Heart of Life/Coeur de la vie: Day/Jour I

/, Retraites au coeur de la vie/Heart of Life/Coeur de la vie: Day/Jour I

Heart of Life/Coeur de la vie: Day/Jour I

Here in Montreuil, my morning on this first day of our retreat has been busy. After a short meditation session, I’ve been managing late registrations for the retreat in between breakfast, the usual morning routine, helping my son with some administrative stuff, Skype interviews with students…

The meditation was essential. In the supreme meal (le repas suprême) of our life, as Bernie Glassman calls it in his book Instructions to the Cook: A Zen Master’s Lessons for Living a Life That Matters. (V.F.: Comment accommoder sa vie à la manière zen), the first course is spirituality (le premier plat est la spiritualité). Spirituality « helps us to realize the oneness of life and provides a still point at the center of all our activities, » Bernie writes. (« La spiritualité nous aide a réaliser l’unité de la vie et nous offre un point tranquil au milieu de tous nos activités. ») That’s why we have our meditation schedule this week. That’s why at noon we stop for a moment of silence. We could also practice « prayer or listening to music or dance or taking walks or spending time alone, » Bernie writes, « anything that helps us realize or reminds us of the oneness of life – of what Buddha meant when he said, ‘How wonderful, how wonderful.’  »

Bernie gives us five courses and recipes (5 plats et recettes) for this supreme meal of a full life: spirituality (la spiritualité); study and learning (étudier et apprendre); livelihood (gagner sa vie); social action/change (changement social); relationship/community (communauté). We need to have just the right amount of each one, but that amount is always changing and it is different for each one of us. Every day this week we will concentrate on one of these courses.

So today please pay attention to this spiritual course. Take time to look into the oneness of life. We often wonder how to bring Zen into our life. But Zen is life! What is there to bring? Where? Everything, the whole of life, is right here, now. How wonderful!

Tell us about your experience today – how do you see the oneness of life, or not see it? How do you feel when you find that still point, or don’t find it?

IMPORTANT NOTE: If you did not receive instructions from me yesterday, check your Spam and Junk mailboxes! 





By | 2018-11-12T12:25:13+01:00 novembre 12th, 2018|La pratique Zen, Retraites au coeur de la vie|19 Comments

About the Author:

Enseignante Zen et poète, Sensei Amy “Tu es cela” Hollowell est née et a grandi à Minneapolis, aux Etats-Unis. Arrivée en France en 1981 pour étudier la littérature et l’histoire, elle y est restée, s’installant à Paris, où elle élève ses deux enfants et gagne sa vie en tant que journaliste. The Zen teacher and poet Amy “Tu es cela” Hollowell Sensei was born and raised in Minneapolis, but came to France in 1981 to study literature and history and has lived in Paris ever since, raising her two children and making a living as a journalist.


  1. Hugo 12 décembre 2018 at 8 h 09 min - Reply

    How marvelous! Just noticed there was this retreat a few weeks. I’m usually super keen to join from here, Perth, Australia. Not sure what happened this time. Maybe I was distracted. Maybe I didn’t received any email invitation. That’s not important. What’s important is that today – 12/12/18 – I’m still able to come here and read Roshi’s posts, your comments, and taste Bernie’s supreme meal 🙂 Cheers guys!

  2. Filipa Mora 14 novembre 2018 at 19 h 05 min - Reply

    Porto, Portugal (only now replying after these days, I’m sorry… notes on paper.)

