2020-11-29

Autumn Week 11: Nov 30 - Dec 6

Join the BoWZ-Westchester Sangha via Zoom on Saturday mornings:
(Times: US Eastern)
9:45-10:00 -- Informal conversation
10:00 -- Opening Dedication, Readings, Zazen, Kinhin, Zazen
11:00 -- Sutra Service
11:15 -- Dharma Talk and Conversation
12:00 -- Closing Readings

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

Passcode: 468468

Sat Dec 5: Practice to be led by Meredith Garmon

Zoom with Boundless Way Zen Temple in Worcester, MA at any of these times:
Mon-Fri, 7-8am
Tue, Thu, Sun, 7-8pm
Zoom link: CLICK HERE

For Autumn Week 11: Nov 30 - Dec 5

This Week's Reading

For Sat Dec 5:
  • Taizan Maezumi, Appreciate Your Life: The Essence of Zen Practice, "Where Is the Hindrance?" p. 87.
  • See Reading Schedule.

This Week's Raven Tale

This Week's Sutras

Dedication
  • For odd-numbered days, begins with Gatha of Atonement (AUDIO)
  • For even-numbered days, begins with The Three Refuges (AUDIO)
Opening Verse for Mon Nov 30 - Sun Dec 27 (10th Fourweek since Vernal Equinox)(AUDIO):
  • Realizing the Zen Way, p. 4
Sutra Service for Week 11.A. (AUDIO)
  • Guidance in Shikantaza -- the Absolute Practice of Just Sitting, p. 30
  • Sending-and-Receiving, p. 30
  • Blessing for The Journey, p. 31
Closing Verse for Mon Nov 30 - Sun Dec 27 (10th Fourweek since the Vernal Equinox) (AUDIO):
  • Awakening to Discouragement, p. 41
  • The Four Bodhisattva Vows, p. 42

Next Week's Sutras: Autumn Week 12: Dec 6 - 12

Dedication
  • For odd-numbered days, begins with Gatha of Atonement (AUDIO)
  • For even-numbered days, begins with The Three Refuges (AUDIO)
Opening Verse for Mon Nov 30 - Sun Dec 27 (10th Fourweek since Vernal Equinox)(AUDIO):
  • Realizing the Zen Way, p. 4
Sutra Service for Week 12.A.
  • Sharing of Blessings, p. 32
  • Dahui's Dim and Dull, p. 33
  • The Essence of Atonement, p. 33
  • Taego's Days Like Lightning, p. 33
Closing Verse for Mon Nov 30 - Sun Dec 27 (10th Fourweek since the Vernal Equinox) (AUDIO):
  • Awakening to Discouragement, p. 41
  • The Four Bodhisattva Vows, p. 42

Sutra Book

For printing (double-columned pages):CLICK HERE. (Page references are to this double-column version.)
For reading on your computer screen (single-column pages):CLICK HERE.
Chant Along with these Audio Files: CLICK HERE.

Home Practice

Practicing every day, or nearly every day, is a crucial aspect of the Zen path. Other central aspects include sangha (meeting weekly or so to practice with a group), and sesshin (going on occasional week-end or week-long Zen retreats).

Home practice ideally includes Zazen, study of zen text (or listening to a recording or podcast of a dharma talk), and chanting/reciting some of Zen's central texts.

Recommended:
  • Sitting supplies: A zabuton (mat) and either a zafu (round cushion, usually of kapok or buckwheat hulls), or a seiza bench (kneeling bench); or a chair that is your meditation chair
  • A dedicated space: A corner of a room that is used only for Zen practice, where your sitting supplies and a small altar reside
  • An altar: a small table with a Buddha statue and maybe an incense holder, candle, or sacred items.
There are many ways to structure home practice. Here's one:
  • Light a candle, stick of incense, or both, on your altar.
  • Standing in front of altar, facing it, make three bows (prostrations or standing bows) to Buddha.
  • Recite "Gatha of Atonement" (odd-numbered dates) or "The Three Refuges" (even-numbered dates);
  • Recite Dedication and Opening Verse (see Sutra Book)
  • Zazen (25 mins)
  • Recite the Sutra Service Readings for the week (see Sutra Book)
  • Dharma Study time: reading a dharma book or listening to a dharma talk recording (15-30 mins). (Check out "A Quarterly Study Plan" on the Reading/Videos page.)
  • Recite Closing Verses (see Sutra Book)

Additional Practice Opportunities


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/

2020-11-23

Raven 147: The Acorn

How could you say there was anything that couldn't be expressed in words? As soon of you'd said what it was, you've expressed it. Even to say, "It's ineffable" is to eff it.

