Friday, April 16, 2010


 - Allen Ginsberg

This week I will speak on an aspect of the drala principle called “not deceiving.” I say “speak” because, as in normal conversation, we don’t exactly know what we will say next, nor do I know what I will write next. In that spirit, I am not an expert on the drala principle (which at best would be a silly thing to claim) but a contributor, a gatherer, an explorer.


Chögyam Trungpa taught that the dralas are attracted to us or “invoked” when we tell the truth. On the one hand, “telling the truth” is often a dubious expression of our opinions (always relative) or ideology (often dubious and dangerous). The truth he meant – the truth the dralas are drawn to - are things such as candor, simple emotional honesty and “naming the path of our heart.” The latter is typically only vaguely known to us at best, but if we don’t speak, it stays hidden. Telling the truth is often about disclosing things that are not convenient to say; speaking up when we see injustice or simply not lying to our partner, children or parents.

Truth-telling is also the principle that runs through art, all the arts. As Vietnam Vet-poet Bruce Weigl wrote, “Say it clearly and you make it beautiful, no matter what.”

Two accidents crossed my path after I chose this subject. I received an e-mail from a friend, AnaVictoria Pabelon who lives with her husband Seth and two children in Fairfield, Iowa. Earlier in the week I e-mailed AnaVictoria and asked how she was.  AnaVictoria replied to my e-mail with a generous, thorough and effortless candor. She and Seth were kind and daring enough to let me share what she wrote:

I am well indeed. I think back to when I was in Colorado and I am very grateful everyday. I feel like I escaped from a massive human prison called Civilized Western World. I enjoy technology more than ever and Eastern practices are my refuge from the overwhelming aspects of my culture yet a challenge to maintain because of my conditioning, so overall it has been an intense time of purifying and serving. I so love that I have had the time to focus on rearing my children. The laundry, the groceries, the inflow of mail, and stuff is both tedious and lovely. I am not searching for meaning or God anymore. It is bliss. I am here struggling to get up in the morning not because I dread the day’s tasks, but because the silence is yummy and so is the stillness and so is listening to the birds once they get started. And because I love just about everything, my thoughts, my stories, my joy, my suffering. I am in very good health but in delicate condition. I have crying spells, lots of involuntary twitching and facial muscle release, there are no particular reasons, so I am able to carry on as normal. My family is both amused and bored with the whole thing. The girls are doing great , though Marisol goes to preschool for three mornings a week, I am homeschooling both Paloma and Marisol. This has been fun for all of us. Things are also going well with Seth. He is sweet and kind, generous and supportive and grateful. It is a good connection and I have to admit I look at him and I hardly ever see Him. I understand that I see a male collective that I misunderstand and do not trust, so mostly I have to see him anew each moment and go by feeling him and then seeing him, because just in looking at him I can not recognize the essence of him.

Alice Walker

In the second accident I came upon an (Amy Goodman) interview with with Alice Walker who has much to say about the process, reasons for, demands of and necessity for truth-telling. It is not only in the subjects alone that Alice Walker speaks with candor and truth, but equally in the inner-truth she lives by, one that seems to compel her to become ever more keen, modest and sensitive.

Jakusho Kwong Roshi

What follows is a letter from Soto Zen lineage holder Jakusho Kwong-roshi, recently sent to his students and friends. Roshi speaks the truth of dharma - the clearest, most unmediated and most direct expression of things-as-they-are, the simplicity of non-deception.

S  O  N O  M  A   M  O  U  N  T  A  I  N   
Z  E  N   C  E  N  T  E  R

April 5, 2010

Dear Mahasangha,

On March 18, about 2 weeks ago, I felt excruciating pain below my abdomen and lower back.  Red welts began to appear in that area.  After a few days, I went to Kaiser emergency clinic, and I was diagnosed with a severe case of “shingles”.  It is extremely painful, and it is known that it flares up because of stress.  My Chinese herbal doctor had warned me for the last ten years that my immune system has become weaker and weaker, and had advised me over the years to cut back on my responsibilities at the Zen Center and also my travels to Iceland and Poland.  I didn’t heed his advice, so now I am suffering the consequence.
Behind the illness—it’s deeper and mysterious.  The Dharma appears in this way—it feels like a Rite of Passage.  Dealing with intense pain moment after moment challenges my whole being, my spirit and wisdom.  I am so grateful for Zen Practice.  I can’t imagine how others can endure without this wisdom of acceptance.  I suppose some people manage to find it within their resolve towards greater acceptance.
Alone in silence, I see the beautiful oak trees, the madrone, the tall pines— the most brilliant Gold in 37 years, ushering Spring.  Even they have to endure the cold winters, rain, strong winds, heavy storm before their renewal.  It is their passage of change.  It feels like labor pains before the birth of of something new---deep presence, intense pain, breathing—demanding change and renewal on a cellular level.  The Dharma is wondrous and inconceivable—cannot be located or seen.  In this way, whether I am here or not, I am always with each one of you.  You will find that this is true. I urge you to step forward and renew your Zen practice with spirit and vitality of Sonoma Mountain Sangha.
There is nothing more essential that you can do in your lifetime.  It will help you to actively  accept and receive the unknown that is yet to come whether it is negative or positive. True zazen is the expression of your Buddha Nature.  With constancy it will prepare you for everything that you will encounter.
I’ve been listening to this Gaelic Blessings that was inspired to put into music.  I listen to it every day, and it penetrates me like the repetition of a mantra.
DEEP PEACE of the running waves to you

DEEP PEACE of the flowing air to you

DEEP PEACE of the quiet earth to you

DEEP PEACE of the shinning stars to you

DEEP PEACE of the gentle night to you

MOON AND STARS pour their healing light on you


In gassho,

Shinko helped me edit this.

6367 Sonoma Mountain Road  Santa Rosa Ca 95404    707/545-8105

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