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

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

So today is Friday, our last day ‘officially’ on this retreat together. ‘Together’ is a key word today, the day of the red family, padma, the day of the fire element. This is the element of the lotus, a flower that flourishes in the mud (‘May we exist in muddy water with purity like a lotus,’ the oryoki chant leader says, or in French, ‘Dans l’eau boueuse, puissions-nous demeurer avec purté comme un lotus.’). The mud is right here, the mud of our lives just as they are. What is purity? Be attentive to that…

Today, pay attention to red and fire and heat and connection and communication as you go about your day. This padma family is about compassion and wisdom through union, but it can also be about seduction and passionate jealousy. Can you feel those aspects of yourself? Look closer!

I’ll end with an appeal for each of you to leave a trace of your presence during the week by offering a few words here. I’m immensely grateful for this experience shared with you all. Many thanks, merci, obrigada…

By | 2015-10-29T23:09:26+00:00 octobre 30th, 2015|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. Madalena Machado 31 octobre 2015 at 13 h 28 min - Reply

    Sitting in silence, it came to my mind, what « purity » means to me.. LOVE! Yes!

    That pure, deep, « white » LOVE that comes out and flourishes from greed, anger, jealousy (that are also part of me too, although I would rather prefer not to) like the lotus that flourishes out from the mud..

    Deep in my soul, I see LOVE that shines out from darkness and that makes me believe and reckon, how blessed I am… That life may not always be shiny, pure and pleasant, as I would like to, but that it is up to me, to choose either to stay in the mud or flourish..

    May we all have a pure, white day full of LOVE…

  2. margarida 31 octobre 2015 at 0 h 41 min - Reply

    thank you Amy for this beautiful challenge, your words will resound within me until the next retreat. thank you all for being wild flowers, of all the colors…my dharma family. Metta

  3. Telma 31 octobre 2015 at 0 h 09 min - Reply

    i apologize but today i need to express myself in portuguese, the language of my heart and soul.

    Hoje a primeira coisa vermelha que vi foi o meu sangue. Enquanto arranjava as unhas depois de iniciar o dia como habitualmente com meditação. Olhei para ele e pensei no seu calor que é o calor do meu corpo e na sua origem que é um fim em si mesmo. Atrasada, mas sem correr, fui para o trabalho. No percurso o vermelho das árvores da avenida que desço, as luzes dos travões dos carros com que me cruzo, os sinais de trânsito que me alertam e delimitam. No percurso para o trabalho o vermelho estava associado a perigos, alertas, sinais de paragem, a Outono e queda. As palavras do poema da música que ouvia arrepiam-me e comovem-me às lágrimas. Sinto que o dia está carregado. Chego ao trabalho. Hoje tudo deve dar certo e eis que as lágrimas voltam despoletadas por comunicação falhada. Julgo-me pela reação. Porque continuo a ser assim? Surpreendentemente peço 5min e vou lá fora. Respirar. Ouvir-me, sentir-me. Foi um gesto de auto-compaixão. Comecei o dia a tratar de mim e cortei-me, a querer ser flor na lama que sou eu e desmoronei, e acabei tendo compaixão. Por mim. E tendo compaixão por mim terei compaixão pelos outros.
    O dia foi de honesta união e partilha com quem estou dia-a-dia no lugar que mais desafios pessoais me coloca, com pessoas estranhas que nunca vi, com quem vive perto de mim. Foi mais um dia bom, quando o prenúncio era de um dia desequilibrado e ventoso.

    among so many things i’d like and want to say the most important is thank YOU. thank you for listening, for sharing, for giving without fear, for your silence, for your wisdom, for letting me know that we live individually but we’re not alone.

  4. Sophie 30 octobre 2015 at 23 h 57 min - Reply

    Monday, space even in jail, space à la place des dents de lait tombées « tu as vu mon trou? » dit Emilie, 7 ans et édentée l’espace de quelques semaines, space dans chaque bulle de champagne pour fêter l’espace de vie échangée sur notre nouveau site
    Tuesday, lack of water in my mouth as I had to speak to students, how privileged we are with water, l’eau du robinet, l’eau de pluie, l’eau de nos larmes
    Wednesday, abundance frightens me
    Thursday, wind is the breath of Selma, who was born 3 weeks ago, elle dort dans mes bras, j’écoute son vent respiration qui doucement me berce, je ferme les yeux, je suis loin du travail, en famille, 4 générations présentes
    Friday, I eat a delicious red (and yellow) apple ramassée dans l’herbe du jardin d’une amie le week-end dernier; for the first time, a woman who lives in the foyer d’hébergement I work for, asked me if I had fire; tonight, at the « Red Earth Center », the place we sit together every Friday, we were only three, very few compared to the forty participants of this Heart of Life retreat, and we spoke of these letters we post and read every day on the new pink blog, I thought this is like a « circle », writing from the heart, a real practice of union and compassion, merci Amy to offer us this wonderful opportunity, merci writers and readers, merci our heart.

