Heart of Life/Coeur de la vie Day/Jour II

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Heart of Life/Coeur de la vie Day/Jour II

Good morning/Bonjour/Bom dia from Paris. Here we are on the second day of our plunge…

Surrounded by a halo of wispy clouds, there was a lovely thin slice of moon high in the dark sky last night as we came into the street after sitting. Today is something different altogether. But what is it? Or even better: Who?

Let’s devote this day to beginner’s mind, the mind of « doubt » about all certainties, and particularly that big old certainty we all know very well: me/I.  In the midst of the stillness you discovered yesterday, ask yourself who you are at each moment, whatever you do, wherever go: Who am I? Who am I? Who am I? If there’s an answer, ask again, begin again and again and again.

Thanks for all your marvellous comments. Keep it up! Tell us specifically where you are – what city, country, street – and details of what you see – beach, river, rain, sun, trees, houses, cars, people, animals, etc. Take us with you into the splendid unknown.

By | 2016-04-11T23:38:05+00:00 avril 12th, 2016|Textes|28 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. Gonçalo Moreira 13 avril 2016 at 0 h 20 min - Reply

    I’m in Coimbra, Portugal. It’s night time now. I’m going to go to bed soon, it’s been a full day. Before bed I’m going to sit and just rest in that mistery for as long as it feels right and then I’ll just lie down and go to sleep. This mistery can be the greatest cradle.

  2. André 13 avril 2016 at 0 h 14 min - Reply

    After sharing the good impressions of yesterday, I was ready to complain about today: I barely sat, I could not bring the people I met to the practice etc. But after a while, seeing the lightening bolts and listening to the breathing of my dog, who is lying next to me, I found some stillness. Who am I? Now I am his « owner ». He is 12 years old, almost blind and asking form my attention.
    Greetings from Lisboa

  3. Elizabeth 13 avril 2016 at 0 h 07 min - Reply

    No sitting today at all for me , only work, work, work.
    from 7 am till 7 pm and after that working people at home .
    Some thoughts about a retreat but no who am I?
    Tomorrow new day I hope
    Good night to all
    bjs from Coimbra

  4. Joana 12 avril 2016 at 23 h 41 min - Reply

    We were shooting in Sintra. Which is known for it’s unpredictable weather. There were two cameras and just one video operator. Me.
    By the time I was setting up the last set up a colleague of mine asks me « Do you have anything uncovered? It’s raining a lot ». I start running. I’m almost crying by the time I reach my video monitors, wireless transmiter and recorder. (The last room we were shooting at was just a bit too small to carry everything.) Internally I start blaming my coleague « Couldn’t she notice this was here? Why didn’t she let me know it was raining sooner? ». I’m so angry. But in fact I’m really angry about myself. About being careless and useless. Then I think « This is not about me ». I’m still angry. But it’s just it.

  5. Telma 12 avril 2016 at 23 h 25 min - Reply

    o meu dia começou antes mesmo de acordar com um sonho pesadelo. a protagonista do sonho era uma mulher igual a mim que corria por pedras terra e declives varridos por água cristalina ruidosa e veloz que acabava por inundar e submergir a realidade de que eu fugira momentos antes. Acordei pesada.

    Trabalho num edifício velho fruto de uma transformação de um dormitório em farmácia. Na sala onde trabalho há 3 janelas. Uma orientada para o lugar das cúpulas astronômicas, outra com vista para a parede do edifício adjacente e outra com vista para as árvores e laranjeiras que lá existem. Há uma árvore alta com uma parte de si morta e outra parte de si viva. Quando sai do trabalho fui confirmar. Uma parte da árvores está seca e aparentemente morta e outras cheias de rebentos de folhas verdes. Vida e morte num só ser. A vida e a morte acontecem e são, na árvore. A árvore.

