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Not Standing Out


Let’s all take care of our practice in these midsummer days.  Doing the Buddha’s practice makes everything better.

Part of that is not trying to stand out.  Dogen says

Standing out has no benefit; being different from others is not our conduct. 

When we want to stand out, it’s usually about ego.  We want to be special or different because we want to be noticed and rewarded.  We dress to impress others with our coolness.  We make sure everyone knows how smart we are, how hard we’re working. We want others to admire us or give us stuff.  We’re not doing it to help the situation.  We’re doing it for ourselves.

The previous abbot of Zuioji, Ikko Narasaki Roshi, used to tell us that when we were all lined up with our shaved heads and identical robes at formal tea, he could see who we really are.  Young people in Tokyo thought they were expressing themselves with their clothes and behavior, but they were just imitating each other.  They thought they were being themselves, but they were being their idea of who they were.

I love the Iowa prairie – it teaches about not being remarkable.  The picture I included here of one of our prairie reserves is a little small, but I think we can still see the various plants.  There are blue and lavender flowers, grass seeds, trees, and other things growing together.  Each is different, but rather than trying to stand out and draw our attention, each contributes to the whole.  Looking closely, we see that each plant is remarkable and beautiful in itself.  Truly, it doesn’t need to especially stand out to draw our appreciation. It is a jewel in the midst of other jewels, all supporting each other, being a prairie.

Let’s be like this in our daily life.  Rather than standing out according to our ideas of who we want to be, let’s stand out as who we are.  Let’s see where we fit and function fully in that place, bring wellbeing to everything.  Let’s offer who we are rather than an artificially-constructed shell.  If we are an imperfect person with many problems, let’s offer that person to the functioning of the world.  Who knows?  Our imperfections and problems could be helpful somewhere. 

Whoever we are is just fine.  We are one of those jewels, remarkable and beautiful in itself, that make up this world.  We are a jewel in the summer prairie ― there’s no need to be any more than that.

― Zuiko

You can find Dogen’s words in Sugawara, Kenshu, “Dojo Daishu Ichinyo” (In activity and stillness, at one with the community) in Sotoshu Basic Key Terms  at https://www.sotozen.com/eng/.

The original is in Dogen’s Pure Standards for the Zen Community, translated by Taigen Leighton and Shohaku Okumura, p. 63.


Zuiko sits in the zendo at every zazen period listed below.  Please sit with her whenever you can.  Just sitting quietly can be helpful in times like these.

Sunday zazen and dharma talk are live-streamed on Zoom.  Contact us if you’d like the link.

Our Monday night dharma discussion group is continuing through Zoom.   If you’re interested in joining, please contact the Center.

You can connect with us through email or phone.  And you can listen to our dharma talks online and read our posts on Facebook.  To find the dharma talks, click on the “Resources” tab above, and you’ll see the link.

Upcoming Events

Monday Night Dharma – by Zoom – Monday nights , 7:00– 8:00 p.m.  Contact us for the link.

Introduction to Zazen – by Zoom – Wednesday, June 16 , 7:30 – 9:00 p.m.  Contact us for the link.

All-day Sitting — June 20, 5:00 am to 4:40 pm — please register

Sangha Meeting June 27

Weekday Activities

Noon Zazen

Tuesday, Wednesday, and Friday
12:15 – 12:55 zazen

Evening Zazen

Tuesday evenings – 20 minute zazen periods
6:30 – 6:50 zazen
6:50 – 7:00 kinhin
7:00 – 7:20 zazen
7:20 – 7:30 kinhin
7:30 – 8:00 zazen

Wednesday and Thursday evenings – 40 minutes zazen periods
6:30 – 7:10 zazen
7:10 – 7:20 kinhin
7:20 – 8:00 zazen

Weekend Activities

Sunday zazen – by Zoom

9:00 –  9:40 sitting
9:45 – 10:15 dharma talk
10:15 – 11:00 check in and discussion

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Quote of the week

Feel as a Meditator
There might be periods—a year or even two—when we can’t get to the cushion, but that doesn’t mean we have to give up . . . We can still carry meditation inside, still see and feel as a meditator, but physically practice differently.


From  The Great Spring: Writing, Zen, and This Zigzag Life 

by Natalie Goldberg

CEDAR RAPIDS ZEN CENTER 1618 Bever Avenue SE Cedar Rapids, IA