Sunday, June 26, 2011


I offered to lead a morning meditation each morning before the conference. I found a quiet corner hallway, with a spectacular view of the campus and scrounged some chairs and cushions. There were groups of 2-4 folks who came along. I decided to present a different theme each morning.
Thursday: 3-part breathing
Friday : chanting and nembutsu
Saturday: loving kindness
These sittings were 30-40 minutes before breakfast. Nice way to start each day.


I'm up early, as usual, and preparing to leave DC. Not sure whether I will have access again before home. I'm heading out late morning to Vermont for some hiking tomorrow. Tomorrow evening I'll join the gyo until Sunday.
On campus here is the largest Catholic basilica in the US. Architecturally it is stunning - elaborate tiled dome, stained glass rose window. I am going  to go over and explore the interior before I go. There no mass until tonight so it should be OK to play the spiritual tourist.

Enjoy the heaven and hell series in the ARE today and next week.




1. This final day began with a full conference presentation by a first nations speaker. She is a Mi’kmaq teacher and social work prof (Ryerson). She talked about the importance of the relationship between spirituality and the land. I recognized we don’t understand the origins of Akashaloka beyond the schoolhouse story. We need to find out more about who was there before.
2. I went to 3 sessions , one on GLBT spirituality and the lack of research on their experience; the next on addressing spirituality with young people. This was fascinating in that they reported that youth in fact are deeply concerned about spiritual issues and highly cynical/disaffected with organized religion. They described a model for engaging youth on their terms. The last one was an exploration of the cultural dimension of grief and loss counselling, particularly where non-Christian constructs of death, afterlife and deity are present. 
3. The day concluded with an inter-faith service with song, dance and short pieces from Jewish, Muslim, Christian, Quaker, Hindu and Buddhist (me) reps. This was moving and an apt formal conclusion to the event. I read the Metta Sutra, a theme which fit in perfectly with the whole event and the mood in the room.
4. In the evening a group of 10 or so of us stragglers went out to a lovely dinner in a Latino area. We had to drive through a street festival in the Caribbean area and dine in a Latino area - quite other-worldly after the way I’ve spent the last few days.




1. This was the main event for me - the presentation of the CYM workshop we worked so hard on. There were about 30 people (room was packed, we ran out of handouts and the volunteer had to make more) for this. Only 4-6 people had any knowledge or experience w/MBSR/CT, a surprise to me, considering the number of people talking about the benefits of mindfulness at various other sessions. All and all, went smoothly, the vid clips fit perfectly, the audience seemed delighted to have Kristy and Candice joining in. As usual and expected we had too much for the time slot. I had to snip and clip on the fly, but not diminishing the material at all.
It seemed that the thesis - that popular mindfulness-based models misrepresent the deeper social message of Dharma - was news to most. At the conclusion of the session a few nice reactions:
. An older woman took me aside and confided the session had sturck right to the heart of what she has been struggling with
. Another social worker came up and asked if she could buy the CYM Manual! She asked about leader training and how she could implement it right away. I told her about the plans I have been exploring with Kim S to develop all of these things
. Several people commented on how provocative the naikan was, even with the brevity of it.
. several people congratulated and thanked us for the session.

2. The other morning session I did was on spirituality and environmental justice. The presenter was John Coates. From Fredricton, who has been a leading voice in this. All through this I kept saying “ Kanzan should hear this”. In the afternoon, there was an interfaith panel with 5 different faith reps (Unitarian, Catholic, Jewish, Progressive Evangelical and Buddhist). The Buddhist speaker was a woman associated with IMS locally and she was very articulate about the need for social action to be grounded in personal awareness - a frequent theme expressed all through the event. The afternoon group event was by a spirited presentation by a poet/activist/pastor. She went through the Book of Genesis in the most amusing, insightful and entertaining way. I had difficulty relating to this Christian vision.
In the evening, a group of 10 of us went out for dinner and the ‘open mic’ show at a local Church-supported coffee house. Very 1960's feel. Amazing talent - from folkie/singer-song-writers to spoken word to hip-hop dance to soul.
An exhausting day both physically and intellectually.

