2020-07-30

Raven 133: Rebirth

Who or what is it that could be reincarnated? Your body? What else? Perhaps just some part of you? That's not you.

Case
Owl asked, "What do you think of the doctrine of reincarnation?"
Raven said, "Not my body."
Owl said, "Maybe my terminology is mistaken. What do you think of the doctrine of rebirth?"
Raven said, "Not my beak."
Verse
This body -- this skinbag with its names and habits,
And 
This body -- the world and stars; vast, void, unnameable:
How is this body also this body?
Strange.
And
Familiar.
(How much stranger if it weren't.)

It's like children, how they belong to all of us
And
By established convention, there's special responsibility for my own.
The general, easy to forget;
The special, impossible to.
It's like that.

As a toddler demands my attention,
And 
When she doesn't, compels it nonetheless,
This bag of water, poop, and karma --
Of eros and of dust, Auden said --
Requires attention
And
Attending, I notice
The little one's riveting eyes declare:
This body is this body.

Case adapted from Robert Aitken; introduction and verse by Meredith Garmon
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2020-07-27

Jul 27 - Aug 2

Summer, week 6

Join the BoWZ-Westchester Sangha via Zoom every Saturday morning:

Informal conversation begins at 9:45.
Practice begins at 10:00.
We end at noon.
(US Eastern Time Zone)

https://zoom.us/j/2898507899
Audio Only: telephone 646-876-9923 & Enter Meeting ID: 289 850 7899

Passcode: 468468

Sat Aug 1: Practice to be led by Seth Segall.

This Week's Reading for Sat Aug 1
  • Taizan Maezumi, Appreciate Your Life: The Essence of Zen Practice, "Why Zazen?" pp. 19-22.
  • Reading Schedule HERE.
Home Practice
  • Light a candle or stick of incense, or both
  • Three bows to Buddha
  • Gatha of Atonement (odd-numbered dates) or The Three Refuges (even-numbered dates);
  • Dedication (use Sutra Book and audio below)
  • Opening Verse (use Sutra Book and audio below)
  • Zazen (25 mins)
  • Sutra Service Readings (use Sutra Book and audio below)
  • Dharma Study (book or podcast, 15-30 mins)
  • Closing Verse (use Sutra Book and audio below)
Sutra Book for printing (two-columned pages): CLICK HERE. Sutra Book for reading on your computer screen (one-column pages): CLICK HERE. Page references are to the two-column version.

Opening: Odd-Numbered Dates, Jul 13 - Aug 9
  • Gatha of Atonement, p. 1
  • Dedication 1, p. 1
  • The Five Remembrances, p. 4
Audio player below or CLICK HERE.


Opening: Even-Numbered Dates, Jul 13 - Aug 9
  • The Three Refuges, p. 1
  • Dedication 1, p. 1
  • The Five Remembrances, p. 4
Audio player below or CLICK HERE.


Zazen
  • 25 mins.
Sutra Service, Jul 26-Aug 1: Week 6.B.
  • "Guidance in Zazen -- Those Who Greatly Realize Delusion are Buddhas," p. 19
Audio player below or CLICK HERE.


Dharma Study
  • Book or podcast, 15-30 mins.
Closing Verse for Mon Jul 13 - Sun Aug 9
  • The Way of Tenderness, p. 40; The Four Bodhisattva Vows, p. 42.
Audio player below or CLICK HERE.



THE AUDIBLE HEART PROJECT
Add your voice to the recording of the Heart Sutra that we chant along with some weeks!
The audio (MP3) file is here:
https://drive.google.com/file/d/1aVlqZ_pSjOf6gTeZTDnsceLeAU4eDlGb/view

Download this MP3 file onto your computer.
Then open it with an audio program such as "Audacity" (which is available free on on the internet) or "Garage Band".
Using this audio software, dub your own voice into the recording.
Save the result and email it back to me!
For more complete and detailed instructions email me at HotetsuG@gmail.com

ADDITIONAL PRACTICE OPPORTUNITIES
Mon-Fri mornings, 7 AM -8 AM -- join Meredith and the Worcester Boundless Way Zen teachers for morning practice.
Or zoom in for evening practice on Sun, Tue, and Thu evenings, 7 PM - 8 PM
Zoom link: CLICK HERE

White Plains Zen Center:
Tue evenings: 7:30 PM
https://zoom.us/j/122286388

Hudson River Zen Center:
http://hudsonriverzencenter.org/

Insight Meditation with Nina Nagy
Mon evenings: 6 PM
https://www.awakeabiding.com/

2020-07-21

Jul 20-26

Summer, week 5

Join the BoWZ-Westchester Sangha via Zoom every Saturday morning:

Informal conversation begins at 9:45.
Practice begins at 10:00.
We end at noon.
(US Eastern Time Zone)

https://zoom.us/j/2898507899
Audio Only: telephone 646-876-9923 & Enter Meeting ID: 289 850 7899