    It’s really good to read all of you. How beautiful life is, with all its sadness within. And all your vulnerabilties. Mine also. « no mud, no lotus »
    Monday was a burocratic day, burocratic stuff. That kind of stuff that …argh…you wish youcould pass. But before all activities, I sit a little bit every morning, early, even if it’s only 10 mins… I wake up aroun 6am but this month, well, it’s 5 am and I’m already « plim »… Anxiety. Lots of things going on here within after 5-day retreat. Getting out around 6/7 am and arriving after 9 pm, sometimes I think my car has been my second home, so there’s where I breathe a lot, during traffic, in supermarket, on my daily routine. My car has been my zafu. But Monday was a special day, I was at Kid’s Mindfulness class 6.30 p.m. and I didn’t know that it was going end up that way. The kids were so anxious too, 6 and 8 years old. They were going to have social science test. Already with so many pressure on them, social pressure, family pressure, being affraid of failure, other kids don’t like them, etc, already. So, we work on FEAR. We tried to feel our fear in our bodies, which part of the body feels the fear? Are we the fear? Are we stronger then the fear? Are we also the fear? Is it really real? At certain point, the 8 yo girl asked « is it like a thief in our homes and we must kick him out? must we kick the fear out?! » and then, I just smiled, it touched my heart and … « yes, but to kick the thief out, first you need to know that there’s someone there and look at him, don’t you? We need to understand what are we affraid of »
    Maybe we need to embrace our deepest fears like a baby and be gentle with them and then work on them…and « kick them out » by transforming it.

  3. Ivone 14 novembre 2018 at 0 h 27 min - Reply

    Many times, when sitting in the comfort of my chushion, I feel blessed for being there and for the sense that there are so many people doing the same thing, at that very moment! The same thing in many different ways, of course. Somehow, no matter our differences, our choices or the path each one chooses for him/herself, this sense of union is a wonderful feeling. Today, it was a very strong one.

  4. céu 13 novembre 2018 at 11 h 33 min - Reply

    Olá a tod@s

    Today I’m here some minutes to read, and to trie to fill this « still point » the rest of my day

    « helps us to realize the oneness of life and provides a still point at the center of all our activities, »

  5. Miguel 13 novembre 2018 at 10 h 56 min - Reply

    for the moment in Lisbon,
    sitting with an heavy silence- heavy in the body, silence in the mind_ and the oneness of it, and the interplay that gives me that impression.

  6. emmanuelle 13 novembre 2018 at 8 h 39 min - Reply

    I meditate yesterday in the morning (8h00 – 8h30) and evening (20h15 – 20h45) trying to be in the schedule of the retreat to feel the presence of the group. It worked. We talked about the retreat with my sister several times during the day. I experienced the oneness not of things but of people suddenly in the subway, feeling how they are unique and different when they are outside their usual context, their social role. I’ve only read the blog this morning. Have a good day all of you.

  7. Joy 13 novembre 2018 at 8 h 09 min - Reply

    Vesancy, Rhône d’alpes, France. Foggy morning I couldn’t see an inche ahead in the garden. As hazy as my mind no signs of getting cleared. Fogs dance around forward and backward like tides during the sitting and after giving a beacon of hope for clarity.

    Feeling enormous blessing of having a beautiful son in the middle of day in the office out of the blue.

  8. Isabela 13 novembre 2018 at 1 h 30 min - Reply

    estrablin (near lyon near vienne). yesterday i’ve chosen accepting an invitation to share, made by the psychologists that were accompanying sixteen other women and me (today we are ten) in experiencing acceptance and commitment therapy. i had the intuition that i wouldn’t have the time to write today’s poem (everyday is a poem about seeing not seeing seeing etc. oneness, everyday is a poem about how do i feel when i find don’t find find etc. this still point). the notes : waking up as early as the day before as early as i used to wake up before (too early for today and finally waking up again at 7 and snoozing for about 15 minutes), opening sky, sitting from 8:05 till 8:30 with the same high birds and rooster sounds of yesterday but later and less, arriving on time to eat breakfast with another psychologist of our group, one of two women on the extreme opposite asking if we are also learning to become flower arrangers, answering that now they are learning funeral and marriage arrangements, later they will learn ikebana; too early on time (a toothbrushing as a difference) to take a ride with the other psychologist till the house where we are experimental; being still the only one to drink water and rooibos; top secret experiments a lot about feelings; WHAT A WIND!!!; one of the women tells me she practises zen as long as me but she’s changing, maybe not; making one minute almost two of silence together; being driven by the zen guided by the women who know here; eating together at a PMU restaurant we are two sober vegetarians, the other one shows me leblon caipirinha on the wall; the diet dishes are the last one to be served; the desserts of those who don’t eat cheese are served before; schizo and creative intimacy; sunglasses; more highly confidential experiments a lot more about feelings a lot; a ride by my first driver till the supermarket where all that are buying for the sharing; being the only one sober not the only one not drunk on silence; not the first tired one going home; a ride by my first driver; the hotel dog runs into the car, the dog is lying when we walk into our rooms; my first driver has a package with a book waiting for her; the light of my room is on.

