Awakening Together
All awakened ones
throughout space and time,
honored ones, great beings,
who help all to awaken,
together may we realize
wisdom beyond wisdom (page 29)! [1]
~ translated by Kazuaki Tanahashi

Today is the right and perfect day to “awaken.” The perfect day to discover the power within you to live a life of peace, love, and compassion. Wisdom is beyond knowledge and only in the quiet of the inner heart can we find it and allow it to work in our lives for good. It is important to understand that knowledge is simply information that we have gained during our life time at school, at work, at home, and at play—it is not wisdom.

The author of Thoughts without a Thinker, Mark Epstein, M.D., says there are “two essential currents of the life energy: wisdom and compassion. These are the two qualities of the enlightened mind, the two forces that are cultivated with the realization of enlightenment (page 83).”[2] The perfection of wisdom is in you already and by sitting in the silence you can awaken that which is already in you—as you.

We are all sleeping giants waiting to discover our true selves. Through zazen (sitting), prayer, meditation, and mindfulness this awakening can occur. It may only last for a second or it may last for a life time, but it is there ready to be discovered, acknowledged, and used.

Wisdom can help us cope with life, looking within our minds won’t help because wisdom is not “in” the mind. To discover it, regardless of where it is, simply take the time each day to sit in the silence and open yourself to it. When you do you’ll discover that there is enough room within you for the wisdom to appear. Zen Master Dogen writes: Now, the realm of all buddhas is inconceivable. It cannot be reached by consciousness. Much less can those who have no trust, who lack wisdom know it. Only those who have right trust and great capacity can enter this realm (page 148).” [3]

This short sutra recited daily can help you open your self to the wisdom of the universe that is everywhere present, helpful, compassionate, and powerful. Let us awaken together today and “May the force [of wisdom] be with you.” Yoda
In gassho,



[1] Tanahashi, K. Zen Chants Thirty-Five Essential Texts with Commentary. Shambhala Publications: Boston MA
[2] Epstein, M. MD (1995) Thoughts Without a Thinker Basic Books HarperCollins Publishers, Inc: NY, NY
[3] Tanahashi, K. (1985) Moon in a Dewdrop Writings of Zen Master Dogen. North Point Press: NY, NY

On Saturday I was invited to give a short training on Multicultural Diversity for a non-profit youth and teen athletics development group in Miami Lakes, The Global Team Foundation. As the participants arrived and introduced themselves I found myself in a room with 20 of the most fantastic entrepreneurs and leaders in the community. These men and women are focused on two things—the young athletes who they are working with on areas of leadership and character development and developing their businesses into viable organizations that can help, inspire, provide jobs, and income to themselves and their community.

I was awed by the time and energy they spend each day on making Miami Lakes a fantastic community in which to live, grow, and succeed. We talked about the differences and similarities of ourselves and our youth and our community and how in appreciating our diversity we help our community live in peace, prosperity, and love.

Through their efforts they are developing the character of the young athletes, which is not an easy thing to do when you watch the news and see how some of the so called “role models” in professional sports are not living an ethical life. These mentors are there on a regular basis showing them the other side of sports, and life, and learning. They are role models as parents, entrepreneurs, teachers, coaches, and spiritual leaders. They are developing the leaders of the future.

At the end of my presentation we read this beautiful poem below by Emmet Fox, author, minister, and supporter of the founders of AA. It is through their love that miracles are occurring every day. Please check out their website and if you can support them I am sure they will be grateful for the help of your time, talent, and treasure.

Be the difference you want to see in the world!


There is no difficulty that enough love will not conquer;
no disease that enough love will not heal;
no door that enough love will not open;
no gulf that enough love will not bridge;
no wall that enough love will not throw down;
no sin that enough love will not redeem.

It makes no difference how deeply seated may be the trouble,
how hopeless the outlook,
how muddled the tangle,
how great the mistake,
a sufficient realization of love will dissolve it all.

If only you could love enough you would be the happiest
and most powerful being in the world.
-Emmet Fox


In gassho,




The Prayer of Faith

By Hannah More Kohaus

God is my help in every need;
God does my every hunger feed;
God walks beside me, guides my way
Through every moment of this day.

I now am wise, I now am true,
Patient and kind, and loving, too;
All things I am, can do, and be,
Through Christ the Truth, that is in me.

God is my health, I can’t be sick;
God is my strength, unfailing, quick;
God is my all, I know no fear,
Since God and Love and Truth are here.[1]

As we are dealing with the terrorist attacks around the world this beautiful poem/prayer came to mind one night. I learned it early on in my time at Unity church and memorized it for times when I was in need of a healing or help in a situation in my life. Although we see the words “God” and “Christ” throughout you can replace them in any way you feel comfortable. Sometimes I replace them with the word “love” for love is all there really is unless of course we don’t believe that then “fear” or “hatred” may be all we feel for the moment. But if you let it—love can appear and take over in your life.