Passcode: 468468

This Week's Reading for Sat Jul 25
  • Taizan Maezumi, Appreciate Your Life: The Essence of Zen Practice, "The Dharma Seals," p. 17-18.
  • Reading Schedule HERE.
Questions
  • How do you listen to the dharma?
  • "Reflect upon the teachings that you have heard." What teachings have you reflected on lately?
  • "Work with the teachings." Do you do this? How?
  • "Verify the teachings through your practice." What teachings have you found verified in your practice?
This Week's Raven Tale
Home Practice
  • Light a candle or stick of incense, or both
  • Three bows to Buddha
  • Gatha of Atonement (odd-numbered dates) or The Three Refuges (even-numbered dates);
  • Dedication (use Sutra Book and audio below)
  • Opening Verse (use Sutra Book and audio below)
  • Zazen (25 mins)
  • Sutra Service Readings (use Sutra Book and audio below)
  • Dharma Study (book or podcast, 15-30 mins)
  • Closing Verse (use Sutra Book and audio below)
Sutra Book for printing (two-columned pages): CLICK HERE. Sutra Book for reading on your computer screen (one-column pages): CLICK HERE. Page references are to the two-column version.

Opening: Odd-Numbered Dates, Jul 13 - Aug 9
  • Gatha of Atonement, p. 1
  • Dedication 1, p. 1
  • The Five Remembrances, p. 4
Audio player below or CLICK HERE.


Opening: Even-Numbered Dates, Jul 13 - Aug 9
  • The Three Refuges, p. 1
  • Dedication 1, p. 1
  • The Five Remembrances, p. 4
Audio player below or CLICK HERE.


Zazen
  • 25 mins.
Sutra Service, Jul 20-26: Week 5
  • "Compassionate Heart of Wisdom," p. 16
  • "Harmony of Relative and Absolute," p. 17
  • "Hakuin's Song of Zazen," p. 17
Audio player below or CLICK HERE.

Dharma Study
  • Book or podcast, 15-30 mins.
Closing Verse for Mon Jun 15 - Sun Jul 12
  • The Way of Tenderness, p. 40; The Four Bodhisattva Vows, p. 42.
Audio player below or CLICK HERE.



THE AUDIBLE HEART PROJECT
Add your voice to the recording of the Heart Sutra that we chant along with some weeks!
The audio (MP3) file is here:
https://drive.google.com/file/d/1aVlqZ_pSjOf6gTeZTDnsceLeAU4eDlGb/view

Download this MP3 file onto your computer.
Then open it with an audio program such as "Audacity" (which is available free on on the internet) or "Garage Band".
Using this audio software, dub your own voice into the recording.
Save the result and email it back to me!
For more complete and detailed instructions email me at HotetsuG@gmail.com

ADDITIONAL PRACTICE OPPORTUNITIES
Mon-Fri mornings, 7 AM -8 AM -- join Meredith and the Worcester Boundless Way Zen teachers for morning practice.
Or zoom in for evening practice on Sun, Tue, and Thu evenings, 7 PM - 8 PM
Zoom link: CLICK HERE

White Plains Zen Center:
Tue evenings: 7:30 PM
https://zoom.us/j/122286388

Hudson River Zen Center:
http://hudsonriverzencenter.org/

Insight Meditation with Nina Nagy
Mon evenings: 6 PM
https://www.awakeabiding.com/

2020-07-19

Raven 132: How to Die

These Raven Tales are the creation of Zen Master Robert Aitken, who once observed that enlightenment is an accident -- we cannot make it happen -- but we can make ourselves accident-prone.

That's the sort of accident -- which may be fatal to the ego's self-conception -- of which Raven is in favor. Learning how to die is necessary for knowing how to live.

Case
One evening toward the end of a meeting, Mole said, "I've heard that Zen is for old folks to teach them how to die. What do you think of that notion?"
Raven said, "It helps young folks that way, too."
Mole asked, "They might have a fatal accident?"
Raven said, "I'm all for accidents."
Verse
"There are no accidents,"
Says a cartoon character in Kung Fu Panda.
Also, Depak Chopra, who adds,
"There is only some purpose
We haven't yet understood."

I, who have yet to understand
Any purpose,
Bump into things I didn't intend
Or expect or want
To bump into.
Particular instances, I mostly regret.
That the world is made for this to happen
Is delightful.
Case adapted from Robert Aitken; introduction and verse by Meredith Garmon
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2020-07-14

Jul 13-19

Summer, week 4

Join the BoWZ-Westchester Sangha via Zoom every Saturday morning:
9:45a Eastern -- informal conversation
10:00a Eastern -- practice begins

https://zoom.us/j/2898507899
Audio Only: telephone 646-876-9923 & Enter Meeting ID: 289 850 7899

