2018-07-21

Raven 63

Turkey appeared just once before, in #38. In that episode, Turkey, a visitor, asked, "why don't you have more songbirds in your community?" Raven replied, "Maybe they're content to inspire us from the trees." When Turkey asked how the songbirds can be inspired," Raven said, "Make sense." We haven't seen Turkey since then. Turns out she's been hanging out around Grandma's house -- and that Grandma knows a thing or two about animals -- and Zen -- and has some tricks up her sleeve.

Case
Grandma had been living at Vinecot for as long as anyone could remember. She was white-haired and bent, and walked with a stick -- sometimes two sticks. She was a friend of Turkey, who had free run of her house.
One day she came to see Raven who promptly flew up into the Assembly Oak. “Come down here, Raven Roshi,” she said. “I want to talk to you.”
Raven flew down before her and observed, “We understand each other.”
“Oh,” said Grandma, “I’ve been living in the forest for a while. I just pay attention to what I hear. There’s a certain frequency.”
“Yes, there is,” said Raven.
Grandma said, “I didn’t come to see you to gossip about communication.”
Raven drew herself up. “I’m forgetting my manners,” she said, bowing. “I’m pleased to meet you. You have come quite a long way. To what do I owe the honor of this visit?”
Grandma held out her stick and said, “I just wanted to ask you what this is.”
Raven let out a croak and flew at the stick. Grandma pulled it away and said, “It’s mine. You can’t have it.”
Raven said, “Is that so? I see. I see.”
Verse


Case by Robert Aitken, adapted; introduction and verse by Meredith Garmon
Raven 61

Jul 26 - Aug 1

"Transformation arises from a willingness that develops very slowly over time to be what life asks of us." --Joko Beck
Saturday Zen: Sat Jul 28, 10:00 - 11:45am, room 24
Community UU, 468 Rosedale Ave, White Plains, NY
Practice to be led by Terry Truta

Morning Zen. Mon-Fri, 6:00 - 7:15am -- Basement Zendo.
See HERE. Morning Zen will be cancelled on Mon Jul 30 thru Thu Aug 2.

Chants
For Thu Jul 26 - Wed Aug 1:
  • Genjokoan 4, p. 43
  • Yuibutsu Yobutsu 2, 3, 4, p. 46
Opening and Closing for Jul 12 - Aug 8:
  • Opening: Invocation of Kanzeon, p. 7
  • Closing: Your True Self Is the World, p. 70 + Wake All Beings, p. 11
See Boundless Way Zen Sutra Book, 4th ed. and
BoWZ Westchester Chant Schedule

Reading for Sat Jul 28:
Primary Reading: Charlotte Joko Beck, Nothing Special, Ch. 29, "Transformation," pp. 202-07.
Optional Secondary Reading: Thich Nhat Hanh, Old Path White Clouds, Ch 8, "The Jewelled Necklace," pp. 56-61.

Sesshin at Boundless Way Temple
1030 Pleasant St
Worcester, MA
Thu Sep 20, at 19:00 until Sun Jul 23, at 12:00.
Consider planning to attend! Registration will open six weeks before the event (that is, Thu Aug 9). Check HERE for updates.

2018-07-12

Jul 12 - 25

Summer, weeks 4 and 5
"The choice is stay stuck and continue to suffer -- or to find the courage to change....We begin to see that if we refuse to do battle here, we do harm to life. We have to make a choice between living a dramatic but self-centered life and a life that is based upon practice." --Joko Beck
Saturday Zen: Sat Jul 14 and Sat Jul 21
10:00 - 11:45am, room 24
Community UU, 468 Rosedale Ave, White Plains, NY
On Sat Jul 14: Practice to be led Terry Truta
On Sat Jul 21: Practice to be led by Meredith Garmon

Morning Zen: Mon-Fri, 6:00 - 7:15am -- Basement Zendo. See HERE. Morning Zen at the Basement Zendo is canceled on Mon Jul 16 through Fri Jul 20. Morning Zen will resume on Mon Jul 23.

