2018-09-20

Sep 21 - 27

Autumn, week 1
"Dorothy realized that what she had been seeking all her life was simply her life itself: the people, the house, the rooms. All were the face of God. If we really saw that, we wouldn't torture ourselves and each other as we do. We're unkind; we're manipulative; we're dishonest. If we saw that this very life we lead is the face of God itself, we would not be able to behave in such ways -- not because of any commandment or prohibition, but just because we see what life is." --Joko Beck
Saturday Zen: Sat Sep 22, 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 Sep 21 - Thu Sep 27:
  • Longer Precepts, p. 63
Opening and Closing for Sep 6 - Oct 4:
  • Opening: Aspiration Prayer, p. 11
  • Closing: Hope in the Dark, p. 71
See Boundless Way Zen Sutra Book, 4th ed. and
BoWZ Westchester Chant Schedule

Reading for Sat Sep 22:
  • Primary Reading: Charlotte Joko Beck, Nothing Special, Ch. 37, "Dorothy and the Locked Door," p. 258-266.
  • Optional Secondary Reading: Thich Nhat Hanh, Old Path White Clouds, Ch. 13, "Beginning Spiritual Practice," pp. 87-94.
  • Next Book starts Oct 13: angel Kyodo williams, Radical Dharma
This Week's
  • Raven Tale: #71, Not Helping. HERE.
  • Koan: Blue Cliff Record #19, Book of Serenity #84, Jinhua's One Finger. HERE.

2018-09-17

Raven 71: Not Helping

The cowbird, according to the Cornell Ornithology Lab, "is a brood parasite, meaning that it lays its eggs in nests of other species." Apparently, cowbirds don't have a choice about this -- if they couldn't get other birds to feed their hatchlings, cowbirds simply wouldn't be able to reproduce.

One hesitates to moralize about the strategies that emerged from natural selection -- but, it's a metaphor. What's to be done about the "parasites" who maybe do have a choice? How do we know if they really have a choice? What does compassion call for?

Case
After a talk by Raven about the precepts, Woodpecker said, "The cowbird lays her egg in the wren's nest, and the two wrens have to hustle to feed the cowbird's baby as well as their own. I don't see why the wrens stand for it, especially since the cowbird's baby is a lot bigger than theirs and has a huge appetite. Maybe the wrens are really bodhisattvas, selflessly devoted to helping others."

Raven said, "They aren't helping the cowbirds."
Verse
Upaya: "skillfull means" --
When to step in, up, forward, out, down, back?
Zazen doesn't answer these questions.
It's possible it helps one
Remember to ask them,
Or approach them less controlled by fears.
It's possible it doesn't.
Case by Robert Aitken, adapted; introduction and verse by Meredith Garmon
Raven 70

2018-09-14

Sep 13 - 20

Summer, week 13
"A simple mind is not mysterious. In a simple mind, awareness just is." --Joko Beck
Saturday Zen: Sat Sep 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 and Thu, 6:00 - 7:15am
Basement Zendo. See HERE.

Chants
For Thu Sep 13 - Thu Sep 20:
  • Song of the Jeweled Mirror Samadhi p. 25
  • The Way of Tenderness, p. 66
Opening and Closing for Sep 6 - Oct 4:
  • Opening: Aspiration Prayer, p. 11
  • Closing: Hope in the Dark, p. 71
See Boundless Way Zen Sutra Book, 4th ed. and
BoWZ Westchester Chant Schedule

Reading for Sat Sep 15:
  • Primary Reading: Charlotte Joko Beck, Nothing Special, Ch. 35, "Simple Mind," p. 255-257.
  • Optional Secondary Reading: Thich Nhat Hanh, Old Path White Clouds, Ch. 12, "Kanthaka," pp. 79-86.
  • Next Book (starts Oct 13): angel Kyodo williams, Radical Dharma

Sesshin at Boundless Way Temple
1030 Pleasant St
Worcester, MA
Thu Sep 20, at 19:00 until Sun Sep 23, at 12:00.
Consider planning to attend! Registration now open. Info on this sesshin: HERE. Registration form: HERE.

This Week's

2018-09-08

Raven 70: Perspective

Our story began when Raven visited Jackrabbit Roshi and asked: "I hear that Buddha Macaw looked up from the branch of her Jobo tree and saw the morning star and announced her realization. I get the feeling that something is missing from the story. What happened when she saw the star?" Jackrabbit answered: "She realized the truth of mutually dependent arising." Raven felt that something was still missing. (Raven #1)

Now we see our friend Porcupine beginning to show signs of moving into an assistant teacher role. Thank you, Porcupine, for your practice and your wisdom!