  9. João 13 novembre 2018 at 0 h 59 min - Reply

    João, in Cova da Piedade, Portugal
    No sitting for me today. Woke up a bit after 4 a.m., but still couldn’t get up, not even to sit. Having a hard time getting up these days. Having a hard time sleeping, too. Only after leaving fisiotherapy at the hospital did I remember it was the first day of the retreat. Only ocasionally did I remember there is this retreat happening. But life is still happening, always. In some way, when the retreat came to mind, it all seemed just fine, as if it’s ok to be like this, as if it’s how it’s supposed to be or something. And when bringing to mind the oneness proposed by Roshi for this day, there it was, in whatever was happening in that moment, in whatever I was doing at the time, proofreading a book in the morning, watching the news during lunch, waiting in the park for my kids to come from school, on the phone with a friend, watching a movie with them at dinner. Is that oneness? What connects it all? Life, the fact that it’s my life, the life that I’m living? I don’t know. It just felt right, like it’s how it’s supposed to be.

  10. óscar faria 13 novembre 2018 at 0 h 18 min - Reply

    yesterday, just after reading amy’s post, two friends that i invited to dinner brought a pint pack of a ben & jerry’s ice cream. i loved the flavour of it (chocolate chip cookie dough). before eating, and already knowing that this was the favourite label of bernie glassman, we made a kind of a toast to him, celebrating the coincidence that just happened.
    today, the same friends sent me a link to a new flavour produced by ben & jerry’s, pecan resist, a ice cream made in
    support of the activists and organisations leading the resistance to the trump administration.
    the supreme meal: not knowing and savouring all the offerings that life brings to us.
    outside, just 200 meters from my home, in porto, homeless people are facing the cold nights of autumn. they also resist.

  11. Rui 12 novembre 2018 at 23 h 55 min - Reply

    Gasshô to everyone! Oficially “no retreat in the heart of life” today for me until some minutes ago because just received the information this night…So today was a retreat without the “information” of the retreat knowing i was in the retreat that was not, in a way,a retreat…And it was a very Nice day with sun and a, almost, Spring temperature here in Porto. To be honest, just few moments i remembered the ”retreat” during the day… But now i read the Mail and your comments, i realized my day and small things that happened and is good to feel that is pleasant to travel with memory, to go back and be with exatamente memory brings (or shows…)And its that…

  12. Catherine 12 novembre 2018 at 23 h 14 min - Reply

    Yesterday when I put my 10 year old daughter to sleep, she asked me to tell her a story. I am contemplating enlightenment experiences, so what came to mind was an out-of-body experience I had when I was about 13 or 14, when I saw myself from the ceiling in my bedroom, two nights in a row. I described it to her, along with the feelings of fear and fascination I still remember. « I get that feeling all the time » she exclaimed. I’m looking from above, and I recognize everything. But when I’m in the middle of it, I don’t recognize where I am. » » Talk about feeling connected. Wow.

  13. Lara 12 novembre 2018 at 22 h 24 min - Reply

    Hei hei everyone! It has been a while… I was reading the instructions to the cook and had a haha moment: cook with the ingredients you have! I have been forgetful of that lately. Trying to find a job in Norway, the land I chose to move to but is has not been easy: bureocracy, paperwork, multiple entities…ohh so easy to dwell in separation instead of oneness! People fear what they don’t know. But doesn’t? I need to remember that.

