Newsletter: December 10, 2014

Happiness and sorrow, hope and despondency, joy and misery, satisfaction and frustration – the original face is at ease with all of them.


Below are some excerpts from our latest Newsletter, December, 2014, featuring Henry Shukman’s dharma teaching. Please signup for our newsletter by scrolling to the bottom of this page (see the box Subscribe below) OR scroll to the bottom of any other page on this site (see Subscribe/Connect).

Newsletter: December 10, 2014

Greetings to all…

Last week we had our rohatsu sesshin for 2014. The zendo was pretty much packed, but somehow we all threaded through and among one another easily, in the grace of continuous practice. It was a sweet, deep, strong retreat. Many thanks to all who participated and helped, seen and unseen.

We have returned to our regular schedule this week. We will have our Thursday evening zazen, teisho and dokusan.  Please come and embrace the silence of practice as we approach winter’s shortest days and longest nights.

This Saturday we will have our last samu of 2014 at 10am, with an optional sit at 9:30. All are welcome.


Couple of thoughts….

Happiness is all very well but it’s no substitute for the original face. Nor should it be mistaken for it…

Happiness and sorrow, hope and despondency, joy and misery, satisfaction and frustration – the original face is at ease with all of them.

In the recent sesshin I said something along the lines of: anything that we want will not satisfy us. In other words, if we are to be truly satisfied, the source of that satisfaction cannot be absent right now – it must always already be right here.

This is the nature of the “original face” of Zen: always here, in perpetual abundance, in everlasting inexhaustibility. “I have used it all my life,” as master Gutei said of his master’s ‘one-finger’ Zen, “but I have still not exhausted it.”

       But this raises the question: what about wanting the Dharma?

Perhaps the Dharma is the exception that proves the rule: even though we may want to find it, it will indeed satisfy us. But when and if we want the Dharma, we don’t actually know what it is we are seeking. We can’t. The Dharma is inconceivable, unimaginable, unknowable.

Truly we don’t know that we are seeking and wanting the Dharma even when we are in fact doing so. All we know is that we have some kind of problem, or conundrum, or quest, or unease, disquiet, angst, or whatever, and that it is driving our practice. We don’t know and can’t know that that problem is in fact like the inverse shape, the negative space, of its own solution. The problem itself is all we need. Once we invert the process, and let our problem “win,” surrendering ourselves to it, it has a chance to show its true face – as the Dharma.

Master Bukko said it can even take up to thirty years of practice for a person’s true “life-problem” to crystallize. When it does, it is auspicious, for the true nature of our self and its problem is then in focus, and is about to be revealed.


New Year’s Eve: This year the Rinzai group will lead a New Year’s Eve ceremony as in previous years, on Wednesday December 31st, including having someone from each group lead one of the sittings. It will go from 6 to 8 PM with tea in the dining room at 8 PM. People are welcome to bring food to share if they wish. It’s a non-alcoholic evening.   All are welcome.

Samu:  The last samu for the year is this Saturday, December 13 at 10:00, with an optional sit at 9:30. Please come and help maintain our zendo and grounds. For those becoming MCZC members, attending a total of three member meetings or samu days is required.


Three Treasures Prison Project Update: Each Thursday Pancho will be in Cabin 4 from 4–6pm sorting through papers connected with his work in the State Penitentiary here in Santa Fe. He would welcome any company. If you’d like to drop in and offer some help with the filing, and at the same time find out more about what he is doing in the prison, please feel free to just go ahead and join him in Cabin 4.


We could really use some help in two areas: various kinds of jobs around the zen center, and new members of the zendo team. Please contact us if you might be interested in knowing more about either.


We have various ongoing costs in running Mountain Cloud. Please consider making a donation to help it keep flourishing. As we are a non-profit organization, any gift is tax-deductible.

Image: Dahlia, by Hexenkueche CC0 Public Domain, from

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