You might say, "But some things are not completely expressed." True enough, but adding "completely" reverses the situation. Changing the question from "Is there anything that can't be expressed in words?" to "Is there anything that can't be completely expressed in words?" changes the answer from "nothing" to "everything." Everything can be expressed, and nothing can be completely expressed.

So the living question for us is: given the infinite expressibility of every object, phenomena, or experience, when do we say, "that's enough" -- and when do we heap our plates with detailed expression?

John Keats spoke of "negative capability" -- which he said meant being "capable of being in uncertainties, mysteries, doubts, without any irritable reaching after fact and reason." Or, we might say: "content with a vague, imprecise allusion without any irritable reaching after more concrete or detailed expression."

To go further, let us recognize that it's misleading to say that every expression is incomplete, which suggests that expressions are partial -- as if, by accumulating more and more expression, one could asymptotically approach completeness. It's not that expressions inherently reveal only a part of the reality. It's that expressions always and inherently hide as much as they reveal. Indeed, they conceal exactly as much as they reveal. Necessarily. Such recognition strengthens our negative capability.

Case
Woodpecker asked, "Is there anything that can't be expressed in words?"
Raven said, "Nothing."
Woodpecker asked, "Even the ineffable experience of the Buddha under the Bodhi tree?"
Raven said, "The morning star."
Porcupine said, "There's a kernel in that acorn."
Woodpecker asked, "How can I get at it?"
Porcupine said, "Come on, Woodpecker! What's that chisel beak for?"

2020-11-15

Raven 146: Intelligence

How do you depend on it? Intelligence, humor, health and physical fitness, your eyesight, hearing, legs, arms. Any of these: how do you depend on it?

Case
During a question period, Mole asked, "How important is intelligence to the practice?"
Raven asked, "How do you use it?"
Mole said, "As best I can with what it is."
Raven asked, "How do you depend on it?"
"You know," said Mole, "I really don't depend on it very much at all."
Raven bobbed her head silently.

2020-11-11

Raven 145: The Train

Be in touch with your essential nature (as if that were possible!), or be out of touch with your essential nature (as if that were possible!) -- but what's the point of saying so? Saying it is just words. Show us how you live it (if possible), or don't (if possible). Show us your (and you're) humus.

Case
Wolverine spoke up during the question period one evening and said, "I am finally in touch with my essential nature. It has been hidden all this time."
Wolverine said, "It's my basic nature, the source of my inspiration."
Raven said, "My, my."
Wolverine said, "It's beyond all ideas of life and death."
Porcupine said, "More like the train beyond Cedarford."
Mole asked, "What do you mean?"
Porcupine said, "It never seems to break down."
Wolverine put her head on her paws.
Next day, Woodpecker spoke to Owl about this. "I thought Porcupine was bristly toward Wolverine last night," she said.
"Yes, said Owl, "Porcupine was being Procupine. But you know, Wolverine did break down at last."

2020-11-10

Raven 144: Bowing

"Humiliate," "humility," and "humble" all originate from the Latin humus, meaning Earth (hence, lowly, on the ground). "Human" (earthling, earthly being) also comes from humus

So it's worth remembering, that when Buddha was questioned on what authority he had to be teaching as he did, he responded by placing a pointing finger on the Earth.

Case
Gray Wolf spoke up after zazen one evening and said, "Isn't it undignified to bow before the Buddha? I always feel rather humiliated."
Raven said, "Not enough."

2020-10-28

Raven 143: Love

Aldous Huxley wrote:
“Of all the worn, smudged, dog’s-eared words in our vocabulary, ‘love’ is surely the grubbiest, smelliest, slimiest. Bawled from a million pulpits, lasciviously crooned through hundreds of millions of loud-speakers, it has become an outrage to good taste and decent feeling, an obscenity which one hesitates to pronounce. And yet it has to be pronounced, for, after all, Love is the last word.”
If you suppose that Mole has not yet learned the last word, look again.

