2019-07-19

Jul 15 - 21

Summer, week 4
"The activity of buddha is carried out together with the whole earth and all living beings. If it is not activity that is one with all things, it is not buddha activity." --Dogen
Saturday Zen: Sat Jul 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 Jul 15 - Sun Jul 21:
  • Dongshan's Song of the Jeweled Mirror Samadhi, p. 11
  • Fulfilling the Buddha Way, p. 12
Opening and Closing for Mon Jul 15 - Sun Aug 11:
  • Opening: The Five Remembrances, p. 4
  • Closing: Prayers, p. 27
See: BoWZ Westchester Sutra Book   ☙   Additional Texts   ☙   Boundless Way Zen Sutra Book, 4th ed.

Reading for Sat Jul 20
  • Primary Reading: Pema Chodron, Comfortable with Uncertainty, #4.
  • Optional Secondary Reading: Thich Nhat Hanh, Old Path White Clouds, Ch. 47.
See Schedule for Reading.

This Week's Raven Tale: #106, Compassion -- HERE

2019-06-15

Raven 106: Compassion

compassion (n), literally "a suffering with another," from Latin com "with, together" + pati "to suffer."
"Absorbing world sounds awakens a Buddha right here. This Buddha, the source of compassion -- this Buddha receives only compassion. Buddha, dharma, sangha — just compassion. Thus the pure heart always rejoices." (from "Boundless Compassion")
It's not that compassion is entirely hidden, just that it isn't entirely on display either. So tell me, what stars do you wear on your fur? Whence do they get their light?

Case
Mole spoke up after a long silence one evening and asked, "What's compassion?"
Raven said, "That's an inside story."
Mole asked, "Inside what?"
Raven said, "Stars on your fur."
Verse
Case by Robert Aitken; introduction and verse by Meredith Garmon
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2019-06-14

Jun 10 - 16

Spring, week 12
Saturday Zen: Sat Jun 15, 10:00a - noon
room 24
Community UU
468 Rosedale Ave
White Plains, NY
Practice to be led by Meredith Garmon

Chants for Mon Jun 3 - Sun Jun 9:
  • Hakuin's Song of Zazen, p. 23
  • Hakuin's Great Doubt, p. 23
  • Taego's Days Like Lightning, p. 23.
Opening and Closing for Mon May 20 - Sun Jun 16:
  • Opening: The Three Refuges, p. 3.
  • Closing: Liberation from All Obstructions, p. 26.

2019-06-09

Raven 105: Are You Ready?

In #87, Raven 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."

The whole universe continually defines you.

Case
After Raven's response to Mole [see PREVIOUS], the community fell silent.
Finally, Woodpecker spoke up: "A while back you said that the call of the dove defines us, and now you say that when Owl hoots, the whole forest hoots. I'm confused. Do the two sounds have different functions?"
Raven said, "When Owl hoots, the whole forest hoots. Are you ready to be defined?
Verse
"Ready or not, here I come," says Definition,
And I, having not found a satisfactory hiding place,
Dive behind a near and inadequate concealment.

Pretending otherwise, I have long since been found.
Pretending otherwise, I relish re-discovery.
Pretending otherwise, Definition is neither ready
Nor not.
Case by Robert Aitken; introduction and verse by Meredith Garmon
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2019-06-05

Jun 3 - 9

Spring, week 10
"Bodhicitta ('enlightenment-mind'), is the mind that strives toward awakening, empathy, and compassion for the benefit of all sentient beings. Bodhicitta is a spontaneous wish to attain enlightenment motivated by great compassion for all sentient beings, accompanied by a falling away of the attachment to the illusion of an inherently existing self. A person who has a spontaneous realization or motivation of bodhicitta is called a bodhisattva." --"Bodhicitta" (Wikipedia)
Saturday Zen: Sat Jun 8, 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 Jun 3 - Sun Jun 9:
  • Harmony of Relative and Absolute, p. 21.
  • Song of the Grass-Roof Hermitage, p. 22.
  • Torei's Bodhisattva's Vow, p. 22.
Opening and Closing for Mon May 20 - Sun Jun 16:
  • Opening: The Three Refuges, p. 3.
  • Closing: Liberation from All Obstructions, p. 26.
See: BoWZ Westchester Sutra Book   ☙   Additional Texts   ☙   Boundless Way Zen Sutra Book, 4th ed.

Reading for Sat Jun 8
  • Primary Reading: Pema Chodron, Comfortable with Uncertainty, #1.
  • Optional Secondary Reading: Thich Nhat Hanh, Old Path White Clouds, Ch. 46.
See Schedule for Reading.

This Week's Raven Tale: #104, Mutually Dependent Arising -- HERE

Raven 104: Mutually Dependent Arising

Back in #1, when Raven herself was first looking for a teacher, she visited Jackrabbit and asked what happened when Buddha Macaw looked up from the branch of her Jobo tree, saw the morning star, and announced her realization. Jackrabbit replied, "She realized the truth of mutually dependent arising." Raven did not find this helpful, and went visiting other teachers: Prairie Dog, then Moose, before settling down with Brown Bear.

It's not that Raven doesn't recognize that when one thing arises, everything that is thereby arises.

Case
Owl spoke up one evening during the question period and said, "It is clear to me that you don't think much of 'mutually dependent arising' in connection with the morning star case. Is it a questionable notion to begin with?
Raven said, "When you hoot, the whole forest hoots."
"Mole doesn't hoot," said Owl.
"I duck," said Mole.
"There you go!" said Raven.
Verse
"All for each, and each for all."

When a boy I thrilled
To D'Artagnan's exploits with his friends,
inspired by their loyalty,
I quite missed
That the referents of "all" and "each"
Match.

Storming the gates of the senses,
nothing but musketeers.
Nothing but one musketeer.
Case by Robert Aitken; introduction and verse by Meredith Garmon
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2019-05-28

May 27 - Jun 2

Spring, week 10
"Because zazen -- done even by one person for a short time -- unifies everything in the universe and harmoniously becomes one with every instant of time in the entire flow of time, it ceaselessly works in infinite worlds in the past, present, and future to accomplish the salvation of all sentient beings. . . . Even if all of the innumerable buddhas in the entire universe combined their efforts and attempted to measure the merit of one person's zazen, they could never fathom it." --Dogen
Saturday Zen: Sat Jun 1, 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 May 27 - Sun Jun 2:
  • Yongjia's Song of Realizing the Dao, p. 20.
  • Heart Sutra, p. 10.
Opening and Closing for Mon May 20 - Sun Jun 16:
  • Opening: The Three Refuges, p. 3.
  • Closing: Liberation from All Obstructions, p. 26.
See: BoWZ Westchester Sutra Book   ☙   Additional Texts   ☙   Boundless Way Zen Sutra Book, 4th ed.

Reading for Sat Jun 1
  • Primary Reading: Koun Yamada, Zen: The Authentic Gate, Ch. 17. "Practical Matters," pp. 187-199.
  • Optional Secondary Reading: Thich Nhat Hanh, Old Path White Clouds, Ch. 45, "Opening the Door," p. 293.
See Schedule for Reading.
Starting Sat Jun 8: Pema Chodron, Comfortable with Uncertainty

This Week's Raven Tale: #103, The Goal -- HERE

Raven 103: The Goal

This is Gray Wolf's fourth appearance. She first appeared in #22 where she asked about karma. We didn't see her again until #59 where she remarked that the enlightenment of bushes and grasses didn't "seem so likely somehow." Then, in #75, she asked how to keep the vow to save the many beings.

Is not the goal of life more life? The goal of inquiry more inquiry? The goal of art more art? The goal of health more health?

When practice is one's whole life, what else could there be to want?

Case
Gray Wolf made one her rare visits to the circle, and after a talk by Raven she remarked, "The goal of practice seems to be just more practice."
Raven bobbed her head. "Well?"
Gray Wolf hesitated, and then asked, "So there's no end to it?"
Raven hopped down from her perch to a little hummock beside Gray Wolf, put her beak to Gray Wolf's ear, and murmured, "Thank goodness."
Verse
No one thought, this will never end.
Still, no one thought, this will end
Often enough not to be surprised
When it did.

Then, amid the shock, another surprise:
Continuation.
Some this there is,
That doesn't end.
Case adapted from Robert Aitken; introduction and verse by Meredith Garmon
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2019-05-23

May 20 - 26

Spring, week 9
"You must sit as if you were Mt. Fuji, toweing above he surface of the sea. Your sitting cushions are the earth and you are the only one in the entire universe. Sit regally and immovably on your cushion with complete alertness. Sit as if you were a skilled sword-fighter who has locked blades with an opponent and is about to make a final decisive thrust." --Harada Daiun Sogaku
Saturday Zen: Sat May 25, 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 May 20 - Sun May 26:
  • An Unending Truth, p. 19.
  • Three Marks of Dharma, p. 19.
  • Loving-Kindness Sutra, p. 20.
Opening and Closing for Mon May 20 - Sun Jun 16:
  • Opening: The Three Refuges, p. 3.
  • Closing: Liberation from All Obstructions, p. 26.
See: BoWZ Westchester Sutra Book   ☙   Additional Texts   ☙   Boundless Way Zen Sutra Book, 4th ed.

Reading for Sat May 25
  • Primary Reading: Koun Yamada, Zen: The Authentic Gate, Ch. 16, "The Actual Practice of Zazen," pp. 177-186.
  • Optional Secondary Reading: Thich Nhat Hanh, Old Path White Clouds, Ch. 44, "The Elements Will Recombine," p. 285.
For subsequent weeks (through Jun 1): See Schedule for Reading. Starting Jun 8: Pema Chodron, Comfortable with Uncertainty

This Week's Raven Tale: #102, Realization and Equanimity -- HERE

2019-05-22

Raven 102: Realization and Equanimity

As for equanimity, Raven demonstrates it.

As for realization and equanimity, which one is beaver and which is dam?

As for teaching, remember what Huangbo (755?-850) said: "I do not say that there is no Zen, but that there is no Zen teacher" (Blue Cliff Record 11, Book of Serenity 53).

Case
In a private meeting Woodpecker asked, "Is realization the same as equanimity?"
Raven said, "Don't confuse the beaver with the dam."
Woodpecker asked, "What's equanimity?"
Raven said, "I'm not a very good teacher."
Woodpecker said, "Oh, come on!"
Raven said, "It's okay."
Verse
Some of them, though, had a gardener.

Daffodils did not have teachers.
They did not study the craft
Of blossoming.
They were not taught to have six petals
And a corona,
Or drilled in color selection;
Took no classes in stem construction,
Received no instruction in photosynthesis.
From blithe stamen to untutored roots,
Throughout its growing, the daffodil was
An incorrigible truant.
No, no daffodil ever had a teacher.

Case by Robert Aitken; introduction and verse by Meredith Garmon
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2019-05-15

May 13 - 19

Spring, week 8
"If the root of faith appears, the great ball of doubt will arise without fail." --Yamada Koun
Saturday Zen: Sat May 18, 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 May 13 - Sun May 19:
  • Hongzhi's Silent Illumination, p. 17
Opening and Closing for Mon Apr 22 - Sun May 19:
  • Opening: Invocation of Kanzeon, p. 3
  • Closing: Spring Everywhere, p. 26
See: BoWZ Westchester Sutra Book   ☙   Additional Texts   ☙   Boundless Way Zen Sutra Book, 4th ed.

Reading for Sat May 18
  • Primary Reading: Koun Yamada, Zen: The Authentic Gate, Ch. 14-15, "Three Necessary Conditions for Zen Practice," and "Zen Practice for People of Other Religions," pp. 169-175.
  • Optional Secondary Reading: Thich Nhat Hanh, Old Path White Clouds, Ch. 43, "Everyone's Tears are Salty," p. 278.
For subsequent weeks (through Jun 1): See Schedule for Reading. Starting Jun 8: Pema Chodron, Comfortable with Uncertainty

This Week's Raven Tale: #101, Rectification -- HERE

2019-05-12

Raven 101: Rectification

Zen emerged when Buddhism from India spread to China and took on influences from Daoism. (There was no formal merger of institutions of Buddhism and Daoism, thus it is said that Buddhism and Daoism "shacked up," and Zen is their illegitimate love child.) Less recognized is the influence of Chinese Confucianism on the emergence of Zen.

"The rectification of names" is a Confucian idea that stresses that a stable social order depends on ensuring that words correspond to reality -- or at least to consensually shared understanding. In the Analects, Confucius writes:
"A superior man, in regard to what he does not know, shows a cautious reserve. If names be not correct, language is not in accordance with the truth of things. If language be not in accordance with the truth of things, affairs cannot be carried on to success. When affairs cannot be carried on to success, proprieties and music do not flourish. When proprieties and music do not flourish, punishments will not be properly awarded. When punishments are not properly awarded, the people do not know how to move hand or foot. Therefore a superior man considers it necessary that the names he uses may be spoken appropriately, and also that what he speaks may be carried out appropriately. What the superior man requires is just that in his words there may be nothing incorrect." (Book XIII, Chapter 3, verses 4–7, trans James Legge)
Raven here invokes the Confucian idea -- though more for "getting one's own house in order" than for social order.

On the one hand, words are but fingers pointing to the moon. Don't mistake the finger for the moon.

On the other hand, the finger is our "pointer." It matters that we're pointed in the right direction.

Even so, back on the first hand, when it comes to enlightenment, "realization is not like your conception of it; what you think one way or another before realization is not a help for realization" (Dogen).

On the other hand again, Dogen also spoke of the need to arouse the aspiration for enlightenment -- which necessarily involves some conception, howsoever vague, tentative, and inevitably ultimately wrong.

Case
During snacktime one afternoon, Black Bear asked, "How can I realize enlightenment?"
Raven asked, "What do you mean by 'enlightenment'?"
Black Bear said, "You know what I mean."
Raven said, "Fix up your terms and your path is fixed up."
Black Bear asked, "How can I fix up my terms?"
Raven said, "Your own intimate terms."
Verse
Knife scrapes butter over toast
Morning sun slants across the table.
Through the window: spring leaves, a few flowers.
Beside the coffee: a folded paper telling
Today's effects and causes of
Unhappiness, of names sliding apart.

This is a knife.
It, and my hand, spread that butter.
There is the light, the sun.
The leaves are green, flowers yellow, white, purple.
These names are right.
What is there to get wrong?

In a minute I'll unfold the paper,
Let in the day's chapter,
Slanted as the light,
Looking for clues to what is asked of me.
One must be careful
When there is this much to love.

Case by Robert Aitken; introduction and verse by Meredith Garmon
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2019-05-09

May 6 - 12

Spring, week 7
"Just as sunshine breaks through clouds, the light of our essential nature shines through the cracks in our delusion." --Yamada Koun
Saturday Zen: Sat Apr May 11, 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 May 6 - Sun May 12:
  • Fukanzazengi, p. 16
  • Heart Sutra, p. 10
Opening and Closing for Mon Apr 22 - Sun May 19:
  • Opening: Invocation of Kanzeon, p. 3
  • Closing: Spring Everywhere, p. 26
See: BoWZ Westchester Sutra Book   ☙   Additional Texts   ☙   Boundless Way Zen Sutra Book, 4th ed.

Reading for Sat May 11
  • Primary Reading: Koun Yamada, Zen: The Authentic Gate, Ch. 12b, "Eight Great Tenets of Mahayana Buddhism," 2nd half, pp. 152-162.
  • Optional Secondary Reading: Thich Nhat Hanh, Old Path White Clouds, Ch. 42, "Love is Understanding," p. 271.
For subsequent weeks (through Jun 1): See Schedule for Reading. Starting Jun 8: Pema Chodron, Comfortable with Uncertainty

This Week's Raven Tale: #100, The Best Turning Points -- HERE

Raven 100: The Best Turning Points

Jackrabbit Roshi was there at the beginning of our adventures with Raven -- in #1, where he put the teaching of mutually dependent arising at the center. Since then, Jackrabbit has only been referred to: in #38, where Raven invites her students to speak up about "anything in our program that troubles you"; -- #70, where Woodpecker asks about reports that Jackrabbit is now putting "just this!" at the center; -- and #86, where Owl asks about Jackrabbit supposedly having said, "the mind has no qualities and its essence is compassion."

Turning points unavoidably arise, if they arise at all, within and out of your own situation. But, as Owl learns, it's no easy thing to be grounded in, and clear about just what your situation is

Case
Owl came forward one evening and called up to Raven on his perch, saying, "Jackrabbit Roshi was the first teacher you met."
Raven said, "That's right."
Owl said, "I've heard he said the best turning points come out of your own situation. Did you ever hear him say such a thing?"
Raven said, "What's your situation?"
Owl swung his head from side to side.
Raven asked, "What turning points come from that?".
Owl hooted.
Raven said, "I'm not convinced."
Verse
"During revolutions, scientists see new and different things when looking with familiar instruments in places they have looked before." --Thomas Kuhn

When did it happen? You
Becoming you, I becoming
This.
Is not change, though continuous,
Punctuated?
Were there not moments --
   a day, a year, or two --
Of seeing through a new glass,
Just as dark,
   maybe,
But that seemed less so?
Were we not given
Glimpses because of which we took
A yellow-woods road that
Made all the difference?
Did we not,
At some identifiable-afterwards time
Turn aside from the task of shoring up the imperium,
And set ourselves instead to construct new forms?
When?
When did it happen?
Might it be happening again?
Case by Robert Aitken; introduction and verse by Meredith Garmon
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2019-04-29

Apr 29 - May 5

Spring, week 6
"All beings are intrinsically endowed with buddha nature. Unenlightened beings cling to the illusion of a self. Life continues. Cause and effect are inevitable. Buddhas actually exist. Sentient beings and buddhas mutually interact. Self and other are not two. All beings are in the process of becoming buddhas." --Yamada Koun
Saturday Zen: Sat Apr May 4, 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 29 - Sun May 5:
  • Genjokoan 2, p. 14
  • Yuibutsu Yobutsu, p. 15
Opening and Closing for Mon Apr 22 - Sun May 19:
  • Opening: Invocation of Kanzeon, p. 3
  • Closing: Spring Everywhere, p. 26
See: BoWZ Westchester Sutra Book   ☙   Additional Texts   ☙   Boundless Way Zen Sutra Book, 4th ed.

Reading for Sat May 4
  • Primary Reading: Primary Reading: Koun Yamada, Zen: The Authentic Gate, Ch. 12a, "Eight Great Tenets of Mahayana Buddhism," 1st half, pp. 143-152.
  • Optional Secondary Reading: Thich Nhat Hanh, Old Path White Clouds, Ch. 41, "Has Anyone Seen My Mother?" p. 266.
For subsequent weeks (through Jun 1): See Schedule for Reading. Starting Jun 8: Pema Chodron, Comfortable with Uncertainty

This Week's Raven Tale: #99, Doubt -- HERE