"We don’t call Autumn the end of Summer, we don’t call Summer the beginning of Autumn (Genjo Koan)

Monday, January 23, 2012

Marginal Zen

NIGHT BROTHER’s Zen (Ch’an) Way

Also on Sweeping Zen: http://sweepingzen.com/2009/12/22/augusto-alcalde-bio/

Augusto Al Q’adi Alcalde was born in the north west of Argentina, and grew up in a small country town in the hills, "San Pedro de Colalao", where he was exposed to the world vision, metaphors and healing traditions of the primal inhabitants of the land, through the company of his aboriginal nanny Virginia Mamaní.

He was a student of the late Shifu Yuan Chueh from Canton, China, with whom he trained from 1968 until he was fully certified by his teacher, ten years after, being him the most influential relationship in the Way.
He started sharing and conveying the practice of Ch'an (Chinese Zen) in 1974.
The Tradition in which his teacher Yuan Chueh was rooted was the "Chin Lien Chia" (Golden Lotus), a tradition that embraces the arts of meditation as the play and actualization of full attention (T'so Ch'an), with the play of the Internal Martial Arts of china (the Nei Chia Ch'uan), including T'ai Chi (Chen Style) and Pa Kua of the Huang Pei Family, together with the short arts of Chi Kung (vital energy practice) and Chinese Yoga, as well as the Healing Arts of Traditional Chinese Medicine.
The Chin Lien Chia is a school that conveys Ch'an practice in the context of stillness, movement, healing, and everyday life and activities, deeply rooted in the primal Taoism of Lao Tzu and Chuang Tzu.
Yuan Chueh's focus was, as is Augusto's, that true Ch'an practice has to be rooted in the traditions of Primal Taoism, early Budhism or Theravada (The Way of the Ancients), as well as in the Mahayana (The Great Way), together with the study and involvement with the traditions, myths and cultures that belong to the land and the original dwellers of the land in which the practice and everyday life is happening.
Augusto has been a libertarian social activist since the 60's in Argentina and part of the resistance to the military genocide and oppresion during those dark years of latinamerica.
He has been also working with engaged buddhists associations as a libertarian social activist, for many years, and focuses on social issues from a Latino and Ch'an vision.

He networks with indigenous peoples and groups from Latin America and the world that are engaged in actively resisting the deadly works of ignorance, greed and hate.

He is a Traditional Chinese Medicine doctor, as well as an Indigenous Herb healer since 1974, a practice that he considers his true vocation.

An amateur journalist, writer and poet, has published articles, books and booklets in spanish, as well as interviews and articles both in english as in spanish journals, on the practice of Ch'an, Chinese medicine, Chinese Internal Martial Arts, Taoist Yoga, and the need of a new and socially involved heart, bridging in his presentations the liberation myths and practices of both the primal cultures of South America with the practices of the Tao and the Buddhayana, the "Way of Awakening and Flourishing".

He conceives group practice as community practice. one of healing and walking together, with no hierarchies, rituals, fixed forms, roles or structures, and open to all true traditions.

The focus is on a truly lay, working and socially active person's practice and play, aside from monastic archetypes, multicultural, and willing to contain and be contained by all beings.

It is emphasized the importance of social involvement as an outcome of living, understanding and seeing, given the crucial point in which the Blue Planet and the many beings that inhabit her are, in accordance of the words of Gautama: "only one thing i convey, the understanding of the causes, and the stopping of suffering", or to say it in another way, the arising of true joy, dance and dignity, and the full acceptance and realization of humanity as our nature..

He does not, thus, consider himself a "Teacher" with capital letters, in the traditional sense of the word, with some special or unique realizations or qualities, but a "Kalyanamitra" an ancient dharma term that means something like "soul-heart friend", or, as he likes to translate it, "compañero of the way", or "soul mate" (with no capital letters), or, as a musician and poet Hawaiian friend said, "Night Brother".

The focus then is on joy and learning, mutually, in any occasional changing role that one has in life, and the practice and application as work and everyday life and relationships and social action for a better world.

He has been teaching in Argentina (since 1974) and in Chile, Mexico, Hawaii and Australia since 1984, and before this he has been living and teaching in Hawaii, as well in Argentina, where he lives and has his own clinic practice, as well as leading a health project inside unemployed workers movements and indigenous peoples resisting oppression and genocide.

He goes to those places to coordinate practice and teach as well as engaging in healing work in the way in which he is now sharing practice with, after moving aside the traditional Zen guide role that he was doing before, in the Harada-Yasutani lineage of Soto Zen and as a student And Dharma Successor into that lineage.

In each visit he leads Zen intensives (both residential retreats and everyday-life-home-based ones), Chinese Internal Arts of Movement workshops and intensives, clinic practice, and meetings on the practice and joy of social involvement and action, linking the engaged dharma with the view, vision and dance of resistance expressed through the ways and myths of the ancient cultures of Central and South America.

He offers as a means of continuity of the relationship, the practice and the play, e-mail correspondence as needed, and phone contact once a month, for all the people that have participated in any of the activities, and are interested in sharing about their practice, play and application.

TCM Dr. Augusto Al Q’adi Alcalde (Roshi):

For contact, classes, courses or teachings, both in Argentina as well as
internationally, please drop an email.

