2018-12-10

Aut. 12: Dec 10 - 16

Autumn, week 12
"That's what people ask me all the time: How do we invite more people of color? What I don't hear in that is: "I'm suffering. I'm experiencing trauma. What is it that I can do to help myself." --angel Kyodo williams
Saturday Zen: Sat Dec 15, 10:00 - 11:45am
room 24
Community UU
468 Rosedale Ave
White Plains, NY
Practice to be led by Meredith Garmon

Morning Zen. Tue, Wed, & Thu, 6:00 - 7:15am
Basement Zendo. See HERE.

Chants
For Mon Dec 10 - Sun Dec 16:
  • Compassionate Heart of Wisdom, p. 15
  • Hakuin's Song of Zazen, p. 17
  • Great Doubt, p. 18
Opening and Closing for Mon Dec 3 - Sun Dec 30:
  • Opening: Do Your Best, p. 20
  • Closing: Awakening to Discouragement, p. 72
See: Boundless Way Zen Sutra Book, 4th ed.   ☙   Supplement   ☙   BoWZ Westchester Chant Schedule

Reading for Sat Dec 15:
  • Primary Reading: Radical Dharma, "Radical Dharma: Liberation," pp. 155-176.
  • Optional Secondary Reading: Thich Nhat Hanh, Old Path White Clouds, Ch. 23, "Dharma Nectar," pp. 151-156.
For subsequent weeks (through May 18): See Schedule for Reading.
Next book begins Dec 30: Koun Yamada, Zen: The Authentic Gate. Order from Wisdom Publications (HERE) or Amazon (HERE).

This Week's Raven Tale: #82, Still Lonesome -- HERE

See Youtube dialog with angel Kyodo williams and Lama Rod Owens (29:53): HERE.

See angel Kyodo williams' TED talk: HERE.

Raven 82: Still Lonesome

Someone told you once to be open to the other. They forgot to mention that there is no other.

Case
Mole spoke up after Raven had his exchange with Owl and said, "I have a different kind of question. Is there a way to practice in ordinary times?"
Raven said, "The robin! The dove! The linnet!"
"Is it just a matter of being open to the other?" asked Mole.
"Still lonesome," said Raven.
Hotetsu's Verse
On the path,
First comes everything.
Second, everything again.
Third, return to first things.
Ordinal numbers
Mark ordinary time.
Case by Robert Aitken, adapted; introduction and "Hotetsu's Verse" by Meredith Garmon
Raven 81

2018-12-01

Aut. 11: Dec 3 - 9

Autumn, week 11
"You have to really insist upon only living within the vibration of love -- love that changes, love that confronts, love that holds you, love that allows you to make mistakes but only within love." --angel Kyodo williams
Saturday Zen: Sat Dec 8, 10:00 - 11:45am
room 24
Community UU
468 Rosedale Ave
White Plains, NY
Practice to be led by Meredith Garmon

Morning Zen. Tue, Wed, & Thu, 6:00 - 7:15am
Basement Zendo. See HERE.

Chants
For Mon Dec 3 - Sun Dec 9:
  • Bodhisattva's Vow, p. 22
  • Harmony of Relative and Absolute, p. 23
  • Fulfilling the Buddha Way, p. 40
Opening and Closing for Mon Dec 3 - Sun Dec 30:
  • Opening: Do Your Best, p. 20
  • Closing: Awakening to Discouragement, p. 72
See: Boundless Way Zen Sutra Book, 4th ed.   ☙   Supplement   ☙   BoWZ Westchester Chant Schedule

Reading for Sat Dec 8:
  • Primary Reading: Radical Dharma, "Radical Dharma: Love," pp. 137-154.
  • Optional Secondary Reading: Thich Nhat Hanh, Old Path White Clouds, Ch. 22, "Turning the Wheel of Dharma," pp. 145-150.
Reading for subsequent weeks (through Mar 2): See Schedule for Reading.
Next book begins Dec 30: Koun Yamada, Zen: The Authentic Gate. Order from Wisdom Publications (HERE) or Amazon (HERE).

This Week's Raven Tale: #81, Essential -- HERE

Dialog with angel Kyodo williams and Lama Rod Owens -- 29:53


Raven 81: Essential

What is "explain"? What exactly are we doing when we "explain"? There is the fact -- the thing that happened -- and then there is the "explanation" of the fact. Explanations place phenomena within a context of meaning -- which is essential, right? But the phenomena themselves, always both more and less than their explanation, are "more essential."

