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

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

Running behind ‘schedule’ today, rushing to get up and off to work, with breakfast consumed quickly while standing in the kitchen and no time for morning sitting. No time, either, to prepare my lunch, so had to stop on the way and pick something up, which will be consumed later while sitting (and working) at my desk in the newsroom. Which is where I am now, writing our Day IV post before diving into newspaper work. So now let me take a breath…

How clear it is what this day’s element will be! Action! Work! Go! Do! This is the family of karma in the Tibetan view, linked to wind, which is active and moving in all directions. Its color is green, and this energy can be wonderfully efficient and constructive, putting wisdom in action, or it can be frenetic, overwhelming, aggressive, competitive, driving us to become workaholics.

Be attentive to the wind, how it moves or doesn’t. Pay attention to yourself, how you move or don’t. Pay attention to what moves in you, and to what it is that moves you. What is the ‘right amount’ of effort? And pay attention to those around you, moving or not.

Here’s a koan for you: Two monks in 8th-century China were arguing about a flag in the wind. One monk said it was the flag that was moving. The other monk said it was the wind that was moving. Then along came a stranger (who actually turned out to be the man we call the ‘6th patriarch,’ Hui Neng). He listened, then said: ‘It’s not the flag that’s moving. It’s not the wind that’s moving. It’s your mind that’s moving.’

Thanks for all your wonderful, detailed comments all these days. Keep showering us with your riches!

By | 2015-10-29T10:35:18+00:00 octobre 29th, 2015|Textes|21 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. Madalena Machado 30 octobre 2015 at 11 h 54 min - Reply

    I am loving this retreat, even if I missed the 2 first days (my fault)..

    Thanks Amy for this opportunity to « seat » together again meditating..

    I wondered why, for the past 30 years, I was so afraid of strong winds and heavy rain (storms)???
    They may be devastating.. Yes!! But they also bring new seeds, clean old leaves, refresh Nature.. No??

    May be my mind is too attached to old paths and thoughts and not open to new refreshing ideas?

    That’s what I will have to think about..
    I wish you all a very nice and lovely day..

  2. j 30 octobre 2015 at 1 h 02 min - Reply

    Received a suggestion for those who, like me, just came here during the week to read other’s words.
    Everything so balanced for me during this Retreat in the Heart of Life. Right effort/dedication in everything: beggining the day offering to everyone all that’s going to happen, hours spent in the library proofreading a book about the Nazi Holocaust, my kids’ birthday party, drawbacks, the difficulty of getting up in the mornings, no one showing up on Monday for zazen, the prospect of the new James Bond movie next week. Life, all this, is truly wonderful. How blessed to be alive! The week has been overwhelmed by music study (an old dream of mine finally come true since last week) and how a new attention to the body gradually arises, an unknown drunkenness of muscles I did not even knew I had, the unexpected dizziness that comes from spending hours blowing into a metal pipe. How touching, to see so many familar and unknown names, so many lives happening everywhere. How blessed to be alive!

  3. lisa 30 octobre 2015 at 0 h 38 min - Reply

    Riding my bike down to work this morning early, i was caught in whirlwind (small one mind you) of leaves falling from the trees, a shower of golden leaves, all elements and colors there and then! here and now…
    That said, it’s a very strange retreat for me, at work early so hard to sit in the morning, rushing all day, a moment of clarity sometimes reminding me to breath and be with you just here and now, then meetings late for my other volunteering activity, I come home too late to sit with you, even though i did manage today for half an hour.
    It’s a real retreat in the heart of life, in all it’s rush and craziness !! all good now but can’t wait for it to be Saturday 😉
    nighty night

  4. Helena 30 octobre 2015 at 0 h 05 min - Reply

    Sweet Breeze passing by took me early from bed and I managed to workout at 07:00. Have been trying that for ages!!!
    This was a good day, a begin to something…. 🙂


  5. Rita 29 octobre 2015 at 23 h 56 min - Reply

    Coimbra, Portugal, 22.54.
    This week I’ve been sitting for 20 min in the morning before walking to work, and until today without time to come here and read you all.
    As I always read the blog late at night… Today I got up earlier to know the element « with time ». And no sign. Oh… my choice (?).
    Curiously I thought about the wind all morning… as the leaves at the park in front of the office where dancing all the way. The green was still very vivid and the light was soft and « luminous » in a kind of religious way. This morning was warmer then yesterday.
    While into this deep feeling of connection with the park, I sent happy birthday to a friend and shared the view of my green. It seemed that the wind was asking the leaves… is it time? is it time to fall, though softly.
    And she replied: I’m ready, I’m already spinning.
    And suddenly Spotify started to play Autumn leaves, Chet Baker.

    And what an energy!