Pervading one thing is pervading myriad things

Painting of a Rice-cake
from the Shobogenzo by Dogen Zenji; Section 1

Augusto Al Q’adi Alcalde
Sesshin, Day 1

“All buddhas are realisation; thus all things are realisation.
Yet no buddhas or things have the same characteristics; none have the same mind.
Although there are no similar characteristics or minds,
at the moment of your actualisation numerous actualisations manifest without hindrance.
At the moment of your manifestation, numerous manifestations
come forth without opposing one another.
This is the straightforward teaching of the ancestors.

Do not use the measure of oneness or difference as the criterion of your study.
Thus it is said, “To pervade one thing is to pervade myriad things”.

To pervade one thing does not take away its inherent characteristics.
Just as pervading does not limit one thing, it does not make one thing unlimited.
To try to make it unlimited is a hindrance.
When you allow pervading to be unhindered by pervading,
one pervading is myriad pervadings.
One pervading is one thing.
Pervading one thing is pervading myriad things..”

Here we are in our first day of this sesshin, and it will be interesting to go through the meanings of that word “sesshin”, to encourage our practice throughout it.
“Sesshin” means “to touch the mind-heart”, “to receive the heart-mind” and “to convey that mind”.
Thus the word “sesshin” has these three implications: touch, receive, convey the heart-mind. And this is our practice, this is our realisation, this is our heart during sesshin.
So let us really and intimately touch the mind, that mind that Dogen says is not just our own mind, “personal” mind, but the mind and the heart that is the stars, the rivers, the oceans, the trees, the birds...
To touch that mind is to become completely intimate with it, no gap, no space between, just that mind. We touch it.
And at that very moment, the second meaning of the word comes forth: “to receive the mind-heart”.
In total acceptance, total openness to the mind, we receive it and this very body, this very heart, this very belly is the mind itself, the heart itself, is the stars, the mountains, the rivers, the plants, the barking of the dog.

Then we have the third meaning, “convey the mind”, which is one of the most important, when we are talking about sesshin as sangha-community practice.

Just one practice, but it’s not basically the adding of individual practice, but one practice, happening and renewed, recreated moment by moment.

We convey the mind with our Genjo Koan, we convey the mind with our shikantaza, we convey the mind with the way we are sitting, the way we are walking each step, in zazen; we convey the mind and the heart when we eat, when we rest, when we sleep, when we dream.

And this conveying aspect is very important, because it touches the aspect of responsibility.
As we are conveying the mind, each one of us is conveying the mind of sesshin, each one is supporting, helping each other’s “conveying the mind”.
So please, let us take full complete and sincere responsibility for this.

Here we are, beginning our sesshin, in just one sangha-community practice, touching, receiving, conveying the heart-mind.
Not only for ourselves, but for all the many beings, and finally stopping suffering around the world.

In this first day of sesshin, we touch the quality of innocence that Suzuki Shunryu Roshi used to call “beginner’s mind”. Total innocence.
We don’t know anything about the sesshin; we don’t know anything about what will happen the next moment, next breath, next Koan, next flashing and blooming moment of shikantaza.

That quality of innocence is a true shelter and refuge in our sesshin.
And part of our practice, an important part, is to keep that “beginner’s mind”, that innocence of the “don’t know” mind, coming once and again, each moment, each moment, each moment as each moment.

In that way, we can drop away time, and just this zazen, just this step, just this breath, will cover the whole earth, the whole space.

Such a sesshin will thus not be a matter of seven days, four blocks of zazen each day.
It will be a matter of dropping away time: just this zazen.
Moment by moment, sesshin begins.
Moment by moment, we complete sesshin.

Dogen here is saying: All Buddhas are realisation. Thus all things are realisation. Yet no Buddhas or things have the same characteristics. None have the same mind. Although there are no similar characteristics or mind, at the moment of your actualisation, numerous actualisations manifest without hindrance. He says All Buddhas are realisation. All things are realisation.
He is not saying they have realisation. He is not saying “become” realisation.
He is saying are: just as they are, all Buddhas are realisation.
Just as we are, all things, all beings are realisation herself.
Here we touch the aspect of inquiring in our practice, inquiring that we call also Great Doubt, inquiring body heart and mind.

How are you?
How many times during the day we hear that simple question: “How are you?”
Yet it is not a superficial question.
How are you? The “how” is not different from “what”, not different from “What is Mu?”

So inquiring mind, inquiring heart, inquiring body is “How is the Genjo Koan?” “How is Mu?” “How is shikantaza?” “How is buddha nature?”

The how is the what, indeed.
But this Ahow@, this Awhat@ needs to be answered, presented, expressed by the whole body, heart and mind.

So please, let us settle there our zazen and life.
Let us settle the inquiring mind-heart there, in the “How is the genjo Koan?”, in the “What is Mu?” that fills the whole universe as our true body itself.

Dogen continues, saying At the moment of your actualisation, numerous actualisations manifest without hindrance. At the moment of your manifestation, numerous manifestations come forth without opposing each other.
The moment of your actualisation: the moment of becoming actual, being this very whole moment, alive and shining, moment by moment, in full, open attention, as our true face, our true body, our true home.
There the ten thousand beings advance and confirm, actualise, that true home as our intimate heart, our most intimate belly.

Numerous actualisations manifest without hindrance, says Dogen here. Numerous manifestations come forth without opposing each other.
Many actualisations manifesting without hindrance, that is this very moment as Mu, as shikantaza, as the very Genjo Koan, the Koan of our everyday life, as the joyful dance of the limitless life that we call Amitabha Buddha.

