Introduction I: Walking as Practice
(Kim Mosley and Sarah Webb)

S: Is walking part of your practice?

K: I’m doan, so Saturday is when I do kinhin. But I also walk every morning with my neighbor. My father said you should never have a walking partner because that ties you down. But he must have done his way of contemplation when he walked. He walked maybe 3 hours a day.

S: Wow! That’s a lot.

K: He would meet people he knew and he would talk to them, and then he would continue with his walking. It was a private thing for him. Even though he walked in a little town, on the coast.

S: In sesshins when I had problems with my back, my teacher would have me go out and walk on a walkway. He said it’s not to be looking at the flowers, just be aware of your walking. It was a pretty rapid pace and the walkway was real rough, so you had to be careful or you’d end up with a splinter in your toe. That consolidated walking in me. Sometimes when I’m walking, I feel like I’m going to the same place as when I was walking in the garden up there.

That kind of walking, it’s not, now my heel is doing this and my arch is doing this and the ball of my foot is doing this, it’s not that kind of close concentration, but it’s being present when I walk.

K: This last weekend I was doing a sesshin with some prisoners in Bastrop, and I told them Reb Anderson’s comment about walking, “You should walk on the earth as if it were your mother’s face.” Then I looked at them and I said, “That’s assuming you like your mother.”

When we started walking, there was a Christian class next door and the guy was telling how everything you needed to know about life was in the Bible, and you could hear every word he was saying. I wanted them to be able to concentrate more on their walking, so I told them that they should create a mantra for each step. I said that for the left foot it could be “Now I step on the earth.” And for the right it could be “Now I step on the sky.” Now I step on the earth. Now I step on the sky. I tried that a couple of hours ago on the sidewalk, and I noticed that the sky step was a lot lighter than the earth step.

About Kim Mosley | Sarah Webb

Please enjoy your walking...
(Edward Espe Brown)

Please enjoy your walking,
the sensations, your breath,
the fresh air—step by step—
"Inhaling … calm … body
Exhaling … joyful … smile"
Having a slight smile for
someone who is angry,
someone who is scared,
someone who can't smile.

About Edward Espe Brown

Stepping into Now
(Krishna Bhattacharyya)

Naked foot on flat, smooth misshapen rock
That is, rock with thin green moss-layer
One slowly, carefully down, then another

That’s cool

Heel mashes onto miniscule caviar-like orbs, green
Carefully, quietly, moving undetected
Soon there are hundreds of rocks, pebbles
Foot comes down toes first, then arch, then body, lastly, heel
Onto smooth, rough, sharp, varied textures
Reflexology at its natural best
Poking here, prodding or pushing there, sometimes giving way
Semi-soft leaves

A slight relief

Brown flakes compact ‘neath the weight
Gravity the helper
Places wet, others, dry

Here, a sun-drenched spot
Nothing wrong with brown warmth

Somewhat comforting
Here a shadow, there a shadow
Today I prefer the sun
There, the bell is rung
Another sitting has begun

k.b. 3/31/07 Mindfulness Day Retreat-UU

About Krishna Bhattacharyya

Homage to Sosan
(Xianyang Carl Jerome)

Which is
About Xianyang Carl Jerome

Stepping Off
(Pat Yingst)

I have always loved our slow kinhin walking. But it took on a new meaning for me several years ago when my Rinzai teacher gave me the koan “How do you take the next step off a 100-foot pole?” I found our Kinhin practice to be very helpful in my working on this koan. Each step taken in concert with the outbreath and with a temporary dissolving of thought became, in my mind, a step off the pole. Sometime I could even imagine the void beneath my lifted foot.

In one way of looking at it, each step is a step into the future—the great unknown. I protect myself from facing this great scary unknown by presuming to know it; I dream that my routine, my plans, my expectations are all true and immutable and that I will get in my car after zazen and proceed to my job or whatever activity I have designed for myself. And nearly all the time my prediction comes true. And so it continues—one predictable day to the next. How safe I am!

