Learning to be Intolerant
The Same Old Zen Blog
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2w ago
Acceptance is a big deal in Buddhist circles.  We're told that we must accept suffering, accept mistreatment, accept the opinions of others. We're told to be like the ocean, which accepts all things and rejects nothing.  Much of this thinking is rooted in a slavish dependence on the absolute.   This is especially true in Zen circles where the conventional world is painted as less than, and we're told all things are resolved in the unborn mind. This puts practitioners in a tough spot because right and wrong clearly exist.  2+2 = 4, not 5.  But if we care too deep ..read more
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Lost Cats and Buddhist Love
The Same Old Zen Blog
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7M ago
As I write this one of our cats, Finn, is sprawled across my lap.   He is an all-white, American short hair with blue eyes and below average intelligence.  I've watched him carefully plan his leap onto the bookshelf only to jump headfirst into the wall.  And he regularly gets lost wandering through our house; meowing sadly until I or my partner go to find him. What Finn lacks in intelligence, however, he makes up for with love. He is one of the most affectionate cats I have ever known. He rubs his head against my legs when I walk through the house, he watches from t ..read more
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How to Save The World
The Same Old Zen Blog
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7M ago
A student went to his Zen teacher and found him working in the garden.  The teacher greeted his student and asked, "How is Buddhism in the south?"   The student replied, "There is much discussion."   The Zen teacher paused a moment, and then he said, "Come help me plant radishes in the garden."   The student asked, "How will that help the world?"   The Zen teacher replied, "What do you call the world?" When I was a young man, I didn't make time for what most people would call "domestic duties".  Cooking, cleaning, making the bed; these tasks ..read more
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Freeloading Chickens
The Same Old Zen Blog
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8M ago
One common misconception about chickens is that they lay eggs every day.  In truth, their levels of production increase and decrease based on the weather.   In the summer months when the days are long chickens tend to lay eggs every other day.   However, they lay fewer eggs in the fall when the days get shorter, and they go through their molt, replacing their old feathers with new ones. In the winter, the chickens rest.  They are less active during the day, and their egg production drops too almost nothing.  Today marks the third day in a row that I've walk ..read more
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Rolling in the Grass
The Same Old Zen Blog
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1y ago
As I write this, it feels like hundreds of ants are biting my arms and legs.  I have a grass allergy, and prolonged exposure results in itching and small bumps appearing on my skin.   It's been this way my whole life. When I was a child I loved playing outdoors with my friends.  We spent countless afternoons wrestling in the grass and hiking through the forest. This led to countless nights when I complained to my mother, "It feels like my skin is on fire!"  She responded by covering me head-to-toe in pink, chamomile lotion to stop the itching. My siblings would j ..read more
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Love the Fight
The Same Old Zen Blog
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1y ago
No one ever talks about the connection between homesteading and crisis management.   If one goes to Instagram and searches for #homesteadlife or #hobbyfarm, they'll be greeted with pictures of happy chickens, well-groomed garden beds, and barns that look like they came from a magazine. The message is that growing food and caring for animals is a lazy, carefree way to spend one's life.  You can collect eggs in the morning, do yoga in the afternoon, and pose for pictures with your goats without the specters of stress, fear, or worry ever darkening your door. Dear reader, this ..read more
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Living a Holy Life
The Same Old Zen Blog
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1y ago
In the meditation hall, I have an altar dedicated to Amida Buddha and the bodhisattvas Kannon and Jizo.  It contains three statues, which bear their respective images along with candles and an incense burner.   The statues are of good quality, but they aren't that different from other figurines.  They're white, standing approximately six inches tall. I bought them on Amazon, and for most of the day, there's nothing special about them. That changes, however, when I perform my Buddhist liturgy.  Twice a day, I light the candles on my altar, I burn incense as an offerin ..read more
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Sitting with Buddha and Fixing my House
The Same Old Zen Blog
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1y ago
Two years ago, I bought an old farmhouse in the middle of nowhere.   I was tired of the noise and congestion of city life, and I wanted to be closer to nature.  More than that, I wanted to use the skills I'd learned by apprenticing on organic farms across the country. I wanted to build things.  I wanted to grow food. I wanted to care for animals.  And I'm happy to say that I've been able to do all of those things.  One thing I didn't count on, however, was how much time I'd spend renovating my house. Old farmhouses have good bones, but they also need lots of u ..read more
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Living with Sadness
The Same Old Zen Blog
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1y ago
  Today, I woke up feeling sad. All of my basic needs are met. I have a pantry full of food and a warm, safe place to sleep at night.  Put simply, my life is going well by most objective standards. I have (almost) nothing to complain about. So, why am I sad? I don’t think there is a reason. I think there is a wellspring of emotion, and when we wake up our cup is filled with whatever happens to be in the well that day. Sometimes, I wake up angry and irritated. Other times, I wake up quiet and contented. But today I woke up sad. I’ve been sad a lot lately. And I’m not sure ther ..read more
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Karma and Family Heirlooms
The Same Old Zen Blog
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1y ago
In pre-industrial America, it was common for family heirlooms to be passed down from one generation to another.   A woman might wear her mother’s wedding dress to get married or a father might give his prized car to his son as a graduation present. Other times, the heirloom might be less descript; a bookcase that Grandpa built when he was a child or a photo album that a favorite aunt maintained for years. These heirlooms served two purposes. First, they were pragmatic. In pre-industrial America, items like furniture and clothing were hard to come by. A family’s dinner table w ..read more
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