Case
Mole spoke up one evening and asked, "Why don't we ever talk about love in our discussions?"
Raven asked, "What would you like to say about love?"
Mole stared back at Raven and was silent.

2020-10-19

Raven 142: Too Soon

In #11, Brown Bear recommended that Raven "try camping out for a while." In #12 we learn that she took this instruction to heart: "She wandered a long time, from forests to upland meadows to icy lakes." It was a time of pilgrimage and solitary practice -- which life fundamentally always is, in any case.

Case
Woodpecker asked, "When Brown Bear said you should camp out for a while, was there anything underlying his words?"
Raven said, "Woodpecker!"
Woodpecker said, "Yes?"
Raven hung her head and turned away, saying "Ah, too soon."

2020-10-18

Raven 141: Risks

How can there be learning when what you already are is the truth? And if there is learning, how can there be a teacher when you can only learn from yourself? How can there be sangha?
We may fool ourselves that we are coping -- as if there were such a thing as not coping.

Case
Porcupine came to consult with Raven and said, "I'm beginning to see the risks in being a teacher."
Raven said, "They're built in."
Porcupine asked, "How do you cope?"
Raven drew herself up and said, "Don't accuse me of coping!"

2020-10-11

Raven 140: Switch Roles

Any true teacher is also a student -- an ongoing student of the subject matter, certainly, but also a student of zir students. Do the roles of teacher and student switch back and forth? Or does each continually and always include the other? Either way, what's the difference, then, between the teacher and the student?

Gray Wolf seems to be noticing a difference in authority -- and she hints that she chafes at that authority. There's hope for her yet!

Case
Gray Wolf said, "Why do we always do everything in exactly the same way?"
Raven said, "Steady on."
Gray Wolf said, "Maybe we should switch roles sometimes. Somebody else could be the teacher and you could be just one of the students."
Raven said, "It's happening."
Case adapted from Robert Aitken; introduction and verse by Meredith GarmonA
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2020-10-09

Raven 139: Flighty

"Flighty" originally meant "swift." How it came to mean fickle or frivolous isn't clear -- perhaps from descriptions of certain people as being given to "flights" of imagination. Raven seems to evoke the original meaning of flighty -- swift. Yet the modern meaning is there, too.

Case
Woodpecker asked, "What is truth?"
Raven said, "Clouds gather over Rockysummit."
Woodpecker said, "Seems very ordinary."
Raven said, "Yesterday an arrow flew past Stag Sensei and went clear across the creek."
Woodpecker said, "He must have been scared."
Raven said, "Flighty!"
Case adapted from Robert Aitken; introduction and verse by Meredith GarmonA
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Oct 5-11

Join the BoWZ-Westchester Sangha via Zoom on Saturday mornings:
(Times: US Eastern)
9:45-10:00 -- Informal conversation
10:00 -- Opening Dedication, Readings, Zazen, Kinhin, Zazen
11:00 -- Sutra Service
11:15 -- Dharma Talk and Conversation
12:00 -- Closing Readings

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

Passcode: 468468

Sat Oct 10: Practice to be led by Seth Segall.

THIS WEEK'S READING for Sat Oct 10
  • Taizan Maezumi, Appreciate Your Life: The Essence of Zen Practice, "Realize Your Life as Koan," p. 57.
  • See Reading Schedule.
This Week's RAVEN TALE: "Flighty"

Sutras for Autumn Week 3: Oct 5-11

Opening for 8th Fourweek since Vernal Equinox: Mon Oct 5 - Sun Nov 1 (AUDIO for Even)(AUDIO for Odd)
  • Gatha of Atonement (odd-numbered dates), or The Three Refuges (even-numbered dates)
  • Dedication
  • Menju -- "Face-to-Face Transmission," p. 5
Sutra Service for Week 3A (AUDIO)
  • Heart Sutra, p. 11
  • The Record of Linji, p. 12
  • Lotus Sutra's Fulfilling the Buddha Way, p. 12
Closing Verse for 8th Fourweek since the Vernal Equinox: Mon Oct 5 - Sun Nov 1 (AUDIO)
  • Hope in the Dark, p. 40
  • Save All the Beings, p. 42

