2019-08-20

Aug 19 - 25

Summer, week 9
"When we become aware that we are thinking, we say to ourselves, "thinking," with an unbiased attitude and with tremendous gentleness. This is the point at which we can consciously train in gentleness and in developing a nonjudgmental attitude. Each time you say to yourself "thinking," you are cultivating unconditional friendliness toward whatever arises in your mind." --Pema Chodron
Saturday Zen: Sat Aug 24, 10:00a - noon
room 24
Community UU
468 Rosedale Ave
White Plains, NY
Practice to be led by Meredith Garmon

Chants for Mon Aug 19 - Sun Aug 25:
  • An Unending Truth, p. 19
  • The Three Marks of Dharma, p. 19
  • Loving-Kindness Sutra, p. 20
Opening and Closing for Mon Aug 12 - Sun Sep 8:
  • Opening: The Essence of Atonement, p. 4
  • Closing: The Way of Tenderness, p. 27
See: BoWZ Westchester Sutra Book   ☙   Additional Texts   ☙   Boundless Way Zen Sutra Book, 4th ed.

Reading for Sat Aug 24:
  • Pema Chodron, Comfortable with Uncertainty, #10, "Sitting Meditation."
  • Thich Nhat Hanh, Old Path White Clouds, Ch. 52, "Fields of Merit."
This Week's Raven Tales:
  • #110, The Proper Presentation -- HERE
  • #111, To the Other Shore -- HERE

Raven 111: To the Other Shore

Woodpecker has been with Raven since the beginning of the Tallspruce community. She should know better than to ask "what does it mean...?" questions. Has she not grasped by now that everything is a metaphor for everything else? Rocks represent wrens, as do fence posts. Oak leaves represent kitchen sinks, as do stars. So what can be gained from asking what something means?

As for the other shore, the raft you are using to get there has long since sunk.

Case
One evening Woodpecker asked, "What does it mean to cross to the other shore?"
Raven said, "Flowers crowd the cliffs."
Verse
Friend, we have walked around this Mobius strip
A thousand times, thou and I.
You ask me about the other side.
Other than what? I say.
Trust the walking, I say,
And never ignore a flower.
Case by Robert Aitken; introduction and verse by Meredith Garmon
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2019-08-17

Raven 110: The Proper Presentation

Grouse previously appeared in: 12, 21, 41, 44, 78, 88, and 108.

It is enough that you are what you are, ceaselessly scattering your manifestation across the landscape. You might notice that this is enough. Or you might not. That's enough, too.

Case
Grouse spoke up one evening and said, "Everybody else seems to know what is going on here, but I'm in the dark. What would be a proper presentation?"
Raven said, "Anything goes."
Grouse said, "I'm at a loss."
Raven said, "Ding, ding, dang, dang, bong, bong, clank, clank."
Grouse clucked.
Raven said, "Hey, Grouse, not bad."
Verse
Isn't it all, all, all
A series of bumping into things?
Bits collide, thence
Carom, split, merge.
Birth: bump.
Life: one bump after another.
Death: bump.
Nonliving matter: bumpity bump.
Here against this,
There off of that.
The music of the spheres,
On Earth as in heaven, goes
Ding, dang, bong, clank.
Case by Robert Aitken; introduction and verse by Meredith Garmon
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2019-08-05

Aug 5 - 11

Summer, week 7
"Sitting meditation is a method of cultivating unconditional friendliness toward ourselve and for parting the curtain of indifference that distances us from the suffering of others." --Pema Chodron
Saturday Zen: Sat Aug 10, 10:00a - noon
room 24
Community UU
468 Rosedale Ave
White Plains, NY
Practice to be led by Meredith Garmon

Chants for Mon Aug 5 - Sun Aug 11:
  • Fukanzazenji, p. 16
  • Heart Sutra, p. 16
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 Aug 10:
  • Primary Reading: Pema Chodron, Comfortable with Uncertainty, #7, "Why Meditate?"
  • Optional Secondary Reading: Thich Nhat Hanh, Old Path White Clouds, Ch. 50, "A Handful of Bran."
This Week's Raven Tale: #109, Facing In, Facing Out -- HERE

Raven 109: Facing In, Facing Out

Raccoon, a student of Moose Roshi, makes his third appearance. He first appeared in #93, where Raven asked him what Moose Roshi was teaching lately. "The practice of Zen is the perfection of character," he said.

He also appeared in #98, where he prompted a dissertation from Raven on he relation between everyday life and zazen.

Here, however, his question prompts no answer at all -- or an answer presented as a rebuff.

When Raven looks around, is she facing in or facing out? Does your original face face in or face out?

Case
Raccoon visited again from Cedarford and asked, "Why do some Zen groups sit facing into the circle, and some sit facing out?"
Raven looked around and asked, "Any other questions?"
Raccoon sat back and was silent.
Verse
Questions

Questions to ask for the sake of the answer:
Which way to Haymarket Street?
Have you seen my keys?
What's the diagnosis, Doc?

There's a going involved.

Other questions might be more for the sake of the question:
What am I aware of?
Who hears?
What is mind?

There's a staying involved.

There are also times I ask,
Keen neither on answer nor on question.
I want to hear your voice responding
And be the one who prompted you.
Why is that?
Case by Robert Aitken; introduction and verse by Meredith Garmon
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2019-08-03

Jul 29 - Aug 4

Summer, week 6
"When we start to meditate or to work with any kind of spiritual discipline, we often think that somehow we're going to improve, which is a subtle aggresion against who we really are." --Pema Chodron
Saturday Zen: Sat Aug 3, 10:00a - noon
room 24
Community UU
468 Rosedale Ave
White Plains, NY
Practice to be led by Meredith Garmon

Chants for Mon Jul 29 - Sun Aug 4:
  • Genjokoan 2, p. 14
  • Yobutsu Yuibutsu, p. 15
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, #6, "Loving-Kindness and Meditation."
  • Optional Secondary Reading: Thich Nhat Hanh, Old Path White Clouds, Ch. 49, "Earth's Lessons."
This Week's Raven Tale: #108, Jealous -- HERE

2019-08-01

Raven 108: Jealous

In #102, when Woodpecker asked about equanimity, Raven said, "I'm not a very good teacher." Here, she says it again, responding to Grouse's jealousy. She's not being self-deprecating. She's demonstrating equanimity and (non)jealousy, isn't she?

Case
Grouse sought out Raven privately and said, "Sometimes I feel jealous of other students who seem to understand things so much better than I do."
Raven said, "I'm not a very good teacher."
Grouse said, "I heard you were saying that."
Raven said, "It's okay."
Verse
Jealous

I: a kludgy machine that makes and
Remakes itself from found objects --
Copies of representations of parts of
Available models.
I glue together pretty bits, and
Grease moving parts.
Neither glue nor lubricant works very well.
I'm always falling apart, or jammed, or both,
which I call learning and growth.
Chunks break off, get lost in the universe's sofa cushions,
Or left in my other pants.
Other bits get buried, scratched, bent as the parts
rearrange, or new ones are acquired.

The process depends on comparison,
which, increasingly abstract -- mostly --
Continues to drive, and bless, me.
Case by Robert Aitken; introduction and verse by Meredith Garmon
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2019-07-25

Jul 22 - 28


Summer, week 5
"We are a poignant mixture of something that isn't all that beautiful and yet is dearly loved. Whether this is our attitude toward ourselves or toward others, it is the key to learning how to love." --Pema Chodron
Saturday Zen: Sat Jul 27, 10:00a - noon
room 24
Community UU
468 Rosedale Ave
White Plains, NY
Practice to be led by Meredith Garmon

Chants for Mon Jul 22 - Sun Jul 28:
  • Genjokoan 1, 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, #5, "Loving-Kindness: The Essential Practice."
  • Optional Secondary Reading: Thich Nhat Hanh, Old Path White Clouds, Ch. 48, "Covering Mud with Straw."
This Week's Raven Tale: #107, Grace -- HERE

Raven 107: Grace

We encountered Rev. Crane once before -- in #33, which prompted the Tallspruce community to wonder how holy spirit compared to Buddha nature.

What, indeed, about grace? The loveliness of life appears without our earning it or deserving it. The pain and the very possibility of life appear without our earning it or deserving it. Everything appears without our earning it or deserving it -- nothing that happens is ever earned or deserved. Is there an intending agent making it happen? How would it matter? It would matter only if the intending agent could be induced somehow to smile upon us. With grace prevailing everywhere, inducement is nowhere to be found.

Case
Reverend Crane visited the circle one evening and asked, "What role does God have in our practice?"
Raven said, "None."
Crane said, "But the Bible says God concerns godself even with the sparrow's fall."
Raven said, "Does it say God intervenes?"
Crane asked, "What about grace?"
Raven said, "The east wind brings soft showers."
Porcupine murmured, "The ground gets wet."
There was a general silence. Then Woodpecker said, "We seem to talk a lot about Christianity these days."
Raven said, "We're not talking about Christianity."
Verse
by Hafiz
Now is the time to know
That all that you do is sacred.

Now, why not consider
A lasting truce with yourself and God.

Now is the time to understand
That all your ideas of right and wrong
Were just a child’s training wheels
To be laid aside
When you can finally live
With veracity
And love.

Hafiz is a divine envoy
Whom the Beloved
Has written a holy message upon.

My dear, please tell me,
Why do you still
Throw sticks at your heart
And God?

What is it in that sweet voice inside
That incites you to fear?

Now is the time for the world to know
That every thought and action is sacred

This is the time
For you to deeply compute the impossibility
That there is anything
But Grace.

Now is the season to know
That everything you do
Is sacred.
Case adapted from Robert Aitken; introduction by Meredith Garmon; verse by Hafiz
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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
"Come now, and let us reason together, saith the Lord." --Isaiah 1:18

Yahweh, in Isaiah's vision, chastised a sinful nation,
Promised reward for obedience, punishment otherwise.
This is not reasoning; bribes and threats
Are not arguments.

Suppose instead: Come, let us remember that we suffer together.
Meanwhile, karma accumulates as it does,
And we of shared loss
Are not hindered.
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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