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

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

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

Everything is in its place.

I had hoped to post something here much earlier today. But after sitting I was then busy all morning speaking with students via Skype. Which meant that I had to let go of my goal. If I had not dropped it, I would not have been present with the people with whom I was speaking. But because I was able to drop that expectation about writing and posting early, I could fully appreciate each moment with each person I met. I could then be surprised and touched. Such a rich and simple joy!

It was exactly 12h noon as I finished writing that sentence, so I stopped for one minute of silence. Another rich and simple joy, letting go again.

These two situations this morning serve me as reminders that « whatever I meet is the path, » as a slogan from the Tibetan teaching on mind-training Lojong says. As the Zen master Norman Fischer writes, practice « is not something that we are doing over and above our life. It is our life. It is the way we live. »

Everything is in place for you to experience that this week. That’s exactly what this retreat is about.

I’m infinitely inspired by making practice my whole life. It’s an inexhaustible practice, a practice that is always new. It’s a practice that is always accessible, always here, even when I forget about it. I’m always in the heart of it. Where else could I be? I am that practice, I am that path. And so are you, even if you don’t realize it. It’s just who you are, just where you are. It’s an endlessly rich and simple joy.

By | 2019-06-25T11:53:23+01:00 juin 25th, 2019|La pratique Zen, Retraites au coeur de la vie|16 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. elizabeth 26 juin 2019 at 14 h 44 min - Reply

    sitting in the morning seeing monkey mind jumping! Till it became quit guiet .
    Now waiting for the man to repair bathroom waiting waiting so it seems better to use this waiting to be aware and practise.Seeing what is happening .

  2. céu 26 juin 2019 at 8 h 05 min - Reply

    Bom dia a Tod@s

    Venho só aqui dizer que estou triste, e levar de vós aqui esta energia para transformar a minha.
    Afinal, « whatever I meet is the path, »
    Afinal, o som da manhã perto do rio Tejo com aves e gatos a roçarem-se nas pernas a pedir biscoitos… tudo isto é de uma enorme beleza; e é isso que tenho como energia para produzir mais uma porção de Choucrute deliciosa.

    Desculpem eu não ter feito o esforço de comunicar em inglês ou francês
    mas não é nada importante « nothing special »

    Importante é que, mais logo, às 20h, estarei de novo sentada convosco por um bocadinho

  3. Tomas 26 juin 2019 at 6 h 36 min - Reply

    Vesancy, France, near the border with Switzerland. Woke up earlier this morning, at 6am, next to my 3-year old son, having slept together on a large mattress on the floor. Perfect moments. Freshness of the air, singing birds and the hot sun starting to warm everything. Continuously moved (and supported) by everyone’s comments since the very start of the retreat. So supportive and inspiring! Feel connected with the others, mostly through the difficulties and challenges. Beautifully serene and peaceful sitting early this morning, feeling invigorated to go about my day and try to meet everything as practice-life 🙂
    Yesterday morning I woke up and smelled the incense that my wife had lit for her own early morning sitting. Sweet and moving. She is asleep now, I hope the incense I lit up today will inspire/touch her as well when she wakes up 🙂

  4. Hugo 26 juin 2019 at 3 h 38 min - Reply

    Day III, in Success, Western Australia.
    Emails. Meetings. Agendas and minutes. Sun outside, now. Double rainbow, early this morning, while driving on the freeway. So intense. Outside my window, a man carries a baby. In pink. Dad. Daughter. I don’t know. I’m going now to shop and get some flat bread and churros for our team meeting.

  5. José Eduardo 26 juin 2019 at 2 h 18 min - Reply

    Strolling this afternoon with my wife in the forest park of Vila Real, I’ve noticed that it has not been taken care of : the weeds have been growing among the trees and most of them are dried out. The view reminded me what my dharma brother, Manuel Zimbro, once wrote comparing gardening with meditation and weeding with the cleansing of thoughts. Manuel was an artist, a very meticulous draughtsman, but also a carpenter, a mason, a gardener, a photographer, a cameraman, who wrote letters as if he was mindfully drawing calligraphies He didn’like to be called artist. He disregarded art for the art sake. Back in 1991, I had the grace of translating with him “On The Open Way”, the book of my zen teacher Hôgen. Letters were going and coming from Vila Real to Quinta do Caniço, Madeira. His handwriting was as delicate as a watercolor and the suggested corrections of my flawed sentences were always done with great care and firm linguistic competence.
    Today’s dried weeds led me to Manuel, who left his body in 2003, as resolutely and discreetly as the way he lived his life. He used to say that his human model was the invisible man. Often he shows up and is quite present to me. As it happened yesterday , when I saw the stone pattern of the photo Amy added to her first teaching. It is almost a replica of the one Manuel shoot and published in “The sea as seen from the land that surrounds us”, the book he offered as a birthday present to his wife, Lurdes de Castro. The difference between the two stone patterns is that the one in Amy’s picture is made of dried black pebbles surrounded by golden weed threads , whereas the one of Manuel’s is made of wet black pebbles surrounded by luminiscent water threads. I see both black stone patterns as archipelagos of self enclosed islands supported by the all encompassing/surrounding sea. Like all of us, in our own bodies and mental lives, supported by the encompassing/surroundig Buddha nature (of wisdom and compassion)
    Indeed, “everything is in its place” Therefore, this is for Manuel:

