Author: John Pendall

Work is Play: The Zen Concept of Mindful Working.

  By Johnathon Pendall   Hyakujo said, “A day without work is a day without food.” Such is the dedication, discipline and earnestness that we imbue when approaching samu. Samu is the Zen practice of mindful working. Hyakujo approached samu with such zeal that when his students said, “Teacher! You have to slow down! You’re too elderly and frail to keep working like this. Let us do the chores while you relax,” he replied, “No work, no eating!” So his students let him carry on so that he didn’t starve himself. Now that might be a little extreme by...

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What is Mental Illness & Why are We So Reluctant to Talk About It?

  By Liwa Nim (John Pendall)   While it’s true that the mentally ill are no longer locked away in dungeons, our culture is still far from accepting how normal abnormality really is. 50 percent of the United States population will develop a mental illness or disorder at some point in their lives. That is a staggering number! This means that most of us either know or will know someone who suffers from a mental illness. Even though so many people are touched by mental illness, it’s still a taboo subject. I suffered from major depression, social phobia and panic...

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The Way to a Deeper Life: See, Don’t Look.

  By Liwa Nim (John Pendall) We are never isolated, even if we’re all alone. Each instant we are acting amidst other actors. As I sit listening to frog songs and taking a drink of root beer, I am drinking with the frog songs. There is no separation between the two—both events are sharing the same moment. As I sit, I’m sitting with starlight. When we let go of our labels, categories and schemas, we can see things as they are. Most of the time we hear rather than listen, we look rather than see. This is all due...

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Sometimes Zen Means Letting Go of Being Zen & Just Breathing.

  By Liwa Nim   After reading a bunch of sutras and Zen books, after listening to several lectures and speaking with Zen teachers, after debating for hours about Zen philosophy on Facebook, I realized something important—I think too much. Or, rather, I use thinking unskillfully. Zen sickness is a term for when we get too caught up in the philosophical side of Zen. Symptoms include neglecting housework and driving our family and friends crazy by saying, “Zen! Zen! Zen!” all day long. Another symptom is being easily offended by other’s views. “Wash your bowl!” was the remedy offered...

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Living Dharma & the Burning Resolve.

  By Liwa Nim   I apologize in advance for the sappy poetic imagery in this article, but how else can we describe the indescribable? This article is mostly about Zen/Ch’an practices, but I think it can also pertain to meditation and mindfulness in general. When we see someone sitting motionless in meditation, it’s tempting to think that they’re in a state of complete non-activity. That they’re like a moss covered rock, or an ancient mountain. Since that’s how they appear, it’s possible that we might approach meditation with expectations of utter stillness and quietude. I’d say that such expectations...

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