One Pine Hall Newsletter March 31, 2013


A Community of Soto Zen Buddhists in Seattle Washington

Issue 29                                                                                                         

  March 31, 2013


Hello friends,


A one leg woman

In wild abandonment

Dances in the rain


Today is Easter Sunday and I am struck by the idea of reincarnation.  Like many American Soto Zen practitioners I was raised as a Christian.  As we moved about regularly (my father was a carpenter not a solider) I attended different churches.  Whichever church was nearby.  While in high school I attended a small country church and actually was considering attending a Christian college but that is another story.  Today I am thinking about the resurrection of Christ and the promise that all good Christians will be reborn in heaven.


Resurrection, reborn, reincarnation.  To be able to have a chance for another life.  Reincarnation is one of the big questions of Buddhism.  I grew up learning about reincarnation as a popular concept.  We lived as a famous or important person in a past life was a common theme in the tabloid papers that could be picked up at the checkout counter in the grocery store. 


Later, I remember reading Hindu writings about the Law of Karma and reincarnation suggesting that people who do good go on to live a good next life or if a person lives a bad life they will go on to a bad next life.  Finally I came to understand that within the Vedic traditions it is thought that we have been separated from the ‘Source’ or ‘Godhead’ and the process of rebirth is viewed as hell.  To continue to be born separate from the ecstasy of unification.  So the teachings suggest that one has to live a good life in order to be reborn/reincarnated into a better life which will eventually lead to unification with the source.

Over time with the help of our Soto Zen elders I have come to consider the idea of rebirth/reincarnation as a process within the context of unfolding of life moment by moment.  It is said that Karma is the actions we take and the fruits of our actions are experienced either immediately or later or in future generations to use Dogen’s 3 times structure.


We arrive at this moment with the inertia of all history back to birth of the universe.  As the song goes we are all just star dust.  Then we have the biological imperative to live.  We are indebted to our ethnic history, our genetic heritage, and the time and culture of our birth which contributes to the story of our life.  Then we are conditioned by the experiences of our life to this moment.  In this very moment we have an inertia for how we will act.  Our action in this very moment will contribute to future inertia and choices.  We might experience the fruits of our action this very moment immediately such as in the look in someone’s face, or a sore thumb, or laugh.  Or we might experience it as the layered context of our life as it continues to unfold, distrust from our friends, an offer of a new job, marriage or divorce. And then there is the fruits in future generations, environmental devastation, social upheaval, changes in state laws or municipality rules.   


But our practice suggests that in this very moment we are free to be and act outside of the inertia that led to this very moment.  Just as we sit upright sensations arise, leading to thoughts to fantasies but we can follow these fruits of karma or we can just sit and allow the inertia of our Karma exhaust itself which will create more opportunities of freedom in this very moment.  The liberation that Buddhism talks of.


May our practice lead all beings to liberation.




One Pine Hall      


425 23 Ave S. #114

Seattle WA 98144


Sundays 7:00pm – 8:30pm (40 minute of sitting, 20 minute talk, short service, and tea)


Please call to let me know if you are planning to attend

            Robby Ryuzen Pellett




Seattle Soto Zen Center in Fremont.  They have sittings on Sunday mornings from 9:30 to noon.


Or with the EcoSangha, who meet Thursday evenings in the Chapel at Seattle University

Or with Red Cedar Zen Community in Bellingham Washington

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