The Cedar Rapids Zen Center, and its community of peaceful members, stand in solidarity with the brave and sturdy citizens of Ukraine – and with their democratically elected government. The illegal, immoral, brutal and reprehensible invasion of Ukraine by Russian forces is being condemned by a vast majority of the world’s countries. Therefore, we stand with the world, and in our daily sittings, we send out peaceful energy for those innocents suffering so much right now in beautiful Ukraine.

Unsurpassable Identity

Fall leaves

According to Kodo Sawaki Roshi,

All living things live out their own, unsurpassable identity.  Each person can only live out their own life.

Every single one of us has an unsurpassable identity.  We moan about it, while all along we’re carrying it around with us.

To practice the way of Buddha means to manifest within yourself your own identity, which is unsurpassable in the entire universe.

We each have our own unsurpassable identity. It’s miraculous and unique, with no other like it. There is nothing above it.  Only we can live this unique identity, this life.  Only we can unfold the flower of this miraculous being that is us with our thoughts and our actions.

We often don’t notice that we’re a miracle, like the first green things in spring.  Rather than appreciating who we are, we want to be someone else – someone we think is better.  We sometimes feel that we’re flawed, inadequate, and undeserving.  As we moan about all that’s wrong, let’s remember how unsurpassable our life is.  It’s the only one like it.

We’re a perfect example of this person right here.  We’re neither good nor bad,  neither better or worse.  A faded leaf with brown spots is perfect as a faded leaf with brown spots and a green leaf is perfect as a green leaf.  A small yellow pointed leaf is not less than a large round green leaf, and it’s not more, either.  Each has its own identity which offers something to reality right now.  Each one of us is just this person, offering this identity to our world.  When we fail, let’s mourn our failure then try again, rather than moaning about it or feeling incapable.  We are this unsurpassable identity who can do this. 

Though it’s up to us to think and act, we don’t do it alone.  Success often happens when we listen to and act on others’ advice.  We’re able to think and act because we’re part of and supported by all things.  We’re the universe expressing itself as this being right here.   Perhaps the universe is expressing itself as a truly obnoxious twit.  If that happens, we can realize “Wow! I was pretty insufferable!”  Then we can take care of the situation – the universe expressing itself as apology.

To practice the buddha dharma is to manifest ourselves within our own identities which are unsurpassable in the entire universe.   We live as just this person, a perfect example of universal life manifesting, neither good nor bad, adequate nor inadequate, higher nor lower.   Just this person standing in this checkout line with their cat food.

Picture – fall leaves at Saikōji – Zuikō.

Quote is from To You: Zen Sayings of Kodo Sawaki, tr. by Muho Noelke and Reiho Haasch,  p. 15.  

Upcoming Events

November — Monday Night dharma discussion  7:00 pm to 8:00 pm –on Zoom – email us for the link

November 16 – Introduction to Zazen – 7:30 pm – 9:30 pm – hybrid – please register

November 27 – Sangha Meeting, following Dharma Talk

Weekday Activities

Noon Zazen

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

Evening Zazen

Wednesday and Thursday evenings
6:30 – 7:10 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

One Leaf
One day in a lecture Suzuki Roshi said, “When you see one leaf falling, you may say, Oh, autumn is here! One leaf is not just one leaf; it means the whole autumn. Here you already understand the all-pervading power of your practice. Your practice covers everything.”


Excerpted from:


Zen Is Right Here: Teaching Stories and Anecdotes of Shunryu Suzuki, author of Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind
by Shunryu Suzuki,
Edited by David Chadwick,
page 18

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