  5. Patrícia 30 octobre 2015 at 23 h 56 min - Reply

    “To leave a trace of your presence”… Today these words echoed in my mind… To « be here »…It has been a challenge for me to share some words here, to leave a trace, to « be here ». I often prefer not to and rather stay « invisible », refraining from showing up, connecting or showing my compassion to others, as a way to hide my own vulnerability… I did it again today, procrastinating about a project to help people in need. Why is the heart afraid of the mud?
    Thanks to everyone for « being here ». I felt it all: Family, Together, Heart, Connection, Compassion and wisdom through union.
    I am so happy to have shared this with you. Obrigada!
    “May we exist in muddy water with purity like a lotus”

    • Christine 31 octobre 2015 at 17 h 12 min - Reply

      Hi Patricia, I recently read an inspiring book about vulnerability: Daring Greatly – How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead (author Brené Brown).
      And with leaving a trace here you dared greatly, so thank you for your courage ! I, too, know well this preference for staying invisible !

      • Patrícia 3 novembre 2015 at 13 h 45 min - Reply

        Hi Christine. Thank you for your kind words and book reference (I will check it out!). « Daring greatly », what an inspiring motto 🙂

  6. zoe 30 octobre 2015 at 23 h 46 min - Reply

    Read Amy’s invitation on today’s share again. Amazing, my attention was pulled to a different part of her words–the flow and shift always amazes me, nothing is fixed.
    Purity, the concept that caught my attention now, is having developed the knack of staying in mud, without letting it dry.
    All movement will come to a halt, if we do. No breath, no touch, no warmth… wonder if love, this basic life force will survive the dried up mud?
    As for simple, direct experience of fire in the being, i’ve always felt agitated with it or in it. One of my favorite body scans, or meditations, is when i lie down and breathe in water toward the upper part of my body and breathe out fire through the feet. Think i learned it from a book on Hakuin. The very best remedy for agitated head on this body at least;))
    Had a smooth day with this element today.
    Till tomorrow

  7. Rita 30 octobre 2015 at 23 h 42 min - Reply

    What a special week. I could remember all of you, and some others too, during the sitting and along these days. Thank you for being present. I bow to all and each one. With love. Rita (Coimbra)

  8. marlene 30 octobre 2015 at 23 h 18 min - Reply

    « May we existe in muddy water with purity like a lotus ». Now Sininho is under the earth at Carvalhinho. Once I’ve seen her dancing with a butterffly at mother’s garden. Today Joana ,mother and me barry her and put flowers, red seeds and olives upon the rock that is covering her. And as it happened during our retreat I feet that she really is part of this padma famíly bringing me the oportunity to share her uniqueness with all of you. May we all exist in muddy water like purity of a lotus.

  9. Helena 30 octobre 2015 at 23 h 13 min - Reply

    Today strange feelings are present….Oposite feelings are presente
    Thank you to you all

  10. Manon 30 octobre 2015 at 22 h 51 min - Reply

    Un sourire à partager.

  11. Chiara-Emma 30 octobre 2015 at 22 h 07 min - Reply

    Surprisingly, this morning I woke up long before the alarm rang. The fire of excitement?
    This afternoon, I had family obligations. Family! A word that for many years I thought I would no longer be able to use. But an aunt passed a few months ago and my cousins, a remaining uncle, aunt and I have been gathering lately to empty her place. For once, I felt included in the debates. I decided to wear my red jeans… have a lot of red clothes. The work went on through the early evening and I couldn’t help being amazed at how much this reunion was about fire in all its various aspects!
    This retreat has been an opportunity to prove to myself that taking some time to meditate on a daily basis is not impossible. Yes I did!.. and surely can continue doing it.
    With gratitude to Sensei Amy and the whole sangha.

  12. Christine 30 octobre 2015 at 22 h 04 min - Reply

    Thank you all for reading, posting and sitting ! I miss sitting together with others. Monday morning I felt very isolated and thought (as Tiaogo said) « That’s not a good week for a retreat ». I am glad I could go to Paris in the evening. And the following days although I sat on my own (and not very often as the kids are around all day) I felt your presence and the connection that came up by exchanging here on the blog.