This Week's Reading for Sat Jul 18
  • Taizan Maezumi, Appreciate Your Life: The Essence of Zen Practice, "Three 'Pillows' of Zen," p. 13-16
  • Reading Schedule HERE.
Questions
How would you explain Maezumi's meaning in each of these:
  • "How can we perceive properly? By making ourselves empty; by not being attached to our concepts of the things we perceive."
  • "But how can we fully experience this unlimited, boundless life? Simply forget the self. Be this life!"
  • "Even though we are the Way, we don't know it."
This Week's Raven Tale
Home Practice
  • Light a candle or stick of incense, or both
  • Three bows to Buddha
  • Gatha of Atonement (odd-numbered dates) or The Three Refuges (even-numbered dates);
  • Dedication (use Sutra Book and audio below)
  • Opening Verse (use Sutra Book and audio below)
  • Zazen (25 mins)
  • Sutra Service Readings (use Sutra Book and audio below)
  • Dharma Study (book or podcast, 15-30 mins)
  • Closing Verse (use Sutra Book and audio below)
Sutra Book for printing (two-columned pages): CLICK HERE. Sutra Book for reading on your computer screen (one-column pages): CLICK HERE. Page references are to the two-column version.

Opening: Odd-Numbered Dates
  • Gatha of Atonement, p. 1
  • Dedication 1, p. 1
  • The Five Remembrances, p. 4
Audio player below or CLICK HERE.


Opening: Even-Numbered Dates
  • The Three Refuges, p. 1
  • Dedication 1, p. 1
  • The Five Remembrances, p. 4
Audio player below or CLICK HERE.


Zazen
  • 25 mins.
Sutra Service
  • Sutra for Jul 13-19: Week 4.B. ("Komyozo Zanmai," p. 15; "Shantideva's Way of the Bodhisattva," p. 15)
Audio player below or CLICK HERE.

Dharma Study
  • Book or podcast, 15-30 mins.
Closing Verse for Mon Jun 15 - Sun Jul 12
  • The Way of Tenderness, p. 40; The Four Bodhisattva Vows, p. 42.
Audio player below or CLICK HERE.



ADDITIONAL PRACTICE OPPORTUNITIES
Mon-Fri mornings, 7 AM -8 AM -- join Meredith and the Worcester Boundless Way Zen teachers for morning practice.
Or zoom in for evening practice on Sun, Tue, and Thu evenings, 7 PM - 8 PM
Zoom link: CLICK HERE

White Plains Zen Center:
Tue evenings: 7:30 PM
https://zoom.us/j/122286388

Hudson River Zen Center:
http://hudsonriverzencenter.org/

Insight Meditation with Nina Nagy
Mon evenings: 6 PM
https://www.awakeabiding.com/

Raven 131: The Void

The void is not the void? Try this. Think of something that you imagine to be not a void. A rock, say. A bell, a tree, a person. All of these things are also void -- void, that is, of permanent and independent existence. They are always changing -- becoming what they are not -- and always giving to and taking from the world around them.

Case
One evening Woodpecker asked, "What's the void?"
Raven said, "Not the void."
Woodpecker asked, "It's not really empty?"
Raven said, "The truth is, I really don't know."
Verse

"Whoever fights monsters should see to it that in the process ze does not become a monster. And when you look long into an abyss, the abyss also looks into you." -Nietzsche
The abyss looking into you:
No cause for concern --
An abyss looking into an abyss.

The abyss looking out from you,
See to that and:
No more monsters to fight.
Case adapted from Robert Aitken; introduction and verse by Meredith Garmon
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2020-07-08

Jul 6-12

Summer, week 3

Seth Segall will lead the gathering on Sat Jul 11.

Join the BoWZ-Westchester Sangha via Zoom every Saturday morning:
9:45a Eastern -- informal conversation
10:00a Eastern -- practice begins

https://zoom.us/j/2898507899
Audio Only: telephone 646-876-9923 & Enter Meeting ID: 289 850 7899

This Week's Reading for Sat Jul 11
  • Taizan Maezumi, Appreciate Your Life: The Essence of Zen Practice, "Endowed from the Start," pp. 7-12.
  • Reading Schedule HERE.
Questions
  • What experiences have you had of the way that your posture affects your zazen? Have you noticed how your body is when your attention wanders?
  • "When you breathe in, swallow the whole universe When you breathe out, breathe out the whole universe." What does this mean?
  • Mind and body are ungraspable. "Yet there is a way to appreciate the ungraspable. How? By being it?" How do you understand this?
This Week's Raven Tale
Home Practice
  • Light a candle or stick of incense, or both
  • Three bows to Buddha
  • Gatha of Atonement (odd-numbered dates) or The Three Refuges (even-numbered dates);
  • Dedication (use Sutra Book and audio below)
  • Opening Verse (use Sutra Book and audio below)
  • Zazen (25 mins)
  • Sutra Service Readings (use Sutra Book and audio below)
  • Dharma Study (book or podcast, 15-30 mins)
  • Closing Verse (use Sutra Book and audio below)
Sutra Book for printing (two-columned pages): CLICK HERE. Sutra Book for reading on your computer screen (one-column pages): CLICK HERE. Page references are to the two-column version.

