Monday, March 29, 2010

I woke up at the usual wakeup time but today there was no bell to ring. Alas, I lost my job!
Then i found myself a new job of sitting Zazen in my bedroom, doing Qigong in my living room and cooking breakfast in my kitchen. I can't believe that i am now not living in my Zen temple after 10 years! I am remembering you, Beginners Mind Temple and sending you all best wishes!
Deep bow to all of you for your practice and for your love!

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Time flies! Tonight we're starting the 7 Day sesshin and very soon it's the Shuso Ceremony (March 27)! I am looking forward to the week of just stitting without any clinic shifts, classes, emails, blogging... Let the mind be still and focused; Let the breath be quiet and deep; Let the body be soft and present! What a precious way of ending this practice period!
Thanks to my Zen teacher Teah Strozer for her years of teaching! Thanks to Abbot Paul Haller for taking me on for this Shuso training! Thanks to senior Dharma teacher Blanche Hartman for her great example! Thanks to my beautiful Benji Renee who is constantly available and helpful! Thanks to all the former Shusos who are passing this tradition warm-hand to warm-hand - Dana helped me to get the shuso blog set up; Joan prepared me with a warm pre-shuso tea; Vicki shared her life with me over a hearty meal; Bernd talked with me over some sweet cookies and tea; and many other teachers and practice period participants greeted me with encouraging words and friendly gestures. I could not have gone this far without all of you - my dear Sangha! Here is my deep bow to all of you for your support and for your practice!
Words cannot describe how this Shuso period has been transforming for me in its mysterious yet simple way.
Here is the teaching: Just show up! Just ring the wakeup bell! Just clean the toilet and just watch the breath and sit!
Yes, this Shuso is signing off and ready for the sesshin.

Much love to all of you through the cyber space!
Liping (Clear Wind Wisdom Sword)

Thursday, March 11, 2010

---"A Three year old child can even say it!"
---"But an 80 year old man can't even do it!"
When i read the story of these two exchanges, i exclaimed, "That's so true!"
There are so many things that we know and we say, but it is so hard for us to really do it especially when it comes to the real situation. For example, we all say "be present", but sometimes or a lot of times we just can't do it. At least for me this is true. I found myself not listening to what was being said,found myself getting caught up in the fear of past or the worry of the future, found myself jumping into conclusion instead of really experiencing what is in front of me...Does this sound familiar to you?
The beauty of this practice is that we return to this over and over again, being present and noticing when we are not being present!
Thank you for all the inspirations each of you is offering through your examples of practice!

Thursday, March 04, 2010

How is the Shuso doing? Wiped out!! She has been last two days trying to keep up with acupuncture clinic, teaching schedule and the Zen schedule with some late hours. A long nap can do the healing magic!!
I am feeling good about finishing the shuso teas this weekend and about today sending out invitations for Shuso ceremony which is only 3 weeks away!
The teachings coming to my mind today are about the Three Regulations in meditation - Regulating Mind, Regulating Breath and Regulating Posture. Paul was asking us to practice pausing to just breathe in the midst of busyness. That was regulating breath and mind in every day life. It's important to do the three regulations in the beginning of each meditation to get ourselves situated and centered, and this practice can be carried on throughout the day in our daily non-Zendo activities: Am I aware of my breath when I am chopping vegetables? Am I breathing deeply, slowly and smoothly? Am I upright in my posture, having my shoulders down when I am sitting in front of my desk or sitting in a class? Each moment is our practice! "Standing, Sitting,Walking and Sleeping, you stay close to IT!"