    Tenho várias opções de caminho para o trabalho. Gosto de variar e adequar o trajecto trabalho-casa conforme o que tenho para fazer ou para onde ir mal cumpro a minha « responsabilidade de sobrevivência ». Muito sol e muitas nuvens enormes e brancas. Muito verde de copas de árvores. E ao atravessar a ponte Rainha santa, o espelho do céu feito de quem agitou o meu sonho – água. Dos vários serviços a que recorri destaco o olhar de quem participou neste retiro. Afinal aqui sou alguém que me parecia não existir minutos antes.

    A minha casa situa-se no ponto mais alto da cidade. Amo a minha casa. É espaçosa muito clara e brilhante! Gosto de a ter arrumada organizada e limpa, como se através dela conseguisse ver o estado do meu Ser. Tem uma grande vista para serras, vastidão de verde, de azul pintalgado de branco.

    Vivo na cidade de Coimbra e sinto-me de todo o lado e lado nenhum.

    Tudo o que tinha planeado fazer foi feito em tempos diferentes dos pensados. Tudo o que foi feito foi partilhado com pessoas importantes. Não controlo nada. Nada. Beginners mind… Como?

    Agora que me deito no quarto iluminado pela noite lá fora sou aquecida por água e bebo antes de fechar os olhos. Sou tão alta como o Céu sem limites, sou tão profunda como o solo por onde se estendem as minhas raízes, sou tão larga como o mundo sem limites, sou todo o lado e lugar nenhum – sou som de vibração da fonte comum, silêncio. Dele me afasto, nele me perco e nele me encontro.

    Thank you.

  6. Nuno "Hazy Moon" 12 avril 2016 at 23 h 04 min - Reply

    Lost. A hundred and twenty 7th graders visiting the planetarium. Who am I? I am them, in thirty years. Who am I? I am them, right now. Who am… Why did I say lost? What did I expect to find? I don’ know, but it is always something else. Always!… Hilarious!

  7. zoe 12 avril 2016 at 22 h 59 min - Reply

    The only thing i know for certain is that i exist. Deep down, i know not who exists– just existence.
    And depending on what i do, and the degree of presence, i could be the bridge i walk on, the body of water that runs under it, the wind that blows through the hair, or the shy rain drops that trickle with hesitation. And of course the fruits and vegetables i picked up from Charenton earlier this evening.
    The pulsing, breathing, typing, seeing…is what i am now. As for the who, who knows?

  8. Beginners Mind 12 avril 2016 at 22 h 40 min - Reply

    5:30 I just have awoken, lets try to sleep a little bit more. Nope, too many monkeys in my mind… lets put them to rest, important meeting late in the afternoon. 6:30 lets sit, nothing special just being there. 7:15 shower. 7:45 wake up the family. 8:00 leaving home under pouring rain. No rain 30km from home, nice clouds no planes. Routine, routine, routine, monkeys, routine, routine. 18:00 meeting at Porto cancelled due to havoc in traffic. 19:00 arriving home, new schedule for Porto meeting in mail. 19:30 playing and massage with my daughter. 20:00 making dinner. 20:30 having dinner. 21:30 Putting my daughter to bed. 22:00 sitting at the computer again. 22:30 planning to sit before sleeping.
    Who am I? like when I’m sitting: always there, sometimes too busy to look at me, many times here and now.

  9. lisa 12 avril 2016 at 22 h 18 min - Reply

    A late evening zazen, « my » partner playing the guitar in another room, « my » stomach grumbling, the sky illuminated by soundless lightning, the neighbors shouting in the courtyard, a helicopter flying over Paris… time’s up.
    back to the computer, to the blog, to today’s koan, actually not just today’s,… who am I…. an amazing life koan 🙂
    good night to you all

  10. Tomas 12 avril 2016 at 22 h 16 min - Reply

    Goodnight everybody! Short sitting with the mysterious stillness turned sleepiness turned baby cry. But some good 10min of sitting still here by the Jura mountain in the little village of Vessncy. This evening the wind is blowing strong, and one can hear it shaking the earth, shaking the house. Stillness dancing. Who am I? What is dancing? Love this stillness, so intimate, so close. Wind-Silence-Baby-Sleep-Wife-Love-Dog-mountain!!! That’s what now. Next? Loving the mystery 🙂

