Wednesday, December 07, 2016

losing one's self

stepping into the Buddha's sandals
slipping on Kwan Yin's stockings
six of one,half a dozen

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

fudo's last will and testement

Send me off with chocolate and pistachio nuts. Do not fill your eyes with tears. I am still with you. You have always been the better part of me. Place some of me in your favorite places because that is where I want to be. Your joy has always been my joy. Do not canonize me for I was no saint. When I am remembered I wish to be remembered as I was with all the faults right out there for all to see. I will need a cracked stone to lie under(only a metaphor do not waste time on looking for a flawed headstone} my favorite place was Ryumonji. You all know the drill. I have loved you all as well as I could and I will love you forever. I approve of every choice you make and will make but please do not choose to stop your life because I am gone. Please try and ring as much joy and as much good as you can out of each moment. This is how I tried to live. You all have been and continue to be my pride and joy, own this and carry it forward as you journey on. When it is time for me to go let me go. I do not wish to fight on under even greater challenges than I have now. If I can be restored to the life I have now, then okay I will fight to recover, but I do not think there will be much left to fight with if I am much diminished from here. So pretty much if the Doctors say but...then let me go. There is a distinct possibility with my health and family history that my mind might fail before my body does. I do not wish to take medications to preserve a body who's mind is gone. I have no assets other than you all to speak of or any specific desire for what goes to whom. Let things go to those that wish them, and send the rest to the thrift store of your choice. Please love and take care of each other as you are the things I loved most the world. I have lived the life I wanted to and lived it as fiercely as I could. I have made my peace with it in the end. Be Well, Fudo Michael Koppang.

Monday, May 26, 2014

The Mystery of Zen

The people I meet in America who have some idea of zen seem to think it is some deep difficult, mystical thing. Either that or they think is is some aesthetic idea or principle that includes things plain and natural as in Zen decorating. Zen is deep. It is anything but mystical. Most of all it is not complicated at all. What makes it difficult is that we are trying to understand the teachings that are hundreds if not thousands of years old and from a culture that could not be more different from our own. We lack the context in order understand what is being said. I will attempt to open up the mystery of zen and zazen buy pulling aside the curtain and showing how the trick is done in simple English that those who have grown up in the west can understand. Nearly everyone's mother or father has taught them zen but they did not know it." If you find yourself in a hole the first thing to do is stop digging." If that had be quoted by Dogen Zenji we would all be oohing and awwing over the deep and clear understanding of the Master. The problem. of course, is that we do not know how to stop digging even if we figure out we are in a hole. The hole is metaphorical. It would be true if the hole were in fact a hole in the ground, but the aphorism is as true if the hole is one cannot stop running around with more to do than could ever be possible, or cannot stop feeling depressed, or gambling or drugs or debt are the problem. In the old days they spoke about the great suffering of old age, disease and death. The Buddha spoke of suffering, unending suffering was the hole he used as an example. So now we have understood that we are in a hole, what then do we do about it? The old bald guys figured out a solution. It is just to stop. Stop digging. Sit down. Stop. When I tell people this they immediately say "What then?". Do I count my breaths? Label each thought? Recite Mantras?. What the hell does think about not thinking mean?" We seek to understand but there is nothing to understand and no understanding. My teachers gave no instruction other than to sit down. Just sit there. Stop digging. Nothing else is necessary. If you are in a hole when you sit down you will be surrounded by hole, but you have stopped creating more hole. You mind will play games, you might pretend you are not really in a hole, but the hole remains. You might start thinking about pretty much anything but sooner or later the fact that you are in a hole will be inescapable and you will begin to get hungry or need to go to the bathroom so you begin to look for a way out. When the way becomes clear, move on the way. There is nothing more to it than that. Just sit. Just stop digging. This is such a universal prescription that I doubt anyone in the world has not heard it. It is not the exclusive property of zen, Zen does not own the copyright. It is simply the essential nature of zazen. The next great zen teacher of today is the person who made the Nike shoe ad slogan "just do it." Now that you can see a way forward, just do it. Just go forward. Ooops lost the way? Another hole? Just stop digging, just sit. The path is that way? Just do it. Soon as this moment is taken care of the magic of Zen begins to work on your life. The holes get shallower, the path easier and more clear. Soon there is little digging, little stopping and just less effort in getting through the day. It might take a while but as the days get easier, There might be a little energy left for dancing on the way. This is not some magic that removes all obstacles or pitfalls from your path. My path has led me through a disabling disease that ravaged my body, a diagnosis and intervention that arrived just steps before the grim reaper. I have a legacies from this devastating disease that will limit my physical ability for the rest of my life. I passed through all this with barely a bump in the road because I just did what was clearly the path forward. Without the gnashing of teeth, the wailing of "why me?", the where will I get the energy? and what about the money for all this? I just did it. I had the amazing support of others. I am foolish enough to think that making a valiant effort to take care of each moment up until I needed taking care of helped assure that there were people and resources there when I needed them. The ancients talk about the inexhaustible energy of the Bodhisattva. A fancy way of saying if one does not waste energy on digging a bunch of holes, there is energy enough for all that rises on the path. Even if the mountain seems impossible to climb, take a few steps, sit and rest and then take a few more and sooner or later the mountain has been climbed. Be Well, Reverend Fudo Michael Koppang

