2018-05-21

Morning Sit Cancellation

Morning Sit at the Parsonage is cancelled for Tue May 22 and Wed May 23.

Morning Sit at the Parsonage is scheduled to resume on Thu May 24.

2018-05-16

May 17 - 23

Spring, week 9
"Everything in our life that disappoints us is a kind friend." --Joko Beck
Saturday Zen: Sat May 19, 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 17 - Wed May 23:
  • 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 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: Charlotte Joko Beck, Nothing Special, Chap 19: "The Icy Couch," pp. 122-131.

Raven Tale: Suffering
I saw a young larch shudder
and looked around to see
if there were some cause
as would bring it fear or hurt.
Seeing none, I said:
"It's some fluke of wind,"
As if suffering were not also a current of air.
I turned then back to the trail,
Each footfall on the dirt
Alike the last,
Mostly.

2018-05-12

Raven 54: Suffering

What do you do with the loveliness of snow when the cold brings such misery? (Or with the misery of cold when the snow is so lovely?) Winter is life. How many more will you see?

Case
Winter set in firmly, and frequent snowstorms prevented the community from meeting. One day was unseasonably warm, however, and a few members gathered for a day of zazen. In the question period, Owl said, "Many folks aren't surviving the winter, and I think all of us are reminded that we won't be here long. I'm not sure what my question is, but..." Her voice trailed off.
Raven said, "Maybe there isn't a question."
Mole spoke up and said, "I think there is. There's a lot of suffering in this forest. Folks are dying and leaving little ones with no one to care for them; folks get sick; they get killed and eaten. How does this fit the teaching of Buddha Macaw?"
Raven said, "She was concerned about the misery of suffering."
Mole asked, "Is there suffering without misery?"
Raven said, "Yours -- right now."
Mole was silent.
Owl asked, "So the teaching of the Buddha was really just to grin and bear it?"
Raven jumped up and down, chanting, "Getting old! Getting old!" and she gave a great croak.
Verse
I saw a young larch shudder
and looked around to see
if there were some cause
as would bring it fear or hurt.
Seeing none, I said:
"It's some fluke of wind,"
As if suffering were not also a current of air.
I turned then back to the trail,
Each footfall on the dirt
Alike the last,
Mostly.
Case by Robert Aitken, adapted; introduction and verse by Meredith Garmon
Raven 53

2018-05-10

May 10 - 16

Spring, week 8
"We demolish the false structures of our lives by labeling our thoughts, by saying for the five hundredth time, 'Having a thought that such-and-such will happen.' When we've said it five hundred time, we see it for what it is. It's just empty energy spinning out of our conditioning, with no reality whatsoever." --Joko Beck
Saturday Zen: Sat May 12, 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 10 - Wed May 16:
  • Facing Everything, p. 36
  • Misunderstanding of Many Lifetimes, p. 37
  • Fukanzazengi, p. 45
  • Menju, p. 50
Opening and Closing for May:
  • Opening: Do Your Best, p. 20
  • 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: Charlotte Joko Beck, Nothing Special, Chap 18: "Experiences and Experiencing," pp. 118-121.

Raven Tale: The Mind
Dogen didn't, couldn't, say
His cranial pitcher held
100 billion neurons, more or less,
Sending neurotransmitter signals
to each other across
100 trillion synapses, more or less.
Still he said mind is not just this.
You are more than that.

Dogen spoke of the senses,
Could say a few things
about light and eyes
and sound and ears,
Yet nothing of the optic nerve's
or inner ear's workings,
Little of nerve endings,
and less of ceptions proprio-,
mechanore-, equilibrio-, thermo-, noci-, and intero-.
Add the flow through the senses
to the skullbound glop --
Still he said mind is not just this either.
You are more than that.

Dogen didn't, couldn't, say
Light bounced off the mountain
at 186,000 miles per second,
Still he told us
mind includes seeing,
includes light,
includes the mountain seen,
includes everything that made the mountain.
This signals-triggering-signals
Has nowhere to stop
Is to nowhere confined.

When all reality pours, as it does, into
Every rock, tree, skullbone
And pours unceasing back out again
Mind is nowhere to be found
Unless it is the whole shebang
Like beans.
Like tears on a train.

