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Navigating a Disaster: How Do We Do this?

How to deal with difficult times is fundamental for a spiritual practice, and really, for any human life. There’s birth and death, to start with, and then there is all the conflict and uncertainty that happens in between. Right now the US, and the world, too, are dealing with a dramatic regime change and an upending of values that, while unevenly practiced, we’ve come to expect as foundational. Like many other people, I’ve been trying to understand what’s happening, prepare for it, and make a place for it in my life as woman, a Zen teacher, and a citizen. It’s important to be light on your feet in times like these, and that’s what Zen is about.
This is my particular story, yours could be different.
The World of Form, With a Vengeance
About 6 months ago I started to notice an apparent circus event, a bunch of men, and a woman or two, vying with each other to hold the spot of contender in what looked like it would be pretty clear cut presidential election. What followed you probably know.…
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Ghost Ship Fire - Oakland, December 12, 2016

After the great fire in the 1374 at the Engakuji Temple, scholars came to see what had happened to the great library. The teacher, standing amidst the ashes and rubble, said that nothing had been destroyed. When queried further, he held up his hand and said,

"The covers were burned but you can still hold the teachings in your hands." 

We can also say it this way, you can still hold the music and the people who played it in your hands and hearts. And that doing that is important, is imperative. The warehouse fire that killed so many young artists and musicians, and destroyed what was by all accounts an absolutely wonderful, unique and beautiful art space in Oakland last week is still burning in my imagination. I feel the depth of the grief and shock. This kind of world is inherently fragile. Artists often live on the edges of things. Like Zen, art isn't something you tend to choose so you will become rich and comfortable. And art is also the creation of a moment, relying on…