Mist Among Grasses

MattAndJojang's Blog

A View of Our Garden on a Cold, Foggy and Rainy Day

Mist among grasses
Silent rain
Evening calm.

–Yosa Buson

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The Gentle Rain Falls

The gentle rain falls

On a foggy afternoon

Refreshing the air.

~ Jojang


MattAndJojang's Blog

View of the moon from our garden

Over the city
The clear bright moon is rising
On a warm evening.


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Shakyamuni Buddha’s Birthday: What It Means For Us

MattAndJojang's Blog

The real Buddha sits within.


Today, April 8, we celebrate the birthday of Shakyamuni Buddha. Sharing this short reflection about what his birthday means for us.

We could celebrate the birth of the Buddha thinking that we are having a birthday party for a somewhat mythological guy who lived several thousands of years ago. And that would be okay, but, it would really be missing the point. Because the point of Buddha’s birthday is to take a day out to celebrate a buddha being born, but to do that, really, we have to understand what “buddha” really is.

Now, scholars agree that there probably was a man who lived in this region of this world, around this time, and was a great person and a great teacher. And today is as good a day as any to deeply thank this person for what he brought to the…

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No Beginning, No End

MattAndJojang's Blog

Painting: Enso (Artist: Soen Mugaku)

No beginning,
No end.
Our True Self
Is unborn and deathless;
It is empty,
Yet boundless.


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A Glimpse of Oneness: A Zen Practitioner’s Experience of our True Self

MattAndJojang's Blog

ICM House of Prayer (Photo: Baguio Zen Center)

When a flower blooms, the world springs forth.


Sometime in March of 1999, I attended a one-week Zen retreat. Up to that time, I was practicing Zen meditation on-and-off, mostly by myself, for a little more than 20 years. I attended the retreat to simply jump start my Zen practice. Never did I expect that something wondrous was going to happen to me.

The retreat started uneventfully. Sr. Sonia Punzalan Roshi, our Zen teacher, was late. She explained that the traffic was terrible. It started with an orientation talk.

For a day or two, we were asked to count our breaths, after which we were assigned the koan Mu. We were asked to synchronize the koan Mu with our breath. Sitting with an erect back in the meditation hall, we were asked to say Mu mentally with each…

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2020 Christmas Letter

Lord, help me to live this day quietly, peacefully. To lean upon Thy great strength trustfully, restfully. To wait for the unfolding of Thy will patiently, serenely. To meet others peacefully, joyously. To face tomorrow confidently, courageously. Amen.


2020 has been a year of unexpected events that none of us has ever asked for.

A lingering pandemic, devastating floods, wild forest fires, volcano eruption, not to mention the economic impact all this has wrought to us and the world.

I guess, none of us can truly understand why all these are happening, but I surmise that Someone is telling us something … I saw an FB post from a friend’s wall:

“I thought 2020 would be the year I get everything I want. Now I know 2020 is the year I appreciate everything I have. “

The year started with a visit from Susan, Martha, and company who came all the way from Canada. Matthew was so happy to see them after a very long time! It was such a joyful reunion.

Time spent with Jun is always a delightful experience. Jun and Matthew, who’ve been friends for almost 43 years, were brought together by their love for Zen and meditation. Hope to see you again soon!

By the end of January, we were overjoyed to see our dear, dear friends – Dave and Wawi – who came all the way from Manila. They had to come up to Baguio to attend a convention, and we appreciate it that they took time out to visit us!

Weng and Babes — Jojang’s friends from Manila – also dropped by our house. Our pleasant exchange of light-hearted conversations, lifted up our spirits.

Jojang had a chance to blow her birthday cake that Tita Teri and Tita Lety brought on their visit to celebrate her 60th birthday! Oh my! What a delightful and enjoyable time we spent together.

Come mid-March the country – and the world – was put on lockdown. It took us all by surprise but  I’m still blessed. Why?  Because I don’t mind being stuck at home with Matthew. #cheesy!

Last July, our dearest Tita Dory passed away. Matthew and I were deeply saddened by this news. We wanted to pay our last respects to her and dropped by for a short visit to the wake.

We are deeply grateful for the love and concern of our doctor and friend, Dr. Chona. She volunteered to give our flu shots at home to spare Matthew the risk of going out during the pandemic…. Thank you so much, Dr. Chona!