Raven 53: The Mind

"Mind is no other than mountains and rivers and the great, wide Earth, the sun and the moon and the stars." (Eihei Dogen)
Dogen (1200-1253) was a contemporary of Thomas Aquinas (1225-1274). They each wrote voluminously -- more words than you would think it possible for a human hand to write with a quill before dying at about age 50. Aquinas became the most influential theologian in Catholic thought, and Dogen is a similar giant of Zen thought.

In 1953, Yamada Koun, then age 46, was on a crowded train in Japan reading a Zen book. He came across the Dogen line I've quoted. Yamada's description of the experience was later published in Three Pillars of Zen, (Philip Kapleau, editor): "I had read this before, but this time it impressed itself upon me so vividly that I was startled." He broke into tears with the realization that after eight years of zazen he had finally grasped what this statement meant.

So: what does it mean?

Case
One evening Owl said, "I've heard that the mind is the mountains, the rivers, and the great Blue Planet."
Raven said, "Right."
Owl continued, "And that the mind is neither tall nor short."
Raven said, "That, too."
Owl asked, "Then what is the mind?"
Raven said, "Beans."
Meredith's Verse
Dogen didn't, couldn't, say
His cranial pitcher held
100 billion neurons, more or less,
Sending neurotransmitter signals
to each other across
100 trillion synapses, more or less.
Still he said mind is not just this.
You are more than that.

Dogen spoke of the senses,
Could say a few things
about light and eyes
and sound and ears,
Yet nothing of the optic nerve's
or inner ear's workings,
Little of nerve endings,
and less of ceptions proprio-,
mechanore-, equilibrio-, thermo-, noci-, and intero-.
Add the flow through the senses
to the skullbound glop --
Still he said mind is not just this either.
You are more than that.

Dogen didn't, couldn't, say
Light bounced off the mountain
at 186,000 miles per second,
Still he told us
mind includes seeing,
includes light,
includes the mountain seen,
includes everything that made the mountain.
This signals-triggering-signals
Has nowhere to stop
Is to nowhere confined.

When all reality pours, as it does, into
Every rock, tree, skullbone
And pours unceasing back out again
Mind is nowhere to be found
Unless it is the whole shebang
Like beans.
Like tears on a train.
Graham's Verse
Indeed!
The MIND is Heaven,
Earth and
Human Beans.
I count myself amongst those beautiful Beans.
You and I are Raven the Bean Counter 2. Step up. Have a seat.
And eat your fill of all the
Tender Beans.
Case by Robert Aitken; introduction and verse by Meredith Garmon; Additional verse by Graham Hubbel
Raven 52

2018-05-04

May 3 - 9

Spring, week 7
"An enjoyable life includes heartache, disappointment, grief. When we stay with that awareness, for a second we begin to see, 'Oh, this is terrible -- and at the same time, it's really quite enjoyable.'" --Joko Beck
Saturday Zen: Sat May 5, 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 3 - Wed May 9:
  • Song of the Grass-Roof Hermitage, p. 16
  • Heart Sutra, p. 14
Opening and Closing for May:
  • Opening: Do Your Best, p. 20
  • 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: Charlotte Joko Beck, Nothing Special, Chap 17: "Preparing the Ground," pp. 113-117.

At Boundless Way Temple, 1030 Pleasant St, Worcester, MA:
  • Sat May 12, 9:00-17:00. "Buddhism 101." INFO HERE.
Raven Tale: Open and Clear
Open and clear
As silence
And the very bottom:
Silence, too.

Raven 52: Open and Clear

Sometimes in the midst of routine, or, at least, routine of care, sudden awareness comes. Cool. Not sufficient.

