February 27, 2009 by  

Kitabu Roshi with a Buddhist Monk

Kitabu Roshi sits with a Buddhist Monk at the Wat Promkunaram Buddhist Temple in Arizona.

-Photo by Reverend Jeanene McQuillen-


The gyroscope was invented in 1852 by the French experimental physicist Leon Foucault (1819-1868) as part of a two-pronged investigation of the rotation of the earth. (On display at Bowdoit College)


As a child I was fascinated by a gyroscope spinning on top of a string. Even though it teethered this way and that from time to time it always returned to its center.

The world is not always peaceful. There is turbulous  every day. Pressure comes in many ways from the economic downfall of the country to violence in the streets. Anger gives rise to child abuse and murders but  people can also do emotional damage with uncontrolled words.  When the mind is disturbed it can easily transfer its  discontent to another person, even if they are innocent. We do not have to be constantly disturbed by the shifting tides of events. We may be knocked off balance or even lose our peace for a moment but we do not have to dwell in that negative space.  Like the gyroscope we can return where we our center. With practice, it  becomes effortless but first we must learn to become rooted in peace.

When I was a child I heard a song on the radio promising that “there will be peace in the valley some day.” Even at a young age, I felt the power of that promise because I had already witnessed acts of violence and knew the damage it did to a soul. We hear of movements to establish global peace. That vision is attractive to most of us. However the most we can hope for on any large scale, global or domestic, is a ceasefire. We can take away weapons but violence arises when the spiritual nature of a person is channeled through a negatively focused mind. Even without sophisticated tools of destruction such a person can disturb the balance of life in many ways. Hatred, itself, is a corrosive power. There is a great difference between policing people to control their behavior and genuine peace. Peace can not be achieved by government legislature or military might. It is a life-altering gift that happens within you first of all. Out of that precious seed the mighty tree is born. Its roots are not superficial. If they are deep, many people will find shelter beneath its branches.


There is power in peace, if you are really experiencing it. There is no power in the mere concept of peace. Too often people become prisoners of concepts, dogma and doctrine, never realizing that they are not yet embracing the spirit of the teachings. Sadguru Sant Keshavadas reminded disciples, “Letter killeth-Spirit saveth.” This teaching should be fully examined, not with the intellect but absorbed into the consciousness because it teaches something very important to our transformation. If you are spiritually centered you may feel moved by temple bells whether they ring from a cathedral or a Buddhist monastery. The call to prayer resounding from a Mosque may also touch you. If you are bound to a narrow concept, however, you may be offended by any call to worship that does not originate from familiar quarters.


Peace at the experiential level is universal. At the conceptual level, such is not the case.


A few years ago I lead a satsang in Arizona. During my stay, Reverend Jeanene McQuillen drove me to the grounds of the Wat Promkunaram Buddhist Temple where I had an opportunity to share with the resident monks. While I was there I learned that six monks, a nun and a two novices were murdered in the temple, execution style., some years ago. The tragedy took place in August of 1991. Whoever the perpetrators were, neither the peaceful way of life of the monks nor the sacred ground, itself, deterred them from committing the horrendous crime. According to what I heard, the nine Buddhist laid on the floor face down, and were shot to death as they laid helpless before the attackers.. Despite that violent blot on its history, Wat Promkunaram, still radiated an air of peace as I entered the inner-sanctum. I was graciously received. I reflected on the story of executioners coming at night to shatter the stillness of the temple and take lives, What if I had been there among them? I knew that the peace within me would have been expressed in a different way.

My Dharma path is serene but not passive. There is no fixed Dharma as people presume. It is a medicine formulated to heal specific soul ailments. It is not a solution mixed by the ego. Its source is traceless but its affect is profound.


When I was nine years old my parents read an article about Queens, New York housewife, Kitty Genovese. One night she was attacked on her way home from work. There within hearing of at least two hundred neighbors, she screamed as she was stabbed 27 times, only yards from her building. The image of a helpless woman crying out for help as people watched from the safety of windows, haunted me. I prayed to God that if He would give me the wisdom and the power I would never walk away from a cry for help. With that prayer began the journey to Zen Mushin Ryu and the Soul Sword Zen Mission. It would be years, however, before the names would come and I would understand the profundity of that childhood prayer. I love peace but it is not given to me to stand by and allow the violent to prevail. It is written, “blessed are the peacemakers for they shall be called the sons of God.”There must be those who are strong enough to counteract those bent on destruction. To stand idly by while the innocent or weak are harmed is also a form of violence. The peaceful aren't powerless. They choose to walk the path of harmony. If you choose that path, you must realize that you may be called upon keep the peace...make the peace.


Christ taught that we should love our neighbors (others) as we love ourselves. By making that command he accepts as a matter of course that we do, in fact, love ourselves. Yet, this one platform which is so vital to the development of a spiritually healthy being is rarely received or understood. The power inherent in this one message is too great to be measured. We sing and write about love but mostly we direct it away from our own being and invest it in someone else, whether God, Man or animal. Love that starts abroad, that is, elsewhere, is without roots. The Bible says that Charity (love) starts at home and spreads abroad. It grows within you and radiates out to the world. If we work the formula backwards by loving everyone but ourselves, it may seem virtuous but we are deluding ourselves. We may gain some ego-satisfaction believing we are doing the “right thing” but this is not real love.


All things are reducible to the one...” We begin with numeral one and proceed from there. From the standpoint of your actual experience, not the product of your mind, after the fact, life and all it contains in the elemental and spiritual aspects began with your consciousness of it. In the purity of that moment without thought, the universe can not be separated from you. You are one suchness, as Buddhist would express it. What we call love is lived spontaneously in our inherent No-Mind state before language rules and divides. Desiring our well-being is not a Philosophy. When cold we seek warmth. When hungry we reach for food. If fear rises, we naturally seek protection. There is nothing complicated about the way we sense and respond to life when we are not processing outside data. Soon, however, our perception is altered. We know longer live from the depths of our being. We become creatures of the world, victims of the beast. We are manipulated into following a collective pattern that is supposed to be the norm for everyone. When we accept this as truth we find ourselves conforming.


This very act of blindly conforming to the dictates of an outside power does violence to your True Nature. The Lord states, “be not conformed to the image of the world but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind.”

We are brought full circle. We came into the world at peace with ourselves, loving being without reference to a “self” to love. The world forces a “self” on us and one day the inner-peace is broken. There is an edict against fighting “The System” so that we are renewed. Unaware of the many levels of deception, many seekers and religionists settle for a passive life. There are times when even the peace-lover must rise. Even Jesus Christ made this clear,

If you have no sword, sell you robe and buy a sword,” He says In the book of Luke. One can be certain that the innocent nor the weak need fear the sword of Jesus Christ but the message sends a signal to evil forces. The peacemakers must also carry swords but they are motivated by love. The Soul Sword Zen Mission reflects that admonition of Christ. “Protect my sheep,” The Lord said. Shepherds fend off the wolves, the lions and the poachers. They are not motivated by concepts but the necessity of the moment. There is power in peace but you have to exercise it to discover the uniqueness of its expression.



 The Soul Sword Zen Mission (American Vishwa Shanti Zen Mission) is powered by the faith-full and no one else.

Contact number: Uma  646-340-2032  or

Write Raymond Thrasher 


Out of the stillness of the earth beauty sprouts for all to see.

Out of the stillness of the earth beauty sprouts for all to see.

Photo by Jeanette Emory


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