Although the terrorists took over the city of Paris for a few hours it was not long before love took over, people helping people, people lighting candles and laying flowers all over the city. People from every country on earth praying for the injured and the dead .

There will always be people on earth who are angry at life and want to take that anger out on others, there will always be people who love and love is the most powerful energy on earth and love will prevail. Love can turn the heart of a future terrorist, if we believe it can.

Love has healed the sick, fed the hungry, and clothed the poor. Love has made people run into a burning building to save some one or jump into a raging river, or pull a person out of a sinking car in a canal.

If you let it love can over take fear, anger, and hatred. Even Jesus on the cross said, “Forgive them for they know not what they do.” I had a congregant who was stabbed over 60 times by an assailant in her kitchen, the police found him, he was tried and went to jail. One day she realized that if she did not forgive him he would control her life for the rest of her life. So she went to the jail and faced him one-on-one and did just that. Her forgiveness saved her life and her mental stability. The justice system took care of the perpetrator.

When hate fills your heart find someone to love.

In gassho,



[1] http://www.unity.org/resources/articles/prayer-faith

All of the world’s major religions have a Golden Rule included in them and yet the rule is not practiced by many of their followers. Today is yet another important day to send out the message of peace and love so ardently spoken about in one breath and then not practiced in the very next moment by the people who profess to practice a “religion.” Some young impressionable men who felt hopeless and helpless in a world that gave them nothing to live for conspired and perpetrated a siege on the people of Paris on November 13, 2015 in which hundreds were killed or wounded.

Where did we go wrong as a society? What were they searching for, screaming for, and ultimately killing for?

Has our world become one of simply “pagan consumerism” and money for the youth of the world? Is this what they live for? And when they do not find a job or a way to express themselves through music, dance, singing, teaching, art, or the love of a companion, their life becomes unbearable and unlivable. Thus they get radicalized by others around the world who feel the same.

We are once again cautioned to not just preach peace and love but to live it, whether we are Muslims, Christians, Jews, Hindus, or secular humanists. Without peace humans will soon destroy the world and all the people in it.

Below are two Buddhist prayers on peace and compassion. I hope you will take them to heart for the victims and the victimizers “who know not what they do.”

Evoking the presence of great compassion, let us fill our hearts with our own compassion – towards ourselves and towards all living beings.
Let us pray that all living beings realize that they are all brothers and sisters, all nourished from the same source of life.
Buddhist Prayer

We Pray for Peace
We pray for peace in all the world;
We pray that evil may be overcome by good;
We pray for harmony in the Sangha [community],
and for the cessation of all disaster.
– From Shasta Abbey [1]

In gassho,



[1] http://worldhealingprayers.com/3.html

May I be happy.
May I be free from stress and pain.
May I be free from animosity.
May I be free from oppression.
May I be free from trouble.
May I look after myself with ease.

May all living beings be happy.
May all living beings be free from animosity.
May all living beings be free from oppression.
May all living beings be free from trouble.
May all living beings look after themselves with ease.[1]

Kazuaki Tanahashi, in his book, Zen Chants Thirty-Five Essential Texts with Commentary, writes this:

Buddhaghosa does not recommend that the practitioners simply focus on an aspiration that they themselves be happy or attempt absorption. Instead, the meditators are urged to use themselves as an example: “Just as I want to be happy and dread pain, as I want to live and not die, so do other beings, too.” And thus when we pray the Metta we pray and chant for self and others (page 136).[2]

As we watch the news each evening and see the students on campuses around the country protesting for things that I thought would not still exist in 2015: hiring discrimination, race discrimination, hate speech, unresponsive administrations, sexual assaults, and more. Each of these protesters want for themselves the list of things we recite in the first verse of the Metta and they also want it for everyone else on planet earth. And thus, we chant for them in the second verse.

We can add those in the prison system in America and those in the Middle East who are being killed and bombed in their countries and homes, and in airplanes flying through the air after a family vacation. As a human race we need to work at learning how to live together with our diversity and cultures and religions or we will soon be an extinct species and all that will be left are the birds, the bees, and the trees.

Besides chanting this verse each and every day with love and passion, what can you do each day in your families, homes, workplaces and communities? Think small or think big but please think and then act. You just may save someone’s life. You never know.

May you be happy and find ways to share your happiness with everyone you meet.

In gassho,


[1] Tanahashi, K. (2015) Zen Chants Thirty-Five Essential Texts with Commentary. Shambhala: Boston & London

[2] Ibid.