Chants
For Thu Jul 12 - Wed Jul 18:
  • Song of Realizing the Dao, p. 31
  • Fukanzazengi, p. 45
  • Menju, p. 50
For Thu Jul 19 - Wed Jul 25:
  • Genjokoan 1, 2, 3, p. 41
Opening and Closing for Jul 12 - Aug 8:
  • Opening: Invocation of Kanzeon, p. 7
  • Closing: Your True Self Is the World, p. 70
See Boundless Way Zen Sutra Book, 4th ed. and
BoWZ Westchester Chant Schedule

Reading for Sat Jul 14:
Primary Reading: Charlotte Joko Beck, Nothing Special, Ch. 27: "The Six Stages of Practice," pp. 187-192.

Reading for Sat Jul 21:
Primary Reading: Charlotte Joko Beck, Nothing Special, Ch. 28: "Curiosity and Obsession," pp. 193-201.
Optional Secondary Reading: Thich Nhat Hanh, Old Path White Clouds, Ch. 7: "White Elephant Prize," pp. 49-55.

Raven Tale: Emptiness
One day, to explore widely the surrounding districts, Xuansha leaves the mountain. He stubs his toe on a stone. Bleeding and in great pain, Xuansha reflects, “They say this body is not real existence. Where does the pain come from?” --Dogen

A Few Things Real and Unreal

Phlogiston, unicorns, Manti Te'o's girlfriend;
Huckleberry Finn, Sherlock Holmes, Celie;
Nations, governments, laws,
Punishment, the stock market, hospitals;
Freedom, unselfish actions, God;
Joy, kindness, wisdom.

Planets and atoms;
Death and love;
Julius Caesar and the neighbor's dog;
Thou and I;
Denali and Mt. McKinley.

The larch in the backyard;
The stone on the ground waiting to meet Xuansha's or Samuel Johnson's foot;
The pain that followed when it did.

All are real, and real the same way;
All unreal, the same way as real.

2018-07-11

Raven 62: Emptiness

What's all this folderal about emptiness anyway? Isn't the whole thing, well, empty? OK, so, it has no basis. The thing is, nothing does. Y'know? So don't lose an opportunity to laugh!

Case
At a Tallspruce party, Porcupine cornered Raven and said, "I wanted to tell you that I've found that there is no basis for emptiness."
Raven looked startled, then she and Porcupine burst into laughter.
Verse
One day, to explore widely the surrounding districts, Xuansha leaves the mountain. He stubs his toe on a stone. Bleeding and in great pain, Xuansha reflects, “They say this body is not real existence. Where does the pain come from?” --Dogen

A Few Things Real and Unreal

Phlogiston, unicorns, Manti Te'o's girlfriend;
Huckleberry Finn, Sherlock Holmes, Celie;
Nations, governments, laws,
Punishment, the stock market, hospitals;
Freedom, unselfish actions, God;
Joy, kindness, wisdom.

Planets and atoms;
Death and love;
Julius Caesar and the neighbor's dog;
Thou and I;
Denali and Mt. McKinley.

The larch in the backyard;
The stone on the ground waiting to meet Xuansha's or Samuel Johnson's foot;
The pain that followed when it did.

All are real, and real the same way;
All unreal, the same way as real.
Case by Robert Aitken, adapted; introduction and verse by Meredith Garmon
Raven 61

2018-07-06

Jul 5 - 11

Summer, week 3
"Every second we spend in that nondual experiencing transforms our life. We can't see the transformation because there is no drama in it. Drama is always in our self-centered mental creations. There is no drama in good sitting." --Joko Beck
Saturday Zen: Sat Jun 30, 10:00 - 11:45am, room 24
Community UU, 468 Rosedale Ave, White Plains, NY.
Practice to be led Meredith Garmon.

Morning Zen: Mon-Fri, 6:00 - 7:15am -- Basement Zendo. See HERE.

