Zen and The Sacred Drift

“no suffering, no extinguishing, no path, no wisdom and no Gain” –Heart Sutra–

You walking,
your footprints ARE the road,
and nothing else;
There is no road, walker,
you make the road by walking.
By walking you make the road,
and when you look backward,
you see the path that you
never will step on again.
Walker, there is no road,
only wind-trails in the sea.

It has fascinated me to no end, that along most of the touching and enriching journey, called the Sacred Drift, there have been so many White Plum Lineage Zen Centers and other Zen Communities paralleling the Sound/Peace Chambers. I have had the blessed opportunity to explore, experience, learn about and sit Zazen with these beloved Sanghas, and I would like to share a morsel of the Zen aspect of The Sacred Drift!!! We are ALL, Together, Dancing the Dream Awake!!!

To study the way of enlightenment is to study the self. To study the self is to forget the self. To forget the self is to be actualized by myriad things.

Plum Village


My first introduction to Zen and Buddhism was through the compassionate teachings and books of Thich Nhat Hanh or Thay, as his students affectionately call him. In 1992, I had experienced the sudden loss of a beloved and proceeded to descend into the depths of a cocoon. In this darkness, I began to question EVERYTHING in this Life, and a wise Elder in my life held me in a heart-space of compassion for many months after the shocking experience of this loss. She lent me tapes of Thay’s retreats at Omega and books that he had written, and my voyage into my true nature was sparked! I have since then participated in two deeply enriching and connecting mindfulness retreats within Thay’s lineage; the first with my dear father in Estes Park, Colorado, that led to a voyage through India; the second, with my beloved partner, Jason, in May of 2017, at Plum Village France, where the Sangha and we learned how to Mindfully and Deliciously Cook the Supreme Meal, that is Our Lives!

The New Hamlet-Plum Village-Mindful Cooking retreat, in France, was Heartening and Beautiful!!!  Time was spent in Zazen, mindful eating, noble silence, kinhin (mindful walking on Grandmother Earth), cooking demonstrations, Dharma Talks, breathing, hearing the bell, stopping and returning to oneself, taking delight in amazing Vietnamese vegan meals, inter-being with the participants, nuns and our worldly Dharma circle (‘the awesome pot washers’), making music, connecting with the French Countryside, birdsong and sky, and digesting all the bits of Thay, that were beautifully infused in the entirety of this retreat! It was truly a "how to cook the supreme meal with your life" retreat!  Dogen would have reveled in the joy of the nuns and participants. (Joyful Mind, Compassionate Mind, Generous Mind, cooking the Supreme Meal!) Heeeee and I spent time slowly absorbing Dogen’s How to Cook Your Life/New addition that Roshi Shishin in Colorado recommended!   Synchronistic! Meeting some new “Spirit Sisters” from around the world, at the retreat, was delicious too!!!  I spent precious time in council with Sister Peace, an African American Nun, who I first met at the Estes Park retreat. Sister Thang, facilitator of our smaller “pot washing” dharma circle asked Jason and I if we would be interested in participating in Thay's "Beginning Anew" Dharma class presentation that she was guiding one evening.  It was a powerful relationship experience and we appreciated the opportunity.  Jason and I received beautiful heart-centered feed back from many of the larger Sangha participants...it seems that our expressions of how we 'cook our lives' were inspirational.   Quite Beautiful!  HA!...and wouldn’t ya know it, our relationship has had several opportunities to benefit from holding council and ‘beginning anew’.  We are thrilled to have these tools and are willing to use them! Jason and I were deeply inspired by our retreat experiences and inter-being with the special hearts at Plum Village that we both decided to receive the transmission of the 5 Mindfulness Training Precepts, and received touching Dharma names.  Luminous Dana of the Heart is mine and Unfolding Lotus of the Heart is Jason's.  Thank you Thay, Sisters and Volunteers at New Hamlet. Much Gratitude and Love to you ALL.

The first day of the retreat, a Nun sounded the Bell and offered the “End of Suffering Chant”. It was a powerful and transforming experience to absorb!

A powerful version of the Plum Village Great Bell Chant (The End of Suffering)I highly recommend accessing yourselves to these vibrations!



