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  • During the last weeks my friend the music professor and Shambala meditation teacher Lance Brunner gave us a workshop that I much enjoyed and afterwards we watched the movie Crazy Wisdom about Chögyam Trungpa, which left me wondering and with a ton of questions in my heart. Now my friends from Danmark filled me up on The Findhorn - Commune, Stan Grof and Ken Wilber.

    I read around in the Internet and each of these teachers has given the world a lot of good and then there also is the darkness, which some seem to carry more of.

    Osho, whom I followed for a while, was a good example. He amassed a ton of money, drove around in 97 Rolls Royce, proclaimed that it was without any value to help others as long as you had not been illuminated. He had sex whenever he wanted with whoever he wanted and women were always ready - as they were for Mao. A lot of bad stuff happened there, but still: he opened my mind for Buddhist teachings and a whole new look on life and that has stayed with me for many decades and I am grateful for that. He was my teacher. At the same time what I learnt then is this: my path is not finding a guru, a lineage - we are all anyways in the lineage of humanity - I have to struggle ahead on my path by myself. I take teachings from many people, some are Buddhists, others Christians, many do not have any special beliefs at all: they are just kind, to others and to themselves as well.

    During the years I have devoured hundreds of books on meditation, a few stick out and I do not forget them, while all the others mix and mingle inside my brain cells. One is Zen - Mind Beginner´s Mind by Shunryu Suzuki and the other two are by Clark Strand. His book THE SEEDS OF A BIRCH TREE is one of the best books of my life and inspired me to write haiku for many years, haiku as a spiritual practice. I did not get very good at it, because it means so much more than just 5 - 7 - 5, but the longer I did it the clearer I saw how very difficult a really good haiku is. My haiku - brains have mostly dried out and given up, but Strand´s book is about so much more than haiku.

    With all these therapists and teachers coming into my life and often giving workshops - for very little money! - I once and again have to remember Strand´s two books:

    The above mentioned THE SEEDS OF A BIRCH TREE and THE WOODEN BOWL

    He writes about a very impressive master he met in his youth: Deh Chun. I never forget that man. He has nestled into my heart forever and reminds me whenever I get lost on my path and that happens a lot of times. Deh Chun can nearly be called an Anti - Master in many ways. He seems to have been an embodied Zen - koan.


    "One morning during the sophomore year of my college, I found that….the bottom had dropped out of my life…That morning I went do the dean´s office and informed him that I was leaving….For the first time in months I laughed.
    The next morning found me seated on a bus to upstate New York, where I had been told was a Buddhist monastery where I might find a Zen – master who could help me find some meaning for my life…

    Ten years later I found myself a Zen – Buddhist monk in charge of a New York City temple where people came to meditate twice a day. I had a shaved head, an impressive set of robes, and was next in line to succeed my teacher, the temple´s abbot. But when I looked in the mirror I no longer recognized the person I saw. All I had wanted in the first place was to find the simple truth about who we are and how we ought to live. Instead, I had found another job, a different set of clothes.
    For another year I continued to oversee the usual daily meditations and silent weekend retreats. But I no longer meditated in the way I had been taught. Instead I asked myself one question: was there a way for people to slow down and experience themselves, their lives and other people in the present moment without adopting a new religious or philosophical ideology?
    We could come back to what we have always known to be most true: that being present to nature, to oneself, and to other people, is the only life there is….take meditation as a kind of hobby, not as a neurotic preoccupation or a job…maintain a spirit of lightness and friendliness with regard to what you are doing…
    “Meditation cannot be taught.” So said my first teacher Deh Chun, an elderly Chinese hermit …” Only learning is possible…sometimes.”
    What he meant is that meditation can only be practiced…When I consider the years of our association; the most remarkable thing is that I cannot recall any particular thing I learnt from him…
    When I think back on it now, I realize that his entire teaching consisted of being in the present moment, with nothing else whatsoever added on.
    Being with Deh Chun was like dropping through a hole in everything that the world said was important – education, progress, money, sex, prestige. It was like discovering that nothing else mattered and all I needed was NOW – the moment – to survive. Sitting there in the little house, listening to the water boil, to the twigs crackling in the wood stove, I was temporarily removed from the game. That was the genius of his teaching, that he could bring forth this transformation without even saying a word.
    His was a state of complete simplicity, like water the direction of his life was downward, always seeking lower ground. He lived in a ramshackle two – room house heated by a wood stove the size of a typewriter. There was no furniture, only a few turned over crates and cardboard boxes in which he kept his clothes. His bed consisted of two sawhorses on top of which he had placed a plywood and a piece of packing foam…
    A similar structure in the other room served as a desk…Propped against the back door were spades, a shovel, and rakes, tools he used to tend a plot of land the size of two king – sized beds laid end to end. With the exception of tea, soybeans, peanut – butter, molasses, and occasional wheat – flour, whatever he ate came from there.
    We could sit in his little house without saying much of anything… He would serve me lunch or sometimes breakfast…and then I would wash up. Afterwards we would talk about his garden, or more likely we would remain silent for a long while, and then it would be time to leave.
    …It was like floating on the Dead Sea and looking up into an empty sky. There was a feeling of tremendous peace and freedom, but that was all. I didn’t know ANYTHING after I was done. Trying to pin him down on any aspect of meditation was as pointless as driving a stake through thin air. He taught one thing and one thing only, and that he taught to perfection: meditation happens now…
    Deh Chun was completely simple. He lived on 50 Dollars a month. He was a Buddhist monk who never spoke of Buddhism, an accomplished landscape – painter who never sold his work. He wore only second – hand clothes and was without pretension of any kind…
    Deh Chun practiced so well he didn´t have to preach at all."


    Art by Kiki
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