This Week: Mar 24 - 29

"Intrinsically, we are perfect in being as we are. We are englightened. But until we really understand this, we will do deluded things."
- Charlotte Joko Beck, Nothing Special
Morning Zen: Mon-Fri: 7:30 - 8:30
Saturday Zen Service: 10:00 - 11:30

    The dharma talks/discussions each day are based on these readings. Read the chapter or koan in advance if you can. (If not, no worries.)

    Mon Mar 24. Charlotte Joko Beck, Nothing Special. Ch. 14, "Integration"

    Tue Mar 25. Koan of the Week. "Nanquan Draws a Circle." Blue Cliff Record #69.

    Wed Mar 26. Shunryu Suzuki, Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind. Ch. 17, "Mistakes in Practice."

    Thu Mar 27. Thich Nhat Hanh, The Heart of Buddha's Teaching. Ch. 15, "Right Concentration."

    Fri Mar 28. Taizan Maezumi & Bernie Glassman, On Zen Practice: Body, Breath & Mind. Ch. 6, "What is Sesshin?"

    Sat Mar 29. Diamond Sutra (trans. Red Pine), chapter 6.

    Blue Cliff Record #69

    Nanquan, Guizong, and Mayu set out together to pay their respects to the National Teacher Nanyang Huizhong.
    On their way [halfway there] Nansen drew a circle on the ground and said, "If you can say something, then let's go farther."
    Guizong seated himself [i.e., in zazen posture] in the circle.
    Mayu made an informal bow.
    Nanquan said, "If it is so, then let's not go any farther."
    Guizong said, "What is this all about?" [i.e., "What's going on in your mind?"]

    1. Of all the Zen masters, adepts, and teachers we meet in the 3 collections (Gateless Gate, Blue Cliff Record, and Book of Serenity), Nanyang Huizhong (675? - 775) was the only one appointed "National Teacher" -- that is, he resided in or near the Imperial palace and was the Emperor's spiritual teacher. Nanquan (b. 748), Guizong (b. 750), and Mayu (b. 760) were three students of Mazu (709-788). They would have been fairly young, and on a journey to visit the much older National Teacher. It was a sort of pilgrimage for them. The action of this case, then, occurs in the midst of pilgrimage. In some sense we are all in the midst of a pilgrimage. What is your pilgrimage right now? (And what qualities make a trip a pilgrimage?)

    2. Nanquan stops the pilgrimage and draws a circle on the ground. What might the circle represent?

    3. Nanquan says, "If you can say something, then let's go farther." How do you answer Nanquan's question?

    4. When Nanquan says, "If it is is, then let' not go any farther," is he approving or disapproving of the display Guizong and Mayu have made?

    5. What does Guizong's final question reveal?

    Xuedou's Verse
    Yuchi's arrow shoots the monkey
    Circling the tree, how exceedingly direct!
    A thousand and ten thousand --
    Who has ever hit the mark?
    Calling them together, he beckons them, "Come, let's go back;"
    He stops climbing on the road of Caoqi [where Nanyang Huizhong lived]
    (Xuedou also says, "The road of Caoqi is level and even; why stop climbing?")

    Hotetsu's Verse
    Say something? Not me.
    The nothing I'd say: "Then let's go back."
    As I shouldered my knapsack
    And continued forward.
    Or maybe back.

    * * *
    The "Koan of the Week" is drawn from these three koan collections.

    "Gateless Gate" (a.k.a. "Wumenguan," "Wu-men-kuan," "Mumonkan").

    "Blue Cliff Record" (a.k.a.. "Biyan Lu," "Pi-yen Lu," "Hekiganroku").

    "Book of Serenity" (a.k.a. "Book of Equanimity," "Congrong Lu," "Ts'ung-jung Lu," "Shoyoroku").

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