2019-01-13

Jan 14 - 20

Winter, week 4
"We ourselves are nothing but perfect, complete, infinite, and absolute existence. And Zen aims to realize this condition not through the intellect but in living experience." --Koun Yamada
Saturday Zen: Sat Jan 19, 10:00 - 11:45am
room 24
Community UU
468 Rosedale Ave
White Plains, NY
Practice to be led by TBA

Morning Zen. CANCELLED THIS WEEK.

Chants
For Mon Jan 14 - Sun Jan 20:
  • Song of Realizing the Dao, p. 30
  • Fukenzazengi, p. 45
  • Menju, p. 50
Opening and Closing for Mon Dec 31 - Sun Jan 27:
  • Opening: The Fruit of the Bodhisattva Way, p. 21
  • Closing: Who Owns the Weather, p. 73
See: Boundless Way Zen Sutra Book, 4th ed.   ☙   Supplement   ☙   BoWZ Westchester Chant Schedule

Reading for Sat Jan 19:
  • Primary Reading: Koun Yamada, Zen: The Authentic Gate, Ch. 3a, "Principle of Salvation in Zen Buddhism," 1st half, pp. 19-27.
  • Optional Secondary Reading: Thich Nhat Hanh, Old Path White Clouds, Ch. 28, "Palm Forest," p. 180.
For subsequent weeks (through May 18): See Schedule for Reading.

This Week's Raven Tale: #87, Hearing -- HERE

See Youtube video of Sanbo Zen teachers talking about Zen (4:56): HERE.

Raven 87: Hearing

I had an elementary school teacher -- several probably -- who said, "Don't just hear, LISTEN!" She meant for us to pay focused attention to her words and their meaning. If your elementary teachers were like mine, you grew up valuing listening and devaluing hearing.

Raven takes the opposite approach. She distinguishes hearing from listening in pretty much the same way my elementary school teachers did -- but Raven draws a different moral from that distinction. What do you think?

Case
Raven took her perch and said, "Things just come in. Do you listen, or do you hear? When you listen, you are paying attention to something out there, but when you hear, the sounds just come in. You are sitting there with your ears open, and the dove calls out. That sound defines you. Once you are defined like that, the cedars can define you, the faraway skunk can define you."
Woodpecker asked, "Is that realization?"
Raven said, "Let yourself hear the dove."
Hotetsu's Verse
Let yourself hear the dove
Let your mouth eat
Let your fingers read my face
Let your feet count the blessings of toes
Let your ribs hold galaxies
Let your tongue perceive the silence
   inside its words
Let your fears embrace the frightened
Let your house slide on shifting sand
Let the stones be igneous, sedimentary, metamorphic
   all of them utterly yours
Let rivers flow through your veins unto the sea
Let yourself smell the sunrise
   and taste the sunset
Let yourself love
Let yourself hear the dove
Case by Robert Aitken; introduction and Verse by Meredith Garmon
Raven 85

2019-01-11

Jan 7 - 13

Winter, week 3
"The experience attained through Zen practice is neither thought nor philosophy nor religion. It is merely a fact. And, strange as it may seem, the experience of that fact has the power to free us from the agonies and pains of the world." --Koun Yamada
Saturday Zen: Sat Jan 12, 10:00 - 11:45am
room 24
Community UU
468 Rosedale Ave
White Plains, NY
Practice to be led by Meredith Garmon

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

Chants
For Mon Jan 7 - Sun Jan 13:
  • Observing the One Who is Dim and Dull, p. 19
  • Realizing the Zen Way, p. 19
  • Heart Sutra, p. 14
Opening and Closing for Mon Dec 31 - Sun Jan 27:
  • Opening: The Fruit of the Bodhisattva Way, p. 21
  • Closing: Who Owns the Weather, p. 73
See: Boundless Way Zen Sutra Book, 4th ed.   ☙   Supplement   ☙   BoWZ Westchester Chant Schedule

Reading for Sat Jan 12:
  • Primary Reading: Koun Yamada, Zen: The Authentic Gate, Ch. 2, "The Zen View," pp. 11-17.
  • Optional Secondary Reading: Thich Nhat Hanh, Old Path White Clouds, Ch. 27, "All Dharmas Are on Fire," p. 174.
For subsequent weeks (through May 18): See Schedule for Reading.