This is the place and the ground of practice realisation itself.
It’s that very “no hindrance”.
When that is the context and that is the container of our practice, we are truly free to settle into the deep intimacy of one moment.
Full body-heart-and-mind Mu, one moment.
Full body-heart-and-mind shikantaza, recognising and embodying that very dance as our breath, and our life itself.

Numerous manifestations come forth without opposing each other, says our text today.
There is a Korean teacher called Chinul, who talked about “sudden realisation, gradual personalisation”.
Sudden realisation: this is one moment, “dotoku”, full dedication, one moment of full engagement in buddha nature, awaken-ing nature, with buddha nature, as buddha nature itself.

Numerous manifestations come forth without opposing each other: we touch here gradual personalisation.
This is manifestations, acts, steps, coming forth and becoming our impermanent body of understanding and compassion.

Our text continues, saying Do not use the measure of oneness or difference as the criterion of your study [or practice]. Thus it is said, to pervade one thing is to pervade myriad things.
Do not use the measure, says Dogen here.
Do not use the measure: not to measure, not to evaluate, not to compare, the three legs of the bed of delusion.

Zazen, Mu, shikantaza truly do not belong to that world.
Janis Joplin says in a song, “Freedom is just another word for having nothing left to lose”.

Well, we do not have a single thing from the very beginning; that is, nothing to lose.
And in that joyful freedom and humbleness abides the opportunity to dance with dignity the intimacy of zazen, dropping off, shedding off body and mind.

This very mind-heart is all Buddhas, all beings, practice realisation itself.

Dogen says here, To pervade one thing is to pervade myriad things.
To pervade one thing: he uses the ideograph “tsu” here, “pervade”, and means direct experience, true understanding beyond discriminatory thinking.

To pervade one thing, that one thing: our true face, the Genjo Koan, Mu, shikantaza itself.
So again, “How are you?” How is original face? How is Mu?

If there is the observer, the “how” is not intimate enough.
Maybe strong Koan is there; maybe strong shikantaza is there.
But there is also a strong observer, and two places of tension, the observer and the Koan, the observer and this very moment.
Two places of tension are working.
So even when we have that dual, if intense, practice, there is a gap, a space in the middle for distraction, discriminative thinking, evaluation; and intimacy and full blooming do not have a chance to come forth.
So please, only Mu, only this moment. We ourselves disappear.
How are you? How is Mu? How is this very moment?
Please, do not answer.
Let the coming forth of the whole true body be the actualisation and manifestation, in total freedom, no hindrance at all.
Liberating the many beings, pervading just that ordinary, subtle, essential thing that is life. Call her the Genjo Koan, if you like.

To penetrate one thing, says our text, does not take away its inherent characteristics. Just as pervading does not limit one thing, it does not make one thing unlimited. To try to make it unlimited is a hindrance. When you allow pervading to be unhindered by pervading, one pervading is myriad pervadings. One pervading is one thing. Pervading one thing is pervading myriad things.
Not to take away its inherent characteristics, not to limit that one thing, not to make that one thing unlimited, says Dogen here.
This is total open acceptance.
There pervading is unhindered by pervading.
Zazen is unhindered by zazen; the koan, shikantaza unhindered by the koan, shikantaza.

The sages of the Tao say, “The Tao is basically utterly open. Utter openness has no substance. It ends in endlessness, begins in beginninglessness.”

There is no place there for an observer at all.
No place for evaluating or making. Just the fertile night of the dharma.

We have a story by Walking Words in my Latino Land that says:

“In Haiti, stories may not be told during the day.
Anyone who tells a story before dark is disgraced.
The mountain throws a stone at his head; his mother walks on all fours.
Night-time draws out what is sacred, and those who know how to tell stories
know that the name is the very thing that it names”

Truly, indeed.
Let us please settle our heart, our zazen, let us settle our Koan, our shikantaza into that night-time.
Night time draws out what is sacred.
Let the sacred come forth, intimate with that name, the very thing that it names.
What is that name?

The bird is conveying it; the smell of incense is conveying it.
Please do not practise outside this fertile, sacred night.
How could we anyway?


Sunday, January 22, 2012

The Virtue of the Tao's Herb

Aki No Hashi Dojo: "Auttum Bridge Dojo"

"Beauty, youth, and allure fade even as they first appear. In the
earliest mists of Spring, we see the Autumn Bridge"

The Virtue of the Tao’s Herb

By Augusto Al Q’adi Alcalde

From the “Autumn Bridge Dojo”


I have been chewing one of Dogen’s experiences and phrases through the Shobogenzo. And that phrase. “Do Toku”, was shining. There are many possible translations of that Do Toku, but of course, enough to say, the only real “translation” is the living experience of it. The “common” living experience, the social one, the one that has the power to change our hearts and the world.

The usual one is “Total Dedication”, Total, full dedication.

But the words themselves, the ideographs themselves are quite interesting.

Do is the same as Zendo or the way or the Tao. And Toku is the equivalent for Teh in Tao Teh King.

It is the power, or energy, or “virtue”, of the Tao.

We could also translate not only as “total dedication” but also as “total availability”, to practice and essential nature. Our Zapatista brothers and sisters do say “the word is half of the one who says it, and half of the one who hears.” Thus, our “hearing” reality and our common heart, does create reality, makes our true nature shine.

May I quote Jun Fan? (also known as Bruce Lee) “Wu Hsin, No Mind, consists in a subtle art of harmonizing the mind’s essence with the essence of the place and situation in which we are working and doing. The innermost secret awaits for the silence”

So we can say that this is the power or energy or virtue, and not in the moral sense of the word “virtue” but as potential, as in what is the “virtue” of this plant or this herb.