“Happiness is Here and Now…”



Fast forward nearly 20 years and the same wise loving Elder, who guided me to Thay’s Mindfulness practice, led the way to the compassionate clarifying teachings of Adyashanti, a contemporary wise teacher of the Tao and Zen, who shares his wisdom from a compassionate, ‘down-to-earth’ and wise Heart-Mind. I have participated in several of his Satsangs in Philadelphia and he shares a live free Satsang broadcast once a month from the above website.

“Who’s living in you? It’s pretty horrifying when you come to know that. You think you are free, but there probably isn’t a gesture, a thought, an emotion, an attitude, a belief in you that isn’t coming from someone else.”
-Anthony de Mello-

Soji Zen Center


One Sunday, many many moons ago now, I was walking through the neighborhood in Drexel Hill with a friend of mine. We were talking about my life’s interesting, if anything else, journey, so far, and I had stated that I would really like to deepen my ‘meditation practice’. No sooner than the words flew out of my mouth, my friend pointed across the street and said, “Well looky there! Soji Zen Center!” We proceeded to run, not walk, across the street, and I entered the ‘gateless gate’ for the first time. My friend and I were kindly greeted and welcomed by a Zen monk, named Ango, and he gave us the ‘scoop’ on the Zen center and the schedule of events. My heart was immediately drawn to the energies, the layout of the Zendo, the scent of pine incense and the practitioners at Soji. And so, the deepening of meditation began! I sat every Zazen, and Zazenkai session possible, received my first Zen teachings of form, from Dharma Brother, Oshin, attended every class that Shuzen Sensei offered, within my means, went to various workshops offered by Sangha members and participated in at least one or two days of the Sesshins. It is impossible to put into words, how this incredibly heart-centered Sangha and authentic teacher, Jules Shuzen Harris Sensei, opened and nurtured my Heart-Mind. What I can say is, I took refuge in these Three Treasures during a time of great conflict, suffering and transformation! The Soji Sanga is an incredible and diverse Sangha and I am left with eternal gratitude and love for the loving kindness, compassion and generosity that I have received at Soji! Deep Gassho Bow!!!



“Not knowing IS most intimate”
“Abiding no place, raise the Bodhi Mind”
“You ARE more than you could possibly imagine!”

Zen Peacemakers


In January of 2014, while sitting Zazen, I had a vision. About six months later, this vision, what is now called the Sacred Drift, commenced with a complete dissolving of life as I had known it on the East Coast for over 30 years, a commitment to ‘Dancing this Dream Awake’…saying Yes! Yes! Yes!... and following a silver thread that led me to the first Zen Peacemaker’s Native American Bearing Witness Retreat in the Black Hills of South Dakota! The Social Action work of the Zen Peacemakers is phenomenal; like nothing I have ever experienced and learned about! If you are interested in understanding more about the Zen Peacemakers, I recommend the book, Instructions to the Cook by Bernie Glassman and cliquing the link above.


The Three Tenants of the Zen Peacmakers 
Not-Knowing; by giving up fixed ideas about ourselves and the universe
Bearing Witness; to the joy and suffering of the world
Taking Action; that arises from Not-Knowing and Bearing Witness

Laughing Teabowl Zendo


After the Zen Peace Maker’s Native American Bearing Witness retreat and my last day in Rapid City, South Dakota, August 23, 2015, I was welcomed graciously and warmly to sit with the Laughing Tea Bowl Sangha in Rapid City, where I learned that several of the practitioners have connections on the Pine Ridge Reservation. Shishin Roshi and Sensei Gyodo, of the Colorado Great Mountain Zen Center (GMZC), are the teachers in this sweet Zen community and travel up to South Dakota a few times a year. Some of the Sangha members travel to Colorado for Sesshin at GMZC! Now there’s dedication and devotion!

“Sweep away the scattered thoughts, and practice charity without dwelling” –Buddha– (from the Diamond Sutra)

Great Mountain Zen Center at Maitreya Abbey


After my family welcomed me to make Colorado my “home-base” for the duration of the Sacred Drift, Shuzen Sensei, the Abbot at the “home” Zen Center, Soji, recommended that I connect with Shishin Roshi, at the Colorado Great Mountain Zen Center, once I settled. Life has a great sense of humor and timing! As it turned out, Life intended Shishin Roshi and I to meet much sooner. We connected the first day of the Zen Peacemaker’s Native American Bearing Witness Retreat, on the tour bus, and experienced this deeply moving retreat together, along with about 200 other retreat participants. Roshi kindly carried my flute case at Wounded Knee, while I offered vibrations to Ancestors, at this sacred painful site of remembrance, and for some reason, this touched my heart.

