2019-05-23

May 20 - 26

Spring, week 9
"You must sit as if you were Mt. Fuji, toweing above he surface of the sea. Your sitting cushions are the earth and you are the only one in the entire universe. Sit regally and immovably on your cushion with complete alertness. Sit as if you were a skilled sword-fighter who has locked blades with an opponent and is about to make a final decisive thrust." --Harada Daiun Sogaku
Saturday Zen: Sat May 25, 10:00a - noon
room 24
Community UU
468 Rosedale Ave
White Plains, NY
Practice to be led by Meredith Garmon

Morning Zen. Tue - Fri, 6:00-7:15am, at the Parsonage, Basement Zendo. SEE HERE.

Chants for Mon May 20 - Sun May 26:
  • An Unending Truth, p. 19.
  • Three Marks of Dharma, p. 19.
  • Loving-Kindness Sutra, p. 20.
Opening and Closing for Mon May 20 - Sun Jun 16:
  • Opening: The Three Refuges, p. 3.
  • Closing: Liberation from All Obstructions, p. 26.
See: BoWZ Westchester Sutra Book   ☙   Additional Texts   ☙   Boundless Way Zen Sutra Book, 4th ed.

Reading for Sat May 25
  • Primary Reading: Koun Yamada, Zen: The Authentic Gate, Ch. 16, "The Actual Practice of Zazen," pp. 177-186.
  • Optional Secondary Reading: Thich Nhat Hanh, Old Path White Clouds, Ch. 44, "The Elements Will Recombine," p. 285.
For subsequent weeks (through Jun 1): See Schedule for Reading. Starting Jun 8: Pema Chodron, Comfortable with Uncertainty

This Week's Raven Tale: #102, Realization and Equanimity -- HERE

2019-05-22

Raven 102: Realization and Equanimity

As for equanimity, Raven demonstrates it.

As for realization and equanimity, which one is beaver and which is dam?

As for teaching, remember what Huangbo (755?-850) said: "I do not say that there is no Zen, but that there is no Zen teacher" (Blue Cliff Record 11, Book of Serenity 53).

Case
In a private meeting Woodpecker asked, "Is realization the same as equanimity?"
Raven said, "Don't confuse the beaver with the dam."
Woodpecker asked, "What's equanimity?"
Raven said, "I'm not a very good teacher."
Woodpecker said, "Oh, come on!"
Raven said, "It's okay."
Verse
Some of them, though, had a gardener.

Daffodils did not have teachers.
They did not study the craft
Of blossoming.
They were not taught to have six petals
And a corona,
Or drilled in color selection;
Took no classes in stem construction,
Received no instruction in photosynthesis.
From blithe stamen to untutored roots,
Throughout its growing, the daffodil was
An incorrigible truant.
No, no daffodil ever had a teacher.

Case by Robert Aitken; introduction and verse by Meredith Garmon
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2019-05-15

May 13 - 19

Spring, week 8
"If the root of faith appears, the great ball of doubt will arise without fail." --Yamada Koun
Saturday Zen: Sat May 18, 10:00a - noon
room 24
Community UU
468 Rosedale Ave
White Plains, NY
Practice to be led by Meredith Garmon

Morning Zen. Tue - Fri, 6:00-7:15am, at the Parsonage, Basement Zendo. SEE HERE.

Chants for Mon May 13 - Sun May 19:
  • Hongzhi's Silent Illumination, p. 17
Opening and Closing for Mon Apr 22 - Sun May 19:
  • Opening: Invocation of Kanzeon, p. 3
  • Closing: Spring Everywhere, p. 26
See: BoWZ Westchester Sutra Book   ☙   Additional Texts   ☙   Boundless Way Zen Sutra Book, 4th ed.

Reading for Sat May 18
  • Primary Reading: Koun Yamada, Zen: The Authentic Gate, Ch. 14-15, "Three Necessary Conditions for Zen Practice," and "Zen Practice for People of Other Religions," pp. 169-175.
  • Optional Secondary Reading: Thich Nhat Hanh, Old Path White Clouds, Ch. 43, "Everyone's Tears are Salty," p. 278.
For subsequent weeks (through Jun 1): See Schedule for Reading. Starting Jun 8: Pema Chodron, Comfortable with Uncertainty

This Week's Raven Tale: #101, Rectification -- HERE

2019-05-12

Raven 101: Rectification

Zen emerged when Buddhism from India spread to China and took on influences from Daoism. (There was no formal merger of institutions of Buddhism and Daoism, thus it is said that Buddhism and Daoism "shacked up," and Zen is their illegitimate love child.) Less recognized is the influence of Chinese Confucianism on the emergence of Zen.