  13. Miguel 30 octobre 2015 at 21 h 38 min - Reply

    like on other retreats, there was a going down to the deep waters of inconscious and a coming « up » to the luminous warm space of natural wisdom and compassion, to the warmth of being one with the elements and the others, the togetherness of life-in my limited possibilities of feeling it, at the moment, of course.
    Hri in the heart of Amithaba, in the heart of Avalokiteshvara, in the heart of Amy, in my heart, in your heart, in the heart of every sentient beings flowing love and compassion from one to another.
    Thank you all

  14. Geert 30 octobre 2015 at 19 h 43 min - Reply

    Good evening,
    I don’t know Evi but I am struck again by her writings because there’s a strong resonance of these words in my heart.
    The com-passion to search for the marrow of life, this life, my life and to connect and commune with all life… here and now…
    Today is the day our family weekly sort of gets « reunited ». After a week of studying in Gent and Leuven,
    my elder son and daughter return home. Times have changed drastically for all of us since my wife has passed away some two years ago. Superficially our family seems scattered but we come back home and reunite over and over and we know mum’s spirit and love is there all the time. A red novene candle burns continuously in our meditation room and brings our consciousness towards this truth of union beyond separation…
    Thank you Sensei Amy for taking the initiative of organizing this retreat and to lead it, thank you all for participating and sharing ! Have a great weekend retreat in Paris. May all of you truly be happy ! (words borrowed from Tai Sheridan, a great author!)

  15. Beginners Mind 30 octobre 2015 at 18 h 01 min - Reply

    Today I decided to write late afternoon to see what the day brings. Sweet early bird sitting, shower, breakfast, running to work, reading Sensei’s instructions: Red/Lotus/Connection/Compassion.
    The color Red is all over: the kabuki picture on the Wall, the Ikea cabinet « Leica Red » just in front of me, the blouse of a colleague in the Canteen, the trees outside, the warmth of my daughters hug.
    After reading Evi’s amazing experience in Poland I felt jealous and made me remembre Bergen-Belsen that I visited in 1993.
    Compassion and Pain. Connection to my recently discovered hidden Sephardi roots,
    What is mud? dirt and water. Without it we cannot have the lotus.
    Time to go home.
    Feeling grateful. Thanks’ to you all.

  16. Joy 30 octobre 2015 at 17 h 56 min - Reply

    Just like any other retreats I had so far, I had a little crisis yesterday. Over sitting, I was extremely fizziting, gust of wind was constantly blowing in my mind stirring up all the residual feelings. I guess sitting calms your mind but at times surfaces all the lingering feelings.
    At the end, so what? After all those fighting, resisting, frustrating emotions, another beautiful morning started and I was sitting at the same place, looking out, feeling tired yet thinking ‘it’s a beautiful morning again’.
    Thanks for the beautiful experience. I appreciate the most zen at the heart of life. After all we can’t separate the practice from our daily life. Every single moment, every single encounter, every single thougt are our witness.

  17. Rita 30 octobre 2015 at 17 h 56 min - Reply

    Listening Maurice André, a french trumpeter, playing a piece from Johann Nepomuk Hummel, an austrian composer, with the Franz Liszt Chamber Orchestra, based in Budapest. And walls being built in Hungary and Austria (with Eslovenia). Where is the union? sometimes it seems the mud is stronger.

  18. Hugo 30 octobre 2015 at 16 h 36 min - Reply

    Forgot to say. My immense appreciation and love for you all. Ta everyone.

  19. Hugo 30 octobre 2015 at 16 h 30 min - Reply

    Oh yes, what a week. What a day. So utterly complete. I read that nothing is out of place. Do never think that things are out of place. What a book. Wise women. You’re wise too. Your toys are everywhere. You keep exploring the house. Life is embodied. Manifested. Spirit comes alive. Here. In your smile. And squeals. And winds. And your first steps on earth. Dishes wait to be cleaned. Body to be washed. Stomach to be feed. I’m excited about a new idea. Broadcasting a radio show about Lusophone music in Australia. Submission on the way. Stitching the team. I wear my red Mozambican shirt. Sometimes it feels that my heart is everywhere. Blowing in the wind. Where do I belong? Where is my house? Pessoa said that Portuguese language is my home. Maybe it is. Yet, I’m struggling to be perfect in Aussie. Oh well. I’ve heard that we should care of this life as it is the only one we have. We don’t know about past or future lives. Maezumi Roshi said it and his words keep coming back: « Niguém pode viver a tua vida excepto tu. Niguém pode viver a minha vida excepto eu. Tu és responsável. Eu sou responsável. » And he goes on: « Não conseguimos ver que a nossa vida aqui, neste preciso momento, é nirvana. Provávelmente pensamos que nirvana é um local onde não existem problemas e desilusões. Pensamos que nirvana é um lugar muito belo, algo inatingível. Sempre pensamos que nirvana é algo muito diferente da nossa vida. Mas o que precisamos de entender é que é aqui mesmo, agora mesmo. » What a ripper! And you know what… I made made this translation and wrote these words in a blog on the 4 September 2009. Living in Maputo then. Finished the book looking the Holy Spirit Bay. Sometimes I feel that in 38 years of life I’ve lived so many lives. And it keeps perishing. And not perishing. Together.

