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

Posting a bit later today. No meeting to run to. My nose is still congested. Outside my window, it seems to be foggy again. Yesterday, the top half of the Eiffel Tower appeared to be lost in the low-hanging clouds. Because it was hidden by the fog doesn’t mean that half of the tower wasn’t there. The whole tower is always there, fog or no fog, whether we see it or not.

Now here we are on the fifth (and final) day of our retreat in the heart of our lives. Feels strange to write that: What ends? Our life and practice continue, whether we call it a retreat or not a retreat. That’s exactly what our practice and life have been devoted to experiencing throughout this week, all together. We have come together, wherever and whoever we are, joining as one to bring the whole of each of our lives together.

The last course in Bernie’s supreme meal is the course of this « together, » of relationship and community. « This is the course that brings all the seemingly separate parts of our life together into a harmonious whole, » he writes. « It’s the course that turns all the other courses – spirituality, livelihood, social action and study – into a joyous feast. »

(“Le dernier plat est celui des relations humaines et de la communauté. Ce plat rassemble en un tout harmonieux tous les éléments apparemment disparates de notre vie. Ce plat transforme tous les autres – la spiritualité, les moyens de subsistence, l’action sociale et l’étude – en un festin joyeux.”)

I am posting here a drawing made by a friend, a Zen monk named Willem, taken from a little book about Zen cooking that he wrote and illustrated. When we eat together in the meditation hall, we recite a chant that reminds us of the 72 labors that bring us the food we are receiving – the farmers who grew and harvested it, the workers and others who helped process and ship and sell and distribute it, the sun and rain, the earth, the people who prepared the meal and are serving it… It’s endless!

That’s what this last course is about. As Bernie notes, « One of the key principles of the Zen cook is that nothing exists by itself. Everything is interdependent. » (« L’un des principes clés du cuisinier zen est que rien n’existe seul. Tout est dans une relation d’interdépendance. ») As a metaphor, Bernie uses the example of Indra’s net, which comes from an ancient Indian story. Indra was a king who thought much of himself. He asked his architect to create a monument to him that all the people would appreciate. The architect made a vast net that extended throughout all space and time. At each node of the net, there was a bright, shining pearl; in every pearl was reflected every other pearl. And, as Bernie notes, « each single pearl – each person, each event – contains the whole of Indra’s net, including all of space and time. »

When we realize that we are all bright pearls, we see that « within each one of us the whole body of the universe is contained, » Bernie writes. « Since we are already connected in Indra’s net, there are no limits to the possibilities of connecting with other people in our lives and our work. » (« …nous comprenons qu’au sein de chacun de nous est contenue la totalité du corps de l’univers. Dans la mesure où nous sommes déjà tous en relation au sein du filet d’Indra, il n’y a aucune limite à la possibilité de nous mettre en relation avec d’autres, dans notre vie et dans notre travail. »)

So that’s where we are, today and all days. This view is an incitation to include rather than to exclude, to see ourselves, others and everything as a singular, whole part of the whole. What does that mean for you today? Look around, keep sitting, enjoy the feast, and tell us about it.

IMPORTANT NOTES: Tonight, the talk I give in Paris at about 20h30 Paris time at Centre Wild Flower will be live-streamed on our Facebook page. We’ll do it tomorrow, too, for the talk during our day of practice, at around 12h in Paris. Watch this space for a final post tomorrow so that you can all share your impressions. 





By | 2018-11-16T12:36:04+01:00 novembre 16th, 2018|La pratique Zen, Retraites au coeur de la vie|11 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. Debbie 17 novembre 2018 at 9 h 12 min - Reply

    It has been such a pleasure to sit with you all, take a moment out to be silent with you at noon, and share your/our space this week. I’m going to miss the togetherness, I was thinking yesterday. But maybe I can just continue to enjoy the sense that all the people who come flashing by me at the Gare du Nord every day, all the old people I visit, the friends I meet are part of the retreat in the heart of my life.
    Thank you, Roshi

  2. Tomás 17 novembre 2018 at 1 h 25 min - Reply

    Gratitude for this whole Life

  3. Rui 17 novembre 2018 at 1 h 15 min - Reply

    Just arrived home and its very late and I’m going to sleep. My wife and soon are already sleeping.But I have time to say good night to all of you, knowing you all sleep well too. And is good to feel that this retreat will continue just like this day in this quite night.

    Good night*

  4. Isabela 17 novembre 2018 at 1 h 04 min - Reply

    doe running
    in my hand
    i take an egg

    « i shall love 2 »


    i’m a
    doe running
    really running
    in the fog,

    on the entrance board a new christmas market poster,

    — It’s cold outside.
    — Have you been outside?
    — I feel it inside. My arthritis!

    one with a cigarette box on his hand asking me his provision of cigarettes
    opening the box: a lot (of cigarettes)

    — What are the news?

    the other one
    in my office

    the talking partly paralysed,
    the blue pen doesn’t write
    the green scrawls
    not as a doctor,
    — What’s
    the relation
    the back
    and the gall bladder?
    her daughter
    and the caregiver
    have the same name,

    silence and noise
    at noon,

    during lunch
    of our team
    our next christmas market,

    the memory board
    like a cinema sign
    — It’s a theater workshop?
    « bouquet of roses » is out
    they sign isabela’s club,

    and i
    have just arrived
    carnivore eyes on

    inside the car
    is cold,

    my amber eyes
    on him
    the fog
    the long seen sign
    too late
    to turn
    at the roundabout
    i turn right,

    — She’s expecting a boy.

    we meet

    you and i sit

  5. Sarah 17 novembre 2018 at 0 h 52 min - Reply

    GAsho! Deep bow…..this sharing, this space is so greatly appreciated. Across the seas there’s no distance…. remembering this the sitting continues …..

  6. Ivone 16 novembre 2018 at 19 h 07 min - Reply

    Sim, que o amor habite os nossos corações! May love dwell within our hearts, may we be simple, live a simple life, open our hearts, breathe and be happy in Indra’s net! Grateful

  7. Alberto Pereira 16 novembre 2018 at 18 h 11 min - Reply

    Olá a todos,
    Hoje mais cedo que o habitual. Enquanto espero pelo meu amor de há 24 anos, partilho com vocês aquilo que foi este dia. Sol, uma temperatura maravilhosa para esta época do ano. Como já alguém referiu, a verdadeira semana do Verão de S. Martinho, conforme reza a lenda. Os cheiros e cores do Outono estão por todo o lado. É impossível mantermos-nos indiferentes à sua beleza. Rostos, sorrisos, olhares e gestos… tudo está perfeito.
    Apenas isto. Desfrutar da simplicidade de cada momento e instante. Apenas …. sorrir para a vida.
    Que o amor habite nos vossos corações.

  8. gary 16 novembre 2018 at 13 h 35 min - Reply

    Roshi, is it possible to post the link to the talk for those of us who can’t be there but also aren’t on facebook?

    • wildflowerzen_admin 16 novembre 2018 at 15 h 10 min - Reply

      Hi Gary,
      I’ll see what we can do. Not sure we can link to Facebook Live, but we will definitely post the talks on the site. We’ll let you know.
      Thanks for your practice this week.

      • gary 16 novembre 2018 at 20 h 19 min - Reply

        ahhh, thank you for creating this space for us all to be together, even if not in the same place!

        • wildflowerzen_admin 16 novembre 2018 at 23 h 22 min - Reply

          Tonight’s talk will be posted — may already be up — on the site tonight. Tomorrow we’ll post tomorrow’s talk. And we’re working on a method for those without Facebook to join the live talks. Stay tuned!

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