A few weeks later, I landed in Colorado with my family and joyfully started sitting with the Great Mountain Zen Center Sangha and working koans with Roshi. This GMZC Sangha sits all over the Front Range!!! A lovely heart-ed senior student, Yugen, guides Zazen at Tranquility room in Lafayette on Sundays, Shishin Roshi offers Dokusan and Zazen every Wednesday at Dharma Ocean, and Gyodo Sensei offers Zazenkai at Willow Farm, in Hygiene and regular Zazen on Mondays, in Boulder. Monthly Sesshins, Annual Autumn Ango periods, Great Heart Work Shops and more, are held at the Great Mountain Zen Center at Maitreya Abbey, in Berthoud, Colorado, where Shishin Roshi’s wife, Shinko Roshi is Abbotess of the Maitreya Abbey. Inter-being with these two amazing Protectors of the Dharmaand the GMZC Sangha has been quite special and hearten-ing! It has been especially thrilling to inter-be with the HORSES and Goats during Samu practice at the Abbey! I have NOW, found a new Dharma Home-base, where I relish and honor the Three Treasures with Love and Heart!

"You can understand all of Buddhism, but you cannot go beyond your abilities and your intelligence unless you have robai-shin, grandmother mind; the mind of great compassion.
—Eihei Dogen—



Zen Center of Los Angeles


In October and November of 2015, I was invited to Sacred Drift with an amazing community in the Los Angeles area, and had the exceptional opportunity to sit often with the Zen Center of Los Angeles-Great Dragon Mountain Sangha, where the White Plum Lineage originated! The Zen Center of Los Angeles and Abbot Wendy Lou Egyoku Nakao Roshi, celebrated its 50th Anniversary in 2017! ZCLA was founded by Japanese Zen Master Hakuyu Taizan Maezumi Roshi in 1967 (the year I was born!!!) and was the training grounds of his influential successors, starting with Bernie Glassman. Today, ZCLA's robust residential and lay sangha is deeply involved in the local community of immigrants, artists, homeless and refugees. I was welcomed with open hearts and respectful gassho bows, and was so happy to inter-be with some of the Dharma Family that had just participated in the Native American Bearing Witness Retreat! In addition to Zazen, Fusatsu and Dharma Talks, I was invited to join 2 precept classes and I even participated in a Zen for Beginner’s class and learned additional comfortable ways of sitting Zazen! I bought a few books from the ZCLA book store about Taizan Maezumi Roshi and his teaching, as I was really curious about this White Plum Lineage that I have been karmically drawn to. This is how I learned that he started ZCLA the year I was born, and I was deeply struck when I learned that Maezumi Roshi took his mother’s name. There are more Women Roshis and Senseis in the White Plum Asanghas than in any Zen Practice WORLD WIDE!!! Now I know why my Heart feels at home with this Dharma Family!

This afterword was originally delivered as a tribute by Father Robert E. Kennedy, S.J., a Catholic priest and Zen master,
at the funeral of Maezumi Roshi, August 27, 1995.

Distinguished guests and dear friends. It is my pleasure to relate to you my last and most memorable conversation with Maezumi Roshi here in Los Angeles.

Maezumi Roshi told me that Buddhism today differs fundamentally from the Buddhism of the time of Sakyamuni Buddha.

“Surely not fundamentally different,” I asked the Roshi.

“YES,” Maezumi answered, “fundamentally different.”

Maezumi Roshi said that Buddhism in Japan today with its strong ascetic emphasisi was nowhere known in the time of the Buddha.

More than that, Maezumi Roshi said that not only can Buddhism change fundamentally but it must change fundamentally. In every century and every culture Buddhism must find new forms to teach the people standing in front of them now. It is unthinkable to have a static Buddhism in a changing world. It is unthinkable for Buddhism to imitate old forms of teaching and living, no matter how precious those forms may be.

More than that, Buddhism must not only leave its old forms of expression Buddhism must leave Buddhism itself in order to enter the Field of Blessings, the Field of Blessings that transcends every human insight and every religious civilization.