Sutras for Autumn Week 4: Oct 12-18

Opening for 8th Fourweek since Vernal Equinox: Mon Oct 5 - Sun Nov 1 (AUDIO for Even)(AUDIO for Odd)
  • Gatha of Atonement (odd-numbered dates), or The Three Refuges (even-numbered dates)
  • Dedication
  • Menju -- "Face-to-Face Transmission," p. 5
Sutra Service for Week 4A
  • Song of the Jeweled-Mirror Samadhi, p. 14
  • Coming and Going, p. 15
  • Shantideva's Way of the Bodhisattva, p. 15
Closing Verse for 8th Fourweek since the Vernal Equinox: Mon Oct 5 - Sun Nov 1 (AUDIO)
  • Hope in the Dark, p. 40
  • Save All the Beings, p. 42

Home Practice

Practicing every day, or nearly every day, is a crucial aspect of the Zen path. Other central aspects include sangha (meeting weekly or so to practice with a group), and sesshin (going on occasional week-end or week-long Zen retreats).

Home practice ideally includes Zazen, study of zen text (or listening to a recording or podcast of a dharma talk), and chanting/reciting some of Zen's central texts.

Recommended:
  • Sitting supplies: A zabuton (mat) and either a zafu (round cushion, usually of kapok or buckwheat hulls), or a seiza bench (kneeling bench); or a chair that is your meditation chair
  • A dedicated space: A corner of a room that is used only for Zen practice, where your sitting supplies and a small altar reside
  • An altar: a small table with a Buddha statue and maybe an incense holder, candle, or sacred items.
There are many ways to structure home practice. Here's one:
  • Light a candle, stick of incense, or both, on your altar.
  • Standing in front of altar, facing it, make three bows (prostrations or standing bows) to Buddha.
  • Recite "Gatha of Atonement" (odd-numbered dates) or "The Three Refuges" (even-numbered dates);
  • Recite Dedication and Opening Verse (see Sutra Book)
  • Zazen (25 mins)
  • Recite the Sutra Service Readings for the week (see Sutra Book)
  • Dharma Study time: reading a dharma book or listening to a dharma talk recording (15-30 mins). (Check out "A Quarterly Study Plan" on the Reading/Videos page.)
  • Recite Closing Verses (see Sutra Book)
Sutra Book for printing (double-columned pages):
CLICK HERE. (Page references below are to the double-column version.)
Sutras for reading on your computer screen (single-column pages):
CLICK HERE.
Chant Along with these Audio Files:
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/

2020-10-04

Home Practice

Practicing every day, or nearly every day, is a crucial aspect of the Zen path. Other central aspects include sangha (meeting weekly or so to practice with a group), and sesshin (going on occasional week-end or week-long Zen retreats).

Home practice ideally includes Zazen, study of zen text (or listening to a recording or podcast of a dharma talk), and chanting/reciting some of Zen's central texts.

Recommended:
  • Sitting supplies: A zabuton (mat) and either a zafu (round cushion, usually of kapok or buckwheat hulls), or a seiza bench (kneeling bench); or a chair that is your meditation chair
  • A dedicated space: A corner of a room that is used only for Zen practice, where your sitting supplies and a small altar reside
  • An altar: a small table with a Buddha statue and maybe an incense holder, candle, or sacred items.
There are many ways to structure home practice. Here's one:
  • Light a candle, stick of incense, or both, on your altar.
  • Standing in front of altar, facing it, make three bows (prostrations or standing bows) to Buddha.
  • Recite "Gatha of Atonement" (odd-numbered dates) or "The Three Refuges" (even-numbered dates);
  • Recite Dedication and Opening Verse (see Sutra Book)
  • Zazen (25 mins)
  • Recite the Sutra Service Readings for the week (see Sutra Book)
  • Dharma Study time: reading a dharma book or listening to a dharma talk recording (15-30 mins). (Check out "A Quarterly Study Plan" on the Reading/Videos page.)
  • Recite Closing Verses (see Sutra Book)
Sutra Book for printing (double-columned pages):
CLICK HERE. (Page references below are to the double-column version.)
Sutras for reading on your computer screen (single-column pages):
CLICK HERE.
Chant Along with these Audio Files:
CLICK HERE.