Thursday, December 08, 2011

variations on a theme

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catching a moment
in flowery language
poets are liars

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Passages

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A cherry petal floats down
on a warm spring breeze
morning breaks the brand new day


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Sunday, February 20, 2011

On Bowing at strange altars

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Whether we know it or not,
All altars are created out of the same need.

Whether we know it or not,
All altars express the same desire.

Whether we know it or not,
All altars ask the same question.

Whether we know it or not,
All altars honor the same mystery.


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Thursday, October 21, 2010

On Bullying

Sometimes I wonder how those who depend on the school system to protect them and their children are going to survive in the world when the kids get out of school. There is no shortage of those who will pick on the weak and vulnerable anywhere.

Either you teach your children how to deal with bullies or leave them vulnerable, there are always bullies and will always be bullies. If I remember my misspent youth correctly, it was not that difficult to outsmart most bullies and a little self defense skill went a long way when all else failed.

The system cannot and will not protect you. Wake up and learn to protect yourself.

It is your mind, do not let it be influenced by inferior minds. Cyber bullying is pretend bullying. Just click close and they are gone. see rule one below. A threat on email or in a text is a like a threatening phone call: report it to those who can deal with it appropriately.

The way I was taught was:

1: avoid a bully if you can. Outsmart, out last, out run. Find a safe place when possible. If someone does something illegal, use legal remedies.

2: fight if you have to, but only if you have to.

3: fight to win if you have to fight, because you do not have to win, but you have to make them respect you or you will be a victim the rest of your life.

4: Protect your brothers and sisters (everyone) from those who are bigger than they are. Stand up for those who are picked on when you can. This includes helping them avoid difficulty when it can be avoided.(see rule one).Be a safe place for others when you can.

corollary 1: learn to defend yourself to the best of your ability before you need to because you are going to need to. Besides people who seem confident of their ability to defend themselves do not find themselves victimized nearly so often as people who appear more vulnerable. Most bullies pick the easiest targets. Just do not be the easiest target.

corollary 2: If you are going to die anyway it is better to go down fighting and make the aggressor pay what you can than to slink off and kill yourself or your teacher because you feel helpless and picked on and powerless.

There are times to be the peace you desire, and times to fight like hell for a life worth living. If you are left feeling like the only option is to kill yourself, the time to fight has long passed.

It is not a kindness to leave our children feeling helpless,picked on and powerless. We are the adults, it is our job to see our children are not left with no option but to be victimized.