  6. Filipa 26 juin 2019 at 0 h 29 min - Reply

    Lisbon, late in the evening. I’m sad I’ve forgotten the 1 minute silence. Just have been sitting in the morning (and why do I feel he need to say this and why I’m I analyzing it?). I’ll do it tomorrow at 12h.

    I’m still surprised about how people around me react sometimes, maybe I need to respond more appropriately… I’m paying attention.

    I’m touched by the sad eyes of the elderly when they are sad. I can be with them and just let them be sad and say it ouro loud!

    I’m inspired by this new colleagues with whom I have the feeling I’ll learn a lot. I can are they are doing they’re best and that calms me. I’m doing the same and I feel we’re together in this.

    See you tomorrow. At 12h 🙂

  7. isabela 25 juin 2019 at 23 h 39 min - Reply

    what is happening for me today: remembering sara, one of my friends of the latinx poetry studio, sent me glintmoon’s link, another wonderful place to submit ; a butterfly at my door’s corner, dead, injured, sleeping?, it’s summer and nerval knows so much about butterflies! ; remembering québec’s fête nationale is no dia de são joão, sending my québecois friend a message, he answers moved, touched between inflammatory arthritis hiv+ related and celebrating the fête nicely with strangers, having broken up with his boyfriend, i was moved, touched by his voice on the phone while messaging with nico about squatting, co-ops « obsession » and searching for safe spare rooms ; dreams ; lacking sleep ; sun ; birds ; clouds ; day 2 of arvon’s 5 day poetry challenge (bestiary, charles simic, body scan, kidney talking), kazhez, the talkative ginger cat who lives with us being talkative ; summer dress ; same « difficulties » with my car ; same road to work ; green light and the front car stalling always surprises me as much as workers cutting the grass fresh green smell that otherwise would make roads forests again (dreams) and scooters hidden by a truck ; remembering the strong green smell at the entrance of the nursery home the same ; being asked for a ride to nemours by a caregiver ; faxing the psychiatry ; the residents « with dementia » saying they feel cold: it’s winter ; the brand of the new ventilator in my office is « sangha »: this inspires me and reminds me of a moving poem about a ventilator ; accompanying condolences writing, writing a resident personal project, surprised with her name, surprised when she tells me i shouldn’t take her son from her, surprised with her nickname, evaluating depression and the trainee from sarthe, celebrating her last day of training ; working at noon ; inspired by amanda finding a lake and being alone there with her wonderful legs ; a friend is calm again ; inspired by men with long skirts and this picasso at 19, my wallpaper when i was 19, moved, touched by this most dramatic age of my life till now ; laughing with this issa poem ; hydration tour ; sitting in anxiety and anger crisis ; inspired by « libido » being heard as « le niveau d’eau » during parkinson’s well-being map, moved, touched by the silence before the answer to the item « J’ai des difficultés à avoir des rapports sexuels » ; sultry weather, i leave my uniform to wash ; booking the taxi for tomorrow ; responding to today’s prompt ; inspired by the same comments ; spread out kazhez

  8. Rita Marquito 25 juin 2019 at 22 h 17 min - Reply

    At 12h noon at the office and getting ready for the minute of silence, I received a phone call. Another urgency, a design « urgency »… Some minutes later a colleague needed some help, then another call, then one of our bosses arriving from Canada yesterday offered us a chocolate box… and me always getting ready for the minute of silence. And not being able to do it. I didn’t. Or I did in another way. Well, that was my silence with an inner smile.
    Besides the 12h noon moment, during the day I almost didn’t remember I was in a retreat, though I was, I am. On my way home walking through a noisy street, then passing by the biological mini market — I got so happy with some carrots waiting for me! Carmen still have a few —, I had the feeling you where all there, all together. Even if I was away for some hours, we were there wherever we are. Its so good.

  9. Luis 25 juin 2019 at 21 h 02 min - Reply

    Lisboa, Portugal
    Tonight I will spend some time in sitting meditation.
    During the day I experienced my path, conscious that I am in a retreat.
    Read the teachings, read all comments, they are an important part of my path
    during this week.