Case
Porcupine came to Raven for a special interview and said, "Last night when I was putting little Porky to bed, I suddenly realized that everything is completely open and clear to the very bottom.
Raven asked, "What about you?"
Porcupine was silent.
Verse
Open and clear
As silence
And the very bottom:
Silence, too.
Case by Robert Aitken; introduction and verse by Meredith Garmon
Raven 51

2018-04-26

Apr 26 - May 2

Spring, week 6
"We have all sorts of illusions: that my life is separate from everything else; that it's more important than some other things. I have all sorts of ideas that interfere with a genuine life." --Joko Beck
Saturday Zen: Sat Apr 21, 10:00 - 11:45am, room 24
Community UU, 468 Rosedale Ave, White Plains, NY.
Practice to be led by Graham Hubbel

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

Chants
For Thu Apr 26 - Wed May 2:
  • Genjokoan 1, 2, 3, p. 41
Opening and Closing for April:
  • Opening: Gatha of Atonement, p. 5
  • Closing: Spring Everywhere, p. 75 + Wake All the Beings, p. 11
Opening and Closing for May:
  • Opening: Do Your Best, p. 20
  • 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: In lieu of a reading this week, please listen to this recording of a talk by Charlotte Joko Beck: HERE



At Boundless Way Temple, 1030 Pleasant St, Worcester, MA:
  • Sat May 12, 9:00-17:00. "Buddhism 101." INFO HERE.
Raven Tale: Dreams
"Look what we found in the park, in the dark. We will take him home. We will call him Clark. He will live at our house. He will grow and grow. Will our mother like this? We don't know." (Dr. Seuss, "One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish")

One breath, two breath, angry breath, sad breath.
Old Bodhidharma came from the west.
Why-ever he came, he came.
Whatever its meaning, he came.
Now here we are, we
Who face the wall in Bodhidharma's cave, we
Wall-sitters, wall-sitting.
It seems to make a difference; it
Seems to make no difference at all -- a
"Something, nothing," like Iago's purse.
We took it home.
It grew.
Still no word on Mother's approval.

Raven 51: Dreams

What distinguishes you? Number one, just stretch out your wings. Number two, your wings are always stretched out.

Case
One afternoon, after the Tallspruce group hiked over to Lowridge for berries, Black Bear said to Raven, "This is my last get-together before I retire for the winter. There is something I want to ask. I dream a lot when I'm hibernating. Do Zen masters dream?"
Raven said, "Higgledy-piggledy."
Black Bear chuckled. "My dreams are like that, too -- all confused!"
Raven said, "Not only our dreams."
Black Bear asked, "Then how can Zen masters be distinguished?"
Raven stretched out her wings.
Meredith's Verse
"Look what we found in the park, in the dark. We will take him home. We will call him Clark. He will live at our house. He will grow and grow. Will our mother like this? We don't know." (Dr. Seuss, "One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish")

One breath, two breath, angry breath, sad breath.
Old Bodhidharma came from the west.
Why-ever he came, he came.
Whatever its meaning, he came.
Now here we are, we
Who face the wall in Bodhidharma's cave, we
Wall-sitters, wall-sitting.
It seems to make a difference; it
Seems to make no difference at all -- a
"Something, nothing," like Iago's purse.
We took it home.
It grew.
Still no word on Mother's approval.
Graham's Verse: "A Staggering Man"
a staggering man
in tuxedo and lace
is leaving the party
no hair out of place.

His party is leaving
in a flourish of bling.
They melt into darkness
the Raven doth sing.

Four and 20 blackbirds
baked in a pie
the Crow is in the know
about pie in the sky.

The tendrils of dreams
forgotten and gone
still influence empires
of king and of pawn.

The war they declare
So somber and dead.
Like life flowing out
of the top of my head.

Till death my last breath
and then gone and then gone.
For June after June
I am soon in the tomb
And then gone.

And then gone.
A staggering man
in tuxedo and lace.
All rested and tan
no hair out of place.
And then gone.

Case by Robert Aitken; introduction and verse by Meredith Garmon; additional verse by Graham Hubbel
Raven 50

2018-04-15

Apr 19 - 25

Spring, week 5
"We need to notice the judgment we have formed. We need to remember that most of practice can be summed up in kindness. In any situation, what is kindness?" --Joko Beck
Saturday Zen: Sat Apr 21, 10:00 - 11:45am, room 24
Community UU, 468 Rosedale Ave, White Plains, NY.
Practice to be led by Meredith.

