Monthly Archives: February 2014


We treasure the narrow side as our inside
and fill it with sake, or soy sauce, or pills
living our compact lives the way humans do

But maybe these little creatures whom we call bottles
think of that wide open space
that we humans call the “outside”
as their inside?

Open minded as these creatures are
maybe they contain everything within their skin:
Us humans, and the earth, the galaxy,
and the whole universe

Even the smallest bottle
like those eye drops over there
might just as well contain all the other bottles
as it is contained inside them

Mado Michio

February flees, February 27th 2014

There is a saying in Japanese: “Ichigatsu ha iku, Nigatsu ha nigeru, Sangatsu ha saru”, literally January walks, February flees, March leaves. Each of the months passes away, but February seems to be in a special hurry. All of a sudden already two months of the new year have passed.
Today we did the monthly big temple cleaning. Tomorrow will be the free day before the 5-day-sesshin. And after the sesshin the residents will have another ten days or so to write their final report of the winter study period. On March 26th we will accept newcomers, and work outside will start again. At this time of the year will still have masses of snow, but most of it should have melted until then.

Those of you who have followed the homepage for some while might have noticed that rules concerning newcomers changed about two years ago. Until then we would accept anyone coming at any time for any period of time. Now we are looking for people who are willing to stay for three years, are able to communicate in Japanese and are between 18 and 40 years of age. Some of the reasons are explained on the Staying at Antaiji page. It should be obvious that a place like Antaiji needs a crew of long term residents who can communicate with each other to survive (and not only do they have to communicate with each other, but alsoanswer phone calls, talk to visitors or Japanese nurses when they need to go to the hospital, and bureaucrats when extending their visa etc).

A view days ago I got specific question about the age requirement. Here is my answer:

“About the age minimum:

With people under the […]

Last dharma talk during the Antaiji winter study period: Sabine Timoteo in the “cage”, February 25th 2014


First paint a cage
with an open door
then paint
something pretty
something simple
something beautiful
something useful
for the bird
then place the canvas against a tree
in a garden
in a wood
or in a forest
hide behind the tree
without speaking
without moving…
Sometimes the bird comes quickly
but he can just as well spend long years
before deciding
Don’t get discouraged
wait years if necessary
the swiftness or slowness of the coming
of the bird having no rapport
with the success of the picture
When the bird comes
if he comes
observe the most profound silence
wait till the bird enters the cage
and when he has entered
gently close the door with a brush
paint out all the bars one by one
taking care not to touch any of the feathers of the bird
Then paint the portrait of the tree
choosing the most beautiful of its branches
for the bird
paint also the green foliage and the wind’s freshness
the dust of the sun
and the noise of insects in the summer heat
and then wait for the bird to decide to sing
If the bird doesn’t sing
it’s a bad sign
a sign that the painting is bad
but if he sings it’s a good sign
a sign that you can sign
so then so gently you pull out
one of the feathers of the bird
and you write yours name in a corner of the picture

– Jacques Prevert, translated by Lawrence Ferlinghetti

Yudai talks about the last question in the Bendowa, February 23rd 2014

Spaghetti party in the snow, February 22nd 2014

Tsukan’s hobby horse: Enneagram applied to Dogen’s Bendowa, February 22nd 2014

Western breakfast @ Antaiji

Sabine Timoteo’s first day as Antaiji tenzo. After 5 days of training in the kitchen with Jisui, she will be now in charge for the next cycle. While she is preparing a Western breakfast, Tsukan sets the tables in the dining room, and others study or meditate until it is time for the meal. Today is a free day with no scheduled practice except meals and cleaning.

Jisui’s talk on Bendowa, questions 15 & 16, February 19th 2014

Snow around lichun, February 5th 2014