  11. Helena 12 avril 2016 at 21 h 59 min - Reply

    So I wake up with heavy rain and it feels good, I feel like staying in bed but I need to get up. Feed the cat, feed myself and go to work.
    The weeks before this retreat were peaceful and calm but this week, that I wished it was the same; looks like my long lost forgotten sleeping demons woke up and today was a struggle to keep myself centred and still.
    It was a hectic day at the plant, but I managed to detach and observe for some moments and realize how insane it all is, the stress the anguish over a leaking hose. I was questioning myself all the time “who am I? why here? Why now?” no answer, just confusion.
    I get out late and rush home, I just want to relax, but as I write these lines and the laptop is jamming I lose my temper again  this is the sign that I need a hot bath and go to sleep.
    Viseu, Portugal
    Good night to you all!!!

  12. Rita 12 avril 2016 at 21 h 47 min - Reply

    This morning, shortly after I started to work I wanted to head home again. Throat aching, a sense of cold all over the body. Might had some fever. Luckily I didn’t have any urgent work, so I float during my schedule… in silence. No no. I’ve sneezed at regular pace. At 6pm instead of going to the yoga practice, I finally head home. Oh so quiet and warm under the red blanket.
    Sneezed again. And now the nose is running, yes again, and here is another sneeze. And there is this new noise I cannot recognise. It seems someone is hitting a carpet very fast outside the balcony. At home and while I prepared another « ginger-shoot » for the cold, I picked up the book I’ve been reading — Staring at the sun from Irvin Yalom. The opening sentence is « Le soleil ni la mort ne se peuvent regarder en face », François de La Rochefoucauld. And I stuck at this phrase Chapter 5 — The power of ideas: « where I am, death is not; where death is, I am not. Therefore, Epicurus held, « why fear death when we can never perceive it? » (…) Death and « I » can never coexist. [That sound again outside, poor « carpet ».] and in that case, what is there to fear? »
    At this table there is a drawing I’ve made with some Azores’ islands, and in a few days I’ll decide in which I’ll land. Nose again running. Carpet! I’ll go outside to see what is, who is it.

  13. Adriana Ono 12 avril 2016 at 21 h 41 min - Reply

    Yesterday, three moments :

    blue sky, leaves reflecting the sun, cold wind that surrounds us…

    the look of the young man who serves me at the cafe. I’m in a hurry. Calmly I hear his soft voice telling me what to pay.

    – Mom, are you happy?
    – No.
    – Are you sad then?
    – No.
    – Why?
    – Sometimes it’s like that.
    – But you will be happy again soon, won´t you?
    – Maybe.
    I receive a hug.

  14. Cristina (Ocean of Generosity) 12 avril 2016 at 21 h 18 min - Reply

    « Quem sou eu? » a pergunta do dia que me acompanhou.
    Aqui em Esposende hoje estive em casa a trabalhar, da janela da minha sala o rio Cávado cheio de água, chuva mais chuva mais trovoada, vento frio e a minha tosse que teima em não desaparecer. « Quem sou eu? » neste dia em que a maior parte do tempo tive o computador desligado não vá o diabo tecêlas com tanta trovoada aproveitei para ver os vídeos do meu curso online no telemóvel. « Quem sou eu? » São 21h e o meu marido ainda não chegou a casa apesar de eu e a minha filha já termos jantado, fico sempre apreensiva e preocupada. A minha filha quer um abraço, paro o que estou a fazer, ela diz que o meu cabelo é uma almofada fofinha, que rico abraçinho.
    « Quem sou eu? » tudo isto e não sei o que mais, cada momento vivido e tantos que ainda estão por viver, respiro sinto-me viva, respiro, agradeço por existir.
    Um grande abraçinho para todos vocês.

  15. Christine 12 avril 2016 at 21 h 01 min - Reply

    Spent the day in Paris, walking through streets, known and unknown ones, old walls and beauty, an umbrella painted on a house between two windows several meters above the ground. Tried to sit in the afternoon while letting the kids watch a cartoon. Ten minutes later a big fight about who holds the remote control put an end to it. Wishing Tomas and Joy some hours of uninterrupted sleep….