  6. zoe 29 octobre 2015 at 23 h 18 min - Reply

    « aha! i’ll get to pay attention to another element today », i thought to myself as i read Amy’s post this morning. There was then action and non-action all day. Though i felt the element even during the non-action: my breath is always there. This rudimentary element. Then there is an extension of it in various branches. the wind that makes the maple leaves fall all over, the one that dishevels my hair blocking my view on the bridge, or the one that rushes through my gut disguised as frustration upon seeing a huge torn garbage bag on a narrow sidewalk.
    It’s always awesome to realize for the nth time how inseparable all phenomena are! And how is it that more often than not, i forget this blessed reality?
    Walking back and forth from home to metro stations, a persistent voice, synchronized with the wind energy, kept coming up and asking: what do i get out of feeling separate? look and see…
    Sleep tight and dream in colors everyone

  7. Ocean of Generosity 29 octobre 2015 at 23 h 16 min - Reply

    Esposende is a town known by the north wind, water from the river Cávado the sea and the green of its beautiful gardens and mountains.
    But today there was no north wind, only a fresh breeze of air, which brought me good news.
    The surgery that my mother did went well, my daughter received the classification of two tests, geography 94%, and mathematics 98%.
    But as the Koan say « It’s your mind that’s moving », I noticed today that the agitation was in my mind, I was always talking.
    My husband asked me, « Why don’t you stop talking? Aren’t you in a retreat? Good point, thanks for remind me that.
    I bow, good night.

  8. marlene 29 octobre 2015 at 23 h 13 min - Reply

    This morning: cleaning my friend’s house, sweeping ,put things on my bag…on a busy mood . But when I was folding the bed sheets alone I was very concentrated and did it very slow: aiming that the extremities gather with final precision.

    Back to Lisbon now. Mother called me: Sininho, our 14 older cat – she was blind- died today. So confident she always was. May she rest in peace.

  9. Sophie 29 octobre 2015 at 22 h 53 min - Reply

    Ten p.m., back home, I discover  » Heart of Life/Coeur de la Vie: Day/Jour IV ».
    Ten a.m. this morning, I left home without knowing that my day would be green, wind and karma. I was confident.
    Je vis cette Retraite au coeur de la vie très différemment des autres. I don’t sit. I write here. I accept that it is my way to do it this time. J’ai confiance.
    I decide to continue next week, and the week after, and week after week with this rhythm of days colored and identified with Elements and families:
    Monday White Space Buddha family
    Tuesday Blue Water Vajra family
    Wednesday Yellow Earth Ratna family
    Thursday Green Wind Karma family
    Je vous emBRASse,

  10. Telma 29 octobre 2015 at 22 h 02 min - Reply

    I’ve always tried too hard. I’ve always believed that the rythm of my days was given by the Wind of my life, now i see it was me… Running, hiding, being who i was not…
    Today there was no Wind except on the drive way back home…
    Now i say no to extra work, i worry only with what is on my hand to Be done… I ask myself am i being selfish, careless, irresponsible? The answer to This is fear. The fear foi being judged, the fear of being devaluated…
    Today and now i just want to sleep… Wind scares me… But my worst nightmare is the person i often see at work and moves like the Wind on a storm and livres in my body.

  11. Manon 29 octobre 2015 at 21 h 59 min - Reply

    Mes yeux se ferment déjà à la fin de cette journée. Zazen en pyjama. J’ai sillonné toute la ville à vélo jusqu’à ne plus pouvoir pédaler. Mais suis-je un jour partie ou même arrivée ? Les mots de mes livres de cours ne semblent pas vouloir s’ordonner dans ma tête. Sclerodermie-Psoriasis-Myelome-Pneumothorax-Herpes-Insuffisance mitrale-Cytomegalie virus- Lymphadenopathie. Pourquoi suis-je en train d’apprendre une langue qui n’annonce que des mauvaises nouvelles ? Dehors, il fait nuit.
    Good night.

  12. Chiara-Emma 29 octobre 2015 at 21 h 36 min - Reply

    No wind today. Lack of sleep is beginning to take its toll on me – I am really not used to getting up early. While I woke up before the alarm rang on the first day of the retreat, today for a minute, I felt tempted to do my meditation in bed! As I had been trying to stick to the instructions, Sensei Amy’s description of what appeared to me as the exact opposite of a zen day came as a surprise and, in a way, a relief when I read it. Now I feel a bit less guilty knowing She was not able to sit yesterday morning…

  13. Miguel 29 octobre 2015 at 20 h 20 min - Reply

    Today i don´t feel will to move, just stay, quiet, present to the needs that make me stay…

  14. Perfect Way 29 octobre 2015 at 19 h 22 min - Reply

    Action! you said sensei, and active I have been; mindfully active today and it hasn’t been windy at all!
    Got a lot of stuff done with it and only catching my breath now after a hot shower.
    The story you tell about the flags moving in the wind popped into my mind as soon as you mentioned « wind », sensei. It was one of the first zen stories I heard from you and one of those with which I experienced what words cannot describe.
    To read all the comments today and in previous days during this retreat is a highlight on my days. It is a reminder that even if I feel alone sometimes in this big city, with not many to sit with, there are a multitude of us here, always here, even when I don’t see you. As I write these lines my parents are flying from Porto to London where they are coming to stay for the weekend. Without knowing – it is actually better if they don’t know! – they are being part of this « gathering of heart-mind ».
    Thank you everyone for being here. Thank you for your diaries. Thank you.

