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A Few Words from Yushin

April 06, 2016 by David Blackwell

David Blackwell Rev. David Jokai Blackwell
Yokoji Zen Mountain Center

A Few Words from Yushin

Jokai, Dylan, and I just returned from a lovely, uplifting, much needed vacation. Jim (Yugen) and Melissa kindly invited us to stay at their place near Joshua Tree while they were away on their honeymoon and we thoroughly enjoyed the wonderful, peaceful vibe of their new home and the chance to use our park pass every day. We also got to hang out with Thomas the cat, whom we have missed a lot. Thomas was our Zen Center cat until the 2013 fire when he found a permanent, stable home with Melissa and Jim. He could not be happier with his set up! Even though he likes to sharpen his claws loudly at 3 AM, and prowl around the bed, walking all over your body while looking for the prime spot to settle, it was so comforting to be in the presence of a beloved, familiar pet! I didn’t mind.

Following a restful stay in Joshua Tree we dropped Dylan off with his grandparents in Phoenix, and continued on to Scottsdale to visit the Black Mountain Zen group. We stayed with our friend Harumi Maejima. Harumi hosts the Black Mountain Zen group in her yoga studio. We really appreciated her hosting us so graciously, taking us out for meals, and encouraging us to relax and soak in the cool pool. On Thursday night, the group met for sitting and Jokai gave a talk. Harumi served a cold, ginger tea which was delicious and it was nice to be with the sangha. There is a real feeling of strength and heart among the people. They are a close knit bunch and are wonderfully welcoming to new people. Harumi will be taking the precepts in the formal Jukai ceremony with Jokai at the conclusion of sesshin in September at Yokoji. We welcome all to come to support her as she formalizes her commitment to practice. Upon leaving Scottsdale we took the long way home with a few more days of rest and fun along the way.

It was really good to take this time. I’m glad we did, and I’m thankful for all the ways we were supported to make it happen. We really needed it. Lately, the importance of rest and self care has really been on my mind.

This last spring, around Easter time, I came across a few words that have become a personal koan of sorts for me. A friend of mine who is a Christian pastor posted a drawing of the stone rolled away and the empty tomb. The caption read: You can put truth in a grave, but you can’t keep it there.

This has been with me all spring and summer. I’m comfortable taking it is a holistic sense. The question, for me, becomes: How do I deal with my human tendency to obscure the truth? Do I burry, control, or imprison what is true? Do I silence my intuition or use repression as a means to cope with what life presents?

Those questions might feel heavy, but if you, like me, find that there are little ways that you fall short of being true to who you are each day, then to notice and change that lightens the load. If you’re wondering why I’m bringing this up when I was just writing about vacation, I think it’s because in a stream of consciousness sort of way, the call I feel within, part of the truth for me right now, is the need to rest more. I don’t want to project this onto others, but I’m going to begin to really take care of it. I don’t want my most frequent response to “How are you?” to always be, “Good, but tired.”

If there is anything big or small that we try to deny or silence in order to take care of other things, it will resurface again and again, until we listen. What in life most needs our care and attention? What is most compelling? I wish for everyone that we might touch and know the present awareness, trust, and courage that this continuous inquiry demands.

Bows, Yushin


  • Beth Mulligan:

    27 Jun 2016 13:52:05

    Love this post and the invitation to reflect on your questions. Thank you!

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