The virtue of the Tao.

The Tao. We shouldn’t forget, if we understand what Lao Tzu is saying in his little book, it is the unknown, is the nameless, is the black female, the mother of all mystery.

Dogen talks about this total dedication as one of the fundamental elements of Zazen, the formless actualization of Unconditional Attention. Or, as a friend said, “making Love to emptiness” right on!!!

Completely disappearing into Zazen, into and as that very Attention as our True Body and Heart, this living moment.

Completely disappearing into each breath, each moment, each step.

As them.

Total dedication.

I think this is related with the word “Intensive” or intense that we use to approach this practice. We can say this very moment is a Zen Intensive. It is based, it depends, it is supported, by our respons-ability in relationship to our half of the word…

When we talk about the word Zen and the meaning of the word Zen we see more and more Zen as being much more than a practice, and see Zen more as an experience, a living experience, a flowing and unfolding living experience. Seeing it as such, does open really many many gates. And as Dogens says, Zen is the Dharma Gate of ease and joy. And at the same place as an inquiry, an inquiring, deep, formless, daring, fearless inquiring.

Inquiry not being caught up by any fixed form but just inquiring,

Formless deep inquiring into the unknown. As the Unknown herself.

So we can see Zen, as well as Life and relationship, is a practice, and actualization, as well as an inquiry.

The ones who did broke the neo-liberal mirror and war, do also say “Asking questions we walk”. We walk.

And this walking is contained in a form and community. even if in one moment is is a community of simply an ass and a pillow, a community of two feet and the ground.

The seed is there, and the seed is the tree and the shade. The tree is the rain and the horizon.

So that power, that virtue, that tao, is the Total Availability, total trust, total dedication to the seeds. Yes, in plural, as we are also, plural.

Thus we have this form and this community which is basically the container of that inquiry and play. At that point Zen or Shikantaza or Koan is a living experience renewed moment by moment falling, diving into that container of this form and the community and how it expresses outside the limits of the formal place, be it called Zendo or another name in and as our very everyday life.

When we say this word “intense” or “intensive” we touch the possible relationship between time and practice and life. And Passion and Love.

Time! such a mystery! As well as practice or life itself.

And the question is how do we touch this?

How do we become that intensity, that passion in such a way that that our Attention practice and play, our Zazen and our life is not just hanging in there for the 8 days or 50 or 60 or 80 or 120 years of life?

How do we touch or how we become, actualize, express that passion, that intensity without which I don’t think we can touch and become intimate with that heart of inquiry and practice.

The notion of continuity blocks that passion to come forth.

In that continuity we lose that passion because we place that ideal time in which realisation or understanding or fulfilment or ease and joy as Dogen defines Zazen will happen, always in the future, always as a projection. Do we by chance do the same with Peace, Justice, Freedom too?

Or maybe we do sit in some kind of formatting or manipulation of the cause, in such a way that we want to produce an effect.

But this I don’t think nothing works as well, as bad, we should say, as the illusion of having time, we “think” we have time. Yes tomorrow we continue here?, who knows!!! I don’t think so. It may be, it may be not .

And when we fearlessly challenge that security about next moment taken for granted we touch that passion.

When we have the illusion of having time, we imagine, we plan, we postpone, that living experience.

So Dogen says Total Complete Dedication, availability to this Tao, this unknown and nameless reality.

So what is practice then? what is play? Is that very Do Toku as Zazen, as Shikantaza, as the “Koan of everyday life”, that Koan named as Genjo Koan.

Then those elements, Unconditioned Attention, Full fearless Inquiry, the4 so called Zazen, Shikantaza or the Koan are expressed as every single step in our life.

So we have two wings in this practice, there is a lot of emphasis in certain schools about not searching but I think it is also important not to postpone that possibility. Not to postpone the horizon, not to postpone the New World, New Heart.

We don’t direct ourselves to our aim but also we don’t postpone the potential of this very moment as the only one for that awakening.

There, with that heart of passion and intensity, that we can call it Zazen or our true nature.

Not to search, not to postpone, becoming one in the simple act of sitting, walking, breathing, living, loving.

In the Taoist tradition the word for Zazen that is used is not the same.

The word is used the ideograph that is used is “Tso Wang”. Tso has the same meaning as Za- sitting. Tso Wang is “sitting in forgetfulness”, “sitting in oblivion”. Wang is forgetfulness, oblivion, not remembering. So the Taoist tradition which is one of the most important ones in the coming forth of Zen in China. says we sit in forgetfulness, in forgetting us, this act of forgetting everything itself.

Then there is nothing known, thus there is no point of reference.

WE don’t know what Zen practice is as we are sitting, we don’t know who we are, we don’t know what we are and thus as Dogen says the Self is forgotten and all beings from all directions and times come forth and actualise true nature. Actualize the New Heart, New World that is so badly needed on this Blue Planet.

Here then time is our heart and body, space is our heart and body, this brand new living moment is our heart and body. And it is a Common heart and Body, thus, a common walking.

Dogen, in a very interesting essay called Being Time or “the identity of being and time”, he says like this: “You may suppose that time is only passing away and not understand that time never arrives. Although understanding itself is time, understanding does not depend on its arrival.”

I find this last part quite interesting “understanding does not depend on its own arrival”.

We can rest there.


Saturday, February 19, 2011

Walking Memory, dancing against oblivion.