There is no such thing as a complete explanation. Explanations are words, and words, even if they go on and on for many volumes, always leave out something. Words also latch on to some aspect and make it prevalent. Place not your faith in explanations! Consider this bit of dialog from Ring Lardner:
"Are you lost, Daddy?" I asked tenderly.
"Shut up," he explained.
"Shut up" may be the best explanation. Explanatory words might add perspective, but, ultimately, the oneness and emptiness of reality is perspectiveless.

Case
Woodpecker said, "You've told us how Jackrabbit Roshi said that when the Buddha Macaw looked up and saw the morning star, she realized the truth of mutually dependent arising. I hear that the Roshi is now saying that the Buddha realized, 'Just this!'"
Raven said, "Something's still missing."
"But isn't that what the Buddha realized?" asked Woodpecker, "'Just this morning star'?"
Raven ruffled her feathers and said, "No."
Later, Woodpecker asked Porcupine about this. Porcupine said, "Something's still prevailing."
Woodpecker returned to Raven and said, "I'm trying to get to the bottom of this case about the morning star. You said, 'Something's still missing.' Porcupine said, 'Something's still prevailing.' I really don't understand."
Raven said, "Porcupine adds perspective."
Verse
A robin, the lifeless form of,
Lies by the path, her talons
Curve around air.
To say what is missing is not hard:
Her motion, her song, her concerns.

To detect the prevailing presence of same,
In the gray and ruddy feathers:
This, too, is not difficult.
Less often said, maybe.

I bend and take the body up,
Carry it to the covering of underbrush,
Stand over the grave
In wonder of the goneness
And equally of the
undepartability.
Case by Robert Aitken, adapted; introduction and verse by Meredith Garmon
Raven 69

2018-09-05

Sep 6 - 12

Summer, week 12
"When we have no hope, our mind quiets. As long as we have hope, our mind is trying to figure out how to fulfill those wonderful things that we want to happen to us, or trying to protect ourselves from all the terrible things that shouldn't happen. And so the mind is anything but quiet." --Joko Beck
Saturday Zen: Sat Sep 8, 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 Thu Sep 6 - Wed Sep 12:
  • Compassionate Heart of Wisdom, p. 15
  • Hakuin's Song of Zazen, p. 17
  • Great Doubt, p. 18
Opening and Closing for Sep 6 - Oct 4:
  • Opening: Aspiration Prayer, p. 11
  • Closing: Hope in the Dark, p. 71
See Boundless Way Zen Sutra Book, 4th ed. and
BoWZ Westchester Chant Schedule

Reading for Sat Sep 8:

  • Primary Reading: Charlotte Joko Beck, Nothing Special, Ch. 35, "From Drama to No Drama," p. 249-254.
  • Optional Secondary Reading: Thich Nhat Hanh, Old Path White Clouds, Ch. 12, "Kanthaka," pp. 79-86.
  • Next Book (starts Oct 13): angel Kyodo williams, Radical Dharma

Sesshin at Boundless Way Temple
1030 Pleasant St
Worcester, MA
Thu Sep 20, at 19:00 until Sun Sep 23, at 12:00.
Consider planning to attend! Registration now open. Info on this sesshin: HERE. Registration form: HERE.

This Week's
  • Raven Tale: 69 Zazen Alone CLICK HERE
  • Koan: Book of Serenity 98 Dongshan's "Intimate With It" CLICK HERE

2018-09-01

Raven 69: Zazen Alone

Mallard is back with us today. It's her third appearance. The first was in #27 when she asked, "Aren't we wasting time just sitting here while the Blue Planet goes to hell?" The second was just eight episodes ago, in #61, when she had a question about the vow to save the many beings.

Being a migratory bird has some challenges.

The spiritual path has both solitary and communal elements -- and neither may be neglected. It's important and invaluable to have a solid, supportive group of "friends along the path" who gather to do spiritual practice together. Mallard has her flock, of course, but for her, it's the Tallspruce gang, not her flock, that is her spiritual community. (She's a bit of an odd duck.) Can trees and stones be your spiritual community? They're part of it -- and the spiritual path is one of a deepening sense of community with all beings, sentient and insentient. Especially at first, though, you need beings to talk to, that talk back to you and speak your language. Grandma, perhaps, may find it more fun to abjure spiritual community (as we saw last episode in #68), but that's because she has a certain temperament and has reached a certain stage that she would never have reached without having trained with a community for many years.