"The rectification of names" is a Confucian idea that stresses that a stable social order depends on ensuring that words correspond to reality -- or at least to consensually shared understanding. In the Analects, Confucius writes:
"A superior man, in regard to what he does not know, shows a cautious reserve. If names be not correct, language is not in accordance with the truth of things. If language be not in accordance with the truth of things, affairs cannot be carried on to success. When affairs cannot be carried on to success, proprieties and music do not flourish. When proprieties and music do not flourish, punishments will not be properly awarded. When punishments are not properly awarded, the people do not know how to move hand or foot. Therefore a superior man considers it necessary that the names he uses may be spoken appropriately, and also that what he speaks may be carried out appropriately. What the superior man requires is just that in his words there may be nothing incorrect." (Book XIII, Chapter 3, verses 4–7, trans James Legge)
Raven here invokes the Confucian idea -- though more for "getting one's own house in order" than for social order.

On the one hand, words are but fingers pointing to the moon. Don't mistake the finger for the moon.

On the other hand, the finger is our "pointer." It matters that we're pointed in the right direction.

Even so, back on the first hand, when it comes to enlightenment, "realization is not like your conception of it; what you think one way or another before realization is not a help for realization" (Dogen).

On the other hand again, Dogen also spoke of the need to arouse the aspiration for enlightenment -- which necessarily involves some conception, howsoever vague, tentative, and inevitably ultimately wrong.

Case
During snacktime one afternoon, Black Bear asked, "How can I realize enlightenment?"
Raven asked, "What do you mean by 'enlightenment'?"
Black Bear said, "You know what I mean."
Raven said, "Fix up your terms and your path is fixed up."
Black Bear asked, "How can I fix up my terms?"
Raven said, "Your own intimate terms."
Verse
Knife scrapes butter over toast
Morning sun slants across the table.
Through the window: spring leaves, a few flowers.
Beside the coffee: a folded paper telling
Today's effects and causes of
Unhappiness, of names sliding apart.

This is a knife.
It, and my hand, spread that butter.
There is the light, the sun.
The leaves are green, flowers yellow, white, purple.
These names are right.
What is there to get wrong?

In a minute I'll unfold the paper,
Let in the day's chapter,
Slanted as the light,
Looking for clues to what is asked of me.
One must be careful
When there is this much to love.

Case by Robert Aitken; introduction and verse by Meredith Garmon
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2019-05-09

May 6 - 12

Spring, week 7
"Just as sunshine breaks through clouds, the light of our essential nature shines through the cracks in our delusion." --Yamada Koun
Saturday Zen: Sat Apr May 11, 10:00a - noon
room 24
Community UU
468 Rosedale Ave
White Plains, NY
Practice to be led by Meredith Garmon

Morning Zen. Tue - Fri, 6:00-7:15am, at the Parsonage, Basement Zendo. SEE HERE.

Chants for Mon May 6 - Sun May 12:
  • Fukanzazengi, p. 16
  • Heart Sutra, p. 10
Opening and Closing for Mon Apr 22 - Sun May 19:
  • Opening: Invocation of Kanzeon, p. 3
  • Closing: Spring Everywhere, p. 26
See: BoWZ Westchester Sutra Book   ☙   Additional Texts   ☙   Boundless Way Zen Sutra Book, 4th ed.

Reading for Sat May 11
  • Primary Reading: Koun Yamada, Zen: The Authentic Gate, Ch. 12b, "Eight Great Tenets of Mahayana Buddhism," 2nd half, pp. 152-162.
  • Optional Secondary Reading: Thich Nhat Hanh, Old Path White Clouds, Ch. 42, "Love is Understanding," p. 271.
For subsequent weeks (through Jun 1): See Schedule for Reading. Starting Jun 8: Pema Chodron, Comfortable with Uncertainty

This Week's Raven Tale: #100, The Best Turning Points -- HERE

Raven 100: The Best Turning Points

Jackrabbit Roshi was there at the beginning of our adventures with Raven -- in #1, where he put the teaching of mutually dependent arising at the center. Since then, Jackrabbit has only been referred to: in #38, where Raven invites her students to speak up about "anything in our program that troubles you"; -- #70, where Woodpecker asks about reports that Jackrabbit is now putting "just this!" at the center; -- and #86, where Owl asks about Jackrabbit supposedly having said, "the mind has no qualities and its essence is compassion."