I protect myself from fear of the unknown—from jumping off that pole. But If I could drop all this KNOWING what is going to happen next— then I really would be stepping off the pole with every step and with every breath. I might still go to my job after zazen, but there would be freshness and gratitude in the experiencing of it. How exhilarating!

About Pat Yingst

Our Buddha Walked Away
(Nancy Webber)

About Nancy Webber

Introduction II: Walking the Path
(Kim Mosley and Sarah Webb)

S: There’s something about walking that connects to the earth. You’re not so much up in your head. You’re down in your feet. You’re down on the pathway. You’re getting connected to your body and your passage through whatever you’re walking with, or you’re walking on.

K: I love the idea that we’re feeling the earth. When my daughter got married this last weekend, the judge who did the service asked me, who supports this marriage? I thought, it wasn’t just people—it was everything. In the same way we can walk on the earth as if we are the most important thing and the earth is just this receptacle, or we can walk as equal partner, or we can walk as if the earth is the most important thing, kind of like a Chinese landscape painting and we’re just getting a favor from it for a short time

S: Like a blessing or a gift.

K: Yeah.

S: Something that struck me when you were talking about the wedding is that walking is part of the ceremony. People walk down the aisle. They walk out of the church. Walking is a sacred element of the marriage ceremony. Also there have been times when people circumambulate something that’s sacred. Walking—it’s not just in Zen—but walking is a sacred act.

Makena and Jasper

Every Moment
(Kathy Goodwin)

Every moment of every day, every person we meet, is an opportunity to walk the path. How do I remember to remember this?

About Kathy Goodwin

Three Blind Men
(Kim Mosley)

I drove by three blind
men walking down the
street. One had a white
cane. They held onto each
other 4 dear life.

About Kim Mosley

(Ronnie Gaubatz)

I spent some quality time in my garden this morning. My garden is not so much a place to do, but a place to think. I thought about the flowers as I prune them back, trimming off the dead ones so new buds might bloom. It seems a shame to cut off a flower just after it blooms. With a good dose of guilt, I added some weed killer to my soil. I seriously dislike the idea of a weed killer, but I truly hate weeds. I offered my apologies to the environment. Yesterday, I added some cancer killer, round three hundred it seems of chemotherapy, to my body. I hate cancer even more than I hate weeds.

As I water the flowers, I think of the trail of tears that seem to be following me lately. I am blessed with a number of concerned friends who cry for me since this latest season of cancer in bloom. If only tears shed could bring new life the way this garden hose will do for my plants. I both comfort and take comfort in my worried friends. I tell them it’s okay. I remind myself that we are all going through this together. I assure them, and myself, that I’ll fight this time just like I did all the other times before. This is my path, mine and everyone on it with me, my friends, my family, my dear children. I’ll walk it with dignity, courage and hope.

The morning pours on and I weed, I water, I weep and I worry. I pray for strength. I pray for my girls. I give thanks for flowers and friends that cry. After a while, thoughts of errands to run and what’s for dinner interrupt me, and I gather up the cold coffee I forgot to drink when I came down here and the gardening tools and head on up the yard to the rest of the things I’d like to do today. I leave all the sad and sometimes scary thoughts back there in the garden, lying in the warm soil next to the spent buds I had cut back -all of it, just compost.

This is my beautiful path.

May 20, 2011

About Ronnie Gaubatz

Active Thought
(Robert Genn)

The mentally challenging nature of artistic activity may help avoid the inconvenience of early senility. I don't know about you, but a steady diet of crossword puzzles to tune up the mind just doesn't cut it for me. I've got enough mind-benders with my painting.

On the other hand, there's the sedentary nature of our business. Long hours sitting at an easel can be as dangerous as computer work or couch TV. Recent studies by James Levine, a medical researcher at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, have surprised and shocked the conventional wisdom. Specifically aimed at understanding the sources of obesity, sensors placed on the bodies of a wide range of folks with similar diets found that those who moved around more and, most important, stood a lot, tended to stay trim and fit. Levine figures we have to stop thinking of food as the source of fatness and begin to understand that it's inertia that does us in.

People who move around, even nervously, and stand rather than sit, also reap creative benefits. According to Levine, even really bad habits can be somewhat neutralized by sheer movement.