Case
Mallard spoke up first at an evening meeting and said, "When I'm traveling, I find it difficult to do zazen without support from the community. As often as not, I end up not doing it."
Raven said, "Sit with the stones."
Verse
Sit with the sturgeon, with the stars.
Stand with the aspen, with the yak.
Walk with the brook, with the ocean waves.
Lie with the moss, and the setting sun.
Sit with the lakes, fallen logs, and bunnies.
Stand with the mushrooms, mountains, and salamanders.
Walk with the cows, chickens, and the full moon.
Lie with the bedrock, yellow leaves, and rhesus macaques.
Do this because you can't not,
And because the ten thousand things
Are sitting, standing, walking, lying
With you.
Case by Robert Aitken, adapted; introduction and verse by Meredith Garmon
Raven 68

2018-08-30

Aug 30 - Sep 5

Summer, week 11
"Sitting touches every aspect of our lives; yet when we forget one thing, we have forgotten everything. Without it, nothing else works. It's hard to give it a name. We might call it wonder. When we forget the wonder of that which we encounter, then we're in trouble; our lives don't work." --Joko Beck
Saturday Zen: Sat Sep 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 & Thu, 6:00 - 7:15am
Basement Zendo. See HERE.

Chants
For Thu Aug 30 - Wed Sep 5:
  • Bodhisattva's Vow, p. 22
  • Harmony of Relative and Absolute, p. 23
  • Fullfilling the Buddha Way, p. 40
Opening and Closing for Aug 9 - Sep 5:
  • Opening: The Essence of Atonement, p. 8
  • Closing: There is No End, p. 70 + The Four Bohisattva Vows, p. 11
See Boundless Way Zen Sutra Book, 4th ed. and
BoWZ Westchester Chant Schedule

Reading for Sat Sep 1:
Primary Reading: Charlotte Joko Beck, Nothing Special, Ch. 34, "Chaos and Wonder," p. 239-245.
Optional Secondary Reading: Thich Nhat Hanh, Old Path White Clouds, Ch. 11, "Moonlight Flute," pp. 74-78.
Next Book (starts Oct 13): angel Kyodo williams, Radical Dharma

Sesshin at Boundless Way Temple
1030 Pleasant St
Worcester, MA
Thu Sep 20, at 19:00 until Sun Sep 23, at 12:00.
Consider planning to attend! Registration now open. Info on this sesshin: HERE. Registration form: HERE.

This Week's
  • Raven Tale: 68 The Fun Way CLICK HERE
  • Koan: GG31/BOS10 Zhoazhou Sees Through an Old Woman CLICK HERE

2018-08-28

Raven 68: The Fun Way

Group practice isn't for everyone. Whether you participate in a cooperative garden, or garden by yourself, you'll have some weeding to do.

Case
Next evening, Porcupine said, "I think I speak for everyone in suggesting that we invite Grandma to our meetings. She's quite wise, it seems."
Raven saw many heads nodding.
The next day she flew over to Vinecot and found Grandma weeding her garden. "We'd like to invite you to come to our meetings," she said.
Grandma said, "It's much more fun this way."
Raven said, "Might have known."
Verse
Maybe you go where those others go --
Not because you are paid;
You pay to do it.
Weekly or twice weekly or more,
You arrive there at the appointed times,
You
Be with them, doing and saying.

Maybe this is a loveliness
that makes you tender,
and sometimes you cry.
Maybe there you know yourself
and become real.
Or maybe you hide there,
and slowly harden.
Maybe you become thoughtful --
Or quicker to blame.
Maybe this is the locus of your wisdom --
Or your vehicle of dominance.

Maybe you go where those others go
And find in some form all of the above.
Maybe you stay home.
Case by Robert Aitken, adapted; introduction and verse by Meredith Garmon
Raven 67

2018-08-21

Aug 23 - 29

Summer, week 10
"Happiness has an opposite; joy does not. As long as we seek happiness, we're going to have unhappiness, . . . Joy can be having a sore throat; it can be getting laid off; it can be unexpectedly having to work overtime. It can be having to take a math exam or dealing with one's former spouse who wants more money." --Joko Beck
Saturday Zen: Sat Aug 25, 10:00 - 11:45am
room 24
Community UU
468 Rosedale Ave
White Plains, NY
Practice to be led by Meredith Garmon

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

Chants
For Thu Aug 23 - Wed Aug 29:
  • Days Like Lightning, p. 61
  • Heart Sutra, p. 14
Opening and Closing for Aug 9 - Sep 5:
  • Opening: The Essence of Atonement, p. 8
  • Closing: There is No End, p. 70 + The Four Bohisattva Vows, p. 11
See Boundless Way Zen Sutra Book, 4th ed. and
BoWZ Westchester Chant Schedule