Opening: Odd-Numbered Dates
  • Gatha of Atonement, p. 1
  • Dedication 1, p. 1
  • Enmei Jukku Kannon Gyo, p. 4
Audio player below or CLICK HERE.


Opening: Even-Numbered Dates
  • The Three Refuges, p. 1
  • Dedication 1, p. 1
  • Enmei Jukku Kannon Gyo, p. 4
Audio player below or CLICK HERE.

Zazen
  • 25 mins.
Sutra Service
  • Sutra for Jul 6-12: Week 3.B. ("Heart Sutra," p. 11; "Zazen Yojinki," p. 11)
Audio player below or CLICK HERE.

Dharma Study
  • Book or podcast, 15-30 mins.
Closing Verse for Mon Jun 15 - Sun Jul 12
  • Three Prayers, p. 36; Save All the Beings, p. 38.
Audio player below or CLICK HERE.


NEWS

Thu Jul 9 is the deadline for registering for the "Distant Temple Bell" sesshin -- Fri Jul 10 to Mon Jul 13. Interested in attending (from your home, or wherever you are with your laptop computer) this on-line Boundless Way Zen retreat? See HERE.

Be a part of the Boundless Way discussion on racial justice! See HERE.

ADDITIONAL PRACTICE OPPORTUNITIES
Worcester Zen Temple:
Mon-Fri mornings, 7 AM -8 AM
Sun, Tue, Thu evenings, 7 PM - 8 PM
See https://worcesterzen.org/

White Plains Zen Center:
Tue evenings: 7:30 PM
https://zoom.us/j/122286388

Hudson River Zen Center:
http://hudsonriverzencenter.org/

Insight Meditation with Nina Nagy
Mon evenings: 6 PM
https://www.awakeabiding.com/

2020-07-06

Raven 130: Self and Soul

Back in #19, Woodpecker asked about "essential nature," and Raven chided him for presuming that there is one. Other than that, there's been no mention of essential nature around Tallspruce.

It's true that Zen includes talk about this "essential nature" thing -- though often to warn us from any such conception. Here's Yamada Koun, for instance:
"Let’s say, for example, that you have experienced kensho and realized your own essential nature. As long as there is something like 'essential nature' in your head, it is still not the genuine article. If you have truly become one with it, you are not aware of it in the least. As long as there is an awareness of something like “essential nature” it is not yet the real thing."
Case
Owl spoke up again that evening after zazen and said, "The Buddha Macaw said there is no self and no soul, yet I hear a lot of talk about essential nature, which sounds a lot like soul."
Raven said, "No self, no soul, no essential nature."
Owl said, "How come we hear so much talk about it?"
Raven said, "No excuse whatsoever."
Verse
The sun at dusk alights the river,
Casts the leaves in gold, and the mountainside.
I am either lost in thought about essence,
Or found in awareness of essencelessness.

It will soon be dark, and I have five or six kilometers
Through the woods back to my car.
Here is the essence and the essencelessness:
The stone on which I'm sitting is harder than it was
Half an hour ago.
Case adapted from Robert Aitken; introduction and verse by Meredith Garmon
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2020-07-03

Jun 29 - Jul 5

Summer, week 2

Join the BoWZ-Westchester Sangha via Zoom every Saturday morning:
9:45a Eastern -- informal conversation
10:00a Eastern -- practice begins

https://zoom.us/j/2898507899
Audio Only: telephone 646-876-9923 & Enter Meeting ID: 289 850 7899

This Week's Reading for Sat Jul 4
  • Taizan Maezumi, Appreciate Your Life: The Essence of Zen Practice, "Appreciate Your Life," pp. 3-7.
  • Reading Schedule HERE.
Questions
  • What is our life? What is our death?
  • What is this treasury of the true dharma eye and subtle mind of nirvana?
  • How can we experience the life that we are living now as an infinite, literally limitless life, as the subtle mind of nirvana?
  • I am the one who does not see my life as the subtle mind of nirvana. I am the one who is not experiencing life as treasure. What is this I that is blocking this realization?
  • "If you live one day with a clear understanding of what life is, the value of that one day is equal to many years of living without awareness." Is this true? How so?
  • "When we practice, we do not need to expect anything." What's it like to practice with intention and without expectation?
  • This life right now is nirvana. So what is the difference between Shakyamuni Buddha's life and your life?
This Week's Raven Tale
Home Practice
  • Light a candle or stick of incense, or both
  • Three bows to Buddha
  • Gatha of Atonement (odd-numbered dates) or The Three Refuges (even-numbered dates);
  • Dedication (use Sutra Book and audio below)
  • Opening Verse (use Sutra Book and audio below)
  • Zazen (25 mins)
  • Sutra Service Readings (use Sutra Book and audio below)
  • Dharma Study (book or podcast, 15-30 mins)
  • Closing Verse (use Sutra Book and audio below)
Sutra Book for printing (two-columned pages): CLICK HERE. Sutra Book for reading on your computer screen (one-column pages): CLICK HERE. Page references are to the two-column version.

