New at Blue Grass Zen


Winter Retreat: Moving in the Dark, Embracing the Inconceivable

January 25, 9:30 am to 5 pm, UUCL, 3465 Clays Mill Road, Lexington

Awakening, we set aside a lifetime based on what we know of ourselves, others and the world. We travel in the dark, without the light of knowing, exploring and discovering as we go.  To awaken is to embrace the inconceivable, surprised and welcoming of what comes. At Bluegrass Zen we engage life and awaken together. On retreat we meditate with koans and engage in deep conversation. One on one practice interviews will be available with David Parks, Roshi throughout the day.  And count on this:  laughter and tears – real life – as we explore together.


The Tale of Two Naughty Horses or Out of Bounds!

The koan is vast, encompassing and moves easily over boundaries. “Master!” There is a call.  “Yes!” is a response.  This practice is seamless, continuous and unending.  Call, response — who calls? Who responds? As I write, the white pine trees outside the window dance in the wind. So, here is the voiceless voice, a mysterious call from I know not where. Out of the dark recesses, feels like the heart, there rising in me, equally mysterious, “Yes!  Yes!”


For Your Benefit

With this Dongshan darkens life’s course, the path now a “dark passage” through which life’s events are lost to explanation and knowing.  There is only this naked “Why?” an expression of pain which will not find an answer nor submit to explanation.  As the path darkens, the heart cracks open and yields personal identity and preference, surrendering to “I don’t know.”


Blessed Poverty — Feeling the Way

This blessed way calls us forth, to feel our way as we experience life as it comes to us. Feeling our way along feels like a naked trust, as it can only be undertaken “in the dark,” from a place of not-knowing.  Our trust is naked as we trust the uncertain and unknown, noticing and receiving the offering that the darkness brings, that is our’s in the mystery.


Every Day is a Good Day

Koans are an invitation to the “here” of the moment, to our lives as they are. As we come into our lives we are healed, finding our home in the mysterious vast. Exchanging our ‘life stories” for koan story, the koan turns us around welcoming us as Buddha, as the one who comes thus, tathagata — just so.  Here it is, life before story, before belief, before self. Thus.The sun rises pink on the horizon. The crows call to each other. I open the gate to let the horses in after a night in the field.  This is Yunmen’s everyday.


Save a Ghost

it seems to me that ghosts are almost always trying to be helpful like this: guarding the threshold between the places I know and am fine with and the places where I simply do not want to go, where I believe I will meet my doom. A ghostly, “Boo!” or a rattling of chains is just enough and I’ll be heading the other way. As I interact with these ghosts and keep away from what I fear the ghosts work to save me from something I have found to be a problem. 


Who’s On First?

The moon sets on your knowing, on your images and ideas of self, well known and worn and you welcome what you don’t yet know. You begin to experience the vast and seamless dark on its own terms. You walk alone, dark, and in the dark. Your walk is one of discovery. There is no separation between you and what is. You are at-one.You begin to live and move with deep appreciation of life as it unfolds. You are alone here, for at-one where is the other? Life meets you, here, in this dark town. Then the awakening — this is how it has always been, before rank, before the suffering, before a self.


Rounding the Bend, Peach Blossoms!

Awakening is not something we can conceive of, we cannot think our way to it. One old teacher said, “Move towards it, you move away from it.” Ok. Well, then it is always a surprise. We don’t find it, awakening finds us. Peach blossoms find us. The Universe finds us. And we stir, foundations shake. Lingyun rounds the bend, there they are, the peach blossoms across the valley — they find him — no doubts, no opinions either — just the peach blossoms, the intimacy of awakening. Lingyun disappears in a moment of peach blossoms.


Can I Get a Witness?

Life in its ecstasy and in its misery is agonizing, a contest. In other words, life comes forward to meet you, calls. This is Guan Yin in all her guises – love, hate, kindness, sadness, anger, grief, and on and on. Life’s call beckons response, a step off the pole. The teacher, echoing life itself, asks, “how do you step from the top of the hundred foot pole?”