Cars and Trucks, too

· Essays ·

by Sybil Seisui Rosen
originally published in Mountain Record journal: Teachings of the Insentient (1998)

“Is everything in the world in the middle of my heart?” my nephew Austin asks me, out of the blue. He is four; I am dumbstruck. “Y-yes, absolutely,” I stammer. “Cars and trucks too?” he goes on. “Uh-huh,” I reply. 

I don’t think he’s looking for answers be­cause he already has them. He just wants to see if l have them too, though I’m sure my experi­ence of them is less direct than his at present. 

Read more

All the Way to Heaven

· Essays · , , ,

by Amy Shoko Brown
Originally published in Mountain Record journal: “Death and Renewal” (1993)

For a long time after Michael died I wanted to write but didn’t because somehow it felt like taking advantage of his absence. It was as if in some way Michael was looking over my shoul­der and saying, “How could you do this to me?” And now he’s just humming along, looking out the window at the sky most of the time and then at me and he doesn’t even have to read what I write; he just says, “Oh, I didn’t know you felt that way.” And laughs, sometimes pokes me in the ribs, and once while I was writing he cried, “I never knew you felt that way.” 

Read more

Lone Zen

· Essays ·

by Bill Kigen Delaney
Originally published in Mountain Record journal: “Fear and Fearlessness” (1992)

At the very un-monastic hour of seven AM, in the basement of a house in the hills outside the Chilean capitol city of Santiago, the South American branch of the Mountain and Rivers Order begins the day. The ringing of a bell, forty-minutes or so of zazen, chanting the Heart Sutra. Zazen again in the evening, ending this time with the Four Vows.

Read more

Wilderness Camping as a Retreat

· Earth Initiative, Essays ·

by Robert Genjin Savage
originally published in the Mountain Record journal on Compassion (1991)

Before I discovered Zen, week-long solo backpacking trips were my sesshins. The absence of human references in the blank stare of nature can either quiet the mind or drive it crazy. I’ve experienced both.

Read more

Shikantaza is for Wimps

· Essays ·

by Maureen Jisho Ford
originally publishing in Mountain Record journal: Wellness (1990)

It was in the fall of 1985 that I first came to Zen Mountain Monastery. What had brought me here was the same search that, 25 years earlier, had taken me to the Novitiate of the Sisters of Mercy. The decision to be a nun had been made in early childhood, and, in retrospect, I realize that it arose from a desire to experience God. As a child I had been fascinated by the stories of the saints and mystics, and although many of the stories had an almost fairy tale quality, I nevertheless sensed that, at their core, they contained an account of something I wanted for myself, namely, union with God, the mystical experience. What better place to find God, I reasoned, than in a convent. 

Read more