Category Archives: Dharma Bum

May 29 – “Our Life Is Our Path”

Today’s senryu: Our Life Is Our Path

How did I get here?

Where am I going today?

I pause, breathe and smile.

If I had to label my spiritual path, Zen Christian comes close to describing it. This Summer I’m scheduled to be “ordained,” first as an Interspecies, Interspiritual Animal Chaplain through Compassion Consortium and later as a lay brother in the Order of Interbeing, Thich Nhat Hanh’s Plum Village Tradition.

Below are two quotes which explain how I see my Zen Christian practice today.

First, “to be a human being is to be a knower and a lover of nature and spirit, because to be human is to be both.” Dr. Christopher Baglow (

The second quote comes from Thich Nhat Hanh:

We enter the path of practice through the door of knowledge, perhaps from a Dharma talk or a book. We continue along the path, and our suffering lessens, little by little. But at some point, all of our concepts and ideas must yield to our actual experience. Words and ideas are only useful if they are put into practice. When we stop discussing things and begin to realize the teachings in our own life, a moment comes when we realize that our life is the path, and we no longer rely merely on the forms of practice. Our action becomes ‘non-action,’ and our practice becomes ‘non-practice.‘” from The Heart of the Buddha’s Teaching by Thich Nhat Hanh (c) Broadway Books, p.122

Thích Nhất Hạnh was a Vietnamese Buddhist monk, teacher, author, poet and peace activist who lived in southwest France where he was in exile for many years. Born Nguyễn Xuân Bảo, Thích Nhất Hạnh joined a Zen monastery at the age of 16 and studied Buddhism as a novitiate. Upon his ordination as a monk in 1949, he assumed the Dharma name Thích Nhất Hạnh. Thích is an honorary family name used by all Vietnamese monks and nuns, meaning that they are part of the Shakya (Shakyamuni Buddha) clan. He was often considered the most influential living figure in the lineage of Lâm Tế (Vietnamese Rinzai) Thiền, and perhaps also in Zen Buddhism as a whole.”

Apr 15 – Becoming Reducetarian

The Five Mindfulness Trainings defined by Thich Nhat Hanh are an updating of the five Buddhist precepts for modern times. In brief they are

  1. Reverence for Life
  2. Generosity – True Happiness
  3. Sexual Responsibility
  4. Deep Listening and Loving Speech
  5. Diet for a Mindful Society – Nourishment and Healing

While these are easy to understand, they are challenging to fulfill. Thich Nhat Hanh has elaborated on these in his book For A Future to Be Possible and explains that they are a “North Star” to guide our lives with the understanding that we won’t be perfect.

In the spirit of improving my behavior without expecting perfection, I’m currently reading The Reducetarian Solution by Brian Kateman (see cover and endorsements below).

Here’s today’s senryu: Becoming Reducetarian

I am not perfect

yet, I’d like to be better

kaizen for karma

Feb 8 – Stream of Consciousness

word art @

The Tibetan singing bell invites us to relax … the facilitator invites us to be calm and quiet our mind … and then the trip begins.

when was the first time I meditated? Oh yeah, 8th grade, Sister Del Rey, at that parochial school in Beaver Dam, Wisconsin, what was its name? …. Oh well, can’t remember everything …

it was a homework assignment: find a quiet place and let your mind float …

I remember a green jade Buddha statue floating … I wasn’t attending a Buddhist school … ha!

was it 30 minutes, I’m sure I’m exaggerating, probably only 15 at most … must write down what thoughts come and go during this experiment … I only remember that floating Buddha today, but I also remember feeling refreshed afterward even after all these years

thoughts come and go like clouds on a windy day … oh, Thay’ you made this Zen Buddhist thing so easy for us

it was maybe fifteen years later that my significant other (now my second wife of many years) invited me to try TM … transcendental meditation … that was a nice experience … I even purchased a mantra … did that for a while but

something about Zen Buddhism … Thomas Merton … D. T. Suzuki … Thich Nhat Hanh … sangha … bellmaster …

Wow! twenty-five minutes really flies when …


Feb 15 – Three Dharma Poets: Bouse, Brehm and Metters

Today’s senryu: Now and Zen

Ev’ry now and zen

we take pleasure from life’s puns,

with or without wine

Below are pictures and links for three dharma poets, three wise men, that inspire my spiritual and poetic path. Perhaps they will inspire you as well.

Ari Bouse helps you breathe fresh air into your soul so you may then exhale the dead air of old ways that no longer serve you. … Something to Chew On serves as a walking meditation that will help you align with nature as it unfolds during the spirit of the season to enable you to rekindle a sense of magic, mystery, and adventure in your life.”