Dedication
  • Odd-Numbered Dates: Gatha of Atonement, p. 1. Even-numbered Dates: The Three Refuges, p. 1
  • Dedication 1, p. 1
Odd-numbered dates: audio player below or CLICK HERE.
Even-numbered dates: audio player below or CLICK HERE.

Opening Verse for Mon Jun 15 - Sun Jul 12
  • Enmei Jukku Kannon Gyo, p. 3
Audio player below or CLICK HERE.

Zazen
  • 25 mins.
Sutra Service
  • Sutra for Jun 29-Jul 5: Week 2.A. ("Sengcan's Heart of True Entrusting," p. 7)
Dharma Study
  • Book or podcast, 15-30 mins.
Closing Verse for Mon Jun 15 - Sun Jul 12
  • Three Prayers, p. 36; Save All the Beings, p. 38.
Audio player below or CLICK HERE.

NEWS

Be a part of the Boundless Way discussion on racial justice! See HERE.

Interested in attending (from your home, or wherever you are with your laptop computer) the on-line Boundless Way Zen retreat Fri Jul 10 - Mon Jul 13? See HERE.

Raven 129: The Dualistic Idea

We think and talk in dualisms: good and bad, is and is not, home and away.

These dualisms are necessary. They are also false. The challenge is to use them while also seeing through them.

Case
Owl came to Raven for a private meeting and asked, "Is there something pure and clear underneath everything?"
Raven said, "You can say that."
Owl said, "Isn't it a dualistic idea? I thought Buddhism is a religion of oneness.":
Raven croaked and then said, "Show me your essential purity and clarity."
Owl said, "I was just asking a question about Buddhism."
Raven said, "Don't neglect your religion of oneness."
Verse
First comes inferring what must be underneath.
Or believing what somebody else inferred.
And maybe that's enough,
And maybe not. Maybe you want to see it more directly --
Though what "directly" is, or "see," you don't know.

Legends say that once you see it
You'll see it's not underneath,
but immediately presents.
You never were looking at anything else,
Legends say.
Case adapted from Robert Aitken; introduction and verse by Meredith Garmon
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2020-06-22

Jun 22-28

Summer, week 1

Join the BoWZ-Westchester Sangha via Zoom every Saturday morning:
9:45a Eastern -- informal conversation
10:00a Eastern -- practice begins

https://zoom.us/j/2898507899
Audio Only: telephone 646-876-9923 & Enter Meeting ID: 289 850 7899

Home Practice
  • Light a candle or stick of incense, or both
  • Three bows to Buddha
  • Gatha of Atonement (odd-numbered dates) or The Three Refuges (even-numbered dates);
  • Dedication + Opening Verse (use Sutra Book and audio below)
  • Zazen (25 mins)
  • Sutra Service Readings (use Sutra Book and audio below)
  • Dharma Study (book or podcast, 15-30 mins)
  • Closing: Closing Verse; Four Bodhisattva Vows or Save All the Beings (use Sutra Book and audio below)
Sutra Book for printing (two-columned pages): CLICK HERE. Sutra Book for reading on your computer screen (one-column pages): CLICK HERE.
Page references are to the two-column version.

Opening
  • Gatha of Atonement (odd dates), or The Three Refuges (even dates), p. 1 (not on audio recording).
  • Dedication 1, p. 1; Enmei Jukku Kannon Gyo, p. 3.
Audio player below or CLICK HERE.


Zazen
  • 25 mins.
Sutra Service
  • Sutras for Jun 22-28: Week 1. (Precepts, p. 1.)
Audio player below or CLICK HERE.


Dharma Study
  • Book or podcast, 15-30 mins.
Closing
  • Three Prayers, p. 36; Save All the Beings, p. 38.
Audio player below or CLICK HERE.


This Week's Reading for Sat Jun 27
  • Shunryu Suzuki, Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind, "Epilogue: Zen Mind." Reading Schedule HERE.
  • NEXT BOOK (starts in July): Taizan Maezumi, Appreciate Your Life. Order a copy now.
This Week's Raven Tale

NEWS

I highly recommend Bryan Stephenson's book, Just Mercy, as well as the film of the same name about Stephenson's work. See my own writing about Stephenson and the issues he addresses, starting HERE.

Mike Fieleke, a Boundless Way Guiding Teacher, has done a lovely job of elucidating the connection between Zen practice and racial justice HERE.

On Fri Jun 19, the Guiding Teachers Council of Boundless Way Zen issued this letter responding to institutional racism:

We, the Guiding Teachers of Boundless Way Zen, grieve the recent murders of Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, George Floyd, and Rayshard Brooks. We also grieve the disproportionate suffering and death of people of color due to the coronavirus, which has exposed underlying inequities in our society. We recognize the deeply embedded and often violent ways systemic racism and white privilege deprive everyone of the justice, respect, and equal rights we have vowed to co-create with all beings.