Questions
  1. How would you explain what Yamada means by the distinction between "faith-based spirituality" and "experience-based spirituality"?
  2. Yamada says, "awakening is the realization that the content of both subject and object is empty and one, and that this empty-oneness is none other than the constantly changing phenomenal world of form." What does this mean?
  3. Yamada says, "The principal aim of Buddhism is to solve the problem of life and death." He then says "The answer is that the content of life and death is totally empty; their true form is no form." How does that solve the problem?
This Week's Raven Tale: #86, The Essence -- HERE

See Youtube video of Sanbo Zen teachers talking about Zen (4:56): HERE.

2019-01-10

Raven 86: The Essence

You may recall, as told in #1, that Jackrabbit was the first teacher Raven visited. Asked what the Buddha Macaw realized when she saw the morning star, Jackrabbit said, "the truth of mutually dependent arising." It turns out Raven picked up a few other teachings from Jackrabbit before moving on to Prairie Dog.

When Zen teachers of old did the repetition thing (as in the case below -- albeit with a little twist), several things are probably going on. One of them is that repetition renders the words "flavorless" -- a strategy for not getting all wrapped up in the words and concepts. It shifts the emphasis from meaning to doing: saying these words is just something we do. It's a reminder that there is no meaning for words outside of the context of what we do with them.

"The mind is compassion and its essence has no qualities." Show me how you live that!

Case
One evening Owl asked, "I've heard that Jackrabbit Roshi said that the mind has no qualities and its essence is compassion. What do you think of that?"
Raven said, "The mind is compassion and its essence has no qualities."
Hotetsu's Verse
Compassion is not a quality.
I put it to you,
Didactically, as if it were
A thing you could believe
Or that I could.

Yesterday I did, and tomorrow will, speak
Of compassion as if it were a quality --
Of a person, or an act --
As if it were a moral virtue
That might not have been there,
That could disappear in a mean moment,
That the discovery of ulteriority
   could render fraudulent.
Today I speak differently.

Compassion is ontological, not ethical.
It is the stuff reality is made of.

I intone, all professorial,
As if you should be taking notes,
As if I should apologize.

Outside: the winter mountain, made
Of rock and soil, trees and snow.
No qualities there either,
I whisper. Or was that you?
Case by Robert Aitken; introduction and Verse by Meredith Garmon
Raven 85

2019-01-02

Win. 2: Dec 31 - Jan 6

Winter, week 2
"Life could be called a display of all he different forms of suffering and anxiety. Yet most of us make no serious attempt to confront our anxiety head on." --Koun Yamada
Saturday Zen: Sat Jan 5, 10:00 - 11:45am
room 24
Community UU
468 Rosedale Ave
White Plains, NY
Practice to be led by Meredith Garmon

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

Chants
For Mon Dec 31 - Sun Jan 6:
  • Heart of True Entrusting, p. 78
Opening and Closing for Mon Dec 31 - Sun Jan 27:
  • Opening: The Fruit of the Bodhisattva Way, p. 21
  • Closing: Who Owns the Weather, p. 73
See: Boundless Way Zen Sutra Book, 4th ed.   ☙   Supplement   ☙   BoWZ Westchester Chant Schedule

Reading for Sat Jan 5:
  • Primary Reading: Koun Yamada, Zen: The Authentic Gate, Ch. 1, "Suffering and Modern-Day Humanity," pp. 3-9.
  • Optional Secondary Reading: Thich Nhat Hanh, Old Path White Clouds, Ch. 26, "Water Rises, Too, p. 166.
For subsequent weeks (through May 18): See Schedule for Reading.

