Nature as healer

Posted in Uncategorized on November 13, 2009 by markeu

I often get off one train stop early and walk about 5-6 km to work in the mornings.Its a way for me to slow down myself and touch base with the natural elements that are always around me, yet often forgotten.

For this is modern day, high speed Japan, where every little convenience is though of, and people try to insulate themselves from their surroundings as much as possible. Its an accepted norm; hunched over a portable game on the train, headphones never removed from ears, a movie or tv show watched studiously, ears held shut to catch a few extra moments of sleep before the high speed day whisks them away.

As I walk across the Tamagawa bridge, gray clouds above whip up a strong wind which sweeps over the water and around me. The people I pass are in various stages of resistance, facially tensed, or bracing their bodies against the invasion that nature has once again successfully launched against them. I smile to myself, because if is for that very reason that I choose to walk and brave what may be rain, what could be wind, what could be a steadily increasing biting cold as winter rapidly approaches.

As a young man, I often struggled with emotions. Waves of them, that often inundated me to the extent that their lingering effect could last for weeks and months.When that happened, I would walk myself out into the streets, but more often than not to the beach to let the sounds and smells of the sea comfort me, and let me lose myself in its infinite depths and receptive nature.

When I lived in the mountains of Colorado, a bike ride or a short car trip or motorcycle ride would take me out into nature where I could be alone in the woods or near some mountain stream, only to be overwhelmed by the presence of nature. Thougts, emotions could then be recognized, and then shed/let go.

In Tokyo Japan, I have to hunt for nature. It wont come and find me, I have to make efforts to place myself in its path, or I could go a life of plastics and concretes, which would be such a shame.

Place yourself in nature’s path sometime soon.



Posted in Uncategorized on October 28, 2009 by markeu

It has been exactly one year to the day that I returned back to Japan after my sojourn in Jersey, and the birthplace of Channel Zen.

A lot has happened within that year, much which is already fading steadily into the past. Change is reflected in the steadily falling leaves as nature prepares again for rest, and it is in that vein that I contemplate this "now-ness" that marks today.

Like all of us, I have my good days and bad, days and moments that I would as soon as possible like to forget, but some of these moments marking and changing me ultimately for the better.

I gradually learn to rest within myself and deal with each moment equally, not obsessing too much about the past or future. Life goes by in the blink of an eye.

I find that practice is much like peeling an onion: one layer comes off only to reveal another underneath, but we keep on peeling…


Deriving joy from the ordinary

Posted in Uncategorized on October 21, 2009 by markeu

When you first wake up in the morning, do you joyfully wiggle your toes to ready yourself for the day?
Do you give thanks in your own way for the chance to be alive and to make a difference, however small?
When you make your way to the shower, where are you? Awake or still asleep?

Riding the train or bus to work, do you have any sympathy fro the angry faced man or woman next to you?
Do you take the time to stop and ask your neighbor at work how they are, and do you really listen?
When you eat your food, do you revel in how good it tastes?

How do you wash the dishes afterward? Is it a chore or a joy?
When you finally go to sleep, is it with a feeling of accomplishment, or dread for the future?

Cut Bamboo

Posted in Uncategorized on October 14, 2009 by markeu

We strolled around the the Japanese garden at Nanzenji, listening to the sounds of wind blowing through leaves and the occasional splashes of lazy carp in the pond. It had been more than two years since I last saw my teacher, and he had called me suddenly out of the blue, telling me to come and meet him in Kyoto.

Two and a half hours later by super fast trains, and I was strolling along the ancient paths of Higashiyama.

It was beautiful, a stark reminder of how easily Tokyo can slip into being a daily trek through uninspiring concrete forests and how much I generally crave a more natural surroundings.

But this is the path I have chosen for myself.

The morning and afternoon were spent walking, temple to temple, meandering here and there and stopping along the way for a cup of coffee or snack, then treading on.

We stop in the middle of the garden under the generous shade of a plentiful stand of bamboo.
My teacher looks around and speaks to his small group of guests, but looking directly at me.

" Isnt it so beautiful?"

I smiled and laughed to myself, realizing that even such simple pleasures were abstract in my jaded perception of life..

We continued our gentle stroll through the garden, but, alone for a moment, my teacher asks me what I was laughing at.

"My own negativity."

Lesson learned.

Dont squander life.

Posted in Uncategorized on May 26, 2009 by markeu

My own awareness and understanding of daily living could be described as somewhat akin to the weather; fickle and changeable.
One thing that I do on a daily basis these last few months is to make sure that I am not assuming any kind of accomplishment when things are going well for me, because I know first hand what it is to have thought so, only to have life show me that in fact all I am experiencing is another passing moment and plainly not based in fact.

Its just too easy to take things for granted in life. Look at how many of us suffer right now in today’s economic climate and talk about recession and how good things were before. I say this: many of us were living in a dream, beyond our means, and leading lives of excess.

Stop for a moment. Take your own existence and compare it against the many of this world who truly suffer, each and every day, sometimes for their entire lives, and when our moans of hardship are compared against this scale, we should hang our heads in shame.

The fact that you are sitting here reading this on your pc is testament to the chances and advantages that you have each and every day.

Don’t squander them. Embrace your struggle and claim it as the path that defines you, and that path which makes you a better human being.

Got a story? write in!

Posted in Uncategorized on May 25, 2009 by markeu

How is your own practice going? Feel like sharing your own experiences?

The site is open to any reader submissions, so I look forward to hearing from you!



Taking care of you

Posted in Uncategorized on May 21, 2009 by markeu

With the outbreak of the new and virulent form of flu that is making its presence felt globally,
its probably a good time for all of us to sit down for a little while and think about our precious human birth, one of the key concepts of buddhism.

Take a moment today to appreciate what you have in your own life and the freedoms that you possess, adn be as safe as you can with you and your loved ones.



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