Zen + Dogs: Every-Minute Zen, 30 minute Union Street

This post is inspired by “Every-Minute Zen” a classic Zen koan reproduced in Zen Flesh Zen Bones: A Collection of Zen and Pre-zen Writings, by Paul Reps and Nyogen Senzaki. (North Clarendon, VT: Tuttle Publishing, 1985.)**

Oct 4

  • Lesson from Tom: Pay attention to the present moment, it’s the only one there is!
  • Sugi says, “When I’m walking, I take in the scent each step along the way.”



cracked sidewalk, uneven underfoot

skin and lungs/nose feel warmth and humidity

mild breeze, hum of landscaping machines

sprinkle of brown leaves crunch under sneakers

breath in just-discernible autumn scent

Maximum 30km

motorcyclemotorcycle parked but exploding hard pannier

City of Vancouver Heritage Building, mustard brown, black railings as outline

newspaper flicking cafe drinkers

hairy stock of a palm tree

ivyivy-type plant, interior leaves of green, pink on fringe

same pink, but deeper, flower with bright yellow centre

yet another, same pink outer petals on fuchsia bells, soft white interior, blooming crazily

across the street side by side smart renos with alternating black and white paint

Trans Canada Trail / Sentier TransCanadien, this way points the arrow

Residents Parking Only, clack of bikes passing

lionsgate to Vancouver Special, two concrete lions surrounding, right lion – right front paw lifted, left lion – left front paw lifted

guy in black with a large black cap accentuating his head

scent of detergent as he stops

“Cute dogs! How old are they”

“Black one’s 10, brown one’s 9”

guerilla folk festivalwhite and green Urban Guerrilla Folk Festival poster

crows caw about nut

guy in a bright green T-shirt, white earbuds letting out dim sounds

cross Gore, more crowded, cafés and bike shop

stop for water out of my pack

remove and fold sweater and stow,

change glasses to interior set

enter shop, browse the beautiful blues and blacks

Tom points to the door, so we head back, I still have a lot to learn


**Every-Minute Zen
Zen students are with their masters at least ten years before they presume to teach others. Nan-in was visited by Tenno, who having passed his apprenticeship, had become a teacher. The day happened to be rainy, so Tenno wore wooden clogs and carried an umbrella. After greeting him Nan-in remarked: “I suppose you left your wooden clogs in the vestibule. I want to know if your umbrella is on the right or left side of the clogs.” Tenno, confused, had no instant answer. He realized that he was unable to carry his Zen every minute. He became Nan-in’s pupil, and he studied six more years to accomplish his every-minute Zen.