Reading for Sat Aug 18:
Primary Reading: Charlotte Joko Beck, Nothing Special, Ch. 33, "Joy," p. 232-238.
Optional Secondary Reading: Thich Nhat Hanh, Old Path White Clouds, Ch. 10, "Unborn Child," pp. 68-73.
Next Book (starts Oct 13): angel Kyodo williams, Radical Dharma

Sesshin at Boundless Way Temple
1030 Pleasant St
Worcester, MA
Thu Sep 20, at 19:00 until Sun Sep 23, at 12:00.
Consider planning to attend! Registration now open. Info on this sesshin: HERE. Registration form: HERE.

This Week's
  • Raven Tale: 67 Not Playing Favorites. CLICK HERE
  • Koan: GG7/BOS39 Zhaozhou's "Wash Your Bowls." CLICK HERE

2018-08-19

Raven 67: Not Playing Favorites

Appropriate action in every situation -- sometimes involves rules, sometimes not.

Case
Woodpecker flew over to Vinecot, and there was the stick leaning against the corner of the porch. She called out, "Hello! Hello!"
Grandma came to the door.
Woodpecker said, "Is that your stick?"
Grandma said, "You can take it away with you if you like."
Woodpecker said, "I heard that you wouldn't give it to Raven."
Grandma said, "I still wouldn't."
Woodpecker then flew back to Raven and said, "I went to see Grandma and she offered to let me have her stick. I told her I had heard that she wouldn't give it to you, and she said she still wouldn't. Surely she's not playing favorites."
Raven said, "For pine nuts go to the pine tree."
Verse
Reliability
Of, say, things planted growing, usually,
When conditions and seed are right for each other,
Which isn't so hard to arrange,
Surprises, edges me into believing
In consistency, and the possibility of justice:
That there are like cases that may be treated alike.

Then: the shift of pattern,
The randomness of events and outcomes,
The course reversals called inexplicable
because we forget the inexplicability of courses stayed,
Come as a wonderment.

Each surprise sets up the other,
like players of a comedy team.
Case by Robert Aitken, adapted; introduction and verse by Meredith Garmon
Raven 66

2018-08-15

Aug 16 - 22

Summer, week 9
"There is nowhere to get. We have already arrived at that place where there is no difference between the sound of a dove -- and a critical voice. Our task to to recognize that we have arrived." --Joko Beck
Saturday Zen: Sat Aug 18, 10:00 - 11:45am
room 24
Community UU
468 Rosedale Ave
White Plains, NY
Practice to be led by Meredith Garmon

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

Chants
For Thu Aug 16 - Wed Aug 22:
  • LovingKindness 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 Aug 9 - Sep 5:
  • Opening: The Essence of Atonement, p. 8
  • Closing: There is No End, p. 70 + The Four Bohisattva Vows, p. 11
See Boundless Way Zen Sutra Book, 4th ed. and
BoWZ Westchester Chant Schedule

Reading for Sat Aug 18:
Primary Reading: Charlotte Joko Beck, Nothing Special, Ch. 31, "The Sound of a Dove -- and a Critical Voice," pp. 227-231.
Optional Secondary Reading: Thich Nhat Hanh, Old Path White Clouds, Ch. 10, "Unborn Child," pp. 68-73.
Next Book (starts Oct 13): angel Kyodo williams, Radical Dharma

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.

This week's:

Raven 66: Too Clever by Half

Sun and moon, mountains and rivers, sticks and stones -- all of them are Buddha-nature. What is this "represent" nonsense? What's the possessive pronoun doing there? I think I'd fly away too, and I don't even have wings. Much.

Case
Owl then spoke up. "Are you saying that her stick represents her Buddha-nature?"
Raven launched herself from her perch without a word and flew out of sight.
Porcupine said, "Don't you see? It's a plain old stick. It doesn't even have a rubber tip."
Owl said, "Sometimes I think I'm just too clever by half."
Verse
"Some teachers say that Zen is hard. I say that Zen is very easy. But we are saying the same thing." -Seung Sahn

Sun and earth make pine and hyacinth, and
The hummingbird outside the window
Beats her wings 80 times a second --
Without trying.
Even my pushing, willful, effort
Arrives and unfolds effortlessly.