Case
One evening during the question period, Owl asked Raven, "How important are the words of the Buddha Macaw and her successors to our practice?"
Raven said, "Essential."
"Is there anything more essential?" asked Owl.
Raven said, "The bullfrog calls his mate."
Owl was silent but did not return to his place in the circle.
Raven continued, "You see, Owl, the Buddha Macaw explains it."
Owl asked, "What does she explain?"
Raven cawed.
Whitman's Verse (from Song of Myself, III)
There was never any more inception than there is now,
Nor any more youth or age than there is now,
And will never be any more perfection than there is now,
Nor any more heaven or hell than there is now.

Urge and urge and urge,
Always the procreant urge of the world.
Out of the dimness opposite equals advance, always substance and increase, always sex,
Always a knit of identity, always distinction, always a breed of life.
To elaborate is no avail, learn’d and unlearn’d feel that it is so.

I and this mystery here we stand.
Clear and sweet is my soul, and clear and sweet is all that is not my soul.
Hotetsu's Verse
Urge and urge and urge . . . To elaborate is no avail.
To no avail, yet essential.
Until, one day, not.
The uselessness of explanation
Must be explained, which does not suffice,
But to us afflicted with the rash,
the placebo salve helps us not scratch.

Everything depends upon bullfrog call, raven caw,
(and a red wheel barrow, if you've got one).
The signs may be divined
-- not for meaning, for beauty --
When symbol subdues symbol,
Colonel orders Captain to retreat,
And the battlefield is clear.
Case by Robert Aitken, adapted; introduction and "Hotetsu's Verse" by Meredith Garmon
Raven 80

2018-11-29

Nov 26 - Dec 2

Autumn, week 10
"Race is the ultimate delusion in that it both does and doesn't exist in reality." --angel Kyodo williams
Saturday Zen: Sat Dec 1, 10:00 - 11:45am
room 24
Community UU
468 Rosedale Ave
White Plains, NY
Practice to be led by Meredith Garmon

Morning Zen. Tue and Thu, 6:00 - 7:15am
Basement Zendo. See HERE.

Chants
For Mon Nov 26 - Sun Dec 2:
  • Days Like Lightening, p. 61
  • Heart Sutra, p. 14
Opening and Closing for Nov 30 - Dec 27:
  • Opening: Do Your Best, p. 20
  • Closing: Awakening to Discouragement, p. 72
See Boundless Way Zen Sutra Book, 4th ed.
Supplement
BoWZ Westchester Chant Schedule

Reading for Sat Dec 1:
  • Primary Reading: Radical Dharma, "Radical Dharma: Race," pp. 121-136.
  • Optional Secondary Reading: Thich Nhat Hanh, Old Path White Clouds, Ch. 21, "The Lotus Pond," pp. 139-144.
Primary Reading for next week (Dec 8): Radical Dharma, "Radical Dharma: Love," pp. 137-154.

This Week's Raven Tale: #80, Reading -- HERE

2018-11-24

Raven 80: Reading

Nothing wrong with reading, of course. Just don't let it get you all caught up in concepts. Read fiction: it tells the truth, though it comes at it indirectly. Read nonfiction, which also tells the truth and also comes at it indirectly. Everything written has something true to tell you -- maybe not what the words claim.

Your own life also communicates in this way.

Case
Granddaughter asked Grandma, "I've heard that some Zen teachers advise their students not to read. What is your opinion?"
Grandma said, "Read."
Granddaughter asked, "What should I read?"
Grandma said, "Watch for your name."
Turkey told Raven about this.
Raven asked, "How is that for you?"
Turkey said, "Dunno, Roshi. Books don't mean much to me."
Raven said, "You have your own works."
Verse
I found my name in Plato, for instance,
and in Rorty, Wittgenstein, Nussbaum, Dickens, Austen, Wendell Berry, and Garry Trudeau --
in Hesse, Laozi, Camus, The Amazing Spider-Man, and Arundhati Roy --
in Thurber, Thoreau, Dillard, Vonnegut, Brautigan, and the New York Times, for instance,
and in Hongzhi, Dogen, Dworkin (both Ronald and Andrea), Tom (both Robbins and Wolfe), and Irving (John, not Washington) --
in Woolf and Tolkien and Twain and Chas Addams and James Luther Adams,
For instance.
My name was on every page.
Because I wrote it there myself?
Possibly, but
The handwriting doesn't look like mine.
Case by Robert Aitken, adapted; introduction and verse by Meredith Garmon
Raven 79

2018-11-19

Raven 79: The Middle Way

If I tell you that your question is a good one, don't you see that it is now answered?