Turning points unavoidably arise, if they arise at all, within and out of your own situation. But, as Owl learns, it's no easy thing to be grounded in, and clear about just what your situation is

Case
Owl came forward one evening and called up to Raven on his perch, saying, "Jackrabbit Roshi was the first teacher you met."
Raven said, "That's right."
Owl said, "I've heard he said the best turning points come out of your own situation. Did you ever hear him say such a thing?"
Raven said, "What's your situation?"
Owl swung his head from side to side.
Raven asked, "What turning points come from that?".
Owl hooted.
Raven said, "I'm not convinced."
Verse
"During revolutions, scientists see new and different things when looking with familiar instruments in places they have looked before." --Thomas Kuhn

When did it happen? You
Becoming you, I becoming
This.
Is not change, though continuous,
Punctuated?
Were there not moments --
   a day, a year, or two --
Of seeing through a new glass,
Just as dark,
   maybe,
But that seemed less so?
Were we not given
Glimpses because of which we took
A yellow-woods road that
Made all the difference?
Did we not,
At some identifiable-afterwards time
Turn aside from the task of shoring up the imperium,
And set ourselves instead to construct new forms?
When?
When did it happen?
Might it be happening again?
Case by Robert Aitken; introduction and verse by Meredith Garmon
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2019-04-29

Apr 29 - May 5

Spring, week 6
"All beings are intrinsically endowed with buddha nature. Unenlightened beings cling to the illusion of a self. Life continues. Cause and effect are inevitable. Buddhas actually exist. Sentient beings and buddhas mutually interact. Self and other are not two. All beings are in the process of becoming buddhas." --Yamada Koun
Saturday Zen: Sat Apr May 4, 10:00a - noon
room 24
Community UU
468 Rosedale Ave
White Plains, NY
Practice to be led by Meredith Garmon

Morning Zen. Tue - Fri, 6:00-7:15am, at the Parsonage, Basement Zendo. SEE HERE.

Chants for Mon Apr 29 - Sun May 5:
  • Genjokoan 2, p. 14
  • Yuibutsu Yobutsu, p. 15
Opening and Closing for Mon Apr 22 - Sun May 19:
  • Opening: Invocation of Kanzeon, p. 3
  • Closing: Spring Everywhere, p. 26
See: BoWZ Westchester Sutra Book   ☙   Additional Texts   ☙   Boundless Way Zen Sutra Book, 4th ed.

Reading for Sat May 4
  • Primary Reading: Primary Reading: Koun Yamada, Zen: The Authentic Gate, Ch. 12a, "Eight Great Tenets of Mahayana Buddhism," 1st half, pp. 143-152.
  • Optional Secondary Reading: Thich Nhat Hanh, Old Path White Clouds, Ch. 41, "Has Anyone Seen My Mother?" p. 266.
For subsequent weeks (through Jun 1): See Schedule for Reading. Starting Jun 8: Pema Chodron, Comfortable with Uncertainty

This Week's Raven Tale: #99, Doubt -- HERE

Raven 99: Doubt

Three essential conditions for Zen practice are: Great Faith, Great Doubt, and Great Determination. This Great Doubt is not intellectual doubt. It is:
"utterly becoming one with our practice to the point that our entire body and mind are like a single mass of inquiry. As long as we think that there is something called 'ourselves' that is practicing, we have not quite achieved great doubt. When we become truly absorbed in our practice, then the practice itself is practicing -- our spiritual energy solidified into an immovable mass of questioning." (Koun Yamada).
What is it? Open your mouth to proffer an answer, and you've lost it.

Case
One evening Woodpecker asked, "The term doubt seems to be used in an unusual way in our practice. How do you understand it?"
Raven said, "What's this?"
Woodpecker asked, "Well, what is it?"
Raven asked, "What is it?"
Verse
Who hears? What is mu?
How is it I speak
Without moving my tongue?
What is the sound of a hand?
What is here?
I ask, not wanting to know,
but to remember I don't.
Case by Robert Aitken; introduction and verse by Meredith Garmon
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2019-04-24

Raven 98: Everday Life

It's not complicated. Practice includes everything, and zazen is central. De-centering the ego in zazen requires help from everyday life. De-centering the ego in everyday life requires help from zazen. One hand washes the other.

