Aaron led a discussion of thankfulness.

‘In this week where Americans are celebrating a holiday by gathering with friends and family for a meal and to express thankfulness I was reminded of a family tradition we haven’t observed in a while – going around the table and having each person share something for which they are grateful.

Today I want to express my gratitude for two things – my family and Hakone Zendo. My children, now in their teenage years, will soon be graduating from high school and leaving home. As we celebrated the holiday together this week, I recognized that our time together as a family of four is precious and will change in the coming years. 

Hakone Zendo has been a very positive influence on my life and I am thankful for both the new and long-term students that join us each week. Prior to the pandemic, it was common for us to have a group of ten or less each week. Since the pandemic, we regularly have fifteen to twenty, with a healthy mix of existing students and new faces. The sharing we do each week is inspiring and makes me happy to be part of this community.”

丹田 Tanden / Dan Tien

Shared by Reni.


Dan Tien Your Secret Energy Center by Christopher Markert

Dan Tien in Chinese is in the same location as it is described in Japanese, Hara. In his book, he talks about his own journey on finding the ancient Chinese knowledge about Dan-Tien. The ancient script describes it as “the best place in the body”, it also refers to it as One-Point.

“Taoist teachings reaching back four to five thousand years tell in great detail how to be in touch with the center of vitality and joy, and how to use it as a link with the cosmic power Chi.”

In his personal journal he recalls a pivotal moment.

“When I first explained all this to a friend yesterday, she asked if I had no ambitions or social conscience. Did I want to vegetate in my little world of navel contemplations? On the contrary, I said, I am now more aware than ever of other people’s feelings and needs, simply because I understand myself better. And my life has become more adventurous and colorful since I discovered Dan-Tien. Above all, I have learned to enjoy every minute. My life now has meaning, it makes sense, and I have access to the life force.” Their conversation ended with her strong disagreement and disbelief. “My answers were too simple, she said. A few years ago I had thought so myself. Even now I can hardly believe that life can be so simple, rewarding, and enjoyable.” I wondered about how I know that I have found my alignment within. In the chapter of Our Normal and Natural Condition he explains that “The quality of our life really depends on the quality of our feelings about ourselves and the world at any given moment. Our world looks unpleasant or ugly wherever we lose touch with our Dan-Tien. The same world can be full of love and sunshine when we are centered again.” He shares his ideas and meditation practices throughout the book, it is an insightful introduction to Dan-Tien.

“November 3rd” by Kenji Miyazawa


Nick shared a poem called “November 3rd” by Miyazawa Kenji.

Neither yielding to rain
nor yielding to wind
yielding neither to
snow nor to summer heat
with a stout body
like that
without greed
never getting angry
always smiling quietly
eating one and a half pieces of brown rice
and bean paste and a bit of
vegetables a day
in everything
not taking oneself
into account
looking listening understanding well
and not forgetting
living in the shadow of pine trees in a field
in a small
hut thatched with miscanthus
if in the east there’s a
sick child
going and nursing
if in the west there is a tired mother
going and for her
bundles of rice
if in the south
there’s someone
and saying
you don’t have to be
if in the north
there’s a quarrel
or a lawsuit
saying it’s not worth it
stop it
in a drought
shedding tears
in a cold summer
pacing back and forth lost
a good-for-nothing
by everyone
neither praised
nor thought a pain
like that
is what I want
to be

The Four Noble Truths

Shared by Ann.

Buddism is philosophy, psychology & religion.

Philosophy: Some people see Buddhism as finding a way to lead your life differently.

Psychology: finding and investigating yourself through mindfulness and meditation.

Religion: Certain beliefs. Each sect has different practices, but almost all of them practice The Four Noble Truths.

  1. Suffering
  2. The Cause of Suffering
  3. The Cessation of Suffering
  4. The Path of the cessation of Suffering

Suffering: We all suffer personally, socially, and mentally. Not getting what we desire is suffering.

The Cause of Suffering: When you have greed and crave, there will be suffering. If you don’t accept the situation as is, there will be suffering.

The Cessation of Suffering: Accept what it is and stop craving.

We didn’t discuss the path of the cessation of Suffering.

Nan’s experience with the tea ceremony

Flower arrangement by Raphael

Shared by Nan

During a winter Sesshin in Dallas last year in December,   I was partaking in a tea ceremony with my group. This was a journal from my experience.

During the tea ceremony, I was holding a very small cup … the tea server poured the tea inside my cup … everything was done in a very mindful and graceful manner. Bowing and serving then bowing .

As I looked at the green tea, I started to imagine the labor of love that went into the production of the tea… from the farmers growing the tea, harvesting, selling and preparing for the community.

I touched the cup and felt the warmth on my hands. I smelled the natural aroma rising from the tea.
Inhaling and feeling the goodness of it
exhaling and letting go of all my negative thoughts.

I started sipping the tea… introduced myself to it …getting to know it…  the mild and bitter taste as it touched my mouth …

I heard myself as I swallow each sip of the tea… I kept sipping slowly … every sipping has its distinct sound …

to my surprise … I felt as if there was plenty of tea in the small cup… I kept drinking but there was always more in the cup… it was a cup that just kept on giving … as though it was never empty.. I felt such an abundance!

I felt full from drinking from the cup!  Was the cup ever empty? Was it empty or full ? Am I still talking about the cup or my tummy? I do not know. I do not know yet I continue to smile as I am recalling this one with the tea!

How students should prepare for zazen 坐禅心得 ( zazen kokoroe)

How students should prepare for zazen

Shared by Kaz

In 2012, Rev Ito shared with students how students should be prepared to come to our zendo for zazen. “Rinzai hakone zendo zazen kokoroe”. I added explanations.

  1. 礼儀作法 (reigi saho): Etiquette & be courteous. Students should respect the zendo and other students. Students can clean and set up our zendo where we meditate. To be courteous to others, students can avoid disturbing others by arrive early and try move less during zazen.
  2. 坐してかんがえよ (za shite kangae yo): Just sit. Do not think anything. Don’t think about what you are going to do later today or what happened to you earlier, just sit to be yourself.
  3. 坐をきめよ (za wo kime yo)(座相)zasou: Find your center and sit. Students can move bodies from side to side and front and back to find their center.
  4. 背筋 頭 丹田 (sesuji atama tanden): Let your body to sit. Straighten your spine and align your head. Focus on tanden, 2.5 inches below your navel. Your mind and everything sit in tanden.
  5. 気息を坐らせよ (kisoku wo suwaraseyo):  Control your breath. 1/3 should be inhaling, and 2/3 should be exhaling. Try longer exhaling.
  6. 丹田を落ち着かせここが己の住処なり (tanden wo ochitsukase kokoga onoreno sumika nari):  Focus on tanden. Breathe slowly and abdominally.

Here is recording of teisho by Rev Ito from 7/22/2012.