past years had brought him experiences with death, relationship struggles and also pain.

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Zen meditation actually helps the mind deal with distractions

From ANI

Researchers at Emory University School of Medicine have found that experienced Zen meditators can clear their minds of distractions more quickly than novices.

Dr. Giuseppe Pagnoni, assistant professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences, has revealed that the study involved the use of functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to examine changes in blood flow in the brain, as the subjects meditating were interrupted by stimuli designed to mimic the appearance of spontaneous thoughts.

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Book Review: Razor Wire Dharma

“Razor Wire Dharma” written by Calvin Malone
Published 2008 by Wisdom Publications

“When we take the time to know people around us, it becomes easier to extend compassion and loving-kindness to them. Those who are in prison and seem different are simply people who need the same kindness everyone else is seeking. No matter what they did, who they are, what they look like, or how they act, like all of us, they want to be happy.”

When you think of a prisoner, what vision does this bring about in your mind? Many people envision a “hardened criminal”, someone who “should be locked behind bars, and have the keys tossed away”. They may also think this same person cannot change, and will not change. This book is a perfect “wake up call” for those with unsafe assumptions, especially to the one’s that believe prison is the be all end all for a “criminal”.

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