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

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

Good morning to all from Paris. What lies ahead today? More adventures for us all.

Yesterday was all about « I »: « I » did some sitting with « I, » « I » forgot a Skype session, « I » cleaned out a book shelf and parted with many bits of « I » that « I » had been keeping for reasons only « I » knows, « I » did laundry, « I » cooked, « I » shopped, « I » ate, « I » fed the cat… Whatever « I » could name as being « I » was not « I. »

Today « I » is back, of course. But so is beginner’s mind. So is my dharma name: Tu es cela or You are that. Try that as a question today! Ask not « Who am I? » but « Who are you? » or « Who is she/he? » Try to not let your ideas and opinions limit your experience of others, whoever they are, whether you know them or not.

Keep sitting if/when you can.

So very happy to read you all throughout the day. We are more than 40 official participants, in almost 10 countries, and countless cities. Who are we?

By | 2016-04-13T06:19:23+00:00 avril 13th, 2016|Textes|20 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 14 avril 2016 at 1 h 32 min - Reply

    You are beautiful!

  2. Madalena - Esposende 13 avril 2016 at 23 h 53 min - Reply

    Who are you?? Maybe a projection/reflection of who I am??!!

    Once I read something very interesting and that changed the way I see or judge others: It was more or less « What I don’t like in you, I correct/amend in myself »..
    Now I am more aware of my judgements (specially criticism) towards others. Finally it is me, who has to improve or make a change..
    But the opposite is also true… I see and feel Love on others, much more easily now, specially after meditating… and I do meditate everyday..

    Namasté = the Divine in me honors (or bows to) the Divine in you.

  3. Helena 13 avril 2016 at 23 h 40 min - Reply

    ‘who are you?’
    Today is another day with rain, I like it, like the sound it makes.
    Where I work there are a couple of people that really get on my nerves (or I let them get on my nerves…) and I am curious to figure out why!! Is it Karma? What is in them that is in me that I don’t accept or that I want to recognize and I am not able to so I envy them? Oh the dilemma… and it is not easy to stop to listen to me, my deep thoughts, to recognize the feeling that comes and descend to its root and pluck it so it ceases to be.
    But I set myself to accomplish it today and although wasn’t able to go all the way through I managed to go half way!
    I had to spend most of the day close working with one the persons that I let myself get most irritated about. He was his usual self and I was my unusual self and I admitted to myself and out loud that I have a bit of him in me and that is what I fight so hard. And so came peace, or so I hope…
    Viseu, Portugal
    Wish you all a good night

  4. Nuno "Hazy Moon" 13 avril 2016 at 23 h 40 min - Reply

    Showering thinking of Avatamsaka Sutra’s lines: washing off the body’s filth, may all sentient beings be pure and harmonious and ultimately without defilement. The whole « Purifying Practice » of Book 11 is about wishing for others. Who are they? All aspects of me, in different proportions? Why do I dislike some of them, then? For sure I don’t like me entirely, do I? To like something entirely, do I need to like everything? If I do not dislike anything how do I know what disliking is? So, I cannot like everything. Can I? Must Igo beyond liking and disliking? How do I do that? Why on Earth do I want to do that!?… Who made them? I!? Who made me? They!?… Bang!! Boolean logic doesn’t work here.

  5. André 13 avril 2016 at 23 h 26 min - Reply

    Today´s question reminded me Adilia Lopes. She is a portuguese poet and also the pen name of Maria José da Silva Viana Fidalgo de Oliveira. Who´s Adilia Lopes? Are Adilia Lopes and Maria José the same? Adilia Lopes wrote this poem:

    « O inferno
    são os outros
    mas o Céu também »

  6. Elizabeth 13 avril 2016 at 23 h 07 min - Reply

    This morning started with a lot of beautiful noise of a small bird …who was she?
    Green sprouts starting to come out of seeds and beans all at my little patio in the heart of Coimbra city!
    Am I lucky but who am I? And you neighbour lady and guest in my Guesthouse who was so aggressive yesterday because of not finding the way and today ?…. being so nice and friendly today!
    Are we lucky to be in the position ask our selves???
    Sweet dreams