Questions
  1. In the opening chapter, Yamada addresses suffering, death, and morality. Suffering: Yamada notes that "life could be called a display of all the different forms of suffering and anxiety." However, instead of confronting our suffering, "we attempt to escape it, seeking momentary distraction in the outside world through liquor, gaming, betting at the track, sexual misadventures, the glare of neon, and the blare of loud music in the streets." What's your preferred mode of distraction?
  2. Death: Yamada notes that the "great" accomplishments don't last very long. "Alexander the Great, Caesar, Toyotomi Hideoyoshi" -- "in less than a thousand years their achievements all but disappear....when looked at from the perspective of eternity, the accomplishments of humankind amount to so little. Where does the true meaning behind our efforts lie?" Where does the true meaning of our efforts lie?
  3. Morality: Yamada cites examples of moral precepts: "Never tell a lie, always be truthful. Be unsparing and searching with yourself. Do not take the life of living things. Honor your parents." He then says, "These are all fine sentiments. But it is necessary to bring back the moral basis whereby we can teach such things." What is this basis?
This Week's Raven Tale: #85, The Self -- HERE

See Youtube video of Sanbo Zen teachers talking about Zen (4:56): HERE.

2019-01-01

Raven 85: The Self

The self is passion. You don't need to think about your passion too much -- just have it, and watch it. I won't say embody it, since you can't not. I will say: if you take it for real, it can wear you out.

Case
Badger came to Raven privately and asked, "What is the self?"
Raven said, "Passion."
Badger asked, "Why are we told to forget it?"
Raven said, "Forget it!"
Badger said, "That's scary."
Raven croaked.
Badger sat back on his haunches and was silent.
Raven said, "Now I'm tired."
Hotetsu's Verse
This mouth opens, and out I come:
A draft of air and jetsam.
Air: breath, warm and humid, de-oxygenated.
Jetsam: vocabulary, syntax, accent, tone, and
Voice that could be no one else’s —
Tossed from a foundering vessel.

This mouth opens, and out I come:
A current of particularity and karmic goo,
Not at all the luminous seaworthy universality,
I dreamed sailing into port.

When I'm not haunted this way,
When dreams of absoluteness are wakened from,
Or the wreckage recognized as their realization,
Then this mouth opens, and out I come, and
Maybe my eddies of debris and yours
Dance.
Case by Robert Aitken; introduction and Verse by Meredith Garmon
Raven 84

2018-12-28

Win. 1: Dec 24 - 30

Winter, week 1
"Prophets...must establish and maintain the aspiration to be free. They must love the whole of life so completely that they embody joy in the face of suffering. Indeed, they know them to be two faces of the one lover" --angel Kyodo williams
Saturday Zen: Sat Dec 29, 10:00 - 11:45am
room 24
Community UU
468 Rosedale Ave
White Plains, NY
Practice to be led by Meredith Garmon

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

Chants
For Mon Dec 24 - Sun Dec 30:
  • Ten Grave Precepts, p. S3
  • The Four Commitments, p. 65
  • The Fourfold Commitment to Justice, p. 66
Opening and Closing for Mon Dec 3 - Sun Dec 30:
  • Opening: Do Your Best, p. 20
  • Closing: Awakening to Discouragement, p. 73
See: Boundless Way Zen Sutra Book, 4th ed.   ☙   Supplement   ☙   BoWZ Westchester Chant Schedule

Reading for Sat Dec 29:
  • Primary Reading: Radical Dharma, angel Kyodo williams, "A New Dharma: Prophetic Wisdom and the Rise of Transcendent Movements," pp. 191-204.
  • Optional Secondary Reading: Thich Nhat Hanh, Old Path White Clouds, Ch. 25, "Music's Lofty Peaks," p. 162.
For subsequent weeks (through May 18): See Schedule for Reading.
Next book begins Jan 5: Koun Yamada, Zen: The Authentic Gate. Order from Wisdom Publications (HERE) or Amazon (HERE).