Photo by Tracy Pitts

“The experience of reading a poem is a meditative experience in and of itself. As author John Brehm writes in The Dharma of Poetry, to enter a poem is to ‘shift out of everyday consciousness. . . to step out of the ongoing flow of experience and look at it.’ A poem inspires a moment of pause in which we can ‘engage in an imaginative activity that has no practical value.’”

Brehm adds “a poet may be defined as one who stops, one who is inclined by temperament and training to step out of the ongoing flow of experience and look at it, and to help us do the same.”

Dr. Brian Metters and

“Read this slowly, take your time, just think about it. … Now that you’ve read it what are you going to do about it?”

Jan 4 – The Art of Awakening

Rev. Cynthia Bourgeault and Fr. Thomas Keating @

In my quest to learn more about mindfulness from an inter-spiritual perspective, I’m now reading Cynthia Bourgeault’s book Centering Prayer and Inner Awakening (c) 2004 via Cowley Publications with a foreword by Thomas Keating. In this book, Bourgeault describes in chapter 2: “Virtually every spiritual tradition that holds a vision of human transformation at its heart also claims that a practice of intentional silence is a non-negotiable. Period. You just have to do it. Whether it be the meditation of the yogic and Buddhist traditions, the zikr of the Sufis, the devkut of mystical Judaism, or the contemplative prayer of Christians, there is a universal affirmation that this form of spiritual practice is essential to spiritual awakening.” p.9

Also, as an appreciator of simple visuals, I enjoy the three-circle display of the levels of Awareness:

“Silence is God’s First Language @

There is so much to mine in this treasure trove of a book that it will take multiple posts to share.

So, to begin, here is today’s senryu: The Art of Awakening

release the ego

getting out of our own way

silence is golden

Jan 2 – Meditation Is Free(ing)

If you’re looking for something new to help you focus and feel more peaceful this year, then consider mindfulness meditation. You don’t have to adopt a new religion to do this. Contemplation is something found across religions and secular psychological traditions and there are many simple ways to learn about this calming practice.

For example, check out the free daily teaching from Tricycle Magazine this month; find more information below.

Today’s senryu: Meditation Is Free(ing)

no navel-gazing,

simply calming down to live

this present moment

Check out this free teaching from Tricycle Magazine

High Coo – Sept 27 – What’s in a Name?,_Michigan,_Norway

My mother wanted to name me Christopher but my father preferred Patrick.

Today’s haiku: What’s in a Name?

In life there is pain,

suffering consequences,

maybe finding truth

@ Pinterest – See,_New_Mexico

High Coo – Sept 12 – Happy Birthday H.L. Mencken

Henry Louis Mencken (b. 9/12/1880)

“Famed for his rapier wit as much as his ill-temperament, Henry Louis (H.L.) Mencken rose to national prominence as a journalist and correspondent for the Baltimore Sun.” See

Two of my favorite Mencken quotes are: “After all is said and done … a lot more is said than done.” and “When somebody says it’s not about the money, it’s about the money.”

Today’s haiku: Happy Birthday H.L. Mencken

Cynical somedays

fortunately, do not last.

Persevere, my friend.

Note: today is also National Day of Encouragement. I wonder what Mencken would have said about this. See

this and photo above by George Karger / Getty Images

High Coo – August 27 – August New Moon

A new moon is the least visible to us but still has significant impact on our planet and therefore our lives. See

I will be celebrating this new moon at a meditation retreat center that includes monastic and lay people sharing observations on the state of our four-fold sangha practice. Previous retreats with this group have generated surprises and new insights. We shall see what this day brings.

Today’s haiku: August New Moon

My name, peaceful moon

of the heart (and of the sky),

let’s pause, breathe and smile

Life Matters – August 6 – Happiness

Photo by Lina Trochez |

Some of you may have noticed the subtitle for this blog, “We can find the joy – together.”

Coincidentally, I came across a great article from Tricycle magazine which then led to my latest version of The Dhammapada – A New Translation of the Buddhist Classic (c) 2005 by Egil Fronsdal (

First, the Tricycle article, Where to Find Joy and How to Cultivate It, (August 27, 2021) is co-authored by Christina Feldman and Jaya Rudgard, both mindfulness teachers in the Insight Meditation community. One of their main points is: the best way to find joy is to create it. Their 1,500 wordcount article can be found in its entirety here:

Second, the authors make a reference to The Dhammapada; specifically, verses 197 – 198 on Happiness. My copy of this book, see translation mentioned above, says:

“Ah, so happily we live, without hate among those with hate. Among people who hate we live without hate.

Ah, so happily we live, without misery among those in misery. Among people in misery we live without misery.” p.53

The point of the article, the quote and this post is that we are very unlikely to find ourselves in a perfect place, with perfect people all enjoying perfect joy. More likely we will need to work with ourselves and with a small group of kindred spirits to cultivate joy for one another.

I welcome your thoughts and your translations on how you find joy …. individually and together with others.

With gratitude for you, dear reader.