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

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

After meditation in the garden again this morning, sit down at my desk and decide to throw open my windows, letting the lovely cool of early day – and the bubbling flow of life « outside » – drift in on a delicious summer breeze. I know this won’t be possible later, when the intense afternoon heat sets in. Because this moment won’t last (like all things), I appreciate it fully now.

Cars and trucks and buses roar past, birds coo and sing, a few people are engaged in a conversation on the sidewalk, others pass, heading into their days, or maybe returning from their nights. An Ecuadoran friend of my son arrives at our house after an overnight bus trip from Luxembourg. After two sentences I have exhausted my ability to speak Spanish. My son then  translates, or we all revert (sadly) to the world’s default language, English. They have breakfast and then are gone, my son to work, his friend to visit the splendours of Paris in the summertime. I envy him discovering this marvellous city for the first time!

Of course Paris can be always new to me, too. I just need to shake myself free from my mind’s concepts and ideas about Paris (and I have many!). To dis-cover is literally the opposite of to cover, it means to remove the cover. Which is exactly what Zen practice is about. Which is why I threw open my windows to the city, to the world, to the whole of life this morning.

The environmental activist and Buddhist thinker Joanna Macy notes that « the spiritual journey is experienced and expressed as going into the heart of the world, » including « this world of suffering, brokenness and imperfection, » in order to « discover the sacred… » Think about that: The sacred (the mystery) is always there, we just need to dis-cover it, not by withdrawing from the world but plunging into it. That’s exactly what we’re doing this week.

A footnote: Sorry about any inconvenience you experienced due to the maintenance work on the server last night. We didn’t know about it in advance. But I’m grateful that somewhere there are people whom I don’t know working to make our connections here possible. They’re in our retreat, too! 

By | 2019-06-27T11:15:05+01:00 juin 27th, 2019|La pratique Zen, Retraites au coeur de la vie|14 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. Peace train 10 février 2022 at 6 h 22 min - Reply

    Cette fois ci, c’est mon fils cadet, Baptiste, qui m’accompagne, après le foot, à l’atelier de Makiko-san. Je sais qu’elle avait exposé au public ce principe, alors qu’elle dirigeait pour nous le « kakizome » à Paris en janvier : ne pas laisser les enfant entrer trop tôt dans le style Sosho. Je me dis que peut-être est-ce ainsi une [jointure] analogue aux films des deux Straub, peut-être aussi à la pratique de Françoise Dolto.

  2. Camille 28 juin 2019 at 8 h 47 min - Reply

    Paris vendredi matin, début du WE car je suis en congé aujourd’hui. De mon canapé, je regarde les bourgeons de mon balcon avec calme et affection, en constatant l’effet du temps sur les émotions. Mon compagnon et mes voisins profiteront des belles fleurs à venir pendant que je serai en vacances. Mon ami m’a promis l’envoi de photos pour que je puisse également en profiter.

    La patience est une qualité fort utile dans la vie, dont je suis plutôt dépourvue. Les émotions s’emballent vite et fort. Le zen m’aide à les accepter., à plonger dans toutes ces sensations plutôt que de les rejeter. Aujourd’hui et demain, je vais plonger dans le monde, tout autour de moi, à l’intérieur de moi.

    Je ressens de la tristesse à l’idée que cette retraite est bientôt finie…je ressens la puissance de votre présence, c’est une aide très forte pour vivre le zen dans ma vie quotidienne. Je vous remercie de cela, j’en profite encore et je vais tacher de la garder en moi jusqu’à la prochaine retraite au coeur de la vie en novembre.

    A vous tous, soyez assurés de ma présence à vos cotés pour plonger dans le monde

  3. Tiago 28 juin 2019 at 8 h 41 min - Reply

    Again on a commuters train, just off Orpington, England.
    I am very touched, to verge of crying, by this post and those words about dis-covering
    the mystery/sacred in life. It hadn’t occurred to me to put the two together and they went up like fireworks in me, pointing directly at…

    I am finding the busy, full of life, buzzing of London’s morning rush hour and everyday inspiration! The landscapes changing all the time, here and now, and everywhere. I’m lost for words, really.

    Thank you all of you, the 50 selves (as some said), it is very important for me to be able to do this retreat with all of you and beyond.

    My stop coming next. Bye

  4. Telma Veras 28 juin 2019 at 1 h 08 min - Reply

    Covilhã, Portugal
    Yesterday silence was imposed due to technological issues now surpassed. I had so much i wanted to share! Yesterday i returned to the heart of my life, home, from holidays with my sister’s family um Italy.