  7. João 13 avril 2016 at 22 h 55 min - Reply

    First beings on today’s proposal for this retreat are already dead (well, not in the same form of existence as «me», let’s say): Humboldt, his house servant, Darwin, Thoreau, and many others, on account of a proofreading assignment. Can’t get over this perception that, in a sense, there’s no difference. Are they not in my mind when I read about them? The author, didn’t she select what she eventually wrote? And I won’t go into all the rest, where there would be no end to it: the bed I slept in, the clothes I wore and am wearing, the breakfast I ate, all at all times, full of people, full of everything. Only around noon did I leave home, to a financial office about tax affairs, then to the café to buy some bread. The café was almost empty at that time. A small child was crying in the back of the room. Funny exchange with Carlos, the owner, about how children cry differently. There’s, he explains to me, the annoying cry, the pleasant cry, and so on. He’s taking his younger daughter to the dentist on Friday, a foreseeable nightmare, for her, and for him also. She hates it. Then a quick stop at the grocers for a fresh supply of vegetables and fruit for the next days. Mr. António wasn’t feeling (nor looking) very well, so I wasn’t greeted by his usual pleasantness. Missed his smile this time. He left to go home and rest. Looked him in the eye as I always do, wishing he would feel better soon. I was served by his brother João. Left the bag there so I could go give a brief hello to Rosa, who owns a bookshop here in the neighborhood. So close to all these people! And today, especially, a more or less conscient effort to pay attention to people in the streets. The unoccupied old men who fill so many of the streets around here, the Chinese guy putting empty cardboard boxes out of the shop, near the container in the street, the beautiful cashier girl in the supermarket, my sometimes loud Brazilian neighbors from next door whom I pass by on the stairs. In the late afternoon, off to music school, with silly teenage kids, so filled with energy. Beatriz is so worried about the performance next Sunday! Francisco, a boy who keeps very much to himself, so eager to please, so eager to be loved! No philosophy in any of this, unable to think about it. The world is full of people. Life is full of people, Life is full of life.

  8. Tomas 13 avril 2016 at 22 h 52 min - Reply

    Good night everyone! Late night sitting after a long day, just before going to bed. Korean language class ended late, and I found myself back to my little village at the foot of the Jura mountains in France, already past 22h. Sweet welcomes waiting for me in a silent house, in the stillness of the night. Everybody sleeping but dinner (korean of course 😉 waiting for me on the stove, and a Korean picture-language book for kids waiting for me on the bed in the room upstairs 🙂 Guess this is homework 🙂
    Who is my loved one? Always revealing sweet & deeper aspects of her being 🙂
    Dinner alone with a nice glass of wine, followed by a short lovely sitting, and its almost midnight. Who are you? Who is he? Who is she? Who were they all these years? ALL RELATIONS COMING CLOSER, all sharing the same LIFE. ALL SO CLOSE. I notice a big grin on my face. Everyone so close, « holding hands » through space & time, all in the same boat, same life, sharing the same ride! « WHO ARE YOU? » becoming a warmth & heartening felt sense of WE ARE. Thanks again for Evi’s insight, it weaved itself into my sitting (everything’s connected)
    WE ARE. WE ARE WHAT? LIFE. LOVE. Together sharing the same beautiful fragility of being human, with all the ups&downs, sometimes elevated, sometimes not. WHO ARE WE? I keep questioning, I keep grining, heart keeps smiling. No answers thank God! Just more grins and smiles 🙂 LOVING IT 🙂
    Good night everyone, see you again on retreat tomorrow morning

  9. zoe 13 avril 2016 at 22 h 29 min - Reply

    Like the ‘I’, they are what they are, and who knows who they are? Convenient as it is to come up with answers and lean back after a neat classification just to assuage the chronic angst for a little while, deep down there is often just not knowing. A not knowing which is as natural as the breath.
    And i completely lost the breath tonight, watching ‘Revenant’ in horror. The artful camera’s treats with vast horizons, majestic trees, the moon and stars in the embracing sky… were not capable of giving me enough courage to watch through the detailed violence. Kept closing my eyes on the gush of blood, pressing the molars, and massaging the temples to gain release for the rest of the torture!! Never thought of leaving the theater though!!
    Came out with a heavy heart, wondering where does all this violence come from? Generation after generation…with a touch of change in style, but nevertheless, the same thing: since ever, and seems like forever! There are actors of violence, those who review it as fiction, and those who watch it on a screen (if lucky!) or on the streets. who is violent?

  10. Telma 13 avril 2016 at 22 h 03 min - Reply

    Tough mission. Who are you?

    If there is no « I » there is no « you ». I find myself very often looking to other people and wishing i woul be peaceful as « you » are, be patient like « you », be nice and funny and evolved and bright and kind as « you » are. This could only mean that my « I » is huge because « I » see so great thing on others.
    However, i know that i don’t know nothing but that « I »‘m so high like sky up above, deep as the earth under my feet and limitless all the way round as the universe.

    thank you.

  11. Manon 13 avril 2016 at 21 h 44 min - Reply

    Ingmar est un sms ce matin pour me souhaiter une bonne journée. Il est dans le train.
    Helix est une tempête dans la cuisine. Elle chuchote.
    Sarah est un grand sourire en revenant de son cours d’hydrologie.
    Franzi est un grand rire.
    Franzi est tout en douceur.
    Vivienne est imprévisible.
    Théo fait des phrases à la vitesse de la lumière.
    Ingmar est toujours un nouveau Ingmar. Helix devient Helix, Sarah sera Helix, Franzi est Franzi, Vivienne se surprend elle-même, Théo est parti en courant. Qui suis-je ? Nous ?

  12. Nina 13 avril 2016 at 19 h 09 min - Reply

    Catching up on the last few days of questions and comments right now. Lately I have had extra motivation to get out of my mind and into the here and now. One day at a time. No future, no past – they are too much to handle and they are not now, though I can feel them weighing on the now.