With most of us at home, most meet ups are virtual through Zoom or Google Meet. This has proved to be a big blessing especially for Matthew:

What turned to be a global crisis during this year, because of the coronavirus pandemic; turned out, for Matthew, to be a time of grace and blessing as Matthew reconnected with our Zen community – Bahay Dalangin Zen Community.

The weekly Zen meditation meetings, the bi-monthly zazenkais (one-day Zen meditation meetings) and sesshins (Zen retreats) has significantly deepened Matthew’s  spiritual practice.

Matthew is profoundly grateful to our sangha (Zen community), especially to our teachers — Sr. Sonia, Fr. Efren and Lydia…

Finally, we cannot end this letter without mentioning our blog. Now on its twelfth year, we have grown to have 384 followers and have surpassed the half a million hits at 531,439 .  As our cyber community continues to grow, we never expected this blog to touch so many people. Thank you for allowing us to share our lives with you.

From our family to yours, Merry Christmas and may you have abundant blessings for the coming New Year.

— Matthew and Jojang

The Dance of Life

MattAndJojang's Blog

Photo: Israr Syed/Flickr

At the still point of the turning world…

There the dance is.


When the boundaries between self and other blurs,
The ego dissolves.
When I and you interpenetrate each other,
The self disappears.
There is just the dance of life–
Dancing itself!
Where is the self?
Where is the other?

Gate, Gate, Parasmamgate, Bodhi Svaha!
(Gone, gone, gone all the way over,
everyone gone to the other shore.


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The Matter of Life and Death

MattAndJojang's Blog

When you have attained your self-nature, you can free yourself from life-and-death. How will you free yourself from life-and-death when the light of your eyes is falling to the ground?

The Gateless Gate

When we start to work on and reflect on koans, certain koans stand out and resonate with us more than the others. One such koan for me is this koan from the Gateless Gate, which partly reads, “How will you free yourself from life-and-death when the light of your eyes is falling to the ground?”

At first glance, some of you may wonder why such a koan which deals with death is something that is close to my heart.

As some of you know, the Dalai Lama meditates 5 hours every day. And one of the things he meditates on is death. A journalist once asked him why he meditates on such a morbid subject matter…

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2019 Christmas Letter


In the garden
The tall bamboos are dancing
The sound of the wind.


ZenRetreat Collage.jpg

The year started with a joyful note for us when we were invited to join a retreat by the Bahay Dalangin Zen Community. There, we met with Sr. Sonia Punzalan (Matthew’s Zen Teacher),  Fr. Momoy Borromeo, and the rest of the sangha. Matthew was given the chance to share with the group his Zen journey which was well received. During Mass, Fr. Momoy had a healing session and prayed over us… What a beautiful moment, indeed! Thank you Bahay Dalangin Zen Community for your warm welcome.

Holy Spirit Sisters-May2019.jpg

The next few months were challenging. We are grateful to the Holy Spirit Sisters who offered their place for us to live in. Thank you Sr. Linda, Sr. Marijo, Sr. Mahil and the rest of the community of Sisters and the staff!

Ricky and Corito.jpg

We are deeply grateful to our dear, dear friends – Ricky and Corito – who were an answered prayer at the time that we so desperately needed it.

Your home, The Cabana, is so beautiful with a lush garden that makes it conducive for prayer and meditation. By the way, the Haiku posted at the beginning of this letter was composed by Matthew in a moment of inspiration in this marvelous home.

We would like to also thank Ronnie and Jimmy who took the time and effort to help us fix up the place.


Last October, I rushed Matthew to the hospital where he was diagnosed with pneumonia. The sun-less and continuous stormy weather during the months before that took its toll on his health. Thank God he was brought just in time and recovered quite well. Thank you so much Dra. Chona for always taking care of us.

Manila Trip Collage.jpg

Sometime November, I was able to visit Manila to see family and friends. It was a short but hectic trip. My love tank is full !  Thank you everyone for taking time for me.

Visitors Collage 2.jpg

During the year, Matthew and I had visitors.  Thank you for cheering us up and brightening our lives!

Finally, we cannot end this letter without mentioning our blog. Now on its eleventh year, we have grown to have 368 followers and have surpassed the half a million hits at 520,269 views. As our cyber community continues to grow, we never expected this blog to touch so many people. Thank you for allowing us to share our lives with you.

From our family to yours, Merry Christmas and May you have abundant blessings for the coming New Year.”

~ Matthew and Jojang