We vow to practice the humility that is essential to listening deeply and that is the beginning of real and lasting change. We vow to investigate and transform our deluded views and blindnesses that maintain overt and systemic racism. We commit to continually awaken and grow on this journey toward liberation for all.

We stand in solidarity with those who have suffered racial violence and injustice, with all oppressed peoples, and with those who work for racial and environmental justice. Understanding that statements of solidarity must be accompanied by action, we vow to challenge the many ways in which institutions, including Zen groups, perpetuate a culture of oppression, segregation, and inequitable outcomes.

Today is Juneteenth, marking the 155th anniversary of the day when it was announced in Texas that Lincoln had signed the Emancipation Proclamation two and a half years before. While this is a day of celebration, it also serves as a reminder that there remains much progress to be made. As we hear the cries of the world, we recall our Bodhisattva vows to be of service in this burning world. In collaboration with other sangha members, we will soon begin a social justice group focused on how to be an active anti-racist, and we invite everyone to participate. We also share this reading list to help us begin to educate ourselves. We are committed to this ongoing collective practice of awakening and taking action for the liberation of all beings.

With deep bows of appreciation and shared sorrow,

Melissa Blacker, Roshi
David Rynick, Roshi
Bob Waldinger, Sensei
Michael Fieleke, Sensei




2020-06-21

128. The Seed of Enlightenment

We first saw Reverend Crane in #33, when the Tallspruce Community visited his Little Church in the Grotto. He then came to visit the Tallspruce gang in #107, where he asked what role God has in our practice.

Dogen describes his journey, both spiritual and geographic:
"After the aspiration for enlightenment arose, I began to search for dharma, visiting teachers at various places in our country. Then I met priest Myozen [1184-1225], of the Kennin Monastery, with whom I trained for nine years, and thus I learned a little about the teaching of the Linji School....Later I went to Great Song China, visited masters on both sides of the Zhe River, and heard the teachings of the Five Gates. Finally, I became a student of Zen master [Tiantong] Rujing [1163-1228] of Taibo Peak, and completed my life’s quest of the great matter." (Bendowa)
It begins with the arousing of an aspiration for enlightenment. But what kind of aspiration is this? Until one experiences enlightenment, one can have only deluded conceptions of what it is. Yet somehow aspiring for a deluded conception of enlightenment -- that is, aspiring for something entirely different from enlightenment -- is a necessary first step.

We have to start where we are -- with the delusions, projections, and imaginings that we have.

Case
Reverend Crane stopped by again one evening to hear one of Raven's talks. Afterward he asked, "Do I have the seed of enlightenment?"
Raven said, "You can be your best Reverend Crane."
Crane said, "Are we talking about character development?"
Raven said, "Have to start somewhere."
Crane said, "Maybe my best Crane is just something I imagine."
Raven said, "Have to start somewhere."
Verse
Where did you start?
I don't mean, in the womb,
Or the wombs of your two grandmothers,
where your parents waited to be born.
I don't mean the 64 wombs from which your fourth-great-grandparents came,
a couple centuries ago.
I don't mean the first human, first primate, first mammal, first life.
You could pick any of those, say that's where you started,
and have a good point,
But that's not what I mean.
Nor do I mean when you were four, or went to first grade,
Or turned 18.
I mean: where were you when you stepped onto the great way?
Where in your body did the cold lump of defeat weigh?
the smoldering ash of shame,
the cavity of loneliness?
Where was the clench?
stomach? shoulders? throat? chest?
Wherever it was, it reached down to your foot,
and lifted it in the direction of the path.
Wherever it was, that's where you started --
There, and where you are right now.
Case adapted from Robert Aitken; introduction and verse by Meredith Garmon
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2020-06-15

Jun 15-21

Spring, week 13

Join the BoWZ-Westchester Sangha via Zoom at 10:00 Eastern every Saturday morning:

https://zoom.us/j/2898507899
Audio Only: telephone 646-876-9923 & Enter Meeting ID: 289 850 7899

Home Practice
  • Light a candle or stick of incense, or both
  • Three bows to Buddha
  • Gatha of Atonement (odd-numbered dates) or The Three Refuges (even-numbered dates);
  • Dedication + Opening Verse (use Sutra Book and audio below)
  • Zazen (25 mins)
  • Sutra Service Readings (use Sutra Book and audio below)
  • Dharma Study (book or podcast, 15-30 mins)
  • Closing: Closing Verse; Four Bodhisattva Vows or Save All the Beings (use Sutra Book and audio below)
Sutra Book for printing (two-columned pages): CLICK HERE. Sutra Book for reading on your computer screen (one-column pages): CLICK HERE.
Page references are to the two-column version.

