November 7, 2001


9月11日の悲惨なテロの2日後のU.S.A.の禅僧侶の心

あるアメリカの方が日本の友人に出された手紙に添付されたU.S.A.の禅僧侶のこころです。 アメリカで不幸な事件が発生した2日後に、禅僧侶が、関係各位に送られたおこころを、 みなさまと分かち合いたいと想うところからご紹介させていただきます。

しかしながら、ここに表現されている事が仏教の全てではありません。あくまで一人のアメリカ の禅僧侶の思いや考え方を紹介させて頂くだけです。この禅僧侶が持ち合わせておられる 仏教の理解や解釈が平均的日本の人々の日常生活でまったく意識されていないと思われます。 精神的により豊かな明日のために、真理を追求しながら、日々を送って下さることをお奨めしたい と思います。思慮深い一人一人の思いが日本の社会を、そして世界をより良いものに作り上 げて行く事が出来、仏教の教えはその原動力になると思います。ブッダの教えは生きる智慧であり、 実践行動そのものであるからです。

人は、唯一人では生きられない。多くの人や物に支えられ生かされることによって生きて いる。その恩に報いる道は、人を生かしものを生かすことである。人の痛みが我が痛み と感じられる自分。日常生活において、己が霊魂の進歩向上浄化への意識がはたらいている。 何処にいても何をしていても大自然の素晴らしさに感嘆し、その偉大な恵みの全てと地球上 のすべての命の存在に対してごく自然に心から感謝ができている。これらのことが心の浄化 への道ではないでしょうか。



To all the visitors,

An American .visited Japan in October 2001 and wrote a letter to one of my friends with a Dharma Talk hereunder introduced. The contents are full of wisdom for all the people to get to know a certain phase of Buddhism way of accepting the reality.

None the less, be more open-minded and most sure to kindly note that the deeper/fundamental Buddhism is much more simply practiced and realised by all human beings at all places/corners of the world, in comformity to the real/deeper leaning of   "Truth"   that underlies all existance; that naturally/spontaneously make all human-beings really "having enlightened minds", facing up daily with the grand total of the "Nature" in the deepest/heartfelt/mind-welleffected understandings.. Buddhism is understanding of the Nature/Value of Lives/Entire Families of all the human-beings and creatures of the world, and "Actual Behavior" of human-beings to give, and to love, where others' pains and sorrow become one's own pains and sorrow. Not, never, buddhism is a philosophy, neither a psychology nor an accademic subject to learn. Buddhism is wisdom for the corse of human life and realistic behaviors

One can not live alone. We are bressed to be alive being supported and/or made to be alive by the countless number of people, commodities, and grand total of the Nature. The only way for us to express our heartfelt appreciation and thanks and gratitude in reality of our ordinary day life is that we try and strive hard to make such people, commodities, and the grand total of Nature "Worth Existing". Being as the naked innocents and ignorants are apt to be led to distraction of mind, and destruction of the grand total of the Nature.

We are the world, and the world is a garden of life, making balances in harmony.

Sincerely yours,



Kenji Hashgimoto
Web Energy Bird net "Webird"


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I thought I might share with you some insights spoken to our zen community 2 days after the NY tradgedy and now a war. This is the zen mind viewpoint of events such as this. Reading this I am consoled, yet inspired to continue to practice the Buddha Way,the Great Way, not so much as "religion", but as a life of wisdom and kindness; studying this ''self'' by meditation and sharing the fruits of this meditation with others everyday.

Arigatogozaimashita, Palms together.

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Finding Stability in the Midst of Instability
Dharma Talk by Jan Chozen Bays Roshi,
Teacher, Zen Community of Oregon

Given on September 13, 2001, two days after the terrorist attacks


In this time of what seems like profound instability, it is very important that we strength our practice and come to sit and support each other. Hogen and I received the news of the terrorist attacks during a silent retreat on Whidbey Island, outside of Seattle in the Puget Sound. It is a very peaceful place where the new One Drop Zen Monastery is under construction. It includes sixty five forested acres and a lovely pond with lotuses floating on the water.