I might say,
It is difficult to know the ease of things --
meaning only,
One settles into such knowledge slowly,
And if the thing is kept at.
Case by Robert Aitken, adapted; introduction and verse by Meredith Garmon
Raven 65

2018-08-07

Aug 9 - 15

Summer, week 8
"Our lives are absolutely hopeless. That's why they're wonderful. And it's not a big deal." --Joko Beck
Saturday Zen: Sat Aug 11, 10:00 - 11:45am
room 24
Community UU
468 Rosedale Ave
White Plains, NY
Practice to be led by Meredith Garmon

Morning Zen. Mon-Fri, 6:00 - 7:15am -- Basement Zendo.
See HERE. Morning Zen is cancelled Mon Jul 30 thru Thu Aug 2, and will resume on Fri Aug 3.

Chants
For Thu Aug 9 - Wed Aug 15:
  • An Unending Truth, p. 36
  • Facing Everything, p. 36
  • The Misunderstanding of Many Lifetimes, p. 37
  • Self and Other the Same, p. 37
  • The Field of Boundless Emptiness, p. 37
Opening and Closing for Aug 9 - Sep 5:
  • Opening: The Essence of Atonement, p. 8
  • Closing: There is No End, p. 70 + The Four Bohisattva Vows, p. 11
See Boundless Way Zen Sutra Book, 4th ed. and
BoWZ Westchester Chant Schedule

Reading for Sat Aug 11:
Primary Reading: Charlotte Joko Beck, Nothing Special, Ch. 31, "The Fall," pp. 219.
Optional Secondary Reading: Thich Nhat Hanh, Old Path White Clouds, Ch. 10, "Unborn Child," pp. 68-73.

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.

This week's:
  • Koan: Book of Serenity #18: Zhaozhou's Dog (extended). CLICK HERE
  • Raven Tale: #65: How Do You Account for This? CLICK HERE

Raven 65: How Do You Account for This?

Episode before last, Raven #63, the introduction mentioned Gateless Gate #43: "Master Shoushan held up a stick before his disciples and said, "You monks, if you call this a stick, you are committed to the name. If you do not call this a stick, you are opposing the fact. Tell me, you monks, what will you call it?"

Gateless Gate #44 also deals with a stick -- a staff: "Master Bajiao said to the assembly, 'If you have a staff, I will give it to you. If you have no staff, I will take it away from you.'" Master Wumen (1183-1260) commented on this: "Having it support us, we wade across a river that has no bridge. Having it accompany us, we return to the village on a moonless night. But if you call it a staff, you will go to hell as swiftly as an arrow." In today's episode, Raven echoes Wumen's comment. Yet Raven doesn't seem to mind calling it a stick. Labels are fine -- just don't be attached to them, is all.

Case
At that same assembly, Mole said to Raven, "Turkey tells me that Grandma doesn't lock her place and that folks are free to wander in and out. They eat her food and mess up her carpet. She doesn't seem to be protective or possessive at all. Yet she snatched away her stick when you went after it. How do you account for this?"
Raven said, "It guides her along to Vinecot on a moonless night. It helps her cross the creek when the bridge is broken down."
Mole subsided.
After a moment, Woodpecker asked, "You mean when push comes to shove, there are certain things that she won't share?"
Raven said, "Stick."
Verse
Myriad the mystery that supports and guides
That surrounds like peripheral vision
That smiles from the shadows and sometimes laughs
That writes the truths and publishes
Under pen-names.
Case by Robert Aitken, adapted; introduction and verse by Meredith Garmon
Raven 64

2018-07-30

Aug 2 - 8

Summer, week 7
"It's important to remember that we're not fixing anything. We're not trying to be different from who we are. In fact, practice is simply retrning to that which we always are." --Joko Beck
Saturday Zen: Sat Aug 4, 10:00 - 11:45am
room 24
Community UU
468 Rosedale Ave
White Plains, NY
Practice to be led by Meredith Garmon

Morning Zen. Mon-Fri, 6:00 - 7:15am -- Basement Zendo.
See HERE. Morning Zen is cancelled Mon Jul 30 thru Thu Aug 2, and will resume on Fri Aug 3.

Chants
For Thu Aug 2 - Wed Aug 8:
  • Song of the Grass-Roof Hermitage, p. 16
  • Heart Sutra, p. 14
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 Aug 4:
Primary Reading: Charlotte Joko Beck, Nothing Special, Ch. 30, "The Natural Man," pp. 208-18.
Optional Secondary Reading: Thich Nhat Hanh, Old Path White Clouds, Ch 9, "The Path of Compassion," pp. 62-67.

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.

This week's:
  • Koan:  Book of Serenity #18: Zhaozhou's Dog (extended). CLICK HERE
  • Raven Tale: #64: Can't Have That. CLICK HERE