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Everyday Zen on Facebook

"I can see the necessity for applying a negative dialectic to all religious thought and practice. It’s necessary to keep things honest. In order to have some faith, you absolutely have to doubt. You have to wonder whether yesterday’s truth still applies today. You have to ask if it does or not. Be willing to tear down today’s truth to find something, if anything, behind it. This makes life—and religion—alive."

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Year End Letter 2014

Dec 31, 2014

"It is easy enough to practice generosity and kindness, not to speak act or think in ways that are harmful to and disrespectful of others. This is something I have been committed to for a long time and work on every day. But it is more difficult to know what to do about suffering in the world. Racism, sexism, national and religious hatreds. Terrible social injustice which seems ingrained in the economic and political systems we are living under. Environmental uncertainty and dread. A general sense of hopelessness prevails, underneath our frenetic shopping and doing. We can’t ignore this..."

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on stories

Dec 22, 2014

"When you study a koan you make it your own, see it personally - and yet not personally. That is, you have to take it personally and seriously - not see it as abstract or theoretical - and yet the whole point is that you see past yourself and your concerns to deeper realms of existence without, at the same time, ignoring your story, your own human problems that are the occasion for the deeper point to arise. This seems to be the whole trick of zen practice - to stay with your actual experience, your own personal story, and yet to see through it at the same time to something more."

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"I was at sesshin at Mar de Jade in Mexico when I learned of the death of Peter Matthiessen. I knew him as Muryo, Zen priest. Sad. I am sorry I won’t see him again. As always you think 'why didn’t I call or write or visit that one last time?' Now I can't. But Peter was 86, had had a good full long life, had cancer, was battling with it, knew what was in store for him and was OK with it. So as these things go, he was lucky, and there is nothing to regret.

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"I guess the past is interesting exactly because it’s a mystery. Uncovering new facts and new perspectives toward clarifying what will essentially remain unknown (the past) is a quixotic pursuit that is fascinating and compelling—all the more so given that we all instinctively know that the quest for the past is a quest for ourselves."

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McHale's Navy

Mar 14, 2014

"The other day while I was exercising I found a TV channel that was showing 1960's sitcoms. McHales's Navy was on, a show I remember well from the early sixties. Starring Earnest Borgnine, who was famous for his role in the movie Marty, it was one of those light comedies about World War II. Yes, that's right, light comedies about World War II, a genre common in those days. There were several such shows. Their basic promise of all of them was that the War was loonie and lots of fun."

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My Promised Land

Mar 14, 2014

"Read Ari Shavit’s My Promised Land, the book about Israel that has been all over the American press in recent months. It’s the first book I know of in English - and widely available here (outside of Benny Green’s early historical works) - that is brutally honest about Israeli history."

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"Acting is interesting, very much like practice in that in both cases you have to project yourself imaginatively into your life, be fully committed to the truth of who you are, what you are about, at any moment — be willing to open up your life completely, no halfway measures will do. Ritual is like acting— in fact theater comes from ritual — in which you heighten your presence in order to perform a non-ordinary imaginative act."

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Lear

Feb 02, 2014

You don’t need a dramatic story of ascent and descent - even a quiet modest life ends in total loss. Awakening is letting go of self and world - that’s liberation. Letting go you find something else. Not a new identity, a new self, a new belief system. Something completely different. Letting go itself. I am arguing that Lear does finally let go - but he has to be beaten into it.

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Flying home from Mexico after sesshin. On the plane I am working on ms of my big book of essays on "reading, writing, language, and religion." I keep cutting, polishing. There is no finished text, but at some point you say "finished" and off it goes to the publisher. Is any day ever finished? No, but the sun goes down anyway, and we had better be satisfied with it.

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