We had been soaking in silence for five days when, on Tuesday, the head monk came into the zendo and reported the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center towers and the Pentagon. All of you, I'm sure, have very clear images in your mind of exactly where you were and what was happening when the news was brought to you.

We continued the retreat uninterrupted. Because he was Harada Roshi's attendant, Hogen was assigned to watch TV and was the only one who saw the actual images. The rest of us, however, were watching the TV in our minds. Or, trying not to watch the TV in our minds, trying not to let in all the intrusive images that the imagination can create. When a dramatic tragedy occurs, it becomes very obvious what the mind is doing. Images of terror are not cloud-like warm thoughts that subtly steal their way into the mind. They are very compelling, sharp and acutely disturbing. This makes it easy to detect when the mind is not resting in the present moment, but has moved to another place and time.

Questions came up in the mind like, "Who? Who did this?" So far the news media have been appropriately careful in saying that they did not know who was responsible but the mind wants to grasp at something. "If I could figure out who it was then I can figure out how to be safe from that kind of person." I found myself thinking, "Well, I hope they don't turn out to be Zen Buddhists." The very word 'they' immediately reveals the source of terrorists and acts of terrorism. When the mind is cloudy it divides the world into me and everything else. As soon as we make that division into "me" in here and "they" out there, we don't quite trust each other anymore. We can't trust others to keep us safe and happy all the time because they are outside and different. We can't even trust our own self to always react with wisdom and compassion to whatever comes our way. In the midst of retreat-induced feelings of loving kindness and clarity, here was a big challenge. Could we react with wisdom and compassion to this assault? The source of all of our conflicts and division, is contained in this sentence that arose in my mind; "I hope it's 'them,' and not me or us".

But of course, 'they' fundamentally are me. We all begin in the same way, as two microscopic cells that come together, whether in an act of love or an act of rape. They come together, they unite, they begin to divide. They go through an incredible process of division and differentiation, and become a baby. We all begin in the same way. We all end in the same way, when our cells stop functioning together. This great cessation of our functioning, of this family of cells that we call 'us,' may happen after a few flickering moments, weeks or years of life. It ends the same way for everyone of us. Victims, terrorists, every single one of us begin and end in the same way. On . . . . .off. On . . . . . . . . . . off.

All the terrorists were born as naked innocent babies. They were not born as terrorists. They were not born evil. Terrorists are not evil people, they are human beings who commit evil acts. We all recognize the innocence of babies, no matter what their nationality, their skin color, or their religion. We love babies for their innocence.

None of us were born evil. All of us were born naked and innocent. When did we become not innocent? By what means did we become capable of committing evil acts? We have to trace this back to its source, as the Buddha did all forms of suffering. Only when we know the source do we know what can be done about it.

We become capable of committing harmful acts by means of cultivation, nourishing the seeds of harmful acts within us. Harmful acts, whether of body or mouth, all come from thoughts. Their source is thoughts. The Buddha said, "Whatever a person thinks, that is what he becomes." What we are today is the result of what we have thought in the past. What we think now creates who we will be in the future. It is by the power of harmful thought that harmful actions arise. A person who frequently thinks of evil and harm has turned away from freedom in order to cultivate themselves as harmful. Hatred begets hatred. Love nourishes love.

We can take a child and through our speech, through our actions, through our thoughts, turn them into what we want them to become. The difference between us and the terrorists is the circumstances under which we were born and raised. If we were born in poverty, if we had been witness to repeated acts of violence and cruelty, if we had experiences of terror from an early age, any one of us now could be a person with a heart of malice and hatred. Our desire would be to close down and to strike out rather than to open up and embrace. If our parents had abandoned us, or, even worse, told us that we were useless and it would have been better if we had died, then a group that took us in and gave us a purpose in life would be the fierce focus of all our love.