Monday, March 01, 2010

Happy Tiger Year!
Last Friday at city center we had our annual Chinese New Year dinner which happened to coincide with the end of the 2 week Spring Festival celebration in China. Lucy and I were the cooks for the meal but we had so many people coming in to help with chopping, washing, setting up and cleaning up. We made vegetarian chicken, Buddha's delight, Chinese greens and Mochi Cake for dessert. It was so nice to see how a feast brought the whole community together! In China we always celebrated with our small families of 5 or 6 people but here we were celebrating with about 100 people. It is very special to celebrate this special holiday with a big and sweet family here in America! Here you see Sebastian singing his new Chinese song with me at the table and little Kylie visiting us with mom Yuhuan and dad Ryan who used to live in the temple as residents.
After dinner there was a poetry reading in the back of dining room by Genine and Frances. Looking at the crowd, listening to the laughters in the room brought so much warmth and joy to my heart... I realize that i haven't cried and been homesick any more during Chinese New Year time for the past several years.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Last night I gave my third Shuso talk. The topic was on Cultivating Virtues. I was feeling nervous before i entered the Buddha Hall, but not feeling nervous while i was talking. But it amazed me how my stomach was hurting right after I finished my talk and it took half an hour for it to disappear. I was thinking how our emotions could really affect our physical bodies! Emotional release is very important for the health of our body. In Qigong we use sound and breath to release different emotions that are associated with different internal organs and use energy movement to unblock the accumulations; In Buddhism we are emphasizing the joyful mind, the mind of equanimity and practicing mindfulness to be in touch with our emotions to allow them to dissolve. All these are helping us to bring harmony and well being to our body and mind. When we are truly present with what is in front, the nervous mind is less likely to arise; and when it does arise, it will go by like wind blowing by and it won't retain in the body.
This morning was a little interesting. While i was running doing the wakeup bell, the little dot inside the bell fell off. I had to stop and figure out how i could continue. Luckily Keith Baker was around and fixed the bell for me. Later I was told that I could just run through the hall way shouting "Wake Up, Wake Up!" That actually sounds fun!
Oceania gave her first student Way Seeking Mind Talk this morning after Zazen. It was so sad to hear about her life stories but at the same time very inspired to see how she came out of those so much stronger. Indeed our life sufferings can be our blessings! Thank you for your dedication, your inspiration and your example!

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

I am loving Shuso Tea! My Benji Renee made these vegan, low sugar and heart shaped cookies that made it hard to stick to my own rule "no more than one cookie for the whole afternoon tea". Yesterday Benji started to serve peanut butter cookie with Rooibos tea.
Check this out!

I am inviting you to come to have some tea if you haven't done so both for the cookies and for some heart meeting heart over tea. Thank you for your showing up for tea! It has been such a pleasure to talk to each of you! Thank you, Benji!!!
The beauty of this practice has offered us numerous ways to get in touch with our breath, our heart feelings and the vastness of space through sitting or chopping vegetables or sipping a cup of fragrant tea filled with love...

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

This morning we had Parinirvana Ceremony in the Zendo after morning sittings. It is important for us to remember Buddha's last words and let them be our guidance for our living.
“Good friends in the Dharma. I will teach you seven things that are conducive to welfare and happiness. Pay careful attention and I will speak.

As long as Sangha members hold regular and frequent assemblies, they may be expected to prosper and not decline.

As long as they meet in harmony, break up in harmony, and carry out their business in harmony, they may be expected to prosper and not decline.

As long as they do not authorize what has not been authorized already, and do not abolish what has been authorized, but proceed according to the precepts and the rules of training, they can be expected to prosper and not decline.

As long as they remain mindful of desires that lead to unwholesome action and suffering, but do not fall prey to those desires, they can be expected to prosper and not decline.

As long as they are devoted to meditation and to letting go of busyness every day, they can be expected to prosper and not decline.

As long as they preserve their personal mindfulness, doing what they do with as much awareness as possible, so that in the future the good among their companions will come to them, and those who have already come will feel at ease, they can be expected to prosper and not decline.

As long as the Sangha members hold to these seven things, and are seen to do so, the Sangha can be expected to prosper and not decline. "

Homage to Shakyamuni Buddha! Homage to Shakyamuni Buddha! Homage to Shakyamuni Buddha!