Case
One evening Woodpecker asked, "What is the Middle Way?"
Raven said, "Good question."
Woodpecker said, "You're dodging my question."
Raven said, "You're dodging my answer."
"The Middle Way" refers to (a) harmonizing opposites such as the particular and the universal, relative and absolute; (b) the Eightfold Path

Verse
The good question, at home with an apt mind,
Brings forth offerings,
Yet is not put to rest.
Lives on and repeats, repeats.

The apt mind, at home with a good question,
Stays the course between destructions
of one side or the other.
To fix an answer breaks the question.
Case by Robert Aitken, adapted; introduction and verse by Meredith Garmon
Raven 78

2018-11-15

Nov 16 - 22

Autumn, week 9
"The thing about our pain and suffering is that until it is met and seen for what it is, it doesn't go anywhere. It's like the dark places in your refrigerator, things hidden in little containers that you refuse to open because you don't quite remember when it got there. So instead of opening and facing the smelly containers you find, you ignore them and eventually run into an infestation, an overgrowth of mold and spores and bacteria and things that can kill you, because you didn't want to deal with them when they were just plain stinky." --Radical Dharma
Saturday Zen: Sat Nov 17, 10:00 - 11:45am
room 24
Community UU
468 Rosedale Ave
White Plains, NY
Practice to be led by Meredith Garmon

Morning Zen. Tue and Thu, 6:00 - 7:15am
Basement Zendo. See HERE.

Chants
For Fri Nov 16 - Fri Nov 22:
  • Loving-Kindness Sutra, p. 27
  • Guidepost for Silent Illumination, p. 38
  • The Many and the One, p. 60
  • Mind Like the Moon, p. 60
Opening and Closing for Nov 2 - 29:
  • Opening: Nothing to Do, p. 20
  • Closing: Compassion Unbound, p. 72
See Boundless Way Zen Sutra Book, 4th ed. and
BoWZ Westchester Chant Schedule

Reading for Sat Nov 17:
  • Primary Reading: Radical Dharma, "Radicalizing Dharma Dreams," pp. 75-88; "It's Not About Love After All," pp. 89-104.
    "Remembering Love: An Informal Contemplation on Healing," pp. 57-74.
  • Optional Secondary Reading: Thich Nhat Hanh, Old Path White Clouds, Ch. 19, "Tangerine of Mindfulness," pp. 125-131.
Primary Reading for next week (Nov 24): Radical Dharma, "Guess Who's Coming to Dinner: History of this Project," pp. 106-120.

This Week's Raven Tale: #78, Giving -- HERE.

2018-11-13

Raven 78: Giving

We hear from Grouse today. We haven't heard from Grouse since #44, when she was asking about the good of practice, given that even long-time students and some teachers act selfishly and cause dissension in the community.

Grouse refers to an exchange between Mole and Raven in #32: Mole asked, "I'm wondering what happens at the point of death." Raven sat silently a while, and then said, "I give away my belongings."

Those things that are left -- after giving away belongings, and after death -- those things are your self, you know.

Case
Grouse spoke up at a gathering and asked, "Mole said that a while back you said that you give away your belongings when you die. I've been brooding about this, but it still isn't clear to me."
Raven said, "What isn't clear?"
Grouse said, "Is there anything left?"
Raven said, "Oh, lots: the moon, the wind, the crickets."
Verse
The Long and the Short of It

Belongings belengthen.
What I belong to and
What belongs to me,
Fix my placement,
Post grief-tinged desires,
And stretch me long between.

Moon, wind, and crickets
Draw me up short again.
Case by Robert Aitken, adapted; introduction and verse by Meredith Garmon
Raven 77

2018-11-01

Nov 2 - 8

Autumn, week 7
"Whatever we think love is, love often isn't." --Radical Dharma
Saturday Zen: Sat Nov 3, 10:00 - 11:45am
room 24
Community UU
468 Rosedale Ave
White Plains, NY
Practice to be led by Meredith Garmon

Morning Zen. Tue and Thu, 6:00 - 7:15am
Basement Zendo. See HERE.