Opening
  • Gatha of Atonement, or The Three Refuges, p. 1 (not on audio recording).
  • Dedication 1, p. 1; Enmei Jukku Kannon Gyo, p. 3.
Audio player below or CLICK HERE.


Zazen
  • 25 mins.
Sutra Service
  • Readings for Jun 15-22: 13.A. (Heart Sutra, p. 10; The Misunderstanding of Many Lifetimes, p. 33; Self and Other the Same, p. 33; Guidepost for the Hall of Pure Bliss, p. 34.)
Audio player below or CLICK HERE.


Dharma Study
  • Book or podcast, 15-30 mins.
Closing
  • Three Prayers, p. 36; Save All the Beings, p. 38.
Audio player below or CLICK HERE.


This Week's Reading for Sat Jun 20
  • Shunryu Suzuki, Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind, "Buddha's Englightenment." Reading Schedule HERE.
  • NEXT BOOK (starts in July): Taizan Maezumi, Appreciate Your Life. Order a copy now.
This Week's Raven Tale
This Week's Practice: Continuing from last week -- Tonglen.
Adapted from Pema Chodron, "How to Practice Tonglen," Lion's Roar.

Tonglen practice, also known as “taking and sending,” reverses our usual logic of avoiding suffering and seeking pleasure. In tonglen practice, we visualize taking in the pain of others with every in-breath and sending out whatever will benefit them on the out-breath. In the process, we become liberated from age-old patterns of selfishness. We begin to feel love for both ourselves and others; we begin to take care of ourselves and others.

Tonglen can be done for those who are ill, those who are dying or have died, or those who are in pain of any kind. It can be done as a formal meditation practice or right on the spot at any time. If we are out walking and we see someone in pain, we can breathe in that person’s pain and send out relief to them.

Breathe in for all of us and breathe out for all of us. Use what seems like poison as medicine.

We can also do tonglen for all the people just like ourselves — all those who wish to be compassionate but instead are afraid, who wish to be brave but instead are cowardly. We can use our personal stuckness as a stepping stone to understanding what people are up against all over the world. Breathe in for all of us and breathe out for all of us.

When you do tonglen as a formal meditation practice, it has four stages:

1. Flash on Bodhichitta. Rest your mind for a second or two in a state of openness or stillness. This stage is traditionally called flashing on absolute bodhichitta, awakened heart-mind, or opening to basic spaciousness and clarity.

2. Begin the Visualization. Work with texture. Breathe in feelings of heat, darkness, and heaviness — a sense of claustrophobia — and breathe out feelings of coolness, brightness, and light—a sense of freshness. Breathe in completely, taking in negative energy through all the pores of your body. When you breathe out, radiate positive energy completely, through all the pores of your body. Do this until your visualization is synchronized with your in- and out-breaths.

3. Focus on a Personal Situation. Focus on any painful situation that’s real to you. Traditionally you begin by doing tonglen for someone you care about and wish to help. However, if you are stuck, you can do the practice for the pain you are feeling yourself, and simultaneously for all those who feel the same kind of suffering. For instance, if you are feeling inadequate, breathe that in for yourself and all the others in the same boat and send out confidence, adequacy, and relief in any form you wish.

4. Expand Your Compassion. Finally, make the taking in and sending out bigger. If you are doing tonglen for someone you love, extend it out to all those who are in the same situation. If you are doing tonglen for someone you see on television or on the street, do it for all the others in the same boat. Make it bigger than just that one person. You can do tonglen for people you consider to be your enemies—those who hurt you or hurt others. Do tonglen for them, thinking of them as having the same confusion and stuckness as your friend or yourself. Breathe in their pain and send them relief.

2020-06-13

127: Impermanence

Brains were made for keeping us alive. Their capacity to imagine the future is for helping us mentally rehearse potential future situations so that we will more effectively cope, in the event something similar were to happen. It can't imagine nonexistence because its imagination exists solely to prevent nonexistence. Thus, it can only visualize situations with us -- or with people we might have to deal with -- existing in them.

Through many spiritual practices, including Zen, one may come to apprehend that the self is the world. This is not imagining or visualizing, not a preparation for an eventuality of becoming the world, nor a preparation at all. It's just recognizing the fact that one's self comprises all of reality. Thus, the one who visualizes "your" futures will someday cease, but the self will continue in all its multitudinous other forms: ants, sticks, grizzly bears -- mountains, rivers, stars.

Speaking of stars. If this doesn't make sense, try being pensive beneath a starry sky for a while.