Chants
For Thu Jul 5 - 11:
  • Observing the One Who Is Dim and Dull, p. 19
  • Realizing the Zen Way, p. 19
  • Heart Sutra, p. 14
Opening and Closing for Jun 14 - Jul 11:
  • Opening: Enmei Jukku Kannon Gyo, p. 7
  • Closing: A Blessing for the Journey, p. 81
See Boundless Way Zen Sutra Book, 4th ed. and
BoWZ Westchester Chant Schedule

Reading this week:
Primary Reading: Charlotte Joko Beck, Nothing Special, Ch. 26: "Listening to the Body," pp. 181-184.
Optional Secondary Reading: Thich Nhat Hanh, Old Path White Clouds, Ch. 6: "Beneath a Rose-Apple Tree," pp. 41-48.

Raven Tale: Saving the Many Beings
I tell you my failures lie piled at my feet
And thick to the horizon in all directions,
Thinner in spots, or more transparent.
It is a landscape of lapses.
Were you accessory to some of them? I don't know; it's possible I suppose.
I say each one fulfills the vow.
Each one breaks it.
Each one whispers vigilance.

Raven 61: Saving the Many Beings

We haven't heard from Mallard since #27, when she asked, "Aren't we wasting time just sitting here while the Blue Planet goes to hell?" Good question, Mallard. And what has happened on our blue planet in the months since we read Mallard asking that? What have you been doing while the Blue Planet goes to hell? Mallard, it seems, has been studying 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.
The Buddha Way is unsurpassable, I vow to embody it.
The "Sixth Ancestor" to which Mallard refers was Hui-neng Duck (638-713). But tell me, is it possible to fulfill a vow to save all the beings? Is it possible to fail to fulfill it? But if you can't fail to fulfill it, how is there meaningful content to the vow? Hint: Yes, the vow does have meaningful content. So how do you fulfill it?

Case
Mallard appeared in the circle after a trip and asked, "The first of our vows is to save the many beings. You told us that the Sixth Ancestor said this means, 'You save them in your own mind.' Is that all there is to fulfilling this vow?"
Raven said, "Completely fulfilled."
Mallard said, "But what then?"
Raven said, "Not just your skull."
Verse
I tell you my failures lie piled at my feet
And thick to the horizon in all directions,
Thinner in spots, or more transparent.
It is a landscape of lapses.
Were you accessory to some of them? I don't know; it's possible I suppose.
I say each one fulfills the vow.
Each one breaks it.
Each one whispers vigilance.
Case by Robert Aitken, adapted; introduction and verse by Meredith Garmon
Raven 60

2018-06-29

Jun 28 - Jul 4

Summer, week 2
"When we can stay with the pain as a pure physical sensation, at some point it will dissolve, and then we move into the truth, which is that everything is perfect in being as it is. Everyone is doing the best that he or she can. But we have to move from experience,which is often painful, into truth and not plaster thoughts over our experience." --Joko Beck
Saturday Zen: Sat Jun 30, 10:00 - 11:45am, room 24
Community UU, 468 Rosedale Ave, White Plains, NY.
Practice to be led Meredith Garmon.

Morning Zen: Mon-Fri, 6:00 - 7:15am -- Basement Zendo. See HERE.

Chants
For Thu Jun 28 - Wed Jul 4:
  • Heart of True Entrusting, p. 28
Opening and Closing for Jun 14 - Jul 11:
  • Opening: Enmei Jukku Kannon Gyo, p. 7
  • Closing: A Blessing for the Journey, p. 81
See Boundless Way Zen Sutra Book, 4th ed. and
BoWZ Westchester Chant Schedule

Reading this week:
Primary Reading: Charlotte Joko Beck, Nothing Special, Ch. 25: "False Generalizations," pp. 173-180.
Optional Secondary Reading: Thich Nhat Hanh, Old Path White Clouds, Ch. 5: "A Bowl of Mile," pp. 35-40.

Raven Tale: Delineation
Leavings,
From the many beings' doings and sufferings,
From the universe's physics and chemistry,
We scavenge like ravens.