Ten-line Life –Affirming Sutra of Avalokiteshvara
Avalokiteshvara, perceiver of the cries of the world,
Takes refuge in Buddha,
Will be a buddha,
Helps all to be buddhas,
Is not separate from Buddha, Dharma, Sangha—
Being eternal, intimate, pure, and joyful.
In the morning, be one with Avalokiteshvara.
In the evening, be one with Avalokitesvara,
whose heart, moment by moment, arises,
whose heart, moment by moment, remains! [1]

In the news each day we hear of the estimated 6.5 million men, women, and children who have been displaced within Syria while more than 3 million have fled to countries like Germany, Lebanon, Jordan, and Turkey. As we see the heart wrenching pictures of these families walking hundreds of miles in search of shelter, peace, and compassion we may feel overwhelmed and helpless. Besides being able to give our money to the many organizations trying to help them such as the The UN Refugee Agency, Catholic Charities, Muslim Charities, and the like we can use the power of prayer right now right where we are.

The above prayer is a simple example of how we as Buddhists over thousands of years have created chants, poems, and prayers to help those in need. In Sanskrit we hear the name and story of Avalokiteshvara, in Chinese Kuan-yin and in Japanese Kannon, Kanzeon or Kwannon. Avalokiteshvara whether in a male or female body represents great compassion and wisdom. As the story goes the wish to help all beings caused Avalokiteshvara to grow a thousand arms, in the palm of each of which is an eye.[2] This gives him the ability to work for the welfare of many beings at the same time.

The chant above encourages us to respond to the cries of the world with both our words and our deeds. They encourage us to take refuge in the Buddha, the Dharma (teachings) and the Sangha (our community). They encourage us not to turn away from or see with a blind eye the suffering of individuals or groups. And finally they encourage us to offer solace where possible, to offer help where needed, and to offer prayers when neither are in reach of our grasp.

I say, “Blessed are the peacemakers for they shall inherit the Earth.” But without us that may never happen. Your help is needed today and every day to call upon Avalokiteshvara or Kuan-yin or Kanzeon for there is someone in need of your prayers, of food, or shelter, or love, or compassion, and especially for a cessation of war. Why not start each day with this chant to surround the world with peace rather than war, with love rather than hate.

If it’s to be it’s up to me to make a positive difference in the world! Be Avalokiteshvara today!

In gassho,



[1] Tanahashi, K. (2015) Zen Chants, Thirty-Five Essential Texts with Commentary. Shambhala: Boston & London

[2] The Shambhala Dictionary of Buddhism and Zen (1991) Shambhala Dragon Editions, Shambhala: Boston & London

Buddhism provides us with the opportunity to sit in the silence and do absolutely nothing as I’ve talked about in past blogs. Buddhism also has hundreds of thousands of pages of writings for us to read, to learn, to live, and to spend time contemplating. Buddhism is considered a contemplative practice as well as a way of living. It is deep and wide and vast. There is something for everyone on every path from the beginner to the adept. All are welcome here.

Our ancestors have given us this wonderful verse that we often repeat before we begin to contemplate on some Buddhist verse or teaching or as we get ready to hear a wonderful dharma talk from one of our teachers or guest lecturers. It goes like this:

Opening the Sutra Verse
The unsurpassable, profound, subtle, and wondrous dharma
Is rarely met even in a hundred, thousand, myriad eons.
Now we see it, hear it, receive it, and maintain it.
May we realize the Tathagata’s true meaning (page 51)![1]

We say it a little differently at our sangha, but either way will work:


Gatha on Opening the Sutra

The Dharma, incomparably profound and infinitely subtle,
Is rarely encountered even in millions of ages.
Now we see it, hear it, receive and maintain it.
May we completely realize the Tathagata’s true meaning.

In Unity we have something we call “sitting in the silence.” We probably stole it from the Buddhists. In H. Emilie Cady’s book, Lessons in Truth (2003) she writes these words about it:

Do not let waiting in the silence become a bondage to you. If you find yourself getting into a strained attitude of mind, or “heady,” get up and go about some external work for a time. Or, if you find that your mind will wander, do not insist on concentrating; for the moment you get into a rigid mental attitude, you shut off all inflow of the Divine into your consciousness. There must be a sort of relaxed passivity and yet an active taking it by faith. Shall I call it active passivity (page 135)?[2]

I just love her term—active passivity—it is so Buddhist! And thus, Rev. Cady is giving us clear directions to help us when we are looking to “realize the Tathagata’s true meaning” in a verse, a teaching, or in our lives. Even if we are warned in the verse that it “is rarely met even in a hundred, thousand, myriad eons” go for it anyway! What have you got to lose? Find your place in that “relaxed passivity” and wait upon truth and wisdom to be revealed to you.

This is what we do when we work on a koan with our teacher. So if you are struggling or being centered in your “head” do as Rev. Cady suggests and drop into “active passivity” and be ready for nothing, or something, or anything, and simply accept what comes or doesn’t come!

But for now be open to see it, hear it, receive it, and maintain it.”

Let me know how it goes!
In gassho,


[1] Tanahashi, K. (2015). Zen Chants Thirty-Five Essential Texts with Commentary. Shambhala: Boston and London

[1] Cady, H. E. (2003) Lessons in Truth, Unity Books: Lee Summit, Mo


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