More than that, Maezumi Roshi said that Buddhism must be open to the non-Buddhist. Self-giving knows no boundaries, self-giving know no end.

And then to my delight, Maezumi personalized his teaching. He said how happy he was that I, a Catholic priest, came to Buddhism to study and to learn. And he said how happy he was that Bernie Glassman Roshi had prepared me to stay and to teach.

For me this is the spirit of Buddhism: subtle and generous and open to the stranger. And for me this was Maezumi Roshi’s spirit-subtle and generous and open to the stranger.

More than that, Maezumi Roshi knew there was no stranger.

Maezumi Roshi, May I bid you farewell in a poem of your own language that you once said you appreciated and surely matches your spirit.




Kudakute mo
Kadkute mo ari
Mizu no tsuki

Though it be broken again and again
Still it is there
The moon in the water

Village Zendo


There is a special place in my heart for the Village Zendo. First of all, I would consider Enkyo Roshi to be my Dharma Granny, as she is Shuzen Sensei’s Dharma Mother. I have found her to be a strong and compassionate teacher and protector of the Dharma in the Heart of New York City! She ventures to Philadelphia a few times a year to grace the Soji Zen Center with a Dharma Talk and her presence.

I have had the opportunity to sit with the Village Zendo Sangha many times, when visiting and staying in New York, with beloved Dharma Family, Oshin and Monshin, and when traveling abroad from JFK Airport, with long layovers. The very first time that I was enchanted by the Creative Village Zendo Teachers and Sangha, happened one early Sunday morning, when Shuzen Sensei asked if I would be willing to drive him to New York, so he could deliver the Dharma Talk. It was a beautiful day, spending this time with Sensei and the Village Zendo Sangha. I was honored and gifted beyond words by simply being ‘the student driver’. Not long after my return from India, I ventured to New York to spend time with my beloved Dharma friends, Oshin and Monshin, and I experienced a very powerful Dokusan with Joshin Sensei at the Village Zendo. The Tao was flowing fast and furious and Joshin’s calm clear ability to bear witness was exceptional in those moments. Thank You Joshin Sensei for your wise presence and responsive heart! I Gassho Bow to you.



nusubito ni torinokosareshi mado no tsuki

the thief
left it behind—
the moon at my window.

Zendo Brazil


As I mentioned before, it is tremendously fascinating that along this Sacred Drift where the Peace Chambers exist, White Plum Lineage Zen Centers are found! Brazil was no exception! I had the pleasure of sitting Zazen with the Sangha and the beloved Zendo Dog of ZendoBrasil.   The Zen teacher there is Roshi Coen De Souza, or as she is known in Brazil, Monja Coen de Souza. After Zazen, and while continuing to face the wall, Monja Coen de Souza gave a profound Taisho talk from Dogen’s Shobogenzo, first in the lyrical sounding Portuguese and then in English. She was amazing, shifting languages back and forth, and she did it to benefit this Sentient Sacred Drifter! Incredibly Musical!!! It was beautiful to meet Monja Coen de Souza. She graciously offered me an apple and tea, and expounded a bit about her experience as a Zen student of Taizan Maezumi Roshi, and her many years spent practicing in Japan, while we waited for my hosts to pick me up.



Playing Flute, Riding Ox

Hudson River Zen Center


I have yet the opportunity to sit with the Hudson River Zen Center Sangha in New York, and at some point in my continuum would love to do so! I have, however, spent quality time with the teachers of this Zen Center during the Native American Bearing Witness Retreat. Roshi Grover Genro Gauntt is an exceptional patient teacher, by example and wholesome effort! He connected the Zen Peacemakers with the Lakota Elders of the Pine Ridge Reservation, and after, what I imagine years of hard work, co-created this ExtraOrdinary experience of bearing witness to what the First Nations peoples have had to endure and suffer. Sensei Paco Genkoji Lugovina was a delightful presence at this Bearing Witness Retreat in the Black Hills. His transformational joy and energies illuminated the council circle of which I was a part. Each day, in order to process, through the heart, what we were bearing witness to; all 200 participants broke down into smaller intimate council circles. It was a powerful transformative experience to ‘circle up’ with the wise Zen practitioners of the White Plum Asangha. Unbeknownst to me, until much later, my council circle held the wise hearts of Sensei Paco (HRZC), Michel Genko Dubois Roshi (Dana Sangha), Egyoku Roshi (ZCLA), Deb-Faith-Mind (ZCLA), June Tanoue (Chicago-Hula) and more, who I have heart-connected with along this Sacred Drift. If I ever doubted the existence of the Tao, I now have great Faith! How wonderful that we are ALL flowing in this Mysterious Miraculous Flowing River of Life!