Chants
For Fri Nov 2 - Fri Nov 8:
  • Song of the Grass Roof Hermitage, p. 16
  • Heart Sutra, p. 14
Opening and Closing for Nov 2 - 29:
  • Opening: Nothing to Do, p. 20
  • Closing: Compassion Unbound, p. 72
See Boundless Way Zen Sutra Book, 4th ed. and
BoWZ Westchester Chant Schedule

Reading for Sat Oct 27:
  • Primary Reading: Radical Dharma, "Remembering Love: An Informal Contemplation on Healing," pp. 57-74.
  • Optional Secondary Reading: Thich Nhat Hanh, Old Path White Clouds, Ch. 17, "Pippala Leaf" pp. 114-118.
Reading for next week (Nov 10): Radical Dharma, "Radicalizing Dharma Dreams," pp. 75-88; "It's Not About Love After All," pp. 89-104.

This Week's Koan: Blue Cliff Record #49, Book of Serenity #33, Sansheng's "The Golden Carp Out of the Net" -- HERE.

This Week's Raven Tale: #77, Anger -- HERE.

2018-10-30

Raven 77: Anger

Sometimes anger is petty. Just stare at that anger for a couple minutes, and it goes, "Oh, sorry, never mind" and it slinks away. I'm not saying suppress it. Just look it right in the eye and see what it's made of.

But there is also noble anger: the energy to stand against injustice. You can stare at this anger, and it'll stare you down because it knows it is righteous. This anger is your friend -- giving you the energy fire for standing up for what needs standing up for.

Case
When the community was discussing ethics after zazen one evening, Black Bear remarked, "I have a hard time dealing with my anger."
Raven said, "Check it out afterward."
Black Bear said, "What good will that do?"
Raven said, "It might have been Great Bear's anger."
Verse
When Great Bear's grievance commands redress
The autumn wind in the leaves takes notice.
Coyote thinks of somewhere else to go.
Badger pauses from her digging.
Later, rain washing the hillside
Seems to take greater than usual care.
Case by Robert Aitken, adapted; introduction and verse by Meredith Garmon
Raven 76

2018-10-24

Oct 26 - Nov 1

Autumn, week 6
"The deep connection between personal liberation and social transformation is increasingly clear. It is embodied." --Radical Dharma
Saturday Zen: Sat Oct 27, 10:00 - 11:45am
room 24
Community UU
468 Rosedale Ave
White Plains, NY
Practice to be led by Terry Truta.

Morning Zen. Tue and Thu, 6:00 - 7:15am
Basement Zendo. See HERE.

Chants
For Fri Oct 26 - Thu Nov 1:
  • Genjokoan 4, p. 43
  • Yuibutsu Yobutsu 2, 3, 4, p. 43
Opening and Closing for Oct 5 - Nov 1:
  • Opening: The Way I Must Enter + Oneness, pp. 80, 82
  • Closing: Healing is Situated in Love, p. 71
See Boundless Way Zen Sutra Book, 4th ed. and
BoWZ Westchester Chant Schedule

Reading for Sat Oct 27:
  • Primary Reading:  Radical Dharma, "Bringing Our Whole Selves: A Theory of Queer Dharma ," pp. 39-56.
  • Optional Secondary Reading: Thich Nhat Hanh, Old Path White Clouds, Ch. 17, "Pippala Leaf" pp. 114-118.
Reading for next week (Nov 3): Radical Dharma, "Remembering Love: An Informal Contemplation on Healing," pp. 57-74..

This Week's Koan: Blue Cliff Record #22, Book of Serenity #24, Xuefeng's Poisonous Snake -- HERE.

This Week's Raven Tale: #76, Gossip -- HERE.

2018-10-23

Raven 76: Gossip

Mockingbird shows up today for the first time. It's not hard to believe that Mockingbird would like to gossip. It's unusual for a mockingbird, though, that he would feel remorse about that.

When early humans lived in bands of about 150 or less, gossip was a primary tool for social cohesion. Despite being sometimes divisive, the practice of monitoring the behavior of various third parties, and moralizing about it with various second parties generally helped keep group members in line. As a social species, it's what we do. That's why it's fun. A group of over 150, however, is too large to monitor and moralize about. Hence, gossip magazines today generally have a list of about 100-150 celebrities they're tracking. Groups larger than 150 need other tools for promoting social cohesion: shared ritual, story-telling (origin myths, morality tales), group music-making -- in a word, religion.

It's all dirt, though, right? Dirt is dirt.