Case
One night, under the starry sky, the circle was quiet and members seemed pensive.
Badger broke the silence and said, "You know, I can't visualize myself expiring completely."
Raven said, "A ghost."
Badger said, "Even ghosts are impermanent, aren't they?"
Raven said, "Take care of your miseries now, and they won't abide."
Verse
The one who attends to misery --
My inner Kannon hearing the cries of the world --
Gathers anguish up -- a curious burden
that buoys as it freights,
and liberates as it compels --
Smelts it and blends it into my mettle.
Alloyed gold
Is more durable than the pure stuff.
Case adapted from Robert Aitken; introduction and verse by Meredith Garmon
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2020-06-08

Jun 8-14

Spring, week 12

Join the BoWZ-Westchester Sangha via Zoom at 10:00 Eastern every Saturday morning:

https://zoom.us/j/2898507899
Audio Only: telephone 646-876-9923 & Enter Meeting ID: 289 850 7899

Home Practice
  • Light a candle or stick of incense, or both
  • Three bows to Buddha
  • Opening: Gatha of Atonement or the Three Refuges; Dedication; Opening Verse (use Sutra Book and audio below)
  • Zazen (15-30 mins)
  • Sutra Service Readings (use Sutra Book and audio below)
  • Dharma Study (book or podcast, 15-30 mins)
  • Closing: Closing Verse; Four Bodhisattva Vows or Save All the Beings (use Sutra Book and audio below)
Sutra Book for printing (two-columned pages): CLICK HERE. Sutra Book for reading on your computer screen (one-column pages): CLICK HERE. Page references are to the two-column version.

Odd Days: Jun 9, 11, 13
Opening: Gatha of Atonement, p. 1; Dedication 1, p. 1; The Flame of Practice, p. 3.
Audio player below or CLICK HERE.


Even Days: Jun 8, 10, 12, 14
Opening: The Three Refuges, p. 1; Dedication 1, p. 1; The Flame of Practice, p. 3.
Audio player below or CLICK HERE.


All Days
Zazen (15-30 mins)
Sutra Service Readings 12.A.: The Essence of Atonement, p. 30; Sharing of Blessings, p. 30, Dahui's Dim and Dull, p. 31, Taego's Days Like Lightning, p. 31.
Audio player below or CLICK HERE.


Dharma Study (book or podcast, 15-30 mins)
Closing: The Necessity of Great Doubt, p. 36; The Four Bodhisattva Vows, p. 38.
Audio player below or CLICK HERE.


This Week's Reading for Sat Jun 6
  • Shunryu Suzuki, Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind, "Beyond Consciousness." Reading Schedule HERE.
  • NEXT BOOK (starts in July): Taizan Maezumi, Appreciate Your Life. Order a copy now.
This Week's Raven Tale

This Week's Practice: Tonglen.
Adapted from Pema Chodron, "How to Practice Tonglen," Lion's Roar.

Tonglen practice, also known as “taking and sending,” reverses our usual logic of avoiding suffering and seeking pleasure. In tonglen practice, we visualize taking in the pain of others with every in-breath and sending out whatever will benefit them on the out-breath. In the process, we become liberated from age-old patterns of selfishness. We begin to feel love for both ourselves and others; we begin to take care of ourselves and others.

Tonglen can be done for those who are ill, those who are dying or have died, or those who are in pain of any kind. It can be done as a formal meditation practice or right on the spot at any time. If we are out walking and we see someone in pain, we can breathe in that person’s pain and send out relief to them.

Breathe in for all of us and breathe out for all of us. Use what seems like poison as medicine.

We can also do tonglen for all the people just like ourselves — all those who wish to be compassionate but instead are afraid, who wish to be brave but instead are cowardly. We can use our personal stuckness as a stepping stone to understanding what people are up against all over the world. Breathe in for all of us and breathe out for all of us.

When you do tonglen as a formal meditation practice, it has four stages:

1. Flash on Bodhichitta. Rest your mind for a second or two in a state of openness or stillness. This stage is traditionally called flashing on absolute bodhichitta, awakened heart-mind, or opening to basic spaciousness and clarity.

2. Begin the Visualization. Work with texture. Breathe in feelings of heat, darkness, and heaviness — a sense of claustrophobia — and breathe out feelings of coolness, brightness, and light—a sense of freshness. Breathe in completely, taking in negative energy through all the pores of your body. When you breathe out, radiate positive energy completely, through all the pores of your body. Do this until your visualization is synchronized with your in- and out-breaths.

3. Focus on a Personal Situation. Focus on any painful situation that’s real to you. Traditionally you begin by doing tonglen for someone you care about and wish to help. However, if you are stuck, you can do the practice for the pain you are feeling yourself, and simultaneously for all those who feel the same kind of suffering. For instance, if you are feeling inadequate, breathe that in for yourself and all the others in the same boat and send out confidence, adequacy, and relief in any form you wish.

4. Expand Your Compassion. Finally, make the taking in and sending out bigger. If you are doing tonglen for someone you love, extend it out to all those who are in the same situation. If you are doing tonglen for someone you see on television or on the street, do it for all the others in the same boat. Make it bigger than just that one person. You can do tonglen for people you consider to be your enemies—those who hurt you or hurt others. Do tonglen for them, thinking of them as having the same confusion and stuckness as your friend or yourself. Breathe in their pain and send them relief.