All posts tagged: Katharine Kaufman

Katharine Kaufman

The Good Vehicle

By Katharine Kaufman // My father taught me how to move with wind and water. He taught me to read the direction of the wind by turning my cheek, appreciate the lines of the sail and cleats and tiller. He said, watch out, you’re luffing. Luffing is when the sail is not taught; there is bagginess in the bottom triangle of the sail. If the wind was steady, and sea calm, and if it wasn’t too cold, and the current didn’t drag the boat; that was the best thing. Sometimes we’d sing about the drunken sailor as we bailed water with a cut out clorox bottle, watched out for buoys, looked ahead for reefs, shallow places, looked at the sails, horizon, water, my family’s barefeet. ~ When I first learned about Yoga and Mediation I thought when teachers said return to what is happening now, that it was their present moment I should have. That the present was more magical, fancy, mysterious then what my present had to offer. I wanted Richard Freeman’s present moment, …

Practicing Simplicity: Two Teachers on Zen

By Katharine Kaufman and Michael Wood // The beginner’s mind has many possibilities — Shunryu Suzuki The upcoming SMC retreat, “Practicing Simplicity,” is the result of an ongoing conversation between two friends and students of Zen. Katharine’s Zen practice is foundational to her work with Poetry and Contemplative Movement Arts. Michael revels in the paradoxical; learning from ontological and cultural engagements with Dharma Art and Zen philosophy. It is through our shared intuitive appreciation for the beauty of fragility and contingency of expression that we have come together to offer this weekend introduction to Zen retreat. Please join us in discovering the simplicity of Zen practice.  Michael says: In the Sôtô Zen tradition, the primary practice is shikantaza- or “just sitting.” While we do not sit as a means to an end, through the process of sitting, we find that as our thoughts settle and a  glimpse of the non-dual nature of reality reveals itself, awareness and the ability to concentrate on the precision of forms and transience of the present arises. In doing so, experience is once again …

Patience

By Katharine Kaufman // In 1965 I was 7. On certain nights my parents sat at the dining room table with their lists and three by five cards. “I am trying to be patient!” my mother says. Her voice has some authority, like she is the only one working at it. Patience itself is impatient. The act of trying is lonely and it split us from each other. Impatience turns to fear, anger. Why won’t this be like I want? My father’s patience transformed to face twitches, shoulder shrugs, and sighs. He tosses up his hands, walks from the room.                                                       ~ The man answering the phone says his name, Kaylin, with equal emphasis on the Kay and lin. The name means meadow, water, pool. Kaylin mumbles and stutters. Interesting choice, being the answer- the- calls- guy for the credit union, I think. After a first rush of irritation, I decide to like Kaylin.  His voice sounds like he has water in his mouth, plus the stutter. I ask him to repeat. I put more attention into …

The New Face of Yoga

By Katharine Kaufman //                                                         After great pain, a formal feeling comes – *                                                                                                  ~Emily Dickinson The shock of the announcement runs through my body. I wake at three or so on alternate nights and stay awake. The other nights the book falls out of my hands and words on the page mix with dream images. When I turn the light off I am narrow with shock and fear. I sing the song my mother sang—when you awake you will find all the pretty little horses. The lullaby goes on to describe the colors and types of the horses. Maybe it was about dreaming horses. All that happens in the song is the girl stops crying and sleeps and in the morning she will have horses. It carried me …

Katharine Kaufman

The Architecture of Love

By Katharine Kaufman // “Living things must disappear, everyone you meet inevitably splits.” — from the Butsu Yuikyôgyô (Jp.) or Buddha’s Last Admonitions Sutra* After Trungpa Rinpoche died Joshua Mulder was asked to care of Rinpoche’s relics. Joshua, along with many, designs and builds the Die Zauberflöte of Stupas. A stupa is a mound of rocks to serve as a home for bones, ashes; a cairn that tells me where to go next on the path I am walking on, especially if it’s foggy or for whatever reason I can’t see ahead. The stupa is a body— my body, the body of the Dharma. A place to practice, and in my case, a place to get warm. January. If the cover of my New Yorker magazine is any indication of what’s to come, it’s going to be a tough month. At Shambhala Mountain Center Joshua leads us up the path to the Great Stupa of Dharmakaya, pausing to remind us to open our senses to the phenomenal world. Damaris, my friend from Oregon, says every time …