Monday, February 15, 2010

Where is the Shuso blogging? The abbot was asking. I see, the Shuso has more roles than just getting up at 4:30am doing the wake-up bell and having Shuso tea with 50 practice period participants. I am sorry that i haven't been good at keeping up with this blogging thing. I didn't know that somebody would actually check if I wrote something and actually read this;-) The truth is: Every moment flows through my day beyond my grasping and moments of inspiration come and go throughout the day as well. Unless my computer is hooked up all the time and living in my palms, it is very easy just to let those moments go!
Well, if you like, i will start to give you more details of my Shuso days! They are actually very precious to me and absolutely worth the effort of noting down especially if these will bring you some joy and smiles. Oh that's right, I have a Benji too! actually two!
Yesterday was the first day of Chinese New Year - Tiger Year as well as the Valentine's Day. I decided to spend the whole day with my students doing an intensive day of Qigong. It turned out to be very healing and sweet. The teaching in Zen of being present each moment was embraced in each Qigong exercises during the day while we were standing in Qigong poses, doing Walking Qigong, Sleeping Qigong, lecture or a fine New Year dinner. A Qigong day was a Zen practice day! We can call it Qigong, call it Zen, or just call it Living and Being.
As i said at the Nenju ceremony, love is the smiles on your face, the tenderness in your heart and the attention in your eyes. I hope that the practice in each moment and the giving and receiving this love at the beginning of this New Year bring you much happiness and joy!


p.s. For those of you who are taking Taichi on Tuesday mornings, here is the link of my Youtube video I am so happy you are learning this!

Thursday, February 04, 2010

Shuso Update from Renee, Liping's Benji (you may hear from me from time to time)...

Liping gave her Shuso Way-Seeking Mind Talk last night and it was brilliant.

She shared her life beautifully.Granting us a 45 minute glimpse, she left us with a deep sense of her humanity and generosity.

It is clear that with her grace and availability to intimacy, she will make a terrific Shuso.

Shuso Teas will start next week. People are beginning to sign up. After a Way-Seeking Mind Talk such as the one held last night, I am sure that students are genuinely looking forward to speaking with Liping and sharing an exploration of the Dharma with her.

So far so good!

Wednesday, February 03, 2010

Wake up, wake up! I started ringing the wakeup bell every morning at 4:55am as a pre-shuso last Wednesday. This morning we had an official Shuso Entering Ceremony in the Zendo after Zazen. Now I am feeling that I have formally re-entered the temple with my new role. It's so true what I said at the ceremony: I don't know much about Zen, i don't feel like a model Zen student, I am so scared about exposing myself and I am not ready to be Shuso; But i have to remind myself of my intention of this practice period: Do my best! Thank you my dear Sangha for supporting me in my new training! For the moment, I am trying not to get butterflies in my stomach about giving my first talk tonight;-)

Friday, January 15, 2010

Sunday 9/20/09
Just back from the first Sunday since moving back into the building. It's that important unstructured time in the schedule, the supreme practice of choosing how I will spend my time. What activity is beneficial? I can answer this on all sorts of levels - the need for exercise, the need to check in with the majority of humanity living in a perception of anonymity, the need to just get out and mix it up. I just had tea and toast and a few sweet impromptu encounters in the small kitchen with various sangha members in their various states of mind, took a shower and am now settling in to my little room on the third floor on this Sunday evening. I got up at at 7:30 this morning with the sun shining in - respectable hour, I think, given the way I've been living for the past year and a half. Had the traditional Sunday bagel and orange juice, the miscellaneous conversations with people streaming in and out of the student lounge, sat wordlessly with Blanche and Lou while they ate their breakfest, me reading the paper and checking e-mail. Left the building at 11:30 to walk to the Marina to meet Sara. We strolled about Marina Green, took in the fantastic sight of the kite festival, ate some good yucatan food. Caught the bus to the Sunset and met up with Kaz. We drank mai tais and margaritas together, and ate sushi and calimari and just talked and talked about Sit & Eat, his upcoming marriage, the future of Zen in America (it's time for us to forget about Suzuki-roshi, he feels) and how to make money and become "financially independent." All in all a textured and engaging day, which makes me well prepared for the 5 am wake up bell. Going downstairs now to check e-mail, then it's off to bed for me, well before 9:00. This is perfectly reasonable to me.