    • Tomas 12 avril 2016 at 21 h 57 min - Reply

      Thanks Christine! May your wish come true 🙂

  16. Madalena 12 avril 2016 at 20 h 53 min - Reply

    Sitting quietly in my office/house in Cepães, Marinhas, I can see the sea down there, through my window (not so widely open as I would like to, because there are some houses in between) but it is there, breathing in and out just like me…
    While meditating I wonder « who am I »?? But I have got no reply at all.. Just the silence… I repeat it again and again, just like Roshi Amy suggested and again: I just got silence..

  17. céu 12 avril 2016 at 19 h 36 min - Reply

    Lisboa, driving a car on the ponte Vasco da Gama under dark and raining clouds, os limpa vidros marcam o ritmo de findingsomestillnessinitall

  18. Kathleen 12 avril 2016 at 18 h 13 min - Reply

    On my balcony in Paris, where I’ve spent much of the afternoon, fact-checking for the magazine. Tedious work, but satisfying once it’s done, especially as I found quite a few mistakes. Sounds of birdsong and children playing. I haven’t been able to concentrate on ‘Who am I?’ at all. On days like this, I wonder whether it matters.

    It feels like summer up on my balcony. If I were a cat, I’d be purring. Maybe I am a cat. Questioning nothing, enjoying the sun on my back.

    A friend is coming for dinner so I thought I’d better write a comment before I started drinking wine, although reading what I’ve written it sounds like I already have. Drunk on sun and light. And feeling connected with all of you out there.


  19. Evi 12 avril 2016 at 17 h 54 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.

  20. Manon 12 avril 2016 at 14 h 57 min - Reply

    Assise à mon bureau dans ma nouvelle chambre étudiante plus petite que la précédente. A Tuebingen dans le Sud de l’Allemagne, à quelques pas de l’hôpital où j’ai mes cours. Je profite du soleil qui se déverse par la fenêtre. Du deuxième étage, j’ai vue sur un arbre aux magnifiques fleurs blanches qui pousse dans le jardin que tous les étudiants entretiennent à tour de rôle. Quelle chance d’avoir ce vert à portée de main, ces fleurs qui illuminent nos fenêtres. J’entends mes voisins discuter dans le couloir. Fini les cours, chacun se met à potasser les bouquins bien que le hamac au balcon soit si tentant…Je m’assois en zazen dans cette paisible ambiance. Je suis assise. Qui suis-je ? Je me sens très inconsistante. Je suis assise maintenant. Et là debout.

  21. marlene 12 avril 2016 at 14 h 05 min - Reply

    Lisbon.I woke up early and after cleaning the face went to zafu. I heard the cat coming on the corridor ,he managed to be on my lap. There we are -with morning sounds of neighbor’s kitchen next to my room. And bird’s chants outside, attentively followed by the ears of Miró. I read Amy’s post for our second day and laugh at Tomas checkin – baby’s life, dog’s life,mom’s life so he could find a moment -just in case…they always are moments.
    Then the fresh air of a cold morning as I went for a coffee at campo pequeno square’s esplanada.I sat and Sr. Manuel brought my coffee.Just a smile and eye in the eye to say him « obrigada ». After a while- people,dogs,pigeons,small birds,clouds,trees leaves,cars- always appearing and disappearing. -who is seeing?who is sitting or who is moving? Rain suddenly appears and the dark grey street went wet and brilliant cause the sun was still shining.
    Then home cleaning during the rest of the morning. Behind one photo it was a paper with the four vows and I chanted them noticing the voice beeing one with the chant.Who is singing?
    A moment ago I asked my daughter Joana if she could help on reading this – cause my English is not very good – and I told her about our retreat on line. After doing so, she called me and said:: « mom, take your phone back, you mindfull saint ».And we break out laughing.A good reminder for whom I am not…

