Monday, February 2, 2015

"Spiritual" but not religious (Zen Diary)

Amber Larson, Xochitl, CC Liu, Crystal Quintero, Dhr. Seven, Wisdom Quarterly; David Gabriel Fischer, The Zen Diary (photosdavidgabrielfischer); Camissonia, Los Angeles
Massive Kwan Yin on a lotus platform in meditation in rural Theravada Buddhist Thailand at Wat Huay Pla Kung in Chiangrai province (Jay Ho/JayDMR/

Some people are very religious but not very spiritual. Others are just the opposite. To be "spiritual" is to be in touch with the breath (Sanskrit prana, Latin spiritus), a symbol of the invisible power, the immanent. It is the source of life, seen by its impact, felt in the body, the gateway to blissful mindful concentration (ana-pana-sati).

Devas surround Kwan Yin Bodhisattva, Goddess of Mercy, Lingyin (Laci_csonka/flickr)
But who really lives it nowadays? What if someone were to retreat to a Zen monastery or a rural property to get away from it all and contact the most important thing? That would be interesting.

Nature is the best antidote for city madness, cosmopolitan civilization the best antidote for rural bumpkinism. But somewhere between the two, there must be a middle ground for cultivating the Middle Way (Majjhimadesa) that avoids extremes of sensual indulgence and self-mortification.

The great outdoors is the temple (church), Nature the great goddess, and silence the entrance to the great communion. But going to a solemn service and chanting or singing the old spiritual hymns with others can also be fun, for then community serves as the communion.

The Zen Diary My life in a Zen monastery

Since August 2013 I have been living at Zen Temple Ryumonji in Weiterswiller, France. From the first day on I have been keeping a photo diary named "The Zen Diary." Photography, for me, has become a form of meditation that I practice every day: The posture of my body that breaths naturally, the objects of meditation that I find in my surroundings, and finally the moment, the light, not thinking, silence, presence…click. Those interested in the photographs or to simply leave a note, feel free: All the best! - David Gabriel Fischer (

Nature's Camissonia
My Photo
Camissonia and Gil's bff.
Cami was born and raised in Buddhist Taipei, Taiwan, and came to Southern California 1983 to attend college. Eventually she earned a degree in English then ended up in the exciting world of math, working as an operations manager at a brokerage firm. In 2002, her work life took another weird turn when she became an administrator for an architect and property developer. Disturbing developing land became her niche ever since. In 2006, Cass, Gil, and their pooch moved from a small townhouse in Los Angeles to a rural five acre property in Murrieta, California. They work full-time and love coming home everyday from the discombobulating pace of L.A. to fresh country air (with hints of horse manure from the neighbor's corral). What could be better than land development and a daily 3+ hour round-trip commute? Beyond family, friends, and work, there is gardening (particularly California natives), birding, slow cooking, and botany. Here are some things I love:

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