March 22-2002

(wrote-walked this in the past, my heart is the same today...


Friday 22 march. In front of the Central Post Office building at Cordoba City. 6 pm. March for the Memory, for the 30.000 disappeared, to repudiate the most terrorist, bloody and genocidal military dictatorship that began 26 years ago supported by the usa. March in Cordoba, two days before the actual date, the sadly unforgettable 24. Demonstration called by a red rainbow of organizations and groups, of human rights, left wing ones, anarchists, workers organizations, art groups, and of course, the Mothers and Grandmothers of Plaza de Mayo and the daughters and sons of the disappeared ones. But also and most important, called and walked by the disappeared sisters and brothers themselves.

Ghosts? Not at all! presence, powerful inspiring and dancing presence. And their daughters and sons too, the ones who died with their parents in the concentration camps and under torture, and the ones who were (together with their identity) appropriated by the military and the police, the ones that were able to recover their identity, and the ones that still are in doubt, knowingly or not. The ones that had to go to foreign lands, and the ones that had to stay in this land as a foreign one.

All the us which from the cradle of Memory walk the Identity that roots and en-brothers hearts and steps, and dances for a new world.

March for the Memory. This time not another one, this time under the call of: "Argentina is Moving, Towards a New Nation, march for Democracy, Justice and Work".

This time to reaffirm and recreate the "Argentinazo" of december 20.

This time not another one, this time gathering many different groups, groups and people that may have not participated before, like the Neighborhood Popular Assemblies, and groups, and entire families and common people that, in this very pregnant and vibrant moment and process of this Nation, have come to understand and embody finally that a people with Memory is a rebel people, and only a rebel people can reach the horizon of dignity for all, the many colors.

6 PM, waiting for the readiness of time that would make the march begin to walk, surrounded by the smoke coming from my warm pipe and by memories of fires and sparks, i look around searching for my partner, and i remember ......

I remember. (which in my tongue is "recordar", to pass again through the heart). The year of 1968, my first march, against another military dictatorship, and still marching, still saying no, and still the same unjustice and ignorant arrogance of the Power. I am not the same though, and the march is not the same, now drums accompany us all, besides the flags and the songs. We are more "we" than ever, we are more "us" than ever, the horizon calls louder and clearer, and the dance is more diverse, rich and effective. Now is not just activism, it is the people, going out into the streets reclaiming them, dancing them, and owning them.

And i can hear the voice of the streets calling for the people too. And believe me, it is a charming call.

7 PM, main Post Office Building, the group has grown and gathered from all directions, the drums have been joined by other sister drums and the flags seem to greet each other helped by the wind. The wind from below. The wind of Memory. The wind of the active pain, the wind of dignity, fueled by the need and cry for true justice and true democracy. For all.

The march begins, and after a short visit under the black flag of the anarchist brothers and sisters, i cannot find my own flag and group, the multitude is blooming, i realize when i am able to join the "Theatre For Identity" group, and the Grandmothers, with whom we are marching.

"Be realistic, ask for the impossible" says one of the flags, and i remember that May of 1968.....and my own first march....

Tuned with the chords of those years and struggles, graffiti from those days does come to my mind: "the red girls, every day even more beautiful...". True indeed!! And i look at those Mothers and Grandmothers, and i see them young.

Young and beautiful. Some people say that the thing is to become old and wise but i strongly disagree.

The thing is to become Young and wise! and those Old Ladies that were transformed by the struggle and transformed the struggle itself, look absolutely young and beautiful to me. Young and beautifully wise.

And i look to my partner and i see the same in her, and i see the same in the boys and the girls, and in all the ones that have no age because the struggle has no age, and maybe some sister or some brother is seeing also that in me. And i think so, because i can feel it in my steps. That is to say in my heart and love, another way to say in the struggle.

As we march toward the chosen square, words and paint come out from the people against Mc Donald's, banks, multinational companies, the military, the church, accused of being an accomplice of the dictators, the fake human rights secretariat of the government, the federal police building.......

And we finally reached the square and the stage.

The "we" now has grown to 10.000 people. Latino rap and socially engaged muzik is coming from the speakers, and the act unfolds. Many people spoke, many organizations sent their voice and their word, and also and mainly, this time, the voice and the presence of the ones who died during the brutal repression of late december had also a dign place.

The father of the 13 years old kid that was murdered by the police with bullets in his back and neck, remembered his son and demanded with all of us justice and "never more, never again" to death and to unjustice.

And then the names, each single one of the names of the ones who died on the "Argentinazo" day were named and acclaimed by the present ones.

Did I say "the present ones" meaning just us? They were certainly present, as the 30.000 were, as each one of the 15.000 children that die every year in Argentina just because they are poor, this is to say, because of the Greed and the Ignorance and the Violence of the ones here and across the world who have no dign name.

And then the shout (from the Heart at the left) and the fist high in solidarity with the peoples in Latin America and the world who are fighting for Democracy, Justice and Freedom, and suffering and resisting the repression and murder of the Empire and its masks, lies and excuses for expanding death and greed as the mantle that tries to cover, utterly unsuccessfully, its fear and ignorance.

Then, muzik!! And the drums were still sounding, and the "we" was more "us" than ever.

It is late, 10.30 pm and i feel my feet are as tired as my heart is happy. A shared feeling i'm sure.

We walk backwards, after the act is over (for the moment...) searching for something to eat and drink with the sisters and the brothers. Hugging my partner, i feel the past is unpredictable, the future less cloudy.