  20. Rita 30 octobre 2015 at 15 h 40 min - Reply

    Uf… just arrived from lunch at home. Ate beans. In the bus there were two episodes I kept with me. Three teens running a quite long way to get the bus, legs didn’t seem « enough », and the bus driver — hearing a pink t-shirt from a breast cancer campaign — just doing the best to make them losing the bus stop.. speeding up. (why?) Then suddenly someone waiting for a bus made a sign and asked for a destination which was not the route of this particular bus. Driver… damn. Teens entered the bus. Euphoria! they were so happy for what they had accomplished. And laughed so loud, and I laughed with them. It was soooo contagious. Then a few seconds later.. I swallow the laugh, looking at two blonde women, beside me, probably drug addicts feeling a huge hang over, just leaning on each other. I blocked. I felt immediate connection with the teens… and what about the women…
    (where was my compassion?)

  21. Evi 30 octobre 2015 at 12 h 38 min - Reply

    Shabbat Shalom from Karkau
    One of the crucial phrases in Dogens Genjokoan says: “Firewood becomes ash. Ash cannot become firewood again. However, we should not view ash as after and firewood as before. We should know that firewood dwells in the dharma position of firewood and has its own before and after. Although before and after exist, past and future are cut off.“
    What an amazing way to explain the dependence, the independence and the interdependence of life in one paragraph? This is the commitment of Bodhicitta and the heart of the Bodhisattva Vow for me.
    I once said, I want to live my life like a burning piece of firewood and burn it down until NOTHING is left but ashes. That I feel at the end of passionately reciting the Heart Sutra or the Enmei during morning service. That I feel when I say goodbye to a dead patient. That I say here in Poland in the middle of ash-fields and ponds filled with the ashes of millions. Everything said, this is it.
    This week in Auschwitz, I want to burn to ash completely. Then I want to start life out of the ashes, like a Phenix, rising, spreading my wings to fly a wide and wild circle range, bearing witness to the suffering and the joy of the universe. Completing this Mandala, returning back to the Center, starting the next round of a circle of a mandala, the Heart of Life.
    The shadow energy of this element is said to be greed. For me it is impatience. I often enough long for the silence and peace of the ash. According to the Buddha, both the source of suffering, the thirst to be and the thirst not to be.
    Probably my passion and love for the Dharma shines through with this statement. And it is so. Such I renew my vows every day.
    Now I arrived in Krakau, starting the Bearing Witness retreat this afternoon with a Shabbat Service in a old synagoge. Think of us a bit.
    Shabbat Shalom from Krakau

    • Tomas 30 octobre 2015 at 13 h 38 min - Reply

      Shabbat Shalom Evi, thank you for your sharing. Feel like I’m there too, while being here

  22. Tomas 30 octobre 2015 at 12 h 35 min - Reply

    End of a very busy (and immensely rich) week in the Balkans. So much humanity in a place that recently witnessed so much horror, violence and suffering….beautiful countries – Bosnia, Serbia and Kosovo – I had the opportunity to bring into this retreat. Today the end in Pristina, Kosovo, an « ugly city that smells like barbecue » that was so beautiful this morning as I strolled around after sitting, looking for the red color, connection and heat. All present under the warm sun. Mosques, students, cafés, cars, a 5-year old Roma kid wrapping his cat like a baby – a moment, a genuine smile and tender moment outside of his « begging role » – smiles, people red color again everywhere. All beautiful, all beautiful 🙂 Space, water, wind (in my face, in everyone’s movement), heat – all present 🙂

  23. Perfect Way 30 octobre 2015 at 11 h 57 min - Reply

    Today I woke up to different people in the house, new routines, different schedule… hence no sitting yet.
    As I sat down to write these words, my mind is buzzing with ideas of where to take my parents around town, what to show them. It is home for me too, now, and I will try to communicate that with them as we go along. Time to go, always moving.
    It has been a pleasure to witness this togetherness here and now, even if a bit there and gone.
    What a day! so full of opportunities. Love to all.

  24. Nina 30 octobre 2015 at 10 h 50 min - Reply

    Finishing off a very windy week and happy to have been on this journey with you, though my mind has blown about in every direction and sitting has not been possible. I was looking forward to sitting tonight but remembered I have a work obligation – more wind! I am grateful for the movement in my life but prize every moment I get to slow it down and take a closer look in your company.

  25. Joa 30 octobre 2015 at 9 h 39 min - Reply

    So, a new day is starting, with new possibilities. Starting afresh.

    I didn’t appreciate my day yesterday. If action was the word of the day, I completely failed, procrastinating way too much on the work I had to do, even thought the context in which I was sitting was perfect : my quiet studio, beautiful trees around…

    Letting go. Taking this opportunity to move forward: be present and carry on with the work that needs to be taking care of.

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