On the radio I heard an interview with a psychologist who had been crossing the George Washington Bridge when the first plane hit the tower. Everyone thought it was an accident. Traffic was stopped so they got out of their cars to watch. As they lined up along the railing of the bridge another plane flew in to hit the second tower. They all realized that it wasn't an accident, and the full implications entered their minds. The psychologist observed that everyone's first reaction was anger. This is our natural reaction to the feeling of helplessness. In an emergency there is a strong energy of desire to help. There is also a strong feeling of fear and, under that, sadness at our vulnerable and helpless condition. Fear and sadness have to be put aside in order to respond well in a crisis. When we cannot help, all these thwarted energies combine to produce frustration and anger.

The people on the bridge had no where they could go. All they could do was stand and watch in horror at what was happening. Their second reaction was to move closer together. All standing in parallel, witnessing, coming closer and closer together. All over the United States people are more sad, but also more open with each other. Neighbors and strangers speak with a new honesty; they touch, comfort, listen and help each other. Our hearts are open. We share a common sorrow.

People speak now of functioning at two levels. On one level they are going about their ordinary lives. Underneath that is an ongoing awareness of the tragedy. Millions of people are now are continuously aware of the First Noble Truth, that to live as human being means to suffer. We thought it applied to everyone except Americans. We now see the truth. We are naked and vulnerable beings, faced with the inherent chaos and unpredictability of the world. When the veil is rent and we face that truth our first reaction is anger. If we stay still and witness then our second response is compassion, to draw closer together, to support and care for each other.

It was also interesting to watch the mind that began to think, "How? How did they do this?" The mind begins to ponder, how, armed only with a utility knife, would I disable a pilot or frighten passengers into immobility? The mind becomes intrigued. As we follow those thoughts we enter the mind of the terrorist, who delights in figuring out how to do these things. Or, we could enter the mind of the FBI and CIA, who must think like terrorists. That is their job. We find our mind moving in those horrifying directions and realize, no I don't want to go there. We move away from those thoughts. But what about the FBI who have to think and sometimes act like terrorists in order to stop terrorism? How do FBI agents go home at night to their children and families when all day long their mind has been running down the channels of the mind of the terrorist? When do "we" become 'they?'

We heard that approximately six thousand people had died. The mind cannot stretch to include that many people dead at once. In our memorial service we divided the victims up so that each one of us held one hundred people in our hearts as we meditated on a candle flame. When we blew out our candle we imagined our hundred falling down, never to rise again. Together we could hold the whole. We sat in the dark for a time, acknowledging the darkness that has settled upon us with this tragedy. Then we rekindled our candles from the light on the altar, bringing the hope of spiritual life back into our midst.

My mind also said, "Oh now we Americans know how it is to face terror and fear of attack." As we meditated those first days after the attack we became very aware that the air was silent. There is a background of noise from airplanes that we've become unaware of, not unlike the background of humming thought activity in the mind. We became acutely aware when the military planes from the bases on Whidbey Island began to fly overhead. There was an instinctive withdrawal, a wincing every time we heard a plane go over in the long and large silence of retreat. Whose airplane is it? What is it about to do?

I realized how many people live with that feeling all the time, or have in the past because of us. Hiroshima....The Vietnam War...The Gulf War...How many people lived in fear of every plane that flew over? I thought, "Ah, now Americans can't be so smug and self satisfied." I realized, oh, this also is the thought of the terrorist mind, to reduce us from our high place, to bring us down to the place where we have put them. This is revenge mind. If we are brought to hold the mind of revenge by these terrorist acts then the karma of barbaric acts will continue forever. We have to face the truth. This is how others have felt about us. We have to face the truth that the terrorists have something very important to tell us about our own selves. This is how the Japanese felt when we bombed Hiroshima, and they woke up, day after day, to the horror of thousands of lives lost in a few moments. Revenge mind is Americans spitting on Muslims and defacing their places of worship. Once it was the Japanese, now it is Muslims who fear internment. How do we practice to remove the clouding effects of our revenge mind?

We trusted that if we were happy Americans who gave occasionally to charities, ate organic food and meditated, that people would like us and we would be safe. Now we find that, not only do some people hate us, they want to kill us. How could people not like us? We are shocked to feel ourselves victims of prejudice.