As we talk and eat at the restaurant, we do not acknowledge that this march may have opened a door (as we ourselves were open by a door), a door that walked in Buenos Aires two days after ours did. A spark joining and joined by many sparks. Time and space, past and present, seem more than one feeding the heart with the sour bread of hope that is certainty itself.

"More Than Ever, Never More!" "Never Again!!"

Two days after Cordoba, the diversity of resistance, the diversity as resistance, marched and filled the famous and symbolic Plaza de Mayo, on the 24th of march, the infamous anniversary number 26th of the coming into power of the criminals (this word is too soft for it..) that unfolded a horizon of death, torture and misery that is still going on under a different face of the of the same obscure Power.

Resonating with all the marches and demonstrations that happened in the whole country, the net of resistances and proposals as tens of thousands of people, filled more than completely the square, and it was made very loud and clear that even though there is a tremendous crisis in the country, there is not any, and we really mean ANY, space for any authoritarian solution.

True Democracy, was the underground cry, because without it, there cannot be True Justice, and freedom and dignity can only bloom from there.

And this is the place of Identity as struggle and horizon. As Root, Heart and Struggle.

Like the owners of the streets. The ones that marched, and the ones that decided to support the march staying on the sidewalks. No one can know which one was the biggest multitude of both, and there is no need for that useless math’s exercise.

An Argentinean flag 150 meters long with the faces of four thousand disappeared people on her, in representation of the 30.000 ones, in black and white photos, was been carried by the Mothers of Plaza de Mayo. Another flag was the Memory of the disappeared of japanese origin, another one of the Uruguayan people, advancing in accord with the rhythm of their drums.

Some media said there were 200.000 people, some said 100.000.....unimportant details after all when the one heart is presence.

This time there were no pots and pans beating, the cry of "More than Ever, Never More!" was the step herself as firm affirmation of the will for real change and the willingness to walk the necessary paths for a new, possible just world, a new, possible just Argentina.

Call this "hope" if you wish, i'll call her "certainty".

"All, absolutely all of them, all of them politicians, military, policemen, representatives of the Power should go down and away!" this mind and heart, the cry that was voiced at every single of the multiple and diverse pots and pans meetings and the picketers acts, was also being shouted and singed all along in this march.

Ten motorcycles with their riders, in representation of the courier bikers group that was so active in the rebellion for True Democracy, and left their blood during the brutal police repression of december the 20th, were marching opening the way for the Neighborhood Popular Assemblies' peoples.

And then, the ones carrying a giant pot with a huge slingshot inside were expressing the affinity and unity between the popular assembly people and the picketers.

And when the march reached the Square, the "Plaza", it was affirmed that today, as the product of politics of neoliberalism and the deepening of social exclusion, the universe of the victims has been expanded to almost the whole population of the Nation, while the visible faces of the authors of this crime and the ones that are extracting benefits of this situation and model, are enjoying in impunity.

An impunity that began with the amnesty to the genocides (under so-called democratic governments), and established the basis for the impunity of the promoters, direct authors, and accomplices of the economical extermination that we Argentineans (and the Third World peoples and species around the planet) are living today.

And one of the communiqués said that: "Something great and new is fluttering in this square of the People where every year we get together to ratify our memory and our struggle. Because after the upheaval throughout the whole country of thousands of families in hunger, in the late hours of the night of dec. 19, the pots and pans bloomed through cities and towns, and fires were lighten illuminating all corners, the picketers walked across almost all the cities and thousands of people did congregate at the squares answering thus reversely to the 'State of Siege' declared by the then president.

Thus, it was embodied, (it was 'made intimate with the body') that word that last year was shouted, sung and walked in this very square: "The People has not been defeated and today is here standing firm on her feet to shout this toward all the winds'."

True indeed! Something great and at the same time ordinary like the morning toasts is fluttering in this huge and beautiful country and people.

Truly the People have not been defeated, how could she be? And is walking the Memory that is light and smoke that helps us to seek and find, that makes bridges of us and our walking.

So that we and all and every being from all worlds and all times can walk from night to day, bringing the fertility of the night to the horizon and rainbow of the day where the dign "no" that comes from the tomorrow is a crystal, not a mirror. And thus, born to be walked through.

All this walking and waking as a labor of birth, difficult and beautiful, a revolution that can make revolution possible.

A new revolution. A new kind of revolution.

Outside the state parties, outside of the struggle for Power, that by nature corrupts and molds the ones who "take" it, in the old dark magnifying glass of fear and ignorance, transforming revolutionaries into authoritarian burocrats that forget the horizon and the bird of many colors.

The struggle, as the life-death dance in multiple and many fronts and backs and corners and ups and downs with several and varied and creative ways, with diverse and different modes of engagement, dances, steps and degrees of participations.

True Democracy, True Freedom and Genuine Justice will be the womb and the baby.

An inclusive, non-vanguardist, communitarian, humble and listening womb and baby.

To walk this is to walk primal dignity, to walk a change that makes real change possible, and revolution is an unpredictable and moody animal.

She jumps, pretends to be dead or soundly sleep, dances and pretends to fail, but she is never a heart beat away from the morning toasts, the walk to work, the lover's hug, and the daughters and sons eyes.

True heroes do make this revolution possible, and they look completely ordinary. As a square filled with 200.000 people celebrating the Memory and Dignity of the struggle and the loss.