Curious, this noticing, noticing,
Drawing the true lines --
Drawing them with an eraser.

2018-06-25

Raven 60: Delineation

Porcupine is certainly coming along in his training. He's been hanging around Raven long enough to have learned her quirks -- some of them. But the question I have for you is: what leavings are your gift? Maybe that's what delineates you.

Case
Porcupine came over with a gift of leavings.
"Kind of you," said Raven.
"I have a report," said Porcupine. "This morning when the birds woke me up, I realized that my quills and my skin don't delineate me."
"What delineates you?" asked Raven.
"You always blink when you ask a hard question," said Porcupine.
Raven said, "You are very observant."
Verse
Leavings,
From the many beings' doings and sufferings,
From the universe's physics and chemistry,
We ravens scavenge.

Curious, this noticing, noticing,
Drawing the true lines --
Drawing them with an eraser.
Case by Robert Aitken, adapted; introduction and verse by Meredith Garmon
Raven 59

2018-06-20

Jun 21 - 27

Summer, week 1
"Attention or awareness is the secret of life, and the heart of practice." --Joko Beck
Saturday Zen: Sat Jun 23, 10:00 - 11:45am, room 24
Community UU, 468 Rosedale Ave, White Plains, NY.
Practice to be led Terry Truta.

Morning Zen is cancelled on Tue Jun 19 through Mon Jun 25. Morning Zen is expected to resume on Tue Jun 26 . Mon-Fri, 6:00 - 7:15am -- Basement Zendo. See HERE.

Chants
For Thu Jun 21 - Wed Jun 27:
  • Shorter Precepts Recitation, p. 62
  • The Four Commitments, p. 65
  • Fourfold Commitment to Racial and Social Justice, p. 66
Opening and Closing for Jun 14 - Jul 11:
  • Opening: Enmei Jukku Kannon Gyo, p. 7
  • Closing: A Blessing for the Journey, p. 81
See Boundless Way Zen Sutra Book, 4th ed. and
BoWZ Westchester Chant Schedule

Reading this week:
Charlotte Joko Beck, Nothing Special, Ch. 24: "Attention Means Attention," pp. 168-172.

Raven Tale: Patience
Displayed everywhere.
A frozen pond, a car horn.
Buzzing flies, mountains in the distance.
The grass's breakneck absorption of soil nutrients,
Its headlong photosynthesizing.
A customer's raised volume and pitch to a clerk
Saying "slow" and "unacceptable."
The universe's patience
Is displayed everywhere.

Raven 59: Patience

Every tradition has some variations within it which become subjects for argument. In Japanese Buddhism there's dispute over whether bushes and grasses have Buddha-nature and are on the path to nirvana. I don't see what the fuss is about.

Case
Gray Wolf attended meetings sporadically, and when she came she usually sat silent during the question period. However, she came to hear Brown Bear and spoke up, saying, "We dedicate our sutras to the enlightenment of bushes and grasses. This doesn't seem so likely somehow."
Brown Bear chuckled and said, "They are very patient."
Verse
Displayed everywhere.
A frozen pond, a car horn.
Buzzing flies, mountains in the distance.
The grass's breakneck absorption of soil nutrients,
Its headlong photosynthesizing.
A customer's raised volume and pitch to a clerk
Saying "slow" and "unacceptable."
The universe's patience
Is displayed everywhere.
Case by Robert Aitken, adapted; introduction and verse by Meredith Garmon
Raven 58

2018-06-14

Jun 14 - 20

Spring, week 13
"The place of resting -- the arms of God, if you will -- is simply here and now: seeing, hearing, touching, smelling, tasting our life as it is." --Joko Beck
Saturday Zen: Sat Jun 16, 10:00 - 11:45am, room 24
Community UU, 468 Rosedale Ave, White Plains, NY.
Practice to be led Meredith Garmon

Morning Zen is cancelled on Tue Jun 19 through Mon Jun 25. Morning Zen is expected to resume on Tue Jun 26 . Mon-Fri, 6:00 - 7:15am -- Basement Zendo. See HERE.

