All posts by Mark Nelson

Ocean Wave

Be the Peace in the Eye of the Coronavirus Hurricane

Each of us can and will help in many ways

To stay home is to give a life-saving gift to countless people.  Right now, if you’re doing essential work, you are giving a gift to us all.  And, in the coming days too, many of us will give our elbow grease, knowhow, and whatever material support we are able to those in need around us.  This is crucial.

What’s more, and just as crucially, in the crisis-days ahead of us, perhaps more than ever in our lifetimes before, we are going to need people who are committed to and practiced in being peace.

Practice peace everyday

Back when so many were fleeing war-devastated Vietnam, Thich Nhat Hanh described the need we have today in Being Peace.

He wrote, “I like to use the example of a small boat crossing the Gulf of Siam. In Vietnam, there are many people, called boat people, who leave the country in small boats. Often the boats are caught in rough seas or storms, the people may panic, and boats can sink.

“But if even one person aboard can remain calm, lucid, knowing what to do and what not to do, he or she can help the boat survive. His or her expression–face, voice–communicates clarity and calmness, and people have trust in that person. They will listen to what he or she says. One such person can save the lives of many.” ~Thich Nhat Hanh, Being Peace

Things are constantly changing, yet each of us can offer ourselves and each other peace

Lama Liz Monson puts this truth this way, “And this is it, I thought. This is what we will be doing for the foreseeable future. We must hold still in the midst of our burning thoughts, our anxieties, our fears, and our emotions. We must remember to settle, to allow our bodies to do the knowing, the resting, the connecting to the earth beneath us.

“We have a chance now, while the world has stilled, to feel the wind and the sun, to walk outside in the rain, to notice the small, yellow faces of dandelions emerging from the leaf mold and mud. We have a chance to remember what matters in this fleeting, fragile life – our connections, our loves, our families, friends, communities and our host, this endlessly beautiful and constantly changing earth.” ~Lama Liz Monson, Holding Still in the Middle of the Fire.

May you be safe and healthy!  Many you know the causes of peace.  May you manifest peace in everything you do!



Mountain Forest

Buddhism and Superstition

Everything Changes

Nothing stands between you as you experience yourself now and a future you who is growing in kindness and compassion, calm and confidence.  By nature we are neither bad nor good.  The human heart is thoroughly open, unfixed, alive to the fresh possibilities for change in each moment.  The idea that certain people are evil or this-or-that by nature is simply a superstition.  Everything changes due to causes and conditions.  This was a liberating insight of the Buddha.

Meeting Good Conditions, the Mind Becomes Good.

Dogen Zenji put it this way:  “There is fundamentally no good or bad in the human mind.  Good and bad arise according to circumstances. For example, When someone’s mind is aroused to enter into the mountain forests, he feels that the forest is good and human society is bad.  Yet when he becomes bored and leaves the mountain forests, he feels that the forest is bad.

“Thus is it that the mind definitely has no fixed characteristics; depending on circumstances, it may turn out any way at all.  Therefore, when meeting good conditions the mind becomes good, and if it comes in the presence of bad conditions the mind becomes bad.  Do not think that your mind is basically bad; you should just follow good conditions.”
~ Dogen Zenji, Shobogenzo-zuimonki, translated by Thomas Cleary

There Soto Zen School has a version of Shobogenzo-zuimonki online here.

In the challenging days ahead, may we do all we can to support each other as we apply ourselves to recognizing and following the best practices and conditions available.

May you and everyone you know and love be safe, healthy, and at ease.

Visit the homepage for a full schedule of online practice opportunities.

Very best wishes,