Sutras for Autumn Week 3: Oct 5-11

Opening
8th Fourweek since Vernal Equinox: Mon Oct 5 - Sun Nov 1 (AUDIO for Even)(AUDIO for Odd)
  • Gatha of Atonement (odd-numbered dates), or The Three Refuges (even-numbered dates)
  • Dedication
  • Menju -- "Face-to-Face Transmission," p. 5
Sutra Service
Week 3: Oct 5-11, section Sep 28-Oct 4, section 3A (AUDIO)
  • Heart Sutra, p. 11
  • The Record of Linji, p. 12
  • Lotus Sutra's Fulfilling the Buddha Way, p. 12
Closing Verse
8th Fourweek since the Vernal Equinox: Mon Oct 5 - Sun Nov 1 (AUDIO)
  • Hope in the Dark, p. 40
  • Save All the Beings, p. 42

Sutras for Autumn Week 4: Oct 12-Oct 18

Opening
8th Fourweek since Vernal Equinox: Mon Oct 5 - Sun Nov 1 (AUDIO for Even)(AUDIO for Odd)
  • Gatha of Atonement (odd-numbered dates), or The Three Refuges (even-numbered dates)
  • Dedication
  • Menju -- "Face-to-Face Transmission," p. 5
Sutra Service
Week 4: Oct 12-18, section 4A
  • Song of the Jeweled-Mirror Samadhi, p. 14
  • Coming and Going, p. 15
  • Shantideva's Way of the Bodhisattva, p. 15
Closing Verse
8th Fourweek since the Vernal Equinox: Mon Oct 5 - Sun Nov 1 (AUDIO)
  • Hope in the Dark, p. 40
  • Save All the Beings, p. 42

2020-09-27

Raven 138: Mockingbird

The only other time we've seen Mockingbird was in #76 when he asked about gossip. Today he seems to have a question that cuts directly to the heart of the matter: Who am I? Who are you?

We are what we do: our routine and everyday characteristic doings, as well as our tumblings. What we do is always enactment of relationship. But tell me: when Raven holds out her wings and Mockingbird holds out his, who is doing so with greater freedom? Maybe it's not the one you think.

Case
One fine day Mockingbird met Raven on the Assembly Oak and asked, "Who is Raven Roshi?"
Raven held out her wings.
Mockingbird held out his wings.
Raven croaked.
Mockingbird croaked.
Raven abruptly pecked at his claw, and he tumbled from the tree.
Verse
Teachers have pecked us off balance.
Remember how we tumbled from our perch?
Do you remember: Was it just what we needed?
Did we croak, stretch our wings, fly?
Or plummet to the injuring ground?
It was the death of our freedom,
And its birth.

Case adapted from Robert Aitken; introduction and verse by Meredith GarmonA
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2020-09-25

Sep 21-27

AUTUMN, WEEK 1

Join the BoWZ-Westchester Sangha via Zoom on Saturday mornings:

9:45-10:00 -- Informal conversation
10:00 -- Opening Dedication, Readings, Zazen, Kinhin, Zazen
11:00 -- Sutra Service
11:15 -- Dharma Talk and Conversation
12:00 -- Closing Readings
(US Eastern Time Zone)

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

Passcode: 468468

Sat Sep 26: Practice to be led by Meredith Garmon.

THIS WEEK'S READING for Sat Sep 26
  • Taizan Maezumi, Appreciate Your Life: The Essence of Zen Practice, "Koan and Shikantaza" p. 49.
  • See Reading Schedule.

HOME PRACTICE for Autumn Week 1: Sep 21-27

This Week's RAVEN TALE: "Everything Collapsed"

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/

2020-09-24

Raven 137: Everything Collapsed

Everything there is presents itself in each moment, each appearance. Our task is to maintain this reality -- as in, "cause or enable (a condition or state of affairs) to continue," and also as in "state something to be the case; assert" -- but how?

Case
Wolverine dropped by for zazen and announced, "Everything on the Blue Planet is contained in this appearance."
Porcupine said, "That's true. How do you maintain it?"
Wolverine hesitated.
Porcupine said, "The Blue Planet collapsed."
Verse
That joke about small towns:
"Don't blink or you'll miss it."
I used to think no town could be
so small that this was true.
Now I think no city could be
so large this isn't true.

Case adapted from Robert Aitken; introduction and verse by Meredith GarmonA
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