Case
Raccoon visited again from Cedarford and said, "My problem is how to use my practice in everyday life."
Raven asked, "What is your practice?"
Raccoon said, "Lots of zazen."
Raven said, "You probably can't use it."
Raccoon said, "Then what's the good of it?"
Raven said, "Zazen arises from vows; vows arise from an aspiration for realization; aspiration for realization arises from a profound sense of unsatisfactoriness; the profound sense of unsatisfactoriness arises from self-centered views. When you realize that right views are right for toads and centipedes, then your practice includes washing your meat."
Raccoon asked, "Then zazen's not central?"
Raven said, "The core."
Verse
Venturing forth and coming home.
Spring moon and autumn moon.
I long ago lost track of
Which was supposed to be which.
Case by Robert Aitken, adapted; introduction and verse by Meredith Garmon
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Apr 22 - 28

Spring, week 5
"If we were to attain realization without practice, how could we understand the Buddha's teaching on delusion and enlightenment?" --Dogen
Saturday Zen: Sat Apr 27, 10:00a - noon
room 24
Community UU
468 Rosedale Ave
White Plains, NY
Practice to be led by Meredith Garmon

Morning Zen. Tue - Fri, 6:00-7:15am, at the Parsonage, Basement Zendo. SEE HERE.

Chants for Mon Apr 22 - Sun Apr 28:
  • Genjokoan 1, p. 12
Opening and Closing for Mon Apr 22 - Sun May 19:
  • Opening: Invocation of Kanzeon, p. 3
  • Closing: Spring Everywhere, p. 26
See: BoWZ Westchester Sutra Book   ☙   Additional Texts   ☙   Boundless Way Zen Sutra Book, 4th ed.

Reading for Sat Apr 27
  • Primary Reading: Koun Yamada, Zen: The Authentic Gate, Ch. 11, "Belief, Understanding, Practice, Realization, and Personalization," pp. 133-141.
  • Optional Secondary Reading: Thich Nhat Hanh, Old Path White Clouds, Ch. 40, "Cover the Land in Gold," p. 261.
For subsequent weeks (through Jun 1): See Schedule for Reading.

This Week's Raven Tale: #98, Everyday Life -- HERE

2019-04-19

Apr 15 - 21

Spring, week 4
"If you want to take care of tomorrow, take better care of today." --Dainin Katagiri
Saturday Zen: Sat Apr 20, 10:00a - noon
room 24
Community UU
468 Rosedale Ave
White Plains, NY
Practice to be led by Meredith Garmon

Morning Zen. Tue - Fri, 6:00-7:15am, at the Parsonage, Basement Zendo. SEE HERE.

Chants for Mon Apr 15 - Sun Apr 21:
  • Dongshan's Song of the Jeweled-Mirror Samadhi, p. 11
  • Lotus Sutra's Fulfilling the Buddha Way, p. 12
Opening and Closing for Mon Mar 25 - Sun Apr 21:
  • Opening: Gatha of Atonement, p. 3
  • Closing: The Ship of Compassion, p. 26
See: BoWZ Westchester Sutra Book   ☙   BoWZ Westchester Chant Schedule   ☙   Boundless Way Zen Sutra Book, 4th ed.

Reading for Sat Apr 20
  • Primary Reading: Koun Yamada, Zen: The Authentic Gate, Ch. 10, "Deceptive Phenomena," pp. 125-132.
  • Optional Secondary Reading: Thich Nhat Hanh, Old Path White Clouds, Ch. 39, "Waiting for Daybreak," p. 256.
For subsequent weeks (through Jun 1): See Schedule for Reading.

This Week's Raven Tale: #97, Honor -- HERE

2019-04-17

Raven 97: Honor

You owe it to the world to be you. The debt continuously accrues.
This is true: the debt is unavoidably, continuously paid; you can't help but be you. Yet this is also true: it takes practice to be you. Sometimes the practice happens, and sometimes the payment of yourself to the world is made more consciously and mindfully than other times. Shall we call this honor? Might as well.

