Heart of Life/Coeur de la vie: Day/Jour I

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Heart of Life/Coeur de la vie: Day/Jour I

Good morning from Paris. Here’s what I’m thinking about today:

When I was a child in America, there was a program on television called « This Is Your Life. » A person who had secretly been selected to be the subject was called on stage and his or her entire life was presented, from childhood to present, with pictures, stories, interviews with friends and family and even long lost loved ones brought on stage. I remember being fascinated by the whole thing, by the past being lived in the present moment with the subject as witness of his or her own life unfolding for all to see.

Similarly, our retreat this week is a plunge into the unfolding of life, into the unfolding moment-to-moment of your life. That unfolding is unfathomable, it’s so deep and wide and intricate and endless.

Today, our week begins with finding some stillness in it all. Sit down in the morning, if only for a few minutes, and take a look: This is your life. Feel how that feels. Experience it. No thoughts necessary.

Then throughout the day come back to that, see if there’s some stillness, look at whatever is there at that moment – at work, at home, brushing your teeth, buying lunch, walking to the car, dropping the children at school, meeting with colleagues… Just bear witness to it, the details, the uniqueness of it. Whatever it is, that’s your life, neither good nor bad. And then take a minute to tell us about it here, in whatever language you choose.

By | 2017-04-04T06:58:13+00:00 avril 11th, 2016|Textes|22 Comments

About the Author:

Enseignante Zen et poète, Sensei Amy “Tu es cela” Hollowell est née et a grandi à Minneapolis, aux Etats-Unis. Arrivée en France en 1981 pour étudier la littérature et l’histoire, elle y est restée, s’installant à Paris, où elle élève ses deux enfants et gagne sa vie en tant que journaliste. The Zen teacher and poet Amy “Tu es cela” Hollowell Sensei was born and raised in Minneapolis, but came to France in 1981 to study literature and history and has lived in Paris ever since, raising her two children and making a living as a journalist.


  1. André 12 avril 2016 at 23 h 45 min - Reply

    Even belated, I´d like to share some impressions of my first day of retreat. I could only sit in the morning before work. It was fine but the main experience was feeling the proximity of the people I met during the day, at the workplace, at my daughter´s school or just walking at the streets. And then the words of Roshi – « Everyone you meet or pass every day all week is participating in this retreat because you are. Keep that in mind. It makes a difference » – made sense and difference. Thank you all.

  2. Evi 12 avril 2016 at 17 h 53 min - Reply

    wrong day. Sorry 🙂

  3. Evi 12 avril 2016 at 17 h 51 min - Reply

    I am uncertain, if I can convey my thoughts, but I try.
    Today I saw five patients, age between 75 and 87. Two of them diagnosed with cancer. All at the end of their life. Who were they and the world before I got born, and how will life keep going after the «I» of these five people is dead? In between we have a short encounter, where I feel always humbled by their life experience. How little do I know, although I come in their houses with a huge knowledge? What was the world about before I got born and what will it be, after I died? How arrogant to think, I know what it is and who I am in the few years in between that are called «my life»?
    Noon break sitting at the lake of Zug and watching the wondrous, huge mountains. Am I watching these million years old beings or do they watch me? The water of the lake looks still and yet is no second the same. A mirror of myself, if I allow it to be experienced.
    Closing time I went to buy five books: Mitchell, Irving, Murakami, Atwood. All books that play in the realm of wonder and mystery. I step through this gate all the time. Like my Dharma name: Subtle Gate. May I ever be able to dive so deeply and fly so wide like the fish and the bird in the Genjokoan, so my need is satisfied? «We must know that there are inexhaustible characteristics in the ocean and the mountains and there are many other worlds in the four directions. This is not only true in the external world, but also right here under our feet or in a single drop of water.» Why can I not give up the wish to know? «There is nothing to attain» is said in the Heart Sutra. Yes I want to know life so badly and as much as I can before I die.
    Can I at least grow enough roots to grow like a wild flower? Uncertain.
    I seems as if life does take care that my questioning never ends.

  4. Evi 12 avril 2016 at 5 h 04 min - Reply

    When I read the inspiration, it was late in the evening, because I get up early and my day was full. So I was mostly looking at all of your comments and practiced stillness during the class of kinaesthetics. The last step of kinaestetics is human function and goes from the capacities of laying on the floor to crawling, sitting, standing. In said, in dying, this goes backwards, why don’t we train those capacities as well. We will go for it, getting still, letting go and appreciate thise gift we have and just realize, shortly before we loose it. Bittersweet life, maybe to experience and enjoy it, while we have it and let it go consciously instead of complaining all the time, is the real life with human functions.

  5. João 11 avril 2016 at 23 h 11 min - Reply