    Yesterday I had the oportunity to be in different places witnessing travelers like me and residents like me when i am in Coimbra. Wow!!! So challenging…!!!

    Yesterday i stopped at noon. Stirring the soup. First time i’ve made it this retreat… Stirring the soup that would feed me until crossing home’s door.

    Today, already on Coimbra, i didn’t stop at noon but i sit and write after sitting as usual. Ir wasn’t usual during the vacation time… That brought me the question « who am i and how many am i? »

    Again travelling. Now resting. Appreciating the possibility to do it, grateful for being able to share with you all this. Surprised with all those with whom i’ve crossed that are me and that i can potentially be.

    Thank you all. I feel honoured to be a part of this retreat.

  5. José Eduardo 28 juin 2019 at 0 h 46 min - Reply

    In order to meet my obligations, I have been most of these four days at home and spent many hours in my studying room. Today I remembered in due time the silent minute. At noon, I stared around and my eyes were fixed in three Japanese calligraphies hunging vertically on a wall. They have been drawn by Hôgen, in a retreat, long ago. The black ink is fading away and the paper is turning pale yellow. I forgot what they mean, but I am sure they contain some sacred teaching or guiding sentence. Like everything else, with time, many years from now, they will certainly vanish. Will their unkonwn sacred meaning continue forever? How sacred is the unspoken wisdom? How sacred is the unknow nature of things? How sacred is the eternal changing of timely things? How sacred is the unknown Self of ourseves? How sacred is our unknowing?
    I am so grateful to the 50 unkonwn Selves of ourselves that have joined this retreta.

  6. isabela 28 juin 2019 at 0 h 08 min - Reply

    what’s present for me today: cicadas ; breakfast outside with the dog that lives at the hotel ; day 4 of arvon’s 5 day poetry challenge (alphabet pasta for revising the poem about my kidney) ; swimming a lizard is drowning, it surprises moves touches me, i’m too slow to save it, later the dog comes ; sunbathing ; by foot on the road to day 1 of the the emotions module of the acceptance and commitment therapy training, sitting several times, at noon, surprised moved touched inspired by this day 1 ; lunching at the local pmu, we are six vegetarians, we all celebrate three new psychology diplomas, the three new consœurs are moved and so is the rest of the group, we celebrate the birthday of one of them with a fruit salad cake, one of our tutors talks about how in her retreat in nepal, organized by louise hayes, the women were served by men and she met no anger nor frustration and felt no anger nor frustration, the other tutor is travelling south america with the family mobile home ; a ride to buy food to our dinner together, couldn’t find the alphabet pasta to today’s writing exercise ; on foot back to the hotel surprised by the mountains’ view, when my gps takes me inside someone’s house where a dog, i do the car’s way ; air conditioner feeling ; inspired by you all

  7. Rita Marquito 27 juin 2019 at 22 h 27 min - Reply

    The so vivid and fresh air that I’ve been sensing every morning while walking to the office feels really like a new start, a new opportunity. A new venture! And in fact it is, always new. The neck is free, receiving the wind, and the mind alike. Each step is the first of a journey. This morning I notice the different soundscape, as soon as I entered the gate. I cannot not feel surprised with all those huge trees that seem still every day, and also so vivid and new.

    Late afternoon, walking home, I’ve seen again the « man that stands still ». That is the way I call him. Its indeed a very curious man that I’ve started seeing in Coimbra a year ago. I wonder who is he. At what does he stands for, or stands still sensing what… What is he seeing that I cannot see? He walks in a calm way, no rush. Its always like that. Than stops.
    I came home where I’m now with the man that stands still. Hmm… I wonder.

  8. Filipa 27 juin 2019 at 22 h 26 min - Reply

    Lisbon, chilly night (feels good)

    I’m happy to be able to have read the posts from yesterday and today. I sat both days in the morning and at 12h02 and 13h20 (longer than 1 min). I cannot always interrupt what I’m doing, or better said I decided not to do it, it was not appropriate…

    I’m surprised about how wonderful little things feel. Walking to work and feeling the cold morning breeze in my face.

    I didn’t feel moved today… Or maybe I haven’t dis-covered it yet. I’m so grateful for so many little things that have happened… 🙂

    I’m inspired to see how someone else’s knowledge about something is so useful and/or maybe it’s just about fresh eyes looking at the same things… same “Paris”, fresh eyes… same “people”, other approaches. I get the “dis-cover” and I’m very curious about it…

  9. céu 27 juin 2019 at 19 h 52 min - Reply

    Today, another day working at the biological markt in Setúbal. Tired. But happy that I can seat at 20h with you all. Have a nice evening

  10. Marlene 27 juin 2019 at 18 h 05 min - Reply

    Olá a todos
    I woke up early, went for a coffee in the village and come to work at the little country house near Alvaiázere, centre of Portugal, where i’m staying these days and where my mother lives .
    After picking a little thief spread from an apple tree aside the way while arriving into the house , I sat at the desk and decide to do a circle with this thiny wood. But the ahesive tape I was handling to shape the round form somehow transformed itself into a coiled liana, imobilizing three fingers of my right hand…At the same time I noticed the sun – here we have been under cloudy days, with rain most part of time- appears , light fading slowly before my eyes, who still looked at my hand; in turn, the palm of the hand was facing me with grey tappe around.three fingers . Plus, the village loud bell was turning 9 o’clock and this perception of impromt daylight, bellsound and a new hand was taken as a whole moment of joy and appreciation . Thank you world,
    And now, as I am writing and the moment of clicick on the pink line to post this comment, I ‘m noticing this inner expectation of  » will it work » ?
    If so, I would be very gratefull , too.

  11. Cricha 27 juin 2019 at 17 h 33 min - Reply

    Cricha From Lisbon

    It’s been really difficult to stay in some broken places, though i surprisingly get really touched and inspired by life. In the last days not so much nature, although driving in my car with the window open, feeling the wind on my cheeks, the hair caressing my face, and the eyes amazed with the skies and the trees, always make me feel connected, alive, I confess people, especially friends, moved me with their love in such a ways that i feel a communion and, at least it seams, like glimpses that love is really always loving you, and the longing that it seems that i crave, that i cling, gets disarmed, kind of allowing that my vulnerability let me be with what i am. Connected with you at noon. Morning meditation always love to start with the present, where the birds singing always moved me, amazes me. By night hungry ghosts come and i try not to run (sometimes they visit me during the day when i least expect)…Loved the middle day of our retreat e-mail from Amy. Blessings for all, blessings for life. Thank you.

  12. Hugo 27 juin 2019 at 13 h 43 min - Reply

    Perth, Western Australia.
    More than 50 of us in this retreat. How marvellous! I think of all of you. I notice everyone around. Everything.

    12 noon. 6 pm around here. And I’m in traffic, listening to radio. Thom Yorke’s new album called ANIMA. Apparently the name is connected with his interest in dreams and Carl Jung. I pay attention to the other drivers. I dis-cover new things in a highway I pass everyday. Twice. Is it me? Is is the new thing I notice? What is that? What is?

    I’m starving, my son says. And I want churros!
    We go for Mexican food and then churros. Side by side with a Portuguese chicken restaurant, Asian ice tea shop and Also, a German supermarket. It’s windy. Feels like 8, she says. But the meeter indicates 14. And I think, how to plunge into this windy and cold evening and experience the sacred of it?

  13. elizabeth 27 juin 2019 at 12 h 02 min - Reply

    Oh how happy I was this morning
    to have a connection again with you all in the Heart of Life retreat!
    Due to the rain of last days plants on the patio are blooming .The fig tree is full of babyfruits ,blackberries ,kiwis and tomatinhos Brasileiros are on the way .Bleu sky today with some small white clouds that is exactly how I want to paint the part of the mideval arch ,the place where I meditate when the weather allows and where the frozen angel is watching over us
    I feel grateful

    • Hil 27 juin 2019 at 17 h 23 min - Reply

      The Netherlands, region south
      Managed to sit the previous days, in my gsrden, lucky me. Cycling to the ststion, I got inspired by the wild flowers in the city, great that they have a ‘right’ to grow there and that insects can find them!
      Other animals, helas, did bother me: my skin itches everywhere because of the oak procession caterpillar hairs. I try to focus on the beauty of nature in staid of the itching.
      Today i got disappointed in myself. Didn’t react as i should have on an email of a collegue. He was not friendly, and i – in exchange – wrote a quite powerful answer back. We talked about it today, it’s fine now, but still, it is as if I failed the retreat. Ok, letting go .. Compassion. We are all human beings and we are all in training.
      Just I few minutes ago, a few nice friendly faces on the trsin back home. A lady in front of me was peeling sn apple with a knive, I was peeling an egg with my hands. Smiling ti eachother. Nice intrraction. Funny! How small encounters can make us feel so happy.
      Looking forward to this evening, meeting a good friend (and by the way responsible for the wild flowers in the city:).
      You all in this retreat are a great support to me. Thank you.

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