The Suffering of Water

By Katharine Kaufman // When I lived on Old Stage road, on morning walks I picked up the heaviest rock I could carry. I took a few steps then dropped it. Pick it up. Hold. Let go. Repeat. Sage, an Australian Shepard mix, had his version of the same game. ~ In 1993 at Jikoji Zen Center I realized there was no end to my self-clinging. After two months I thought I should be done with new ways to suffer. My plan was to be enlightened by the end of my three-month stint. I had no idea what that was. I didn’t know that I was asking for my personal suffering to be exchanged with suffering for others. Four of us sit zazen in silent early mornings, work in the afternoon, and evenings make dinner for anyone who happens to drop by. Then we sit with our new friends. This scratches at my attachment to my darling practice like an old vinyl 45. Sure, I belong. Everyone who wanders in here belongs. In October the …

Yoga Meditation

retreat

By Katharine Kaufman // Of all ridiculous things the most ridiculous seems to me, to be busy—to be a man who is brisk about his food and his work.                                               ~ Kierkegaard Snow falls in the early morning at Hokoji. First bells ring at 5:25. Warm inside. Quiet is palpable. Dim light in Zendo, and snow outside softens, cushions.  I think I hear one snowflake drop.  Even our breaths are quiet, bears in their cove. Then I hear scraping. Really loud! What is that!? I imagine a giant creature. Oh, shoveling. Arthur decides to skip the morning sit and shovel in the dark. REALLY? Can’t we just sit here together? But now Arthur is gone and the memory is dear. …Now I say, dear Arthur. What would it take to let the snow drop all around with no response but to breathe in and breathe out. ~ Ned Hallowell, psychiatrist and author of Driven to Distraction says, “We reach for our devices as if we were grabbing from the bowl of m & m’s on the …

Follow

By Katharine Kaufman // Be soft in your practice. Think of the method as a fine silvery stream, not a raging waterfall. Follow the stream, have faith in its course. It will go it’s own way, meandering here, trickling there. It will find the grooves, the cracks, the crevices. Just follow it. Never let it out of your sight. It will take you. ~Sheng-yen In January 1994 I was lay ordained in the Soto Zen lineage. On my way to Hokoji Zendo I gave Fran Lewis a ride. Fran is an early student of Chogyam Trungpa and best friend of Kobun Chino, Roshi. Fran was the first outwardly outrageous person I met on this Dharma path, long white hair in two thick braids, big glasses, layered and colorful clothes. She says what ever she wants, tells wild funny stories about the 60’s, and cuts through pretention like a Samurai. During the seven-hour drive I have a lot of questions about what I’m in for. “Don’t doubt your Guru!” Fran repeats. In Arroyo Secco Kobun serves …

Wisdom & Compassion

By Katharine Kaufman // It was Kobun Chino’s birthday a few days ago. If he was still alive Fran would give him some birthday money and he’d spend it all at the Pacific Mercantile. Lesley would make him sushi. I would be his assistant, along with others. He’d show up late and drive the president crazy. Zen would be very popular at Naropa. Certain Zen Centers would disapprove of the wild lineage…but they would love Kobun. ~ But he’s not here and we are. I am. ~ In 1994 at the beginning of a three month practice period in the Santa Cruz Mountains, Michael Newhall put his two hands on my back and pushed me up the hill to try to catch Kobun Chino, who was about to drive away. ~ When you want to be on this Soto path you sew a rakasu (the bib like fabric that maybe you’ve seen, sort of short hand for a full robe). I am told in Shakyamuni Buddha’s time people used fabric from piles of discarded cloth. …