Revolution is an unpredictable animal, i've seen . I've sniffed her, glimpsed her as i walked with the Grandmothers and the drums and the smoke of my pipe and the hands of my love.

She's on the waylay willing to steal fear and greed.

She's on ambush from an unpredictable corner willing to steal the lie of the defeat and despair that the Power tries to sell.

Being completely available to her, this animal red as blood and life, with the steps of the dign heart and the homely smell of the morning toasts, we can walk, for us and for all, for the children and the many species and mountains and clouds and dreams and hands reaching for the pillow in deep sleep, for the horizon and the ways, for the future that we can find turning inside out the past and living fully and completely this present, the pre-scent, as dignity that is nothing else than primal Memory that lives and dances.

Rebel dignity.

This i saw today, march 22, Cordoba, Argentina, walking against oblivion, against death, for the Memory and for life, for not dying the death of oblivion.

This i saw today, tonight, friday 22 march 2002.

The Power, here and elsewhere, will never erase the dream.

The Peoples will keep on dreaming, will keep on dancing, keep on hugging the horizon.

Against oblivion.

Beginning, continuing, completing, the dream.

30.000 reasons.

One heart.

Will keep walking.

See you next year, next revolution, next dream, next toast.

Of course, we do not need to wait....

Augusto Al Q'adi Alcalde

March 22-2002


Tuesday, February 15, 2011

A blade of grass is actualized

A blade of grass is actualized

On the Shobogenzo: “All-inclusive study”

Augusto Alcalde (Roshi)

“All-inclusive study is just single-minded sitting, dropping away body and mind.

At the moment of going there, you go there; at the moment of coming here, you come here.

There is no gap.

Just in this way, the entire body studies all-inclusively the great road’s [Tao’s] entire body. Stepping over the head of Vairochana is Samadhi without conflict.

To attain this firmly is to step over the head of Vairochana.

The complete practice of all-inclusive study by leaping out is gourd leaping out from gourd.

For a long time the gourd’s head has been the practice place.

Its vital force is vines.

Gourd studies gourd all-inclusively. In this way a blade of grass is actualized.

This is all-inclusive study”.

Please sit comfortably, if you wish.

This chapter is the last one of Dogen’s essay called “All-inclusive study”, and points to very interesting qualities of our practice and realization.

All-inclusive study is just single-minded sitting, dropping away body and mind, says the first phrase. Yesterday we were talking about the three bodies of the Buddha, talking about Dharmakaya as the body of emptiness; Sambhogakaya as the body of fullness in which every single being, every single thing is complete in itself; and the Nirmanakaya, the body of uniqueness.

When Dogen is saying here all-inclusive study, that all-inclusive refers to the quality of completeness, totally including everything, “all-inclusive study”.

Thus here we are talking about Sambhogakaya practice, the quality of completeness and joy, the quality of nothing lacking at all.

He said that all-inclusive study is just single-minded sitting. “Single-minded sitting” we can wonder about the meaning of that phrase, but how many minds do we have?

Single-minded sitting: with just this mind, whatever the form that mind is having at this very moment. Sitting with that mind, in our very body, is just single-minded sitting.

All-inclusive study is just single-minded sitting, dropping away body and mind, said our text.

That is a very interesting phrase: “dropping away body and mind”.

But, as we said in the first Teisho of our Sesshin, quoting Keizan Zenji, there is no body or mind to be dropped, from the very beginning, as his poem was saying.

So here, dropping away body and mind is just dropping away limits, those concepts of limited body or limited mind encapsulating ourselves into this skin-bag, not paying attention to the living fact that Dogen is pointing to when he says the true body is the wholeness of all forms, all living beings existing right here now.

And true mind is the wholeness of space, sky, stones, clouds, everything.

So we drop away body and mind, we shed off body and mind, we drop away concepts of limited body and mind; and we enter into timeless life, timeless Heart, which is a possible translation of “Enmei Jikku”, the Sutra dedicated to Kanzeon, limitless life.

In that way, all-inclusive study is just single-minded sitting, dropping away body and mind.

All-inclusively open and intimately one with the “sparky” quality of life in each moment; all-inclusively open and one with the energy of change and transformation that abides everywhere, with the aliveness, constantly reborn life, of our own body and mind, our own practice, and the practice of the universe.

Our text continues, saying: At the moment of going there, you go there. At the moment of coming here, you come here. There is no gap.

Going there, we just go.

Coming here, we just come here.

Probably “going there” can refer, in our own context of practice, to when we go away from our Mu, our particular Koan we are working with at the moment, or we go away from renewing shikantaza.

Dogen is saying: when you go there, just go there, because, you already know, it can’t be helped anyway. We just let it go.

But when we come here, just come here, just coming home, moment by moment.

That is the practice in which we learn how to use distractions, how to return home, how to start the process of zazen and trust that very process in such a way that we don’t feel the need to control it.

If we go there, falling into distraction, into fantasy, we just go there; and we take the vow that when we really know that we have been going astray, we come back home.

Every time we go away. Every time we dive into the Koan.

We open completely our shikantaza, open to this very moment.

And once we have started zazen, just let it be.

Let us trust the Dharma.

Zazen teaches zazen, this is an old saying in Zen.

So we start the process and trust the process, no need to direct it in any particular direction or way.

Our brothers and sisters in Dignity say:

“Do we know where we are going? yes.

Do we know what awaits us? Yes.

Is it worth it? Yes.

Who can answer the previous three questions with a yes and remain still and do nothing without feeling that something deep inside is tearing apart?”

