This has been a year of my mother's passing as well as many friends and colleagues. There is something about losing a dear friend and loved one that brings forth such a wide range of emotions and feelings — that brings to foreground the immediacy of this life we are living. Along with the grief of loss is the sensation from deep down of gratitude. Gratitude for this life, gratitude for sharing precious wild moments with those that have passed, and renewed gratitude for those people and thing that are right before me.
This is the season of giving thanks — yet we all know gratitude can be given in all seasons. I, at least, need reminders. At Tassajara Zen Mountain Center there are large wooden blocks that are struck hard and clean sending a sound that carrys through the valley calling students to "practice" in the meditation hall. Written on the the wooden blocks (Han) are words that remind the practitioners of the immediacy of our life. I have seen many translations written by various teacher at various zen centers. The one above reads: