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

2019-03-11

Raven 95: What Is Mind?

Grandma was in #63-#68. Then Grandma and Granddaughter together were in #73 (where Grandma told Granddaughter to follow her bliss) and #80 (where they discussed reading).

Dogen (1200-1253) said, "Mind is no other than mountains and rivers and the great wide earth, the sun and the moon and the stars."
When asked "What is Buddha?" Mazu (709-88) answered, "Mind is Buddha." (But Mazu later said, "There is neither mind nor Buddha.")

As for whether anything will do, it's like what the life of your as-yet-unborn grandchild will be about. Although it could be anything, not just anything will do. What doesn't fit doesn't fit.

Case
Sitting around after supper one night, Granddaughter looked up from a book she was reading and asked, "What is mind?"
Grandma said, "Kitty is crying for food."
Granddaughter asked, "Do you mean anything will do?"
Grandma said, "No."
Granddaughter waited for more, but Grandma had returned to her knitting. She sighed and got up up to feed he cat.
Later, Turkey reported this to Raven and asked her opinion. Raven croaked, and then croaked again.
Turkey asked, "Will that do it?"
Raven said, "Apparently not."
Verse
It's like this, I've heard.
The brain -- yours, mine, a beetle's,
Dolphin's, dog's, bacterium's, or turtle's --
Extends through the nervous system,
And to the body, and to the world
That tickles the senses,
To fire motor neurons, or something,
To tickle back.

This being so --
The world being made of micro and macro
Tickle-loops everywhere, endless and beginningless --
Where is mind to be found?
Where not?
Case by Robert Aitken, adapted; introduction and verse by Meredith Garmon
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2019-03-08

Mar 4 - 10

Winter, week 11
"The essential matter in just sitting is to just sit, with the mind as taut as a bowstring at all times. Sit just sitting as if you were locked in mortal combat with a master swordsman: if we let up our guard for even an instant, the opponent's sword will come down upon our heads. There isn't even a split second available for random thoughts." --Yamada Koun
Saturday Zen: Sat Mar 9, 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 4 - Sun Mar 10:
  • Bodhisattva's Vow, p. 22
  • Harmony of Relative and Absolute, p. 23
  • Fulfilling the Buddha Way, p. 40
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 9 (same readings as for last week):
  • Primary Reading: Koun Yamada, Zen: The Authentic Gate, Ch. 6b, "Koan Practice and Just Sitting," 2nd half, pp. 76-89.
  • Optional Secondary Reading: Thich Nhat Hanh, Old Path White Clouds, Ch. 34, "Reunion," p. 222.
For subsequent weeks (through May 25): See Schedule for Reading.

This Week's Raven Tale: #94, Intimate -- HERE
This Week's Koan: Gateless Gate #48, Book of Serenity #61: Yuezhou Qianfeng's One Way -- HERE

2019-03-06

Raven 94: Intimate

Badger was among Raven's first students (along with Porcupine, Woodpecker, Grouse, Owl, and Black Bear). In previous episodes, Badger has asked "How can I get rid of my ego?" (#15), "What is the purpose of practice after all?" (#24), "Is there really something to understand beyond the way to be a better person?" (#42), "How can I get rid of my passions?" (#56), and "What is the self?" (#85).

Raven has been continually sharing her realization. What did Badger think she was doing?

Case
One evening Badger asked, "What's realization like?"
Raven said, "Intimate."
Badger asked, "Can you share it?"
Raven said, "Where have you been?" Fluffing her feathers, she turned away, muttering to herself, "Ah, such as it is."
Verse
The pencil on my desk offers its intimacy,
Shares with me its realization, bare naked.
Likewise the papers and mug, the hatrack in the corner;
Likewise outside the trees, bees, squirrels, birds, grass, pavement;
Likewise the conspecifics with whom I conversed;
Likewise the masters at whose feet I sat.
Where
Have I been?
Case by Robert Aitken, adapted; introduction and verse by Meredith Garmon
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2019-02-27

Feb 25 - Mar 3

Winter, week 10
"The essential matter in just sitting is to just sit, with the mind as taut as a bowstring at all times. Sit just sitting as if you were locked in mortal combat with a master swordsman: if we let up our guard for even an instant, the opponent's sword will come down upon our heads. There isn't even a split second available for random thoughts." --Yamada Koun
Saturday Zen: Sat Mar 2, 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 Feb 25 - Sun Mar 3:
  • Days Like Lightning, p. 61
  • Heart Sutra, p. 14
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 2:
  • Primary Reading: Koun Yamada, Zen: The Authentic Gate, Ch. 6b, "Koan Practice and Just Sitting," 2nd half, pp. 76-89.
  • Optional Secondary Reading: Thich Nhat Hanh, Old Path White Clouds, Ch. 34, "Reunion," p. 222.
For subsequent weeks (through May 18): See Schedule for Reading.

This Week's Raven Tale: #93, The Perfection of Character -- HERE
This Week's Koan: Gateless Gate #46, Book of Serenity #79: Stepping from a 100-foot pole -- HERE


Raven 93: The Perfection of Character

This is Raccoon's first appearance. And we haven't had a mention of Moose Roshi since way back in #3, when Raven was just starting out and visiting a number of teachers (including also Jackrabbit Roshi and Prairie Dog Roshi) before settling down with Brown Bear.

Practice is for perfecting our character. And our character is already perfected. Practice is about remembering and living from that fact. This is transformative. In fact, it's the most radical transformation possible. It changes you into what you've always been.

Case
Raccoon was a student of Moose Roshi at Cedarford, but he visited the Tallspruce community occasionally.
One day Raven invited him to have a snack and asked, "What does Moose Roshi teach?"
Raccoon said, "The practice of Zen is the perfection of character."
Raven said, "Transformation."
Raccoon said, "The Zen student trims the dead branches. It's the pigeon who can do the actual job."
Verse
The Will, Illusory Anyway

It's grace all the way down,
Even the pain and grief bits,
And, too, the wanting and striving bits --
All the doings my acquaintances call Meredith's,
In praise or in blame.

On my cushion, of a morning,
The world slowly lightening, there am I,
Trimming some dead branches, maybe,
Culling, weeding, making room
For something else to "do the actual job" --

Which it does, haphazardly,
And mentions, by the by,
That the way-preparing, garden-tending, discipline
Of hospitality to whatever guest may come --
The practice and intentions that seem of my making --

Come also from something else --
Something that watches, and sometimes whispers
It's grace all the way down.
Case by Robert Aitken, adapted; introduction and verse by Meredith Garmon
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2019-02-19

Feb 18-24

Winter, week 9
"Each thing is the complete and perfect expression of our True Self and of the ultimate truth of the universe. Sun, moon, stars, every tree and blade of grass, and every action, large and subtle -- there isn't one of these that is not a complete revelation of the scenery of the essential world." --Yamada Koun
Saturday Zen: Sat Feb 23, 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 Feb 18 - Sun Feb 24:
  • Loving-Kindness Sutra, p. 27
  • Guidepost for Silent Illumination, p. 38
  • The Many and the One, p. 60
  • Mind Like the Moon, p. 60
Opening and Closing for Mon Jan 28 - Sun Feb 24:
  • Opening: Seeking with Empty Hands, p. 24; Bodhisattva's Prayer, p. 32
  • Closing: Sending-and-Receiving, p. 74
See: Boundless Way Zen Sutra Book, 4th ed.   ☙   Supplement   ☙   BoWZ Westchester Chant Schedule

Reading for Sat Feb 23:
  • Primary Reading: Koun Yamada, Zen: The Authentic Gate, Ch. 6a, "Koan Practice and Just Sitting," 1st half, pp. 67-76.
  • Optional Secondary Reading: Thich Nhat Hanh, Old Path White Clouds, Ch. 33, "Beauty That Does Not Fade," p. 216.
For subsequent weeks (through May 18): See Schedule for Reading.

This Week's Raven Tale: #92, Attainment -- HERE
This Week's Koan: Gateless Gate #12, Ruiyan Calls Himself "Master" -- HERE

2019-02-18

Raven 92: Attainment

FDR famously told us, "We have nothing to fear but fear itself." But that's a lot to fear! Fear is powerful and not easily subdued.

In an opposite -- yet similarly paradoxical -- vein, we might say that we have nothing to attain except the awareness that we have nothing to attain. But that's a lot to attain!

Then there's remembering that we have nothing to attain. Even if we attain a moment of the awareness, it is easily soon forgotten. Attaining a life of continual remembrance that we have nothing to attain -- that's even harder to attain. Yet...there's nothing at all to attain. Never has been.

The verse by Keizan Jokin (1268-1325) for Denkoroku case #41 (translated by John Cook) makes the point:
Seeking it oneself with empty hands
You return with empty hands;
In that place where fundamentally nothing is acquired,
You really acquire it.
Alternative translations of the last two lines include Thomas Cleary's: "Where there is fundamentally not attainment, /After all one attains." And Hubert Nearman's: "Since, from the first, there was nothing to realize, /now, being satisfied, I have realized! (tr. Hubert Nearman)

Case
That same evening Owl said, "I've heard that you should not try to attain anything. What do you think?"
Raven said, "Not attain anything? Then what are you doing here?"
Owl said, "I think the idea is that we're Buddhas already, so there's nothing to attain."
Raven said, "An attained being said that."