  14. Tiago 12 novembre 2018 at 22 h 05 min - Reply

    London. Grey, dark, wet, just as it is. It’s been dark for so long it feels almost midnight but it is just 9 in de evening.
    To see the oneness of life? To wake up, sit and interview, then breakfast and work work work, meeting with clients, more work, eat again, work a little more and sit. Now writing back the day, all the busy-ness sometimes felt is but a distant memory. Practice keeps the mind open and receptive to this whole that is the experience of the day-to-day. As Lao Tzu put it so clearly, « sitting quietly doing nothing, spring comes and the grass grows all by itself ».
    I’m hungry again.

  15. Susanne 12 novembre 2018 at 21 h 16 min - Reply

    Hallo aus Hamburg. This morning was sad. An old uncle of mine, who died three years ago, appeared so lively in my dream, with his friendlines and joy, coming towards me, telling me that his wife had been so happy about herself and her life yesterday, but that soon the time would come … I woke up and could hardly believe that he was NOT alive anymore – so clear and alive he was in this dream. What did he mean with « es ist bald soweit » « soon time will come »? On my way to school I was crying, thinking of my old 95 years old aunt coming originally from Adelaide and who still lives – in Hamburg, 30 minutes from where I live. Will she soon be dying? I want and need to visit her and I want to go to Australia, want to breeze in the air of this country. What did this dream have to do with me? This generation will not stay with us for very long anymore. This makes me extremly sad. Both my parents are also still there… How can I feel the oneness of life ? I am them, they are me …

  16. Teresa 12 novembre 2018 at 21 h 02 min - Reply

    Just as it is.


  17. Antonio Jose 12 novembre 2018 at 17 h 46 min - Reply

    Earlier today I posted a moment which I called synchronicity. I was reading Haruki Murakami’s Killing Commendatore and came across the following the following: « Even the darkest, thickest cloud shines silver when viewed from above. » I left the book on my chair and went to the nearest windows. You can see what I saw at favoritethings.home.blog/2018/11/12/sincronicidade/

    Now, I came to read this blog and it’s about the « oneness of life. »

    I rest my case.

  18. Filipa 12 novembre 2018 at 14 h 11 min - Reply

    Filipa from Lisbon and now in Stuttgart. Since I’ve read Amy Roshi’s post yesterday I’ve been thinking about this « seeing the other as myself »… This is BIG! And since I’ve been having troubles managing « small kitchen matters » with the girl who owns the flat I’m living now… WOW. This has been very present « seeing the other as myself »… Hummmm Amazing! I’ve practised a few minutes halfway in the morning, it made sense, I’m alone at the office today and there were a lot of emotions going on. So the spiritual course was present as something natural and easy to do. No one is around… I’m curious about the oneness and I’ll be paying attention to realize when it’s here… *

  19. Guillaume 12 novembre 2018 at 13 h 48 min - Reply

    The early afternoon is rainy here in Paris. I’m back from a short walk after lunch, sitting at my desk ready to work.

    Reading Amy’s post today I wonder what it means to realize the oneness of life. I’m usually puzzled when I read or hear about realizing this or that, not really knowing what I should aim for. But what comes to mind now is maybe the oneness of life is not so much something to « realize » like in the sense of understanding, but to « realize » in the sense of doing or carrying out. This interpretation takes a more concrete form to me. I can carry out oneness of life by treating everything I encounter as my life. Today my life is waking up at 7am and having a hard time getting out of bed. My life is colleagues, the one that complains continually about the state of the world and the other one with whom I had a pleasant walk after lunch. Fatigue also is my life today. When I am tired, I feel like complaining. But when fatigue is my life, I cannot really complain, only keep working and rest when I can.

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