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

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

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

Finally back at my desk with time to write. Sorry for the late posting, and the stand-by text below. Maybe some of you weren’t even aware of that text? We just never know what will arise, nor what will fall away.

So anyway… It’s our fifth and final day of this Heart of Life/Coeur de la vie retreat.  All week, we’ve been circling around the one point that includes all points: seeing through the delusion of separation. That means seeing your life and practice as one. As my teacher’s teacher once said at the end of retreat: « If you don’t want to leave the retreat, don’t enter the retreat. » He was suggesting that it is our mind that creates the separation between retreat / not retreat, enter / exit, etc.

There’s no way out because there’s nowhere to go. That’s the bad news and the good news. There’s nowhere to go – you’re already there! There’s no practice other than your practice, there’s no life other than yours, there’s no practice outside your life, there’s no life outside your practice.

Don’t worry about trying to understand that, though. Just keep going. We sometimes say that Zen practice is like walking through a field of damp grass. You don’t realize that your shoes are getting wet from the dew. Just keep going.

Please post one last time. Or one first time for those who haven’t done so yet!

Tomorrow we’ll be sitting together in Paris from 10h to 17h. Join us wherever you are and whenever you can. Then I’ll send a final email to you all on Sunday with some closing thoughts.


Running late today…

To give you a space to express yourself until I can devote my time fully to today’s words, I’m putting this post here, to be updated later.

Meanwhile, as the graffiti in the photo says: Learn to be a tree connected to the stars!

By | 2019-06-28T16:32:50+01:00 juin 28th, 2019|La pratique Zen, Retraites au coeur de la vie|17 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. Alexis 24 mars 2022 at 7 h 55 min - Reply

    n’était plus qu’une vapeur, il n’était lui-même presque plus rien que l’indication du lointain et la dernière partie perceptible de la terre. Mais, en réalité, toutes les choses qu’on pouvait discerner cette nuit-là, c’est-à-dire simplement les arbres dans les champs, une meule peut-être, une ou deux maisons et plus loin des collines, toutes ces choses, claires ou noires selon leur position par rapport à la lune, ne semblaient plus simplement les habitants du jour surpris dans leur vêtement de sommeil, mais de vraies créations de la lumière lunaire .
    Philippe Jaccottet, p 104-105

  2. Alexis 17 février 2022 at 15 h 51 min - Reply

    nr(f)– roman–

  3. Tiago 30 juin 2019 at 18 h 04 min - Reply

    It is now Sunday in London and I have just listened to Amy’s talk ‘en ligne’.
    I am surprised to see that I am not late in writing these ‘closing remarks’ becuase ‘now’ is never late.
    I am forever grateful to you Amy for these HOL retreats and for the opportunity to take a plunge into my life as it is.
    I am also very grateful to all of you with whom I sat during the week, to those I know and to those I have not yet met.
    It has been an enriching week on many fronts – work, practice, life, relationships, connectons – and I look forward to my next week, and the next, and…
    It is a good practice for me to have a place to express myself daily and see how the day unfolde for others too, so I will miss this 🙂
    Love to all.

  4. elizabeth 29 juin 2019 at 17 h 42 min - Reply

    We practised together life these days ….thank you Amy and all for your company !

  5. Luis 29 juin 2019 at 16 h 37 min - Reply

    My last words in this retreat
    Thank you Roshi Amy, for your teaching

  6. céu 29 juin 2019 at 16 h 19 min - Reply

    It’s also a good thought to feel whenn is warm outside

    « Don’t worry about trying to understand that, though. Just keep going. We sometimes say that Zen practice is like walking through a field of damp grass. You don’t realize that your shoes are getting wet from the dew. Just keep going. »

    thank you All

  7. céu 29 juin 2019 at 16 h 11 min - Reply

    How beautiful

    « Don’t worry about trying to understand that, though. Just keep going. We sometimes say that Zen practice is like walking through a field of damp grass. You don’t realize that your shoes are getting wet from the dew. Just keep going. »