An interesting thing to do is to place this whole calamity in the category of "natural disaster." If this were the eruption of Mount St. Helens that had killed six thousand people, would the mind feel differently about it? The answer is yes. We do feel differently when intention is not involved. Even children know the difference between "on accident" and "on purpose." The Buddha taught that all karma arises from volitional acts. But at its bottom this is a natural disaster. It is the natural result of human greed, anger, and ignorance. This is what we can expect - an earthquake, a flood of unleashed anger and passion - when we cultivate greed, anger, and ignorance in ourselves or when we cause it to be cultivated in other people. We cannot excuse what was done. To work for peace does not mean to allow terrorists to take over. Terrorism is the opposite of peace. But even children know that "two rights do not make a wrong."

Earlier is the retreat Harada Roshi had said, "The enlightened mind doesn't think first of me and my family." And, of course, that was our reaction. Our mind reached out immediately to our family members and our friends. Were they safe? Maybe that's our first thought, but then our responsibility is to widen our minds to include the entire human family: children, their mothers, their fathers, their brothers, their sisters, their uncles, their aunts, their grandparents, everywhere. A commentator on National Public Radio said, "Families in Kabul are no more guilty of this then we are." We must not take revenge against them. Our responsibility is to widen our minds to the entire human family. Our responsibility is to show support for true practitioners of all religious faiths. When humans combine fanaticism and religion we produce the most potent combination for committing acts of evil. We must not use religion as our dividing line, a crowbar to pry us apart. In Seattle a mosque was defaced. Within hours a large group of people of all faiths had brought flowers and gathered to protect the mosque.


For each one of us the essential question has become this: How can I practice stability in a time of great instability?

First, we can take refuge in the Buddha, the Truth that underlies all existence. This Truth is the Peace that passes all understanding and is also, mysteriously and simultaneously, every conflict that has occurred throughout space and time. This Peace includes thousands of wars, deaths and devourings.

To be stable in an unstable world, we must grow a body, heart and mind that is large enough to hold the entirety of this event without shrinking away. We have to hold the unstable, impermanent world. We have to hold the whole human family, victims, terrorists, ourselves, and all the governments of the world. We have to hold a heart big enough to ache and weep with the world, but to also be able to smile with the children who are innocently playing in the streets. Can we let our heart be open in a time that seems so dark?

Second, we can take refuge in the Dharma. The teachings of the Buddha are a very practical help to us now in understanding what is occurring. From our study of ourselves on the cushion we know why this calamity occurred: Greed, anger and ignorance, on the part of all human beings. From our chanting of the Heart Sutra we have some understanding that form IS emptiness, that , people can disappear in an instant into emptiness. We have deliberately practiced awareness of impermanence, a fact of existence that the entire nation is grappling with now.

The Buddha instructed us to be still when overtaken by fear. Our responsibility in times of trouble is to increase, not decrease, our meditation practice. The seeds of anger, indifference, jealousy, and prejudice must be seen clearly as always existing within us, always capable of being nourished by thought. Our practice is to know them well and to watch them carefully. Until we are enlightened they will always be within us. We must not allow them to grow. If terror grows with in us, then the terorists have won. Instead we must grow the antidotes to evil, cultivating the seeds of kindness, compassion, sympathetic joy, and clarity of mind.

Third, we can take refuge in the Sangha. It is important to sit with others as we increase our practice, to call family and friends, to resolve any small issues of anger of misunderstanding in our lives. We can find refuge in the small acts of human life, eating, breathing and talking together. We have precious human bodies, and many now do not. During these weeks the question "How are you?" is not rote. People ask, look each other in the eye and listen more deeply.

The Buddha said that the most important precept is to give. We have been given life energy, for however much longer, minutes, days, weeks, or years. Our task is to give back our life energy generously, even in the face of our feelings of helplessness, hopelessness and vulnerability. Our task is not to let fear cause us to retreat, react, and cause harm. If we can, through practice, remain stable in that place of open hearted clarity that exists in all of us, we affirm what is best and highest in human life, the drive to awaken and to bring all others to awakening.

Thank you for your practice. Palms together,

Jan Chozen Bays