Case
Porcupine was leading an orientation to the practice when Mockingbird dropped in. During the question period he said, "I have a tendency to gossip. I know it can be hurtful, yet I can't seem to stop."
Porcupine said, "It's fun."
Mockingbird said, "Yes, but at the expense of others."
Porcupine said, "Dirt is dirt!"
Verse
Bob fell off the wagon.
Susan lost her job.
Sally's Dan is flunking out.
That Keith is such a slob.

Sympathies and judgment
Served up over tea.
So nice to not have those folks' faults, but
What do they say of me?

So nice to not have faults like those
Except I fear I do.
I share in all those named above
And several others too.

Anxiety is thus sustained,
Throughout the system felt.
Someone, perhaps, must do that job,
But maybe someone else.
Case by Robert Aitken, adapted; introduction and verse by Meredith Garmon
Raven 75

2018-10-18

Oct 19-25

Autumn, week 5
"Everything begins by leaving. Homeleaving happens more than once in our lives, and from many different places we once considered home." --angel Kyodo williams
Saturday Zen: Sat Oct 20, 10:00 - 11:45am
room 24
Community UU
468 Rosedale Ave
White Plains, NY

Morning Zen. Tue and Thu, 6:00 - 7:15am
Basement Zendo. See HERE.

Chants
For Fri Oct 19 - Thu Oct 25:
  • Genjokoan 1, 2, 3, p. 41
Opening and Closing for Oct 5 - Nov 1:
  • Opening: The Way I Must Enter + Oneness, pp. 80, 82
  • Closing: Healing is Situated in Love, p. 71
See Boundless Way Zen Sutra Book, 4th ed. and
BoWZ Westchester Chant Schedule

Reading for Sat Oct 13:
  • Primary Reading: williams, Owens, Syedullah, Radical Dharma, "The Abolition of Whiteness," by Jasmine Syedullah, and "A Different Drum" by angel Kyodo williams, pp. 15-35.
  • Optional Secondary Reading: Thich Nhat Hanh, Old Path White Clouds, Ch. 17, "Pippala Leaf" pp. 114-118.
Reading for next week (Oct 27): Radical Dharma, "Bringing Our Whole Selves: A Theory of Queer Dharma," pp. 39-56.

This Week's Koan: Blue Cliff Record #5, Xuefeng's "A Grain of Rice" HERE.
This Week's Raven Tale: #75, Vows. HERE.

2018-10-15

Raven 75: Vows

This is Gray Wolf's third appearance. She first appeared in #22, when she asked for an explanation of karma. She showed up again in #59, when she questioned whether bushes and grasses could be enlightened.

 The four Bodhisattva vows:
  • Beings are numberless; I vow to free them.
  • Delusions are inexhaustible; I vow to end them.
  • Dharma gates are boundless; I vow to enter them.
  • Buddha's way is unsurpassable; I vow to embody it.
In the most literal sense, the vows can be kept, and must be kept. Someone making these vows can and must free every single being, end 100% of delusions, enter all of the infinite dharma gates, etc. A tall order!

In another sense, the vows are aspirational. You can't free all the beings, but try to free as many as you can. Continuously work on ending delusions, even though you'll never end them all. Always be watchful for dharma gates, and enter as many as you can. Try to embody parts of the Buddha way.

In a third sense, the vows cannot be kept, even partly. You can never free any beings, can never end a single delusion, or enter a dharma gate or embody any aspect of the Buddha way. Taking the vows is an exercise in humility, a liberating exercise in loosening the grip of the impulse to control.

In a fourth sense, the vows cannot be broken. No matter what you do, your every action in fact frees all the beings, ends all delusions, enters the infinite dharma gates (all of them at once), and embodies the Buddha way.

Raven's final remark in this segment echoes a haiku by Basho (1644-1694):
With awe I beheld
All the new green leaves of spring
Glittering in the sunshine
Case
Gray Wolf seemed to attend meetings against her better judgment. One evening she came by anyway and said, "In every service I renew my vow to save the many beings, but, really, how can I do that?"
Raven said, "It's your precious keepsake."
Mallard asked, "How can a vow be a keepsake?"
Raven said, "It reminds you of a loved one."
Gray Wolf sat back and said nothing further.
Owl spoke up and said, "We also vow to waken to the countless gates of the Great Law. I always thought that vow meant I should study all the teachings, but now I'm not so sure."
Raven said, "See all the new green leaves glittering in the sunshine!"
Verse
The morning sun behind the branches of black leaves
Promises promises
Long since broken, long since fulfilled.
Nothing is more beautiful,
Nothing less.
Case by Robert Aitken, adapted; introduction and verse by Meredith Garmon
Raven 74