Detachment and October Highlights
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de11bb77-3306-4f7e-a3ef-b2c47fbc2bdc.jpgBuddhist teaching often admonishes us to be detached, and it’s hard to know what that means. So – let’s talk about that a bit. You might have a sip of your coffee or tea right now, look away from this screen, and think about what it means to you. Come back in a moment, though. OK. Maybe you thought of being detached as not feeling, not having preferences, not being involved. That’s what usually comes to mind. But when we remember Shakyamuni Buddha, we notice that he was a passionate person who was heavily involved with human equality, dignity, and peace.  And he was an awake person. He is our model of an awake person.

I found a nice definition of detachment in Shinshu Roberts’ Being Time: A Practitioner’s Guide to Dōgen’s Shōbōgenzō Uji. Being detached, she says, is about non-possessiveness. Non-possessiveness is not manipulating things and ideas for our own comfort and power. Not saying “This is mine” while ignoring the needs of other people, of other living things, of rocks, water and earth. It’s like seeing a dish of candy on a counter or on someone’s desk, looking at the delicious little morsels on offer, and saying “Those aren’t mine.” With this, our desire leaves – that’s not my candy to eat as I please. We can enjoy the colors and shapes and pass by cheerfully, leaving them for others.

Part of non-possession – detachment - is being comfortable with our discomfort. Our human desire is to manipulate the world so that we can live in comfort and avoid discomfort. This is neither bad nor good, and it doesn’t make us flawed. It’s helpful. If we didn’t have this want, we wouldn’t last very long in this world. However, it can grow from being a need for shelter from the cold and rain to a longing for a mansion with servants to keep it clean and warm. How do we take care of this situation?

Detachment means first stepping back. When we are face-to-face with something we desire, we step back to notice our wanting. Where does this come from? Is necessary for our well-being, like a glass of water when we’re thirsty? We make a bit of room between the urge and the action. We notice how this want is just one in an endless parade of wants. We notice how we think that satisfying this want will give us peace. We remember times when we acted on this idea and, rather than finding peace, we found another want to satisfy. We popped one of those candies in our mouth and then wanted a cup of coffee to go with it. Seeing this, we can just let things be rather than trying to own and manipulate them.

Then reality becomes a remarkable place and we step forward into it unencumbered by our wants. We step forward. We see more clearly and move more freely. We are interested in everything and enjoy everything. We can even enjoy our self-referential ideas and put them aside to do what reality asks of us. We are curious even about this self – What am I? Why am I sad? Why do I hurt? How can I use these things to understand reality? If we have pain, we can use that to understand how to cope with pain and how to help others cope with pain. If we are alarmed at social injustice, we can work to understand why we’re alarmed, then use that understanding to help solve the problem.

In a week or two the leaves will be red, yellow, and orange. Let’s enjoy them fully while they’re here, remembering that they belong to themselves and not to us. They are a reminder of non-possessiveness. We might pick up a few pretty ones to give to someone. Or perhaps to keep, making room in our heart for them to grow dry and fade.


October Highlights

October 13-15: Sesshin with Shoryu Bradley

Friday - 7:00  p.m. to Sunday - 5:30  p.m.


Please sign up by October 10 to assure a place

Sesshin begins at 7:00 p.m. on Friday, October 16, with a short orientation followed by zazen at 7:30. It ends at  5:15 p.m. on Sunday, October 18.

If you need oryoki instruction, please come at 6:00 p.m. on Friday.

Fees are $25 per day or $15 for a morning, afternoon or evening only.  For a complete schedule, go to

Sunday sitting and dharma talk are open to everyone. 

Sesshin is a silent zazen retreat, a chance to sink more deeply into practice. The daily schedule includes zazen, sutra chanting (service), a dharma talk, and work. Meals are eaten silently in the formal style using oryoki bowls. In chanting, zazen, eating, and work we turn our lights inwardly, illuminating and investigating our egoistic habit of thought. The silence and attention to detail of sesshin point us away from self and toward the ground of being. To do sesshin, even for a morning or an evening, is to renew limitless mind.  A typical sesshin schedule is available here .



October 17: Introduction to Zazen

7:30 p.m. - 9:00 p.m.


The Zen Center offers a one-evening introduction to Zen Buddhism and zazen. This includes a talk about Zen, zazen instruction, a short period of zazen and an opportunity for questions. Donations are welcome.


Other News


Work Day - Thanks!!


Thanks to everyone who has helped to put the basement back together after our waterproofing - Myoho Kendall, Kristian Leitzen, John Rathbun and Zuiko. 

If you missed this one, there will be others!! 



When you #StartWithaSmile, you can have Amazon donate 0.5% of the purchase price to Cedar Rapids Zen Center. Bookmark the link and support us every time you shop. We don’t want to promote attachment, but we do need stuff to live. 


Coming in November


November 18: All Day Sitting

5:00am - 4:40pm

All-day sittings are informal times of sitting together, and a chance to do a mini-retreat for a morning or spend an entire day sitting, walking, chanting and sharing food. Participants can come and go as their schedules allow. If you’re from out of town and need to stay overnight, there’s room at the center. Donations are welcome; there is no fee. 


November 20: Introduction to Zazen

7:30 p.m. - 9:00 p.m.


The Zen Center offers a one-evening introduction to Zen Buddhism and zazen. This includes a talk about Zen, zazen instruction, a short period of zazen and an opportunity for questions. Donations are welcome.




Other Sitting & Sangha Opportunities


Bloomington-Normal, Illinois group meets at 9:00 a.m. on Sunday mornings at Palms Together Yoga, 1717 R.T. Dunn Drive, Unit E in Bloomington. For more information, click here or contact them at

Cedar Falls, Iowa group meets Saturday mornings at 7:20 a.m. and Tuesday evenings at 7:20 p.m. in St. Luke’s Episcopal Church at 2410 Melrose Drive. For more information, email them at

Des Moines - Daishin McCabe and Jisho Siebert lead half-day sittings from 1:30 to 4:30 p.m. on the first and third Saturdays of each month at Pure Land of Iowa – 8364 Hickman Road in Clive. For more information contact Daishin.

Weekly practice

9:00 a.m. Zazen
9:45 a.m. Dharma talk
10:30 - 11:15 a.m. Samu (working meditation)
11:15-11:45 a.m. Tea/Discussion

6:30 - 8:00 p.m. Monday Night Dharma

12:15 – 12:55 p.m. Zazen

6:30 – 6:50 p.m. Zazen
6:50 – 7:00 p.m. Kinhin
7:00 – 7:20 p.m. Zazen
7:20 – 7:30 p.m. Kinhin
7:30 – 8:00 p.m. Zazen

12:15 – 12:55 p.m. Zazen

6:30 – 7:10 p.m. Zazen
7:10 – 7:20 p.m Kinhin
7:20 – 8:00 p.m. Zazen

6:30 – 7:10 p.m. Zazen
7:10 – 7:20 p.m. Kinhin
7:20 – 8:00 p.m. Zazen

12:15 – 12:55 p.m. Zazen

Monthly practice

Third Wednesdays
7:30 – 9:00 p.m.  Introduction to Zazen and the Center

Second and fourth Thursdays
5:30 - 6:30 p.m. Baika

6:30 - 8:00 p.m. Dharma Study

Fourth Sunday
Sangha meeting (following dharma talk)
Click here for more information about Cedar Rapids Zen Center.
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