There is no division, no gap, says Dogen.

So we sit there, into this very no gap.

Not in the self, not in others, not in oneself, not in Mu, but just in the fact of no gap, no division, going beyond oneself, beyond the Koan, beyond shikantaza itself.

Just in this way, the entire body studies all-inclusively the Great Road’s [Tao’s] entire body, continues our text.

“The entire body of the great Tao” the great Way, the Great Life.

“Just in this way”, Dogen is saying then that those sparks, the energy and aliveness of the Great Tao’s body that is our very life, this very moment, our Sesshin right here, and everything that comes forth from this, are just that. And the form and function they assume are beyond names and evaluation at all.

And if we find our self putting names and evaluating, that very naming and that very evaluating is beyond naming and evaluation!!!

Just in this way, the entire body studies all-inclusively the entire body of the great Tao.

So this study, this practice, is like surfing with no body, no board, all-inclusively personalizing the Great Ocean’s Tao.

The text continues, saying: Stepping over the head of Vairochana is Samadhi without conflict. To attain this firmly is to step over the head of Vairochana.

We say in our meal sutras: “Vairochana, pure and clear Buddha”, and this is the Buddha of Emptiness, pure and clear emptiness herself.

But here Dogen is saying we should step over the head of Vairochana: walk through that emptiness, walk over that emptiness itself.

So stepping over this, the natural question is: “Who is stepping?”

There is no person, only that very stepping itself, only that Koan going beyond the Koan, only that shikantaza beyond shikantaza itself.

This, Dogen says, is Samadhi without conflict; and that’s a very interesting phrase: “Samadhi without conflict”.

So when we see the fact of everything being complete, nothing lacking, dancing in joy in the whole universe, that is the natural coming forth of Samadhi.

And there is no conflict there, because there is no struggle.

Thus we touch there Sambhogakaya practice, which is, as the practice of Zen, the practice of wonder.

And we can say fascination is another word for Samadhi, and wonder another words for Great Inquiring.

Samadhi without conflict: in the same essay, Dogen says elsewhere: flying high with no strings attached or like clouds shooting below your feet.

No conflict at all.

Without conflict, we abide in the midst of wonder and fascination, as the living fact that we have no skin and that in this permeability all beings throughout space and time live, play and practice with us, as ourselves.

The text continues, saying: The complete practice of all-inclusive study by leaping out is gourd leaping out from gourd.

So that very dropping away of body and mind, that shedding off, comes from the very body and mind-heart itself, and that dropping away of body and mind is happening in the midst of the same, the very same, old body and heart-mind.

So nothing is lost there at all. How can it be? Where will it go???

And from there, the body mind and heart that have been dropped away do come forth and liberate the many beings.

For a long time the gourd’s head has been the practice place, says our text. We know that, huh?

The head has been the practice place, we know that.

We are in the fourth day of the Sesshin, and we know that, our head being the place of the practice.

He said for a long time it has been like that, but its vital force is vines.

Here we are touching the reality that is shown with the metaphor of Indra’s Net, in which every being, every single thing, in all time and all space, is so interrelated with all the others that there are really no others.

This is what we can call “vines”: such a deep intimacy with every moment, every being, every thing, that really there are no others, there is no self.

Here we find its vital force is vines.

There is an old saying in Chinese Zen pointing to this interrelation of Indra’s Net, that says: “When Chang drinks, Li gets drunk”.

Chang is always drinking, and we are always drunk.

Our vital force is always coming.

The only thing we can do is really to be available to that fact, so that we can allow the blood of life to go through those living vines.

When Dogen says all-inclusively here, let us be clear that that means that includes all: when earth practices earth, our body heart and mind practice our body heart and mind, all-inclusively, just the practice of the great Bodhisattva, this wonderful, mysterious living being that pervades all time and all space.

Gourd studies gourd all-inclusively.

And then it says: In this way a blade of grass is actualized.

Gourd studies gourd inclusively. In this way a blade of grass is actualized.

It’s very interesting, the outcome of that practice: a blade of grass is actualized.

Nothing to do with the gourd itself.

Gourd studies gourd, and something happens that has apparently nothing to do with that, a blade of grass comes forth and is perfectly actualized.

This is the fact of the outcome of practice, totally beyond cause and effect.

So please, let us give space to the mystery, give way to the unexpected Tathagata: true intimate with the Koan, true intimate with shikantaza, completely available to the mystery.

I remember a phrase by my Aitken Roshi saying: “Our task is not to clear up the mystery; it is to make the mystery clear”.

True indeed! Make the mystery perfectly clear, shining forth, and sit there, as the very mystery itself.

At that point, Dogen says: flying high with no strings attached or like clouds shooting below your feet. This being so, the world of blossoming flowers arises.

The world of blossoming flowers arises; this is the most wonderful expression of the realization experience, as far as I can see.

The world of blossoming flowers arises.

We said the vast sky does not hinder the white clouds from flying.

Let us become completely intimate with the Koan, completely intimate with this unique moment of life.

Dropping away body and heart-mind, shedding them off, and not hinder the actualization of that blade of grass.

Is there any other way to liberate the many beings?

Walking Words, from my Latino Land says:

“The church says: the body is a sin

Science says: The body is a machine.

Advertizing says: the body is a business.

The body says: I am a fiesta!!!”

True indeed!

The shed off body-heart-mind dancing as the white clouds flying and dancing.

The world of blossoming flowers arise,

want to join the dance?

Augusto Alcalde