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

Chants
For Thu Apr 19 - Wed Apr 25:
  • Genjokoan 4, p. 43
  • Bodhisattva's Vow, p. 22
  • Compassionate Heart of Wisdom, p. 15
Opening and Closing for April:
  • Opening: Gatha of Atonement, p. 5
  • Closing: Spring Everywhere, p. 75 + Wake All the Beings, p. 11
See Boundless Way Zen Sutra Book, 4th ed. and
BoWZ Westchester Chant Schedule

Reading this week: Charlotte Joko Beck, Nothing Special: Chap. 16, "Do Not Judge," pp. 97-102.

Question. How do you understand Joko's judgment of judgment?

At Boundless Way Temple, 1030 Pleasant St, Worcester, MA:
  • Sat May 12, 9:00-17:00. "Buddhism 101." INFO HERE.

2018-04-12

Apr 12 - 18

Spring, week 4
"The test of a good conflict as opposed to one that is harmful is that there is no residue afterward. Everyone feels good afterward. It's clear. It's over. The air is pleasant. It's great, though rare." --Joko Beck

Saturday Zen: Sat Apr 14, 10:00 - 11:45am, room 24
Community UU, 468 Rosedale Ave, White Plains, NY.
Practice to be led by Meredith.

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

Chants
For Thu Apr 12 - Wed Apr 18:
  • Great Doubt, p. 18
  • Song of Realizing the Dao, p. 31
  • Unending Truth, p. 36
Opening and Closing for April:
  • Opening: Gatha of Atonement, p. 5
  • Closing: Spring Everywhere, p. 75 + Wake All the Beings, p. 11
See Boundless Way Zen Sutra Book, 4th ed. and
BoWZ Westchester Chant Schedule

Reading this week: Charlotte Joko Beck, Nothing Special: Chap. 15, "The Tomato Fighters," pp. 97-102.

Question. "Arguments are fine, but only if they are fun" (p. 97). Describe one argument you've been in that wasn't fun -- and one that was. Would you rather have no arguments -- or more of the fun kind? What can you do about that?

At Boundless Way Temple, 1030 Pleasant St, Worcester, MA:
  • Sat May 12, 9:00-17:00. "Buddhism 101." INFO HERE.
Raven Tale: Ordinary Morality
No nature photographer will capture my image
Trotting with a limp former rabbit hanging from my jaws.
I haven't the predator's skill,
And I do my killing indirectly.
No journalist's expose will limn the contrast between
The misery in my sweatshops
And the opulence surrounding my person,
Though weekly I make payment to some merchant
To sustain oppression and disparity.
It's not that evil and sublime interweave,
Or co-depend, or mutually define,
Though they do all that too.
It's that every act is both.
It's that this is no excuse.

2018-04-11

Raven 50: Ordinary Morality

How do you make use of your urge without doing the thing that you have the urge to do? It's not hard; it just requires a certain attention.

Case
Porcupine came by one day looking troubled. Raven called down to her from the tall spruce.
"What's up, Porcupine?"
Porcupine said, "I'm hearing rumors from my old friends that Coyote Roshi is violating even ordinary morality."
Raven flew down to her side and said, "She has this urge to prey on newborn lambs."
Porcupine said, "You said that you have that same urge. Is it that you don't follow through?"
Raven said, "I am following through at this moment."
Porcupine asked, "How is talking to me following through with your urge to eat baby lambs?"
Raven said, "Use the urge."
Verse
No nature photographer will capture my image
Trotting with a limp former rabbit hanging from my jaws.
I haven't the predator's skill,
And I do my killing indirectly.
No journalist's expose will limn the contrast between
The misery in my sweatshops
And the opulence surrounding my person,
Though weekly I make payment to some merchant
To sustain oppression and disparity.
It's not that evil and sublime
Interweave, co-depend, mutually define,
Though they do.
It's that every act is both.
It's that this is no excuse.
Case by Robert Aitken; introduction and verse by Meredith Garmon
Raven 49

2018-04-06

Apr 5 - 11

Spring, week 3
"Our job is to be integrated with the whole world." --Joko Beck

Saturday Zen: Sat Mar 31, 10:00 - 11:45am, room 24
Community UU, 468 Rosedale Ave, White Plains, NY.
Practice to be led by Meredith.

