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December 29, 2015

Watching Fire: A Reflection from Abbess Eijun Linda Cutts

This year the abbatial leaders focused on the power of fire in their year-end message, encouraging us to be careful with fire in order to promote its benefits and mitigate harmful effects. On New Year’s Eve, our tradition at both City Center and Green Gulch includes a bonfire, which is tended carefully after midnight.

Below, Central Abbess Eijun Linda Cutts offers another useful perspective on fire for this time of year:

Fire_teisho_comboI was remembering growing up in a house that had a fireplace in it in Minnesota, and in the winter wed have a fire in the fireplace. I could just sit by the fire and just watch the fire, for hours really. Watching the flames, watching them moving and changing colors–theres greens and blues and yellows and sounds and different shapes. In that same way I thought: oh, thats just sitting steadfast, watching, not ignoring, completely being present with our life and all those movements.

When we say follow the breath, or unify body, breath and mind, its not a rigid sort of stuckness; its unifying in movement, in stillness and movement (theres movement in stillness). And when you do kinhin: stillness in movement, or walking throughout the day. So while were sitting immovably, to notice all the movement thats there, in the immovability. And following the breath: its staying with movement, wherever you feel it.


Excerpted from a dharma talk on December 3, 2012, at Green Gulch Farm Zen Center, titled Buddha’s Enlightenment Touching the Earth.

Photos by Shundo David Haye