This Week's Raven Tale: #84, Trust -- HERE

See Youtube dialog with angel Kyodo williams and Lama Rod Owens (29:53): HERE.

See angel Kyodo williams' TED talk: HERE.

Raven 84: Trust

Choose your mentors and guides carefully, and then give them your trust. This is risky. You might not choose well. It's risky even if you choose well. But it's necessary.

Case
Porcupine then asked, "Is trust in the teacher important for the practice?"
Raven said, "Indispensable."
Porcupine asked, "Can't that create problems?"
Raven said, "Interminable."
Hotetsu's Verse
That joke about why the dog:
The punchline, Because he can,
Answers a lot of questions.
To exercise a capacity: reason enough.
Why does one love? Why trust?
Why study and follow a teacher's direction?
Why does one hurt so when any of these goes awry?
Why does one bother with sadness and happiness?
Why read the paper on the commuter train?
Toast the New Year? Sit Zazen?
Why does one grow present to one's life,
Or want to?
If one couldn't, there'd be no reason to.
Case by Robert Aitken; introduction and Verse by Meredith Garmon
Raven 83

2018-12-18

Aut. 13: Dec 17 - 23

Autumn, week 13
"There is a candle in your heart, ready to be kindled. There is a void in your soul, ready to be filled. You feel it, don't you?" --Rumi
Saturday Zen: Sat Dec 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, Wed, & Thu, 6:00 - 7:15am
Basement Zendo. See HERE.

Chants
For Mon Dec 17 - Sun Dec 23:
  • Song of the Jeweled-Mirror Samadhi, p. 26
  • The Three Marks of Dharma, p. S2
Opening and Closing for Mon Dec 3 - Sun Dec 30:
  • Opening: Do Your Best, p. 20
  • Closing: Awakening to Discouragement, p. 72
See: Boundless Way Zen Sutra Book, 4th ed.   ☙   Supplement   ☙   BoWZ Westchester Chant Schedule

Reading for Sat Dec 22:
  • Primary Reading: Radical Dharma, Jasmine Syedullah, "What the World Needs Now"; and Lama Rod Owens, "Radical Presence," pp. 180-190.
  • Optional Secondary Reading: Thich Nhat Hanh, Old Path White Clouds, Ch. 24, "Taking Refuge," p. 157.
For subsequent weeks (through May 18): See Schedule for Reading.
Next book begins Jan 5: Koun Yamada, Zen: The Authentic Gate. Order from Wisdom Publications (HERE) or Amazon (HERE).

This Week's Raven Tale: #83, Too Busy -- HERE

See Youtube dialog with angel Kyodo williams and Lama Rod Owens (29:53): HERE.

See angel Kyodo williams' TED talk: HERE.

Raven 83: Too Busy

As you begin the practice, visit many teachers. Sit a retreat, or attend three or four weekly gatherings, with each one. Then pick one and settle down for 10 years or so -- or for as long as you both live, if it's working out. Changing teachers every year or two or three is not recommended. It's hard to set the judging mind aside when you're constantly asking yourself if some other teacher would be "better." It is, as Raven says, too much busy-ness. Of course, even settling in is too much busy-ness. So what wouldn't be too busy?

Case
Owl said, "I notice that some students go from teacher to teacher. What do you think of this?"
Raven said, "Busy."
"After all," Owl said, "practice is a matter of settling in."
Raven said, "Still too busy."
Owl said nothing.
Hotetsu's Verse
Busy, as a swift brook,
As cirrus clouds, striping the sky,
As glaciers are, melting,
And as they were, before that.
Busy as the owl on her night branch, listening.

Life and history make of me
A bearer of mostly futile love.
Seven generations hence,
Justice will mean something else,
Or maybe nothing much at all.
Perhaps the struggles and projects
Of my fifth-great-grandchildren
Will not invoke justice.
Perhaps, for them, it will be a
Dusty classical virtue, like prudence.

All the strands of the world flow into me
And out again, some a little stronger,
Or weaker, or more refined, or less.
When they arrive at the late 22nd century
With unrecognizable textures and weavings,
Will their time spent weaving me
Be more help or more hindrance
To the aims and needs of that time?
About equal measures of each, I guess.

Busy as a cheetah's tail,
As a cow's four stomachs --
Busy as soil erosion,
As the silent moon and the Sahara dunes.
Busy as Rigel at Orion's knee, so
Busy. Oh,
Too busy.
Case by Robert Aitken, adapted; introduction and Verse by Meredith Garmon
Raven 82

2018-12-10

Aut. 12: Dec 10 - 16

Autumn, week 12
"That's what people ask me all the time: How do we invite more people of color? What I don't hear in that is: "I'm suffering. I'm experiencing trauma. What is it that I can do to help myself." --angel Kyodo williams
Saturday Zen: Sat Dec 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, Wed, & Thu, 6:00 - 7:15am
Basement Zendo. See HERE.

Chants
For Mon Dec 10 - Sun Dec 16:
  • Compassionate Heart of Wisdom, p. 15
  • Hakuin's Song of Zazen, p. 17
  • Great Doubt, p. 18
Opening and Closing for Mon Dec 3 - Sun Dec 30:
  • Opening: Do Your Best, p. 20
  • Closing: Awakening to Discouragement, p. 72
See: Boundless Way Zen Sutra Book, 4th ed.   ☙   Supplement   ☙   BoWZ Westchester Chant Schedule

Reading for Sat Dec 15:
  • Primary Reading: Radical Dharma, "Radical Dharma: Liberation," pp. 155-176.
  • Optional Secondary Reading: Thich Nhat Hanh, Old Path White Clouds, Ch. 23, "Dharma Nectar," pp. 151-156.
For subsequent weeks (through May 18): See Schedule for Reading.
Next book begins Dec 30: Koun Yamada, Zen: The Authentic Gate. Order from Wisdom Publications (HERE) or Amazon (HERE).

This Week's Raven Tale: #82, Still Lonesome -- HERE

See Youtube dialog with angel Kyodo williams and Lama Rod Owens (29:53): HERE.

See angel Kyodo williams' TED talk: HERE.

Raven 82: Still Lonesome

Someone told you once to be open to the other. They forgot to mention that there is no other.

Case
Mole spoke up after Raven had his exchange with Owl and said, "I have a different kind of question. Is there a way to practice in ordinary times?"
Raven said, "The robin! The dove! The linnet!"
"Is it just a matter of being open to the other?" asked Mole.
"Still lonesome," said Raven.
Hotetsu's Verse
On the path,
First comes everything.
Second, everything again.
Third, return to first things.
Ordinal numbers
Mark ordinary time.
Case by Robert Aitken, adapted; introduction and "Hotetsu's Verse" by Meredith Garmon
Raven 81

2018-12-01

Aut. 11: Dec 3 - 9

Autumn, week 11
"You have to really insist upon only living within the vibration of love -- love that changes, love that confronts, love that holds you, love that allows you to make mistakes but only within love." --angel Kyodo williams
Saturday Zen: Sat Dec 8, 10:00 - 11:45am
room 24
Community UU
468 Rosedale Ave
White Plains, NY
Practice to be led by Meredith Garmon

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

Chants
For Mon Dec 3 - Sun Dec 9:
  • Bodhisattva's Vow, p. 22
  • Harmony of Relative and Absolute, p. 23
  • Fulfilling the Buddha Way, p. 40
Opening and Closing for Mon Dec 3 - Sun Dec 30:
  • Opening: Do Your Best, p. 20
  • Closing: Awakening to Discouragement, p. 72
See: Boundless Way Zen Sutra Book, 4th ed.   ☙   Supplement   ☙   BoWZ Westchester Chant Schedule