Chants
For Thu Jun 14 - Wed Jun 20:
  • Song of the Jeweled-Mirror Samadhi, p. 25
  • The Way of Tenderness, p. 66
Opening and Closing for Jun 14 - Jul 11:
  • Opening: Enmei Jukku Kannon Gyo, p. 7
  • Closing: A Blessing for the Journey, p. 81
See Boundless Way Zen Sutra Book, 4th ed. and
BoWZ Westchester Chant Schedule

Reading this week:
Primary Reading: Charlotte Joko Beck, Nothing Special, Ch. 23: "Coming to Our Senses," pp. 158-167.
Optional Secondary Reading: Thich Nhat Hanh, Old Path White Clouds, Ch. 4: "The Wounded Swan," pp. 27-34.

Raven Tale: Right Thinking
Read your thoughts the way you read a novel.
When Aragonese and Castillano
First turned the pages of Europe's first novel,
How did they understand what it was,
What these words were up to?
An epic, only not in verse.
A romance, only longer, and cohesive.
Like a history, then, only intimate.
And not historical.
How did they make sense of it?
Cervantes gave them Sancho Panza,
Illiterate, to show them how to read
the thing:
     Not rejecting the master's delusions.
     Not sharing them.
     Along for the ride.

Raven 58: Right Thinking

Thoughts go on and on. It's what thoughts do. Is that a problem? Just watch them come and go.

Case
Later in the same meeting, Owl then asked another question: "Right Thinking comes immediately after Right Views. I have problems with my thinking. What is Right Thinking?"
Brown Bear said, "The point."
Owl said, "My thoughts go on and on."
Brown Bear asked, "Is that your focus?"
Owl blinked and said nothing.
Verse
Read your thoughts the way you read a novel.
When Aragonese and Castillano
First turned the pages of Europe's first novel,
How did they understand what it was,
What these words were up to?
An epic, only not in verse.
A romance, only longer, and cohesive.
Like a history, then, only intimate.
And not historical.
How did they make sense of it?
Cervantes gave them Sancho Panza,
Illiterate, to show them how to read
the thing:
     Not rejecting the master's delusions.
     Not sharing them.
     Along for the ride.
Case by Robert Aitken, adapted; introduction and verse by Meredith Garmon
Raven 57

2018-06-06

Raven 57: Right Views

Urgency, dear friends. Where is your urgency? Do you have clarity on what it is?

Right view -- which might also be expressed as "seeing clearly" -- is the first on the eightfold path. Since the path is infinitely circular, it's also the 9th, the 17th, the 25th, etc. And what is the Right View? Urgency. Connection and urgency! We haven't a moment to spare, nor a single drop of love we can fail to receive or to offer. Fly, fly, beloveds. Fly toward the holy as if you were being chased by a bear -- a bear with a questioning owl on its head.

Case
Owl then spoke up and asked, "What is the essential point of the Eightfold Path?"
Brown Bear said, "It goes around and around."
Owl drew back her head and exclaimed, "Really? I thought it was a linear path. And I've always thought there should be a ninth step -- that Right Realization should come after Right Zazen."
Brown Bear said, "Right Views come after Right Zazen."
Owl said, "Then where does Right Realization come in?"
Brown Bear said, "Right Views! Right Views!"
Owl said, "What are Right Views?"
Brown Bear said, "We're in it together, and we don't have much time."
Verse
Mayflies live a day --
Or less, if accident or predator befalls.
Not much time.
Enough.
A bristlecone pine in California is 5,067 years old.
Not much time.
Enough.
A stand of aspen in Utah has a shared root system 80,000 years old.
Not much time.
Enough.
A step is born as a foot lifts from the ground,
A breath as the lungs begin to pull.
A second or so later the step dies back into the earth,
The breath expires.
Not much time.
Enough.
Case by Robert Aitken, adapted; introduction and verse by Meredith Garmon
Raven 56

2018-06-01

May 31 - Jun 6

Spring, week 11
"We may develop ill health, we may lose what little money we have; yet there is no problem. Zen practice isn't about adjusting to the problem. It is seeing that there isn't any." --Joko Beck
Saturday Zen: Sat May 26, 10:00 - 11:45am, room 24
Community UU, 468 Rosedale Ave, White Plains, NY.
Practice to be led Meredith Garmon

Morning Zen. Mon-Fri, 6:00 - 7:15am -- Basement Zendo. See HERE.