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

Chants
For Thu Apr 5 - Wed Apr 11:
  • Observing the One Who Is Dim and Dull, p. 19
  • Heart Sutra, p. 14
Opening and Closing for April:
  • Opening: Gatha of Atonement, p. 5
  • Closing: Spring Everywhere, p. 75 + Wake All the Beings, p. 11
See Boundless Way Zen Sutra Book, 4th ed. and
BoWZ Westchester Chant Schedule

Reading this week: Charlotte Joko Beck, Nothing Special: Chap. 14, "Integration," pp. 93-96.

Question. What does "be integrated with the whole world" mean to you? What does it look like? What does not being integrated with the whole world look like?

At Boundless Way Temple, 1030 Pleasant St, Worcester, MA:
  • Sat Apr 14, and Sat May 12, 9:00-17:00. "Buddhism 101." INFO HERE.
Raven Tale: Zazen in the Forest
Meetings get canceled.
Even when they don't,
Doings and sufferings --
For shelter, food, predator-dodging, etc. --
Fill the hours like sand,
Make me wonder when's enough time to become.
Silly, silly me.

2018-04-05

Raven 49: Zazen in the Forest

What do you hear? (And who is it that is hearing?) What do you see, feel, taste, touch, smell? That's reality. That's all you get -- and all you need. It's all zazen in the forest. What and where else could it be?

Case
It had been stormy for several days, and the community did not meet. Finally, the winds calmed, the rains stopped, and the meetings resumed.
Owl obviously wanted to speak, so the others deferred.
"I've been told," she said, "that long ago, folks could devote themselves full-time to the practice, and enlightened masters emerged. Nowadays here in the forest, folks are so busy hunting and gleaning and protecting themselves that they have very little time for zazen. How can we hope to attain the level of realization the old masters attained?"
Raven said, "They saw plum blossoms; we hear the robin."
Owl said, "But it seems their very atmosphere was charged with realization. That's certainly not true for us today."
Raven said, "The robin just flew away."
Verse
Meetings get canceled.
Even when they don't,
Doings and sufferings --
For shelter, food, predator-dodging, etc. --
Fill the hours like sand,
Make me wonder when's enough time to become.
Silly, silly me.
Case by Robert Aitken; introduction and verse by Meredith Garmon
Raven 48

2018-03-30

Mar 29 - Apr 4

Spring, week 2
"Practice is not about having experiences, not about having giant realizations, not about getting somewhere or becoming something. We are perfect as we are. By 'perfect' I mean simply that this is it....Practice is to be aware of our thoughts without getting lost in them. And if we get lost, to notice that, too." --Joko Beck
Saturday Zen: Sat Mar 31, 10:00 - 11:45am, room 24
Community UU, 468 Rosedale Ave, White Plains, NY.
Practice to be led by Meredith.

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

Chants
For Thu Mar 29 - Wed Apr 4:
  • Heart of True Entrusting, p. 28
Opening and Closing for March:
  • Opening: Nothing to Do, p. 20.
  • Closing: The Ship of Compassion, p. 75 + The Four Bodhisattva Vows, p. 11
Opening and Closing for April:
  • Opening: Gatha of Atonement, p. 5
  • Closing: Spring Everywhere, p. 75 + Wake All the Beings, p. 11
See Boundless Way Zen Sutra Book, 4th ed. and
BoWZ Westchester Chant Schedule

Reading this week: Charlotte Joko Beck, Nothing Special: Chap. 13, "The Subject-Object Problem," pp. 84-92.

Question. How does "the subject-object problem" arise in your life?

At Boundless Way Temple, 1030 Pleasant St, Worcester, MA:
  • Sat Apr 14, and Sat May 12, 9:00-17:00. "Buddhism 101." INFO HERE.
Raven Tale: Pain During Zazen
A little rub dispels a small itch:
A single push of fingers across the spot, and half-way back.
Substantial itches, though: rub leads to scratch,
And scratch to scratch, increasing the injury.
Here, then, is your life:
Knowing when to rub, to scratch, and when, though difficult, to leave alone --
And, so often, not knowing.