ONE DAY by David Whyte

One day I will say
the gift I once had 
has been taken,
the place I have 
made for myself
belongs to another,
and the words I have sung
are being sung by the ones
I would want.

Then I will be ready
for that voice
and the still silence 
in which it arrives.

And if my faith is good
then we’ll meet again
on the road
and we’ll be thirsty,
and stop
and laugh
and drink together again
from the deep well 
of things as they are.

Dana Sangha Paris


I first met Roshi Michel Genko Dubois at the Zen Peacemaker’s Native American Bearing Witness retreat, where I knew him as Michel. We were in the same council circle together and I was deeply taken with the authenticity and warmth of his heart-sharing. Being completely enraptured by the French language, I was thrilled to learn that Michel was from Paris, not knowing at the time that he was a Roshi at the Dana Sangha, in Montreuil, outside of Paris, and his partner, Catherine Genno Pagès Roshi was the Abbotess of the Dana Sangha! I learned, after the fact, that this council circle was loaded with Amazing White Plum Lineage Roshis!

In May of 2017 my beloved partner, Jason Ruby, and I, Sacred Drifted together, through France and Belgium, with the intention of exploring Zen, Ancestry, Culture, Chocolate and Architecture. I had contacted Michel to see if he knew of an airbnb close to the Dana Sangha, where Jason and I could stay and sit with the Sangha, while exploring Paris. Michel responded graciously, and said ‘why don’t you two stay with us at the Dana Sangha, this way you will have more opportunity to practice with the Sangha’! I was thrilled, and so Jason and I accepted Michel’s offer.

It was wonderful to experience the intimacy of the Dana Sangha Zen Center community via sitting Zazen, experiencing Dokusan with Michel Genko Roshi, hearing a Tibetan Lama expound on the Heart Sutra with Genno Roshi, chanting the vows and sutras in FRENCH, playing flutes and enjoying meals in the Buddha garden, interacting with visiting friends of the Roshis and inter-being with the rest of the Sangha for the first two weeks in France!  Jason and I were invited to bring music to a Thursday Zazen, in lieu of the weekly council circle, and so we created a musical council circle out of the opportunity. Jason and I were struck by the profundity of a Dharma sister’s sharing. Her name is Basia and she was grown in Poland. Basia stated, after absorbing the Native American Flute sonorities and Jason’s synchronized percussion, that she experienced a rainbow between two mountains! WOW! Roshi's Catherine and Michel are Gems, and I am grateful to have had the opportunity to heart-connect with them. 

One of the most striking qualities of the White Plum Asanghas, aside from their great determination to ‘study the self…” and offering extraordinary workshops, is their commitment and dedication to service work. Some Dharma Brothers and Sisters work in soup kitchens, in prisons, in ‘strip joints’…yes, compassionate Dharma-work has been offered in ‘strip joints’…, with the homeless, aiding elders, hospice, nursing homes, Bearing Witness Retreats, Street Sesshins and much Much MUCH more!!!

What is Zen? “ Simple, simple, so simple.
Infinite gratitude toward ALL things past; Infinite service to ALL things present; Infinite responsibility to all things future.”
–A Zen master’s answer to Huston Smith’s question “What is Zen”




Luminous Dana of the Heart / Lisamarie's "Mission Statement"...for lack of a better discription. :o)) HA!

"A person can be an 'instrument of peace' a catalyst of understanding, by getting herself out of the way.  Training her mind, transforming personal passions, 'reducing herself to zero.'  Nothing separates us from LIFE/MYSTERY/SOURCE of MU but self-will, the deep clinging to oneself as something separate from the rest of creation.  The whole of the spiritual life is a dedicated, sincere and systematic attempt to remove this illusion of separateness once and for all."  This is the "why" to my devoted practice to Shikantaza! I will serve the world more effectively as I liberate myself! ;o))