Chants
For Thu May 31 - Wed Jun 6:
  • Bodhisattva's Vow, p. 22
  • Harmony of Relative and Absolute, p. 23
  • Fulfilling the Buddha Way, p. 40
Opening and Closing for May 17 - Jun 13:
  • Opening:The Five Remembrances, p. 6
  • Closing: Liberation from All Obstruction, p. 75 + Four Bodhisattva Vows, p. 11
See Boundless Way Zen Sutra Book, 4th ed. and
BoWZ Westchester Chant Schedule

Reading this week:
Primary Reading: Charlotte Joko Beck, Nothing Special, Ch. 21: "The Castle and the Moat," pp. 138-146.
Optional Secondary Reading: Thich Nhat Hanh, Old Path White Clouds, Ch. 2: "Tending Water Buffaloes," pp. 13-19.

Raven Tale: The Eightfold Path
To know it is fleeting
To have this in heart-mind
Colors love piquant and precious
Dissipates the fog of eternity
Touches the real.
To know it is fleeting.

2018-05-29

Raven 56: The Eightfold Path

Is attachment really the root of suffering? Apparently, Buddha said so, but it's buried in a subordinate clause at the end of an obscure sutra:
"When a bhikku practices restraint in the six bases of contact, and having understood that attachment is the root of suffering, is without attachment, liberated by the destruction of attachment, it is not possible that he would direct his body or arouse his mind towards any object of attachment."(Sunakkhatta Sutta: Majjhima Nikaya 105).
Though attachment may be the source of some suffering, it's clear Buddha recognized that attachment is not the source of all suffering. The central Buddhist text, the Dhammacakkappavattana Sutta (Samyutta Nikaya 56.11), says that suffering comes from birth, aging, illness, death, union with what is displeasing, separation from what is pleasing, and not getting what one wants. No matter how nonattached you get, there's still going to be old age, sickness, and death. Even total nonattachment doesn't end all suffering. And, anyway, we need our attachments. As Brown Bear says, "What would you be without attachments?"

The trick is to have your attachments, but hold them lightly. Let your attachments be -- to put it in the language of Nonviolent Communication -- the requests that you make of life rather than the demands.

What is the eightfold path? Clear seeing/thinking, right intention, right speech, right action, right livelihood, right effort, right mindfulness, and right concentration. Is nonattachment implicit in this? Only insofar as we are prone to get attached to wrong views, intention, speech, action, livelihood, effort, mindfulness, or concentration.

Case
Spring finally came, and Raven entertained her old teacher, Brown Bear Roshi, and invited her to speak. After the talk, Badger came forward and asked, "How can I get rid of my passions?"
Brown Bear said, "What would you be without passions?"
Badger said, "Maybe I should reword that. How can I get rid of my attachments?"
Brown Bear said, "What would you be without attachments?"
Badger said, "Isn't nonattachment one of our ideals?"
Brown Bear asked, "Where do you find it taught?"
Badger said, "Isn't it implicit in the Eightfold Path of the Buddha?"
Brown Bear said, "Cling to that Path."
Raven commented, "I'm clinging to Brown Bear."
Verse
"All that is dear to me and everyone I love are of the nature of change. There is no way to escape being separated from them." (Upajjhatthana Sutta: Anguttara Nikaya 5.57)

To know it is fleeting
To have this in heart-mind
Colors love piquant and precious
Dissipates the fog of eternity
Touches the real.
To know it is fleeting.
Case by Robert Aitken, adapted; introduction and verse by Meredith Garmon
Raven 55