  22. Tiago 12 avril 2016 at 11 h 25 min - Reply

    Note to self — when commuting, JUST commute! Don’t philosophise about life, don’t do other than following the person in front of you in line and listen to regular announcements. Left home this morning thinking about this « I » who was leaving and forgot the keys, only realising that an hour or so later, across London, at my workplace’s closed door. It reminded me of a certain day, on the same commute years ago, when listening to a dharma talk podcast I missed the exiting station…
    Leaving the flat again. Now with keys and a smile 🙂

  23. Rita 12 avril 2016 at 9 h 48 min - Reply

    Good morning to all. Today I left the building, where I live with myself :), from the main entrance (Rua Miguel Torga, Coimbra). Blue sky, no clouds. Fresh air blowing to my face. I’m feeling a bit sick but confident with the strong hot drink I had at breakfast — lemon juice grown by a friend in Viseu, bio ginger from China (weird hein?) and honey from parents hometown, Vale do Peso. I wonder who is this woman who walks to the car, who drives calmly among other drivers, who keeps the safe distance… who is quite. No sound inside the car, radio is still off. Stillness seems to remain. Who am I who then walks trough the park, breaths again this so fresh morning breeze, stairs at the vast green grass, uau! Green Park in the morning is so tender and original. There were 3 ducks in a sand bank. And that same lady who crosses me at the bridge, always at the bridge, looking determinately in front with an umbrella.
    No answer. Only curiosity and stillness. Space. Almost near the office where I work and from a short distance, I can see the blond girl whom I cross regularly. Most of the times it seems to me that she is kind of lost… vanishing through us and this city. Talks alone and seems to have to direction, no destiny. Does she knows who is she? Does she wonder… I wonder.

  24. João 12 avril 2016 at 9 h 29 min - Reply

    Cova da Piedade, near Almada, Portugal, planet Earth, Universe

  25. João 12 avril 2016 at 9 h 28 min - Reply

    Five minutes late for the schedulled sitting practice this morning, but not sleepy at all. Now sitting here at the computer sharing these words before planned start of next step of rakusu and then a day-long proofreading of a biography of Humboldt. Inner square from block of buildings in front of me. Birds come and sit for some moments on the balcony just outside the window. Can hear birds singing in the orange tree just in front that comes all the way from the ground below. The Tibetan flags hanging on the balcony move with the breeeze. There’s a black and white cat in the distance, near a wall from one of the backyards. Two sentences ago there was another one. They were playing with each other. A man comes into his backyard and into a shed. Comes out and goes back inside. There’s the other cat again! He’s cleaning himself. A plane just passing by right now. Can’t see it, but hear it. Clothes hang from a window, drying in this bit of clear sun the clouds allow just now. Two pairs of pants, a red sweater and other smaller things. The refrigerator in the kitchen just increased the noise it makes. I think a neighbor just woke up.

  26. Tomas 12 avril 2016 at 7 h 32 min - Reply

    Oops….going up to sit, pass by bedroom to ask if there is something needed. One coffee for mother. back to kitchen, now dog awake wanting attention…. ha ha ha, will I ever get to that zafu? It’s actually funny, and useful , just need to keep paying attention to the stillness amidst everything. Who am I but all these lovely lively « sitting interruptions »?….

  27. Tomas 12 avril 2016 at 7 h 26 min - Reply

    Aftet a restless night of many diapers changes and checking on baby (what’s this noise? Is he ok? Is he choking? Is he cold? Is he hit?), wake up to a new morning, new diaper (many actually, fountain pee on first clean diaper & new pijamas, then new diaper, and another new pajamas…)
    Then silence, beautiful sunny morning here in Vesancy by the Jura mountain. Dog sleeping deeply. I’ll just sneak up upstairs with my coffee and try to see if « I » can do a sitting while everything is still asleep. Birds chirping outside under the Sun, majestic mountain view from the kitchen, I guess that « sitting » has already started, everything is sitting! Going to join them in the zafu, to ask them « who are we together », coffee in hand just in case 🙂

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