    Since I only just saw today’s question now, I didn’t apply it to my day (oops) but in retrospect, it makes me think about the degree to which other people become who we imagine them to be. Who are they underneath the portraits I have painted over them? Always room to be surprised. And to change and surprise myself as well.

  13. Kathleen 13 avril 2016 at 18 h 52 min - Reply

    A day with my son, taking in two exhibitions at the Pompidou Centre. It was a pre-birthday treat, with lunch on the rooftop terrace between exhibitions. Throughout the afternoon I would look at Paul and ask myself who this wonderful, often worrying, young man really is. I’ve known and loved him as my baby, my little boy, my teenage son, and now a twenty-something living his own life. But do I really know him? Who is he? I looked at the back of his head while we were waiting in line and realized I hadn’t seen him from that angle for quite some time. Maybe I need to look at him from different angles more often. Maybe I need to look at everyone form different angles more often.

    Wishing much joy in their newborn son, Maru, to Joy and Tomas. It’s lovely to hear from them in this forum.

  14. Evi 13 avril 2016 at 18 h 06 min - Reply

    Between the bathroom and the kitchen I realized:
    It is the same question like yesterdays.

    • Tomas 13 avril 2016 at 21 h 09 min - Reply

      YES, spot on! Thanks for this. Indeed, we are all the same background, the same context, regardless which eyes see it. Many thanks 🙂

  15. Joy 13 avril 2016 at 17 h 00 min - Reply

    First time since the delivery, I managed to do a yoga for mom and a brief sitting of closing my eyes at the end for one minute. One minut but very tranquil moment watching the cherry tree budding in the garden. Today’s moment of zen in the midst of baby care, constant breastfeeding. Thinking about ‘who is our baby Maru? Where does he come from?’ Also think about the baby care taker from Korea.

    • Tomas 13 avril 2016 at 17 h 38 min - Reply

      Thanks for sharing 🙂 Very happy to meet you also on this retreat-space 🙂 Going now to Korean language class in Geneva; see you later at home, bisou 🙂

  16. Tomas 13 avril 2016 at 15 h 12 min - Reply

    No sitting this morning after a night with little sleep but with many sweet moments of baby care in the stillness of the night 🙂
    Asking « who is the other(s) » on the way to work. Then forgot asking. Then sitting at a cafe in Geneva after a trip to the Etat Civil (they made a mistake in Maru »s birth certificate, which took 3 weeks to be ready. But a few more days and it will be corrected. Also broke the lawnmower a couple of days ago. And still have a bunch of letters to open and paperwork for medical claim…+ the to do list at work and the email flurry…endless but also funny chaos….
    At this cafe in Geneva, infused by the retreat’s energy, I let go of the smartphone habit of seeking information all the time, I let the virtual world of words down and look at the 10 or so people sitting so close to me, chatting away… WHO ARE THEY?…and their sounds, energy and presence immediately gets closer, and something relaxes in me, inside. Clearly here the virtual world of words and Internet enabled mountain of information stands between me and others. And they are so close I can almost feel their hearts 🙂

  17. Rita 13 avril 2016 at 9 h 44 min - Reply

    On my way to work, where I am now, I used the bus half way, the other half I did on foot. We are three now here at the office, Ana who is taking her coffee and Daniel. How wonderful it is to walk among others, to feel-be one. I crossed some people using sun glasses and winter coats, some run to work, some smile, others talk alone or say good morning to those who are opening the stores downtown. On the bus, there were some familiar faces, on the street the same. That men always in dark suit, that parks his car always on the same place. In fact there was a very familiar face, from long long time ago… still have no ideia from where when do I know her. Three kids by their own going probably to school. Playing around with each other, sitting in benches along the way, crossing me, “hey wait for me!” said the slowest one. The other colleague Ana, the youngest one, arrived. The other two kids kept on their game, like if they where the only ones in the street. António arrived, he works on the ground floor. On the other side of the traffic light I’ve seen the old man who comes on foot whenever the sun is shinning, like it is today, and then waits on the corner for his wife, who comes by bus. She uses strong color lipsticks, the colour a bit out of place, pale face, blond-grey hair, long skirt. They have a store of wool products from Serra da Estrela.

  18. margarida 13 avril 2016 at 8 h 54 min - Reply

    good morning everyone…i notice that i was lost in time. just because we are all on a retreat maybe, i was even more distracted than usually. yesterday i still was on the day before…lost inside my passions, trying to find silence inside all that tempest. in fact the weather here has been terribly stormy, but not permanently…yesterday i still had this horrible headache, with me since last Sunday, so i went to Naturena after my siting, to talk with dr João who stretched me the spine, and i did other treatments, i had lunch there watching all the nature lush, and during the car ride i could felt the the brightness of the impermanent, the calm, and the joy of being with all….who am i? i´m that. then, I brought from a friend´s house a little female cat and i spent the rest of the day taking care of her needs, meanwhile so many people entered on this heart of live retreat with me…I taught a yoga class and could forget the headache for a while. i could´t eat and played with the kitten till i fell asleep with her on my head. a big thunderstorm wake me up, she made poo on my bed, i put her on the kitchen and fell asleep again…who am i? i´m also that

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