Reading for Sat Dec 8:
  • Primary Reading: Radical Dharma, "Radical Dharma: Love," pp. 137-154.
  • Optional Secondary Reading: Thich Nhat Hanh, Old Path White Clouds, Ch. 22, "Turning the Wheel of Dharma," pp. 145-150.
Reading for subsequent weeks (through Mar 2): See Schedule for Reading.
Next book begins Dec 30: Koun Yamada, Zen: The Authentic Gate. Order from Wisdom Publications (HERE) or Amazon (HERE).

This Week's Raven Tale: #81, Essential -- HERE

Dialog with angel Kyodo williams and Lama Rod Owens -- 29:53


Raven 81: Essential

What is "explain"? What exactly are we doing when we "explain"? There is the fact -- the thing that happened -- and then there is the "explanation" of the fact. Explanations place phenomena within a context of meaning -- which is essential, right? But the phenomena themselves, always both more and less than their explanation, are "more essential."

Case
One evening during the question period, Owl asked Raven, "How important are the words of the Buddha Macaw and her successors to our practice?"
Raven said, "Essential."
"Is there anything more essential?" asked Owl.
Raven said, "The bullfrog calls his mate."
Owl was silent but did not return to his place in the circle.
Raven continued, "You see, Owl, the Buddha Macaw explains it."
Owl asked, "What does she explain?"
Raven cawed.
Whitman's Verse (from Song of Myself, III)
There was never any more inception than there is now,
Nor any more youth or age than there is now,
And will never be any more perfection than there is now,
Nor any more heaven or hell than there is now.

Urge and urge and urge,
Always the procreant urge of the world.
Out of the dimness opposite equals advance, always substance and increase, always sex,
Always a knit of identity, always distinction, always a breed of life.
To elaborate is no avail, learn’d and unlearn’d feel that it is so.

I and this mystery here we stand.
Clear and sweet is my soul, and clear and sweet is all that is not my soul.
Hotetsu's Verse
Urge and urge and urge . . . To elaborate is no avail.
To no avail, yet essential.
Until, one day, not.
The uselessness of explanation
Must be explained, which does not suffice,
But to us afflicted with the rash,
the placebo salve helps us not scratch.

Everything depends upon bullfrog call, raven caw,
(and a red wheel barrow, if you've got one).
The signs may be divined
-- not for meaning, for beauty --
When symbol subdues symbol,
Colonel orders Captain to retreat,
And the battlefield is clear.
Case by Robert Aitken, adapted; introduction and "Hotetsu's Verse" by Meredith Garmon
Raven 80

2018-11-29

Nov 26 - Dec 2

Autumn, week 10
"Race is the ultimate delusion in that it both does and doesn't exist in reality." --angel Kyodo williams
Saturday Zen: Sat Dec 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 and Thu, 6:00 - 7:15am
Basement Zendo. See HERE.

Chants
For Mon Nov 26 - Sun Dec 2:
  • Days Like Lightening, p. 61
  • Heart Sutra, p. 14
Opening and Closing for Nov 30 - Dec 27:
  • Opening: Do Your Best, p. 20
  • Closing: Awakening to Discouragement, p. 72
See Boundless Way Zen Sutra Book, 4th ed.
Supplement
BoWZ Westchester Chant Schedule

Reading for Sat Dec 1:
  • Primary Reading: Radical Dharma, "Radical Dharma: Race," pp. 121-136.
  • Optional Secondary Reading: Thich Nhat Hanh, Old Path White Clouds, Ch. 21, "The Lotus Pond," pp. 139-144.
Primary Reading for next week (Dec 8): Radical Dharma, "Radical Dharma: Love," pp. 137-154.

This Week's Raven Tale: #80, Reading -- HERE