  8. Marlene 29 juin 2019 at 12 h 01 min - Reply

    Good morning
    Yesterday, on this train Tomar-Lisboa, two little boys from a large camping group-, aged may be 12 , sat in front of me and I was brought of what is to be 12.even nowadays: one boy had a cell phone and they started playing, but afterwards and for the rest of the trip they were talking, laughing, jokes invented -and hands on hands,and legs stretching from time to time. The eyes of each one were on the eyes of the other, almost always, bright eyes wide open… and that brings me to the Meg Stuart dance(? ) performed here in Lisbon last night, called « until our heart stops ».where 9 actors improvised for 2 hours. Next words are a incipient translation of mine, with excerts of what she she seeks with her work, »  » based on this experience I have on the Contact-Improvisation,(…)skin with skin and the limits of(…)intimacy, (…)exposition, (…)the acts of magic (…) ,those uau moments, (..)the states of transe while dancing and improvising, (…)reenchantment, (…) reconnection with our childhood wonders ».
    She says » we are social animals who need social contact.(…) ,sometimes there is not enough confidence. Our social relationships are grounded on protocols and even fears.(…) we waste time negotiating our limits: how far or how near are we one to others? How do we ansewer our emails?  »
    Gambling with frontiers, she says.

    I hope this translations made some sense for those of you who are reading this. But those people on stage were really on hard,hard intimacy ( » love has strange borders », she says too). Many people left the room…
    A good final retreat for all of us, and thank you Amy roshi

  9. José Eduardo 29 juin 2019 at 11 h 42 min - Reply

    My last day of the retreat was an intriguing one. It started with a stormy zazen at the scheduled time: karmic family problems plus burocratic demands were a perfect combination to be checked by the heartmind of a zen practioner. I went out of my cocoon to meet both them and had several encounters with public attendants. Their answer varied between the kindful, attentive, open, professional attitude to the one showing total unavailability to help me with my requests. The latter was my best teaching . In the interaction , I could feel the tension growing between me and the person face to me. The more I explained my problem the worst it got. I realised that the lack of good will had to do with the lack of presence, and before I would raise the fascist syndroma behind the desk I litteraly and paciently canceled the comercial contract that had lead me to that disencounter. Next step: to figure out the way to help my mother’s maid, a Brazilian woman living illegally in Portugal. All of a sudden the sky opened and a solution was found. I felt so released, so happy, so grateful. In the afternoon, I made my voluntary work with arrested people at the Vila Real prison. After three years, a bound is growing between me and a group of seven people to whom I bring paintings, movies, music texts to be watched, listened, discussed. I never know what will happen. Yesteday I wanted to show them the very beautiful and intelligent movie Babel. We end up by watching only a third of it. A previous explanation on the title’s movie led to a talk on their religious beliefs and to the spiritual/existential impact that the 86 year prison chaplain has on them. I was moved by the story of Anselmo who learned with the priest that his father was not dead after all and therefore he had no reason to be hungry with God. “How is that?”, Anselmo asked bitterly , “I loved very much my father and he died in my sister’s arms calling my name and I just couldn’t be there”! To his most deep and insurgent question, Anselmo went on saying that the priest pointing to his heart answered him with another question.“Don’t you think that as long as you your father is in your heart he is not dead”?. The question was so powerful that Anselmo is back to attend the priest’s masses.
    My day finished with the evening and much quiter zazen with you and with the world around, hopefully including the person I had a quasi argument with .
    My deepest thanks to all of you and to my true friendly teacher Amy

  10. Camille 29 juin 2019 at 10 h 16 min - Reply

    Laval, 11h10. La journée au centre wild flower zen a commencé depuis un peu plus d’une heure, je suis avec vous dans la pratique. Je viens de me réveiller, une grasse matinée c’est tellement agréable après une semaine de travail. Ce matin j’ai le temps, je vais me préparer pour aller au marché, sans me presser.
    L’aventure continue!

  11. isabela 29 juin 2019 at 7 h 12 min - Reply

    phone on all night since i met nico, dreams, this early morning he was thrown out by the friend who was paranoid, i only saw his message waking up, lacking sleep, a man steals his mobile, he buys a new one ; day 5 of arvon’s 5-day poetry challenge, the exercise is to read aloud and showing to someone i trust the photography of my poem about my kidney written with alphabet pasta, i’ll have to wait for finding an alphabet pasta to do the 2 last exercises before submitting my poem to the competition, even if it’s too brazilian maybe ; a lot of people today for breakfast outside ; swimming again with the insects, the worker who takes them out, the dog, another dog, a chihuahua ; day 2 of the acceptance and commitment therapy training surprises moves touches inspires me, sitting several times there, at noon going to lunch at the local pmu ; keeping nico in the present so he books a bed gives me headache ; one of the tutor’s son loses his sandals, keeping him in the present makes him accepting not going with his mother’s car, but another one ; in the car talking about first slow dances and kisses ; jazz à vienne by shuttle sitting side by side with the first act female tutor, giving news to each other, surprised moved touched inspired by their food, artisanal ice cream bergamote d’italie, fraise mara des bois, passion fruit, the quality of the concerts, la vallée du rhône, while nico can feel safe at the poetry brothel event knowing he has a bed to sleep this night, thanks ; surprised moved touched inspired by you all, thank you.