Case
One evening Porcupine asked, "What is the place of honor in the practice?"
Raven said, "To be truly Porcupine takes practice."
Porcupine asked, "Come on, Roshi, you don't mean just to be true to myself!"
Raven said, "To everybody else."
Verse
The river, delivering
its tributes to the sea,
doesn't remember its
million years of practicing,
or how its canyon formed.
Or maybe
the current is the memory.
Case by Robert Aitken, adapted; introduction and verse by Meredith Garmon
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2019-03-20

Mar 18 - 24

Winter, last week
"It is not necessary to burn incense, make prostrations, pray to the Buddha, practice penance, or study sutras; just sit and let body and mind fall away." --Dogen
Saturday Zen: Sat Mar 23, 10:00a - noon
room 24
Community UU
468 Rosedale Ave
White Plains, NY
Practice to be led by David Bauer

Morning Zen. Tue - Fri, 6:00-7:15am, at the Parsonage, Basement Zendo. SEE HERE. CANCELED FOR FRI MAR 22.

Chants for Mon Mar 18 - Sun Mar 24:
  • Song of the Jeweled-Mirror Samadhi, p. 25
  • Three Marks of Dharma, p. S2
Opening and Closing for Mon Feb 25 - Sun Mar 24:
  • Opening: This World of Dew, p. 35; Blinded by Passions, p. 40
  • Closing: To Change Every Moment, p. 74
See: Boundless Way Zen Sutra Book, 4th ed.   ☙   Supplement   ☙   BoWZ Westchester Chant Schedule

Reading for Sat Mar 23
  • Primary Reading: Koun Yamada, Zen: The Authentic Gate, Ch. 8a, "Depth of Enlightenment," 1st half, pp. 97-107.
  • Optional Secondary Reading: Thich Nhat Hanh, Old Path White Clouds, Ch. 36, "Lotus Vow," p. 236.
For subsequent weeks (through May 25): See Schedule for Reading.

This Week's Raven Tale: #96,  Confined -- HERE
This Week's Koan: BOS96: Jiufeng Does Not Acknowledge -- HERE

2019-03-19

Raven 96: Confined

Nature draws boundaries here and there -- confining by defining, defining by confining. The boundaries, though, are porous and, in any case, temporary. All the power outside any enclosure is also within. How could anything be anywhere if it weren't also everywhere? Is this not granted?

Case
Badger spoke up after a long silence one evening and asked, "Is there a power outside myself?"
Raven said, "Confined."
"How can I be free?" asked Badger.
"Don't take the ground for granted," said Raven.
Verse
The badger forgets his everythingness,
Which includes his forgetting.
The ground he loves to dig,
He takes for granted because it is.
In an act of complete liberation he wonders
How to be free.
Sun and moon cannot stop
Kissing the sky.
Case by Robert Aitken, adapted; introduction and verse by Meredith Garmon
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2019-03-16

Mar 11 - 17

Winter, week 12
"A true teacher possesses ability beyond the ordinary, a spirit surpassing the commonplace. Not clinging to personal views, he or she does not get bogged down in emotions. Action and understanding are in agreement. This is an authentic teacher." --Dogen
Saturday Zen: Sat Mar 16, 10:00a - noon
room 24
Community UU
468 Rosedale Ave
White Plains, NY
Practice to be led by Meredith Garmon

Morning Zen. Tue - Fri, 6:00-7:15am, at the Parsonage, Basement Zendo. SEE HERE.

Chants for Mon Mar 11 - Sun Mar 17:
  • Compassionate Heart of Wisdom, p. 15
  • Song of Zazen, p. 17
  • Great Doubt, p. 18
Opening and Closing for Mon Feb 25 - Sun Mar 24:
  • Opening: This World of Dew, p. 35; Blinded by Passions, p. 40
  • Closing: To Change Every Moment, p. 74
See: Boundless Way Zen Sutra Book, 4th ed.   ☙   Supplement   ☙   BoWZ Westchester Chant Schedule

Reading for Sat Mar 16:
  • Primary Reading: Koun Yamada, Zen: The Authentic Gate, Ch. 7, "Finding an Authentic Teacher," pp. 91-96.
  • Optional Secondary Reading: Thich Nhat Hanh, Old Path White Clouds, Ch. 35, "Early Morning Sunshine," p. 230
For subsequent weeks (through May 25): See Schedule for Reading.

This Week's Raven Tale: #95, What Is Mind? -- HERE