  10. AMANDA 25 juin 2019 at 20 h 10 min - Reply

    Hello from Sweden, Skåne
    I´ve reflected about letting the expectations go today after reading a bit about it in a book….very interesting that the text today is also about that…
    I was surprised today with a small snake I met in a hike, he mooved slowly and he seemed to have a friendly smile. I was inspired by a book I read this morning. 🙂

  11. Hil 25 juin 2019 at 16 h 33 min - Reply

    Netherlands, region south. 35 degrees celcius.
    O so true what a read about letting go of expectations, non-attachments!
    I did hardly sleep this night and got sick last week because of a lack of sleep. Had to let go my zen meditatiin this morning with our small group in the city. I was realy looking forward to meditate together with them, but this morning, i had to give priority to sleep. Wasn’t it the Dalai Lama who once said: ‘sleep is the best meditation’? In this case that was true. When i woke up at 9.00, i planned to meditate for 30 minutes in my garden, but work came in between… Again: letting go of expectations. Non-attachments.
    I still had 15 minutes for breakfast in my garden. I was touched by the beauty of it and the buzzing bees. Normally i can t hear them because of the noise in my neighbourghhood. This was extremely beautiful. A golden moment.
    I also was surprised this afternoon: met an english collegue on the way from the trainststation to work. We hardly know eachother, but it was a great 15 minute walk in which we had a lot of fun and laughter.
    I hope i can sit this evening. We will see. Better to have no expectations. Maybe first cooling down in the public swimming pool. Spoiling myself a bit with these hot days.

  12. Manon 25 juin 2019 at 14 h 45 min - Reply

    Maison de mes grands parents à Obernai en Alsace, France
    Je viens juste de m’asseoir pour un zazen dans ma chambre qui est sombre avec les volets fermés pour garder un peu de fraîcheur. Mon grand père est venu spontanément dans ma chambre parler de ses craintes d’une opération du coeur prévue pour bientôt. Mes grand parents me touchent dans leur manière de se plonger dans leur vie chaque jour malgré l’essouflement, la douleur aux articulations, la vieillesse et la peur de la mort.
    Ma grand-mère vient de passer une demi-heure sur le canapé avec un paquet de petit-pois sur le genou pour calmer sa crise d’arthrose. Elle m’a dit après « c’est bon maintenant, je peux de nouveau courir ». C’est bon de rire avec elle.

  13. Alberto Pereira 25 juin 2019 at 14 h 39 min - Reply

    Olá a todos, desde a cidade do Porto.
    Agradecer a possibilidade de participar com todos vocês neste retiro, na vida.
    Uma semana de férias onde existe a possibilidade de estar mais tempo com a família, desfrutando de cada momento. São únicos e irrepetíveis. Viver, um caminho de imprevisibilidade, sobre o qual, tanto queremos respostas e certezas. E se assim fosse. Seria a vida mais preciosa?

  14. Joana 25 juin 2019 at 14 h 03 min - Reply

    I’m writing from Sacavém, Portugal.
    I decided to take this day off. Just allow myself to be and to play. To play with words and ideias and to get inspired. I’m writing a short-film.
    I got to this blog hoping I could comment on yesterday’s post, about not having attachment to the result of one action. But I got surprised by a new post. Can I let got of all the brilliant ideas I was about to write and share something on the new post?
    I think I’m just begging to understand that I have no idea of how can life and practice be the same. I picture practice as something so high, so pristine, so beyond myself… This reminds me of a text called Running in Place by Charlotte J. Beck. I wanted to quote her but I can’t find a sentence that would make sense just on it’s own.
    It hurts thinking that I am that practice and I am that path. As imperfect as I am, as broken, as arrogant and beautiful.
    It’s so wonderful to share this heart of life practice with you

  15. Camille 25 juin 2019 at 13 h 19 min - Reply

    Paris, pause déjeuner
    Aujourd’hui j’ai décidé de couper ma journée de travail par un retour chez moi, pour prendre le temps de vous lire et de vous écrire.
    J’aime cette semaine et l’attention que je porte aux choses, grâce à la retraite et à l’énergie que nous nous donnons. J’aime l’idée que la semaine prochaine peut être comme celle là, il suffit que je maintienne cette intention de faire attention.

    Le moment qui m’a ému hier : le spectacle de fin d’année de la classe de mon plus jeune fils, 9 ans. 8h30, préau de l’école, des parents pressés mais heureux, téléphone en main prêts à filmer. 30 mn de poésie et hip-hop mélangés portés par une classe entière débordante de vie : il y a les audacieux, les timides, les souriants, les séducteurs, les sérieux et appliqués, les rigolos, toute couleur de peau mélangée. J’adore observer les enfants, leur spontanéité, leur capacité naturelle à vivre l’instant présent.

    bonne journée à tous,

  16. Hugo 25 juin 2019 at 12 h 38 min - Reply

    Already end of day II in Victoria Park, Western Australia.
    Meal in my stomach. Celebrating our 8th wedding anniversary. Find some old photos and send them to my wife. I look different. She looks different. Who were we? Who are we now? No kids then. One now. More to come? Who knows…
    How to respond appropriately? Easy… Hard. Just natural like breathing. And I recall the Pang family – Dad, Mum and Daughter.
    Keep breathing. Keep growing like the grass in the field.

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