  12. céu 29 juin 2019 at 6 h 05 min - Reply

    de 10h a 17h, je serais aussi ocuppé dans un moment de ma pratique que c’est le travaille au marché, et je serais trés bien acompagnhé par cette pensée

    « Don’t worry about trying to understand that, though. Just keep going. We sometimes say that Zen practice is like walking through a field of damp grass. You don’t realize that your shoes are getting wet from the dew. Just keep going. »

    Merci Amy

  13. Rita Marquito 28 juin 2019 at 23 h 26 min - Reply

    Early in the morning I felt the fresh water in all my skin. What a great way to start the day! The first total immersion is so intense (even with the chlorine). At 8 am the olympic swimming pool in Coimbra was already full, remaining two rows for « free swimmers » like me. Into the water were those young athletes training for better scores. After some meters into the water, I felt we where all swimming together. One dances from the swing of the other(s) swimmer(s). Even when I’m still, I’m moving. And the movements of a whole together ranges from a kind of a dance, specially when the different teams of swimmers are more quiet, to a storm in high sea. So alive! There is no way to go against it — I remember often this lesson of my Tai Chi teacher —, so I receive the energy and give it back, its in fact a redirection. Its energetic. Its life in its course.

    This week, that never finishes, is being so good. May you all be well too.

  14. elizabeth 28 juin 2019 at 17 h 56 min - Reply

    A day of practice …. why does it looks like less difficult if you have no busy life ?
    I was planning to start cleaning up papers and documents from my grandmothers ,mother and madrinha and mysels 28 years ago just thrown in boxes when I moved to Portugal BUT run into a small book ,a gift from friends who stayed with me some months moving from Peru to Holland again in 1986 The Tao of Pooh,.The day past with reading and « finish  » the book .It s all about to be present so it does not finish at all !Will be continued!

  15. Manon 28 juin 2019 at 17 h 30 min - Reply

    Début de soirée dans mon appartement à Weil am Rhein, à la frontière germano-suisse, Allemagne
    Ventilateur en bruit de fond. L’appartement est sous le toit, il y fait très chaud. Je suis assise sur le canapé. Ma tête est pleine, comme une mer un peu agitée. Des vagues et de l’écume. Aujourd’hui était mon dernier jour de stage à l’hôpital des enfants à Bâle. Je me sens triste de quitter l’hôpital après 4 mois d’apprentissage intense. Les collègues me manqueront, les enfants aussi. J’ai pu être impliquée aujourd’hui dans les premiers soins médicaux de deux nouveaux-né immédiatement après la césarienne. Je suis toujours aussi émue par ces premières minutes de vie. Quel mystère !

  16. Marlene 28 juin 2019 at 16 h 43 min - Reply

    The train to Lisbon started moove now, right on schedule, 16h06m, And I start to write here.
    At noon, at the same time I heard this sirene of firemen that « sirens »every workday, my cell phone rang and I had to answer, my daughter needed me to tell something she previously ask me to know. So, no silence at all, instead there were three voices in ( where?) my head, the two of us having a conversation and another one saying  » wasn’t it to keep silence? »?
    Before lunch I had time to sit for 20m minutes outside, and having read Amy roshi post, the presence of the trees around me was really vivid:so alive, leaves were dancing and little sound came with the wind , they seemed gentle and at ease.arising to the sky and full of colour under the sun.I guess they do not have hours on their lives?
    But I’m glad there was a train on schedule taking me to Lisbon…
    And now the train has been invided with students and tents , bags and sounds of excitment… first days of summer time, tshirts under the stars…

  17. Hugo 28 juin 2019 at 14 h 03 min - Reply

    A tree connected to the stars…
    Not sure at to say in this Friday night, in Perth WA.
    Mum has gone out with girl friends. Boys stay at home. We talk with Grandma. Watch speaddy Gonzalez. Play with some homemade toy parachutes. we have fun. And then it’s bedtime. For the little one.
    I see the fruit in my kitchen. There’s rain. Sun. Wind. Trees. Workers. Farms. Others in the heart of life. And stars. sometimes overcast by guest clouds. that pass away.
    Then, the sound of something struck – and I remember that I have some food in the oven. it’s ready!

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