STUPID DOG

I walked the dogs yesterday and saw the above sign. Right away I felt at home. Why? Because I belong to all three categories. Old dog, for sure. Stupid dog, no doubt. And young dog?

I’m on my way to a conference of lay Zen teachers in Seattle, Washington. There, many of the dogs will be younger than me, and I’m very curious about what I’ll hear and learn

 I reflect about the dharma in the world we live in, the challenges it faces in attracting young meditators. It began with the Buddha 2,500 years ago, at a time of tremendous turmoil, colliding cultures, and tribal warfare. While the Buddha himself was greatly engaged with a variety of people and questions, many of his followers withdrew into forests and, later, monasteries. The Indian, Chinese, and Japanese cultures often cultivated a passive, compliant citizenry, with almost no challenges to authority or government.

We live at a different time and in a different culture. Young people especially (but not exclusively) want to meet the challenges head-on and don’t trust the people in power to do so. Are we, dharma teachers, failing them? We’ve adopted so many of the practices, training and formation methods that were first developed back in other eras and countries. What’s called for here and now?

I don’t have answers, just look forward to listening to younger teachers. They, too, at times get a little too compliant, a little too respectful towards their elders, and I want to shake them up and say: Think for yourselves; this is your time. Come up with new skillful means for creating peace and wellbeing for all the beings in this world. Drive carefully, by all means, as the sign says, but keep going forward, and have confidence in yourselves and the dharma. This stupid old dog will follow, I promise.

On our way back to the car, a thin, yellow lab came running from behind the house barking, and Henry the Illegal Chihuahua hurried to rub noses with him. Aussie rushed over, too, and then I heard a name being called. I looked up to see a middle-aged woman emerge from behind the house, stark naked.

“I was sunbathing in the nude,” she explained, “and I wondered what the fuss was about.”

Cool, I thought to myself.

“Wow,” said Henry.

“Cover your eyes, Illegal,” said Aussie.

“My goodness,” said Henry.

“If you ask me, the human female form is way overrated,” muttered Aussie. She turned her back on the woman and rushed off to meet up with the Hereford cows in the adjacent farm.

I’m very, very grateful for the donations that came my way in the last couple of days. Thank you not just for the funds, but also for the kind words some of you sent.

The blog will probably be silent till I return on Monday next week. A time to meet old friends, walk with them, share meals. Listen, listen, listen.

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THE DOGS OF THE KISKADEE HILLS

Eve Marko - The Dogs of the Kiskadee Hills: Hunt for the LynxThe Dogs of the Kiskadee Hills: Hunt for the Lynx begins a trilogy about a society of dogs after humans have destroyed themselves and much of the world. Living with their families and clans in the Kiskadee Hills, they’ve developed over generations a rich tradition and way of life, and have prospered. But now, an unknown killer is butchering the Kisdees of the Hills.

Academy Award-winning actor Jeff Bridges says: “You will never look at dogs the same again. Eve Marko gives us a story that explores the path that life on our planet has taken, and asks what your role in that course might be.”

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BEARING WITNESS

To bear witness to anything is to be as close to it as possible.

It’s not to read books or see movies about it, it’s not to have an opinion or tell a story. It’s to let go of all ideas about it—be in the space of not-knowing—and simply be there, up close and deeply personal.

Eve has been involved with the Zen Peacemaker Order’s Bearing Witness Retreats—in places of suffering and conflict since her first visit to Auschwitz-Birkenau.

There have been 20 retreats at the site of those concentration camps since, along with retreats in Bosnia, Rwanda and the Black Hills of South Dakota, near the Pine Ridge Reservation.

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You can also send a check to: Eve Marko, POB 174, Montague, MA 01351. Please write on the memo line whether this is in support or immigrant families or of my blog. Thank you.

ABOUT EVE MARKO

Eve Marko is a Founding Teacher of the Zen Peacemaker Order and head teacher at the Green River Zen Center in Massachusetts. She received dharma transmission and inka from Bernie Glassman. She is also a writer and editor of fiction and nonfiction.

Eve has trained spiritually-based social activists and peacemakers in the US, Europe and the Middle East, and has been a Spiritholder at retreats bearing witness to genocide at Auschwitz-Birkenau, Rwanda, and the Black Hills in South Dakota. Before that she worked at the Greyston Mandala, which provides housing, child care, jobs, and AIDS-related medical services in Yonkers, New York.

Eve’s articles on social activists have appeared in the magazines TricycleShambhala Sun, and Tikkun. Her collection of Zen koans for modern Zen practitioners in collaboration with Roshi Wendy Egyoku Nakao, The Book of Householder Koans: Waking Up In the Land of Attachments, came out in February 2020.

Hunt for the Lynx, the first in her fantasy trilogy, The Dogs of the Kiskadee Hills, was published in 2016.

“When I was a young girl my dream was to be a hermit, live alone, and write serious literature. That’s not how things turned out. I got involved with people. I got involved in the world. Two things matter to me right now: the creative spark and the aliveness of personal connection. In some way, they both come down to the same thing.”

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You can also send a check to: Eve Marko, POB 174, Montague, MA 01351. Please write on the memo line whether this is in support or immigrant families or of my blog. Thank you.