Too Sad for ART
(Kim Mosley)

About Kim Mosley

Kintaro Walks Japan 
(Tyler MacNiven w/commentary by Sarah Webb)

Kintaro Walks Japan tells the video-story of Tyler MacNiven’s 2000-mile hike through Japan. Tyler walks Japan from tip to tip, staying with families who offer him a bed, or camping. His 5-month journey is part adventure and coming of age, part exploration of the country of the Ayumi, the girl he has come to love. His prospective father-in-law had made a walking trip in the Americas (the length of the Americas, 19,000 miles!) and served as an inspiration. (His story is told in George Meegan, The Longest Walk).

Expressive and more than a bit of a clown, Tyler becomes a minor media celebrity. He visits schools and old folks homes, and stays with Japanese families he meets. He says, “I didn’t want to just visit Japan; I wanted to become part of Japan.” Because of his open-heartedness, he does seem to come part of the lives of the people he met. As Tyler says, “If you give yourself to the journey, your journey gives itself to you.” Tyler seems to find it easy to open to another culture and to new experiences. He describes an early encounter with friends on the road: “I had never tasted beer, even in college, but I figured since this was my spiritual quest I had better say yes to everything.”

The physical demands of travel are more challenging. At times the prospect of a thousand-something miles ahead is daunting. At four months in, in a period of deep fatigue, he explains why he hasn’t been taking days to rest from walking: “I was afraid if I stopped, I wouldn’t be able to take it up again.” He has to persevere through his exhaustion.

Tyler says of the process of walking, “It’s healthy, it’s natural, and it can’t be rushed. If you’re walking at 3 miles per hour, it really gives you time to interact with what’s happening around you. If you’re driving you can just speed by everything without really taking it in. But walking, you can see every turn, you can look at the trees, watch the clouds, feel the winds, see the insects, smell every smell. And, my favorite, you can interact with the people.”

Kintaro’s journey shows how walking can help us open to the richness of what is right in front of us.

About Tyler MacNiven

Glory ... Amen ... Glory ... 
(Annie Dillard)

“ left foot says 'Glory,' and my right foot says 'Amen!’” —Annie Dillard from A Pilgrim at Tinker Creek

About Annie Dillard

(Kim Mosley)

Andy Warhol stopped
walking and used a
wheelchair. After many
days up & down stairs
I'm going to do some-
thing extreme like just
float yogi-style. Start-
ing tomorrow—maybe.

Float away

No more stair-
About Kim Mosley

Encouraging Words from Tassajara
(Kosho McCall)

Stay as present as you can. Each time you see you’ve strayed from the present, rejoice! It is prajna that sees this so what you ordinarily might have called a failure and berated yourself is actually a victory. Clear seeing of what’s happening is wisdom—each coming back is compassion.

We are here to drop away body and mind To drop away body and mind we have to employ body and mind ardently and with great effort. There is no control in this effort. Control only leads to suffering. There is only willingness, a willingness to meet each moment with a fresh, open mind and a forgiving and courageous heart. The Buddha Way, the Way of True Reality is right before us; it’s right behind us; it’s above us and below us; it surrounds us, it fills us; we’re in it, we’re on it. Let’s do it.

Here we are. Each of us tiny monks, sitting on our tiny zafus in this tiny building, nestled in this tiny valley, on the edge of this tiny planet somewhere in a rather small galaxy; waiting for the morning star—when the whole universe awakens to its own heart in each one of us.

“If force doesn’t work, use more force.” Sometimes it works; sometimes it makes things worse. Buddha tried by sheer force of will and determination to break through suffering. It didn’t work; it made things a little bit worse. In the midst of his despair, he remembered sitting under the tree as a little boy. He applied that same compassion to everything that arose—opening, accepting without judgment. The clouds of delusion in his mind parted. He became radiant.

The Buddha said ”We are what we think, all that we are arises with our thoughts; with our thoughts, we make our world.” Everything we see, hear, think, etc., is like an inkblot. We put our own spin on it. No wonder cognitive therapy works: when we change our thoughts, we change our world.

I’ll tell you where you can find it. It’s the place of non-thinking. It’s where there is no involvement, no affair, no good, no bad, no pro or con, no movement, no gauging.

I’ll tell you where you can find it. It’s that space between the thoughts. —Even though it seems tiny, it’s really as big as this room, this valley, this earth, bigger. The space between the thoughts. Give it some attention, watch it grow. Know the end of suffering.

What causes suffering? Perhaps it’s trying to avoid suffering. If that’s so, enter the buddhafield where everything is accepted completely in an atmosphere of compassion just as it is. In the center of the buddhafield sits a serene Buddha surrounded by flower petals. Guess who that Buddha is.

Greed arises: Something out there will make me happy. Hate arises: Something out there, if I get rid of it, then I’ll be happy. Delusion arises: Something is confusing me. Put awareness to it with curiosity, tenderness, gentleness, compassion. What do you find? Greed turns to generosity; hate to kindness, delusion to wisdom.

Some express disappointment saying they expected we’d be stricter here. The practice here is very strict—for those who are willing, dedicated, and committed to waking up.

Most of us have “left home” because of some special sensitivity that didn’t feel “at home.” We have made “our home” here only to continue to discover there is no home; that everything is always changing, adapting to arising circumstances.

Watch a squirrel balancing on a small branch. That animal has and continues to evolve to meet its changing world—its eyes, fingers, tail, metabolism always adapting so that life (changing) continues within an always-changing form and context.

There is no home, nothing to stand on, nothing that isn’t changing. And this we can rely on and make our home—the home that is no-home.

I stand looking up at the canopy of the night sky. I hear that if I were to go straight up I would go on forever, arriving back at the same place. In the zendo we are plumbing the depths of the Self, and because there’s nothing there, we go deeper and deeper forever, until we come right back here, back to the Self. It is as vast and limitless an inner space as any outer space. Don’t know how it is out there, but this True Self is full of peace and joy.

Mind and body becoming One: the Mind, our attention; the Body, our breathing and posture. Attention to breath and posture—Mind and Body becoming One. Doing simple things: sitting, walking, eating, working, resting. Meeting each moment with acceptance, which goes beyond the One and the Many. Opens the true heart: kind, compassionate, tender, forgiving. Opens the true mind: vast, all-inclusive, boundless. True Self revealed: moments of pure joy, moments of complete freedom at the center of it all.

About Kosho McCall

It's Hard 
(Kim Mosley)

We are dogsitting now.
We just walked the little Maya
so I needed to take a little break.
I really was the one holding
the leash.
About Kim Mosley

Thousand Year Old Footsteps in the Snow 
(Maku Mark Frank)

I step outside and watch the snow fall
From darkness into light.
The others have already gone
For dinner in the mess hall.
But the cold feels too good on my face
Not to linger for awhile.

It felt good this morning, also,
After we’d rousted ourselves from slumber at 3:40
To sit straight-backed,
With palms together—
Facing our respective walls
By the time the teacher made his rounds at 4:05.
And after two hours of absolute and utter stillness
Overlaid with daydreams,
And sleepdreams,
And stomach-growling yearning for the bell,
And wondering if I’d make it through the day,
And wondering why the hell I’m doing what I’m doing,
I stumbled out into the pre-dawn blackness
To see a shining silver sickle of a moon,
And Jupiter,
And the black sky—
As black as anything can be.

Ah, but that was light years ago ...
That was this morning.
And anything that is not right now might as well be light years away.
Oh, sure, I’ve glimpsed that absolute and utter stillness
A number of times throughout the day,
But this is why I do this:
So that I can step outside and see the world
With brand new eyes—
Eyes without a “me” to tell me what I’m seeing.

So I hobble though the snow
On my zazen-weary legs,
Leaving thousand year-old footprints in the snow.
And as far as what all this amounts to
Once these bones are in the ground,
And how the hell my sitting facing a wall
For over eleven hours a day
Can make the world a better place ...
Well, I kind of like to think of all of this
Zazen after zazen after zazen
As stitching together the pieces of a robe
To someday be worn
By my great-great-great-great
Granddaughter in the Dharma
As she steps outside into the night
To watch the snow fall
From darkness into light
Before gliding like a shadow to the mess hall
Leaving thousand year old footsteps in the snow.