Thursday, June 23, 2011


Today was both fascinating and long. Two X3hour workshops and a couple of interesting plenary events

1. The AM event was called: Using Music and Poetry Therapy in Disenfranchised Population.
In this workshop the leader went through each of these artistic forms giving examples of how to use them. She gave lots of theoretical background describing the brain effects of these interventions. We had numerous opportunities to try out examples. She used several YouTube music clips and poetry readings.
I can see many ways this would be of use to me.
2. The afternoon workshop was an odd choice for me. entitled The Role of Intuition in Transformation. It was the kind of material that would have Judy`s eyes rolling back in her head. Lots of `trust the feeling`kind of stuff and plenty of examples which left me scratching my head. Nonetheless, it brought me face to face with some ideas about shared consciousness, the influence of the right brain and the importance of non-linear inspiration` It reminded me of the frequent emphasis in Japanese dharma on breakthrough thought processes, especially koans. It also helped me to make sense of some of the recent `aha`experiences I`ve had in reading Jodo shin and other devotional material this year.
It brought into clarity my reaction to starting the John Main book, The Way of Unknowing . Main is a modern Christian monk who has re-introduced meditation, especially the use of mantra. I found his reflections spoke very directly to a Buddhist devotional style, such as mine. This both surprised and pleased me, since it allows for more of the reconciliation between my dharma practice and our Christian context.

3. The evening event was surprising again. It was a presentation by a Black Canadian woman who teaches in N.B. She went through a mostly musical and slide presentation explaining a book she is supporting (I got a copy for RMS) called Change of Heart : The Bodhisattva Peace Training. This was a familiar collection of Buddhist ideas (The Four Immeasurables, The four Truths and so on) re-worked to foster greater strength and resilience on social activists. I was taken aback at the clear Buddhist basis. I`ve seen strong Christian and Jewish presentations before, but, apart from mine, I haven`t seen so strong a dharma-based presentation before. It echoed what seem like the prominence, or at least the acceptance of many Buddhist themes.

4. My first morning meditation went well. Only two others came out, as I expected. I did a 3-part breathing which the others enjoyed. I expect more tomorrow, since several people asked about it and there was an announcement at lunch. We`ll see.

5. Met some acquaintances from previous conferences. Nice to catch up. One of them is aguy who I had several good chats with in `08. he`s my roomie.

Going to sack it now. Long day today and another tomorrow.

Love you all,

Wednesday, June 22, 2011


Social Work and Spirituality Report
June 22

Hi everyone,
I made it into DC with very little trouble (praise be to GoogleMaps). The drive was verrry long. I was 5 hours to Syracuse on Tuesday evening. Stayed in a very nice Comfort Inn. Wednesday I was on the road from 10.00 to 8.00, with a couple of meals en route. The drive was actually rather pretty. I didn’t realize the hiway went through all these gorgeous mountain in Pennsylvania and Maryland. I was reminded of the hunting trip scenes from the Deer Hunter.
Checked into Opus House, a large dorm at the Catholic University of the Americas, where the conference is located. Its right in the middle of the city, but I’m not familiar enough to know exactly where.
The only real downside is the heat. It was 90 in Washington all day and likely to be hotter tomorrow. Everything is indoors withA/C but it makes going out undesirable.
Have to be up early, as I committed to hold morning meditations at 7.00 am each day. Hope I can get up early without dogs to rouse me.

Monday, June 13, 2011



A new Red Maple has joined our garden and, in the background, near Jizo, is a new ‘contemplation’ bench. Judy is beside herself with the arrival of the first Blue Flag Iris in three years (see photo below).

Judy's iris.....

Friday, June 10, 2011


Hi there,

We let this blog lapse a couple years ago, but it is now being revived. Watch here for details and new entries.


Sunday, June 05, 2011


Greetings to all,
Which is true practice -
Compassionate action or private insight?
Which petal is the real trillium?


1.1. Practice on June 11 will be Beginner’s Mind (practice). 
1.2. Advance Notice: Mahasangha will be on Saturday, June 18. The theme for this month is Monju (Manjushri), the bodhisattva of prajna-wisdom.

I have distributed by email today’s ARE feature : Does life have a meaning and if so, what purpose do humans serve? 
If you want a personal copy, contact Innen
Many thanks to those who stayed after practice to work in the gardens. The small triangle bed is now full of plants (See photo below), the veggie garden is rabbit-proof (we hope) and the Jizo garden had several layers of trash cleared away.  
And, of course, the resident mosquitoes enjoyed a lovely brunch

Special thanks to the two lads from the Township who regraded Byers Road. In the process, they widened the road in front to allow better parking. They also dropped a load of gravel and doubled the size of our little parking lot. 

Yours in the Dharma,
from Akashaloka,  
Innen, doshu
om namo muni muni, shakyamuni svaha 

Red Maple Sangha ~ Open Up and Serve
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