Verse
One eye sees the effortlessness,
   of mountain, river, hackberry and elm
The other eye sees the minute and vast efforts
   of the earth pushing up a mountain,
   of water pushing a path around every rise,
   of photosynthesizing leaves, nutrient-grabbing roots,
      and a trillion busy cells.
Depth perception takes two angles of view.
Case by Robert Aitken, adapted; introduction and verse by Meredith Garmon
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2019-02-12

Feb 11 - 17

Winter, week 8
"If even for a short time one sits erect in meditative absorption and impresses the buddha seal upon the three sources of karma -- physical, verbal, and mental actions -- everything in the world of things will become the buddha seal and all space will become enlightenment." --Dogen
Saturday Zen: Sat Feb 16, 10:00 a- 11:45am
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 Feb 11 - Sun Feb 17:
  • Unending Truth, p. 36
  • Facing Everything, p. 36
  • The Misunderstanding of Many Lifetimes, p. 37
  • Self and Other the Same, p. 37
  • Field of Boundless Emptiness, p. 37
Opening and Closing for Mon Jan 28 - Sun Feb 24:
  • Opening: Seeking with Empty Hands, p. 24; Bodhisattva's Prayer, p. 32
  • Closing: Sending-and-Receiving, p. 74
See: Boundless Way Zen Sutra Book, 4th ed.   ☙   Supplement   ☙   BoWZ Westchester Chant Schedule

Reading for Sat Feb 16:
  • Primary Reading: Koun Yamada, Zen: The Authentic Gate, Ch. 5, "Types of Zen Practice," pp. 59-66.
  • Optional Secondary Reading: Thich Nhat Hanh, Old Path White Clouds, Ch. 32, "The Finger Is Not the Moon, p. 211.
For subsequent weeks (through May 18): See Schedule for Reading.

This Week's Raven Tale: #91, Blasphemy -- HERE
This Week's Koan: Book of Serenity #97, Emperor Tongguang's Helmet Hood -- HERE

2019-02-11

Raven 91: Blasphemy

Blasphemy. For the ancient Hebrews, blasphemy was the crime of undermining the rule of YHWH over the Jews, and was thus analogous to treason. Blasphemy was, until recently, generally forbidden by law in the US and Europe. Blasphemy was understood to be:
"denying the being or providence of God, contumelious reproaches of our Saviour Christ, profane scoffing at the Holy Scripture, or exposing it to contempt or ridicule" (Blackstone, Commentaries on the Laws of England, 1769)
or
"maliciously reviling God or religion" (Kent, Commentaries on American Law, 1826)
or
"speaking evil of the Deity with an impious purpose to derogate from the Divine Majesty and to alienate the minds of others from the love and reverence of God" (Lemuel Shaw, 1781-1861, Chief Justice of the Massachusetts Supreme Court)
Raven declines to define the term, providing instead an example.

Case
One evening Woodpecker asked, "What is blasphemy?"
Raven said, "The Buddha Macaw was perfectly enlightened."

Verse
Blasphemy and idolatry:
besetting sicknesses.
The cure for each
is the other.

Friend, don't fall for that presumption
that perfection is crystalline,
As fixed as Keats' Urn.
No, the perfection of a thing
Is its motion, its dance of
Flourishing, fruition, aging, decay --
Or it's nothing.
Gotama's perfection was a path.
Jesus died in pain when
nailed in place.
Case by Robert Aitken, adapted; introduction and verse by Meredith Garmon
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2019-02-05

Feb 4 - 10

Winter, week 7
"If we go on practicing assiduously, our illusions will decrease of themselves and the marvelous virtue of buddha nature will reveal itself in us. This practice is what we call 'personalization of the Supreme Way.'" --Koun Yamada
Saturday Zen: Sat Feb 9, 10:00 a- 11:45am
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 Feb 4 - Sun Feb 10:
  • Song of the Grass-Roof Hermitage, p. 16
  • Heart Sutra, p. 14
Opening and Closing for Mon Jan 28 - Sun Feb 24:
  • Opening: Seeking with Empty Hands, p. 24; Bodhisattva's Prayer, p. 32
  • Closing: Sending-and-Receiving, p. 74
See: Boundless Way Zen Sutra Book, 4th ed.   ☙   Supplement   ☙   BoWZ Westchester Chant Schedule

Reading for Sat Feb 9:
  • Primary Reading: Koun Yamada, Zen: The Authentic Gate, Ch. 4b, "The Three Great Aims of Zen," 2nd half, pp. 49-57.
  • Optional Secondary Reading: Thich Nhat Hanh, Old Path White Clouds, Ch. 31, "I Will Return in the Spring," p. 203.
For subsequent weeks (through May 18): See Schedule for Reading.

This Week's Raven Tale: #90, Method -- HERE
This Week's Koan: Gateless Gate #5, Xiangyan's Man Up a Tree -- HERE