  15. Evi 29 octobre 2015 at 16 h 33 min - Reply

    When we did the enactment of the Gate of Sweet Nectar at ZCLA, I had to play Samanthabadra, the Bodhisattva of the Wind-Family. I was riding down the street on Lily’s scooter, passing Avalokiteshvara, who was just to slow for me. It was of no use to explain the Americans that I’m just so well organized, to get through sooner and be able to laze around longer. The result was, that they gave me more work. Welcome to America 🙂 It’s good to be back in Switzerland. Sometimes I still want to pass and compete, that’s part of my nature. When I learned the Mandala with Tsuldrim and the united couple of air and action manifested, I was there. I love riding the bird of life like the hero in Avatar his dragon.
    Today I’m still a bit sick, nothing to do, nowhere to go today. The smoke of the incense during morning service get lost in nowhere.
    Tomorrow I fly indeed – to Krakau and Auschwitz. Nothing to do and nowhere to go there, just to bear witness to where efficiency can lead when it unites with righteousness and a need of control – In myself and others. I also know how this same energy does blossom in healing action and the certainty that all can be accomplished –in myself and others. Bearing witness to that as well. In the middle of my busy life – stop – redirect in accordance with my vows, and then I go for it.
    I might have played the right character in the Gate of Sweet Nectar 🙂

  16. margarida 29 octobre 2015 at 16 h 20 min - Reply

    who am i behind the glass, observing the wind dragging thoughts in and out?
    Chopin is still playing for me while the rain continues to fall my tears..
    once i furiously danced the wind, trying to live the experience of Iansã (Orixá, the queen of lightning, cyclones, hurricanes, typhoons, gales…). the two years daughter of one Brazilian friend of mine, told him: « when i grow up, i want to be the wind ».
    who am i behind the glass?

  17. Joy 29 octobre 2015 at 16 h 00 min - Reply

    What it the right amount of efforts? I ask myself. When things are overwhelming, so much so that rather than being poud of myself how much things I got done with efficiency or beginning to blame those around me not doing enough, I tell myself, let’s not try to do much. Perhaps I am doing too much, at the same time, with the speed of wind.
    Let me take a breath and dicsern what is essential and what can wait.

  18. Hugo 29 octobre 2015 at 14 h 47 min - Reply

    Wind in. Wind out. Continuously. Early birds fly high. And low. And everywhere. Smile and crawl. I crawl with you. And drool. With you. Who is more excited? I make a video of your first crawling. And feed you. Feed me. You love to eat, taste, discover. To grab and do it yourself. Mum is sleeping. Dreaming, maybe. Dawn is a special space and time. Earth is coming alive. And you’re full of life, also. Life on the move. However, I don’t know when I will travel again. Lately, I’m feeling like a wind inside a jar. Still a wind, yet… At work, she tells me that she is a mixture of emo and tomboy. I’m puzzled! There’s a lot that I don’t know. This reminds me of climbing Tatamailau, the tallest and most sacred mountain in Timor Leste, two years ago. We walked the 3000 mt during the night. I forgot my flashlight and used only the fading light of my mobile phone. I did not see where I was putting my feet. Yet, I continued. Up there the coldest wind ever. And Holy Mother statue. To overcome the chill wind we walked, in circles, around Her. On the descent, I was a flower of the mountain. Yes my heart is still there yes.

  19. Flamme d´or 29 octobre 2015 at 12 h 09 min - Reply

    Action Yes
    To be honest I have the impression
    But I can´t really know it is an impression
    and I do just what I do
    That my action is sometimes inspired and more clear by my non action
    My sitting
    Day after day
    In the morning
    Just sitting
    Just looking
    Not intervening
    being there by what comes up
    Sometimes I see
    How I chose again and not aware a way which brought no bliss
    Good to see and to go on
    Like a daily cleaning of the mirror
    Where there is steam day by day
    And then during the day
    In the action
    Listening to the people I work with and for
    Sometimes I stop
    Sometimes we are there just meeting each other
    Nothing must be done
    It is good to dare to go slowly
    In listening
    In acting
    In acting and going with ourselves
    What comes up and what may be there
    Just that it may be without intervening
    That we stay by and care for by whatever that arises
    By whatever that is said
    There are ears, there are hearts beating,
    there is just space and place
    It can be the medicine
    Towards health

  20. ceu 29 octobre 2015 at 12 h 00 min - Reply

    the wind
    le vent
    o vento

    avant je voulais ecrire quelque chose, mais ça es volez avec le vent

    une belle et activ journée pour tous le monde

  21. Beginners Mind 29 octobre 2015 at 10 h 25 min - Reply

    my mind goes wondering
    whirlwinf of energy.

    Green Tara smiles
    the wind stopped
    rain keeps falling.

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