About Maku Mark Frank

Contributors to this Issue

Krishna Bhattacharyya has been writing and meditating for about 10 years now. She is originally from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. She loves nature, and likes to write and sing about it.

Edward Espe Brown is a former tenzo at Tassajara, author of Tassajara Cookbook and other books. He received Dharma Transmission from Mel Weitsman and is founder and teacher of Peaceful Sea Sangha. He taught a recent weekend at the Austin Zen Center and at that time wrote the message we have included in Just This.

Maku Mark Frank is a member of Missouri Zen Center in St. Louis. His poem “Thousand Year Old Footsteps in the Snow” was inspired by sitting sesshin at Sanshinji.

Ronnie Gaubatz blogs at about motherhood, relationships, and making a life with breast cancer. The selection comes from her blog, Glass Half Full.

Robert Genn, is recognized as one of Canada's most accomplished painters, and his work is well known internationally. While he has painted in many countries, he is perhaps best known for his work portraying his native Canada. Receive his twice-weekly art-letters by going to:

Kathy Goodwin writes, "I just turned 65. I don't feel older, but it feels like some kind of milestone. I want to travel but have no plans yet except to attend my daughter and son-in-law's joint 40th birthday in Denmark. I would like to return to Tassajara as a work study student in the summer season, to visit my aunt and cousins in LA who I haven't seen for more than 40 years, to walk in Ireland, Scotland and/or England, to see Angkor Wat and Yellowstone, and to canoe part of a river.

Xianyang Carl Jerome studied under Zenshin Philip Whalen Roshi at the Hartford Street Zen Center in San Francisco and is now a student of Master Ji Ru of the Mid-America Buddhist Association in Chicago. He teaches at the North Shore Meditation and Dharma Center in Highland Park, IL. He is a friend of Kim Mosley.

Kosho McCall has shared with us “Encouraging Words for the Path” from his Tanto’s talk late at night in sesshin. Kosho practiced at San Francisco Zen Center for 20 years. He trained for 12 of those years at Tassajara Zen Mountain monastery where he became Head of Monastic Practice. Kosho received Dharma Transmission (authorization to teach) from Zenkei Hartman Roshi in 2003 and became Teacher at Austin Zen Center in May of 2009.

Tyler MacNiven’s video, Kintaro Walks Japan, which tells the story of his walking trip from one tip of Japan to the other, was recommended by former AZC resident, Koji Shinjaku.

Kim Mosley, a co-editor of Just This, was born in Chicago in 1946. He taught at School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Bradley University, Southern Methodist University, Lindenwood University and St. Louis Community College (where he was also Dean of Liberal Arts). His work is in collections including the Art Institute of Chicago, the Dallas Museum of Fine Arts, and the Center for Creative Photography in Tucson. His blog, Diaristic Notations, has over 1300 posts of writing and art.

Sarah Webb, a co-editor for Just This, is an English professor retired from the University of Science and Arts of Oklahoma, where she is the editor of poetry and fiction for the interdisciplinary magazine, Crosstimbers. Her teacher is Albert Low of the Montreal Zen Centre. She spends her winters tutoring ESL and writing and her summers traveling the West in her van.

Nancy Webber’s photo of the Buddha in the garden reflects her involvement in making the grounds at AZC an inspiring part of practice at the Center. To this task she brought her experience as a landscape designer and interest in a Texas regional interpretation of the zen garden. Nancy volunteers with central Texas environmental causes and is restoring a 60 acre tract of tall grass prairie in southern Milam County where she hopes to live some day in community with other zen practitioners.

Pat Yingst, who wrote of stepping off a 100-foot pole in this issue, began doing Zen meditation in 1988 and has been a member of Austin Zen Center since its inception. She has seven years experience teaching meditation in prisons and is active in the Austin intra-Buddhist prison volunteer organization, Inside Meditation. She served as co-editor for the first five years of Just This. She is partially retired from BMC Software Company, where she still works three days a week as a software developer.