2019-09-28

Sabbatical Replacement

Meredith Garmon is on sabbatical from 2019 Oct 1 to 2020 Apr 1. He will be in residence at Great Vow Zen Monastery in Clatskanie, OR for these six months.

The Saturday morning, 10:00am, Zen practice -- room 24 or Community UU Congregation, 468 Rosedale Ave, White Plains, NY -- will continue under the guidance of Seth Zuiho Segall.

Seth will send regular email news about what's up at Boundless Way Zen Westchester. To get on his email list, email him at sethzuihosegall -at- gmail -dot- com.

We are now revisiting Shunryo Suzuki's Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind. We'll be looking at the chapters below on the date indicated.

2019
Oct 5 -- Breathing
Oct 12 -- Control
Oct 19 -- Mind Waves
Oct 26 -- Mind Weeds
Nov 2 -- The Marrow of Zen
Nov 9 -- No Dualism
Nov 16 -- Bowing
Nov 23 -- Nothing Special
Nov 30 -- Single-minded Way
Dec 7 -- Repetition
Dec 14 -- Zen and Excitement
Dec 21 -- Right Effort
Dec 28 -- No Trace

2020
Jan 4 -- God Giving
Jan 11 -- Mistakes in Practice
Jan 18 -- Limiting Your Activity
Jan 25 -- Study Yourself
Feb 1 -- To Polish a Tile
Feb 8 -- Constancy
Feb 15 -- Communication
Feb 22 -- Negative and Positive
Feb 29 -- Nirvana, the Waterfall
Mar 7 -- Traditional Zen Spirit
Mar 14 -- Transiency
Mar 21 -- The Quality of Being
Mar 28 -- Naturalness

BoWZ Westchester Sutra Book

2019-09-25

Sep 23 - 29

Autumn, week 1
"These forms are not the means of obtaining the right state of mind. To take this posture i itself to have the right state of mind. There is no need to obtain some special state of mind." --Shunryu Suzuki
Saturday Zen: Sat Sep 28, 10:00a - noon
room 24
Community UU
468 Rosedale Ave
White Plains, NY
Practice to be led by Meredith Garmon

Chants for Mon Sep 23 - Sun Sep 29:
  • Precepts, p. 6
  • The Four Commitments, p. 7
  • Fourfold Commitment to Racial and Social Justice, p. 7
Opening and Closing for Mon Sep 9 - Sun Oct 6:
  • Opening: Clear Mind, p. 4
  • Closing: Your True Self is the World, p. 28
See: BoWZ Westchester Sutra Book   ☙   Additional Texts   ☙   Boundless Way Zen Sutra Book, 4th ed.

Reading for Sat Sep 28:
  • Shunryu Suzuki, Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind, "Posture"
This Week's Raven Tale:
  • #116, Greed, Hatred, and Ignorance -- HERE

Raven 116: Greed, Hatred, and Ignorance

When Raven was just starting on the path, she visited Moose Roshi -- as well as Jackrabbit Roshi and Prairie Dog Roshi -- before settling down under the tutelage of Brown Bear Roshi. In #93, we learned that, "Raccoon was a student of Moose Roshi at Cedarford, but he visited the Tallspruce community occasionally."

Set aside for now the possibility that in the present case Raven is being snide, arch, or mordant. Assume that she deeply respects and admires the elder roshi.

Buddhist literature identifies "three poisons": raga (greed, lust, desire, attachment), dvesha (hatred, anger, aversion), and moha (delusion, ignorance, confusion). These three are the root of all other kleshas (mental states that cloud the mind and manifest in unwholesome actions). Their opposites are dana (generosity), metta (loving-kindness), and prajna (wisdom).
  • The Sangiti Sutta (Digha Nikaya 33), lists sets of three things, including: "Three unwholesome roots: of raga, dvesha, moha."
  • In the Sammādiṭṭhi Sutta (Majjhima Nikaya 9), Sariputta says, "And what is the root of the unwholesome? Greed is a root of the unwholesome; hate is a root of the unwholesome; delusion is a root of the unwholesome."
  • In the Itivuttaka Sutta 3.1 (Khuddaka Nikaya), the Buddha says, “Monks, there are these three roots of what is unskillful. Which three? Greed as a root of what is unskillful, aversion as a root of what is unskillful, delusion as a root of what is unskillful. These are the three roots of what is unskillful. Greed, aversion, delusion destroy the self-same person of evil mind from whom they are born, like the fruiting of the bamboo."
  • In the Titthiya Sutta (Angutara Nikaya 3:69), the Buddha explains that raga arises "for one who attends improperly to a beautiful object;" dvesha arises "for one who attends improperly to a repulsive object;" and moha arises "for one who attends improperly to things."
So how is it, as Moose Roshi says, that greed, hatred, and ignorance are themselves Buddha-nature? "Buddha nature pervades the entire universe, existing right here, now," (as Sutra books in Zen Centers throughout the English-speaking world declare), so where else would greed, hatred, and ignorance come from? Our task is to "attend properly" to them, appreciating that all things have their place. Properly attending immunizes us from their poisonousness.

Case
Moose Roshi said to his students, "Greed, hatred, and ignorance are themselves Buddha-nature."
On one of his visits, Raccoon asked Raven about this.
Raven said, "Moose oughta know."
Verse
"Loving makes lovely"

I thought I overheard
someone on the morning subway say.
The way she said it,
and the glance I had of her
and her companion,
Told me this was not a beauty tip.
She meant the beloved is lovely.

Visible through the window, the high rises sang,
"With this power you have,
How does your life admit of unloveliness?"
Case by Robert Aitken; introduction and verse by Meredith Garmon
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2019-09-19

Sep 16 - 22

Summer, week 13
"In the beginner's mind there are many possibilities, but in the expert's there are few." --Shunryu Suzuki
Saturday Zen: Sat Sep 21, 10:00a - noon
room 24
Community UU
468 Rosedale Ave
White Plains, NY
Practice to be led by Meredith Garmon

Chants for Mon Sep 16 - Sun Sep 22:
  • Kyodo's Healing, p. 24
  • Dahui's Dim and Dull, p. 25
  • The Compassionate Heart of Wisdom, p. 25
Opening and Closing for Mon Sep 9 - Sun Oct 6:
  • Opening: Clear Mind, p. 4
  • Closing: Your True Self is the World, p. 28
See: BoWZ Westchester Sutra Book   ☙   Additional Texts   ☙   Boundless Way Zen Sutra Book, 4th ed.

Reading for Sat Sep 21:
  • Shunryu Suzuki, Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind, "Prologue"
This Week's Raven Tale:
  • #115, Liberation -- HERE

Raven 115: Liberation

In #111, Woodpecker asked, "What does it mean to cross to the other shore?" I commented then that Woodpecker should know better than to ask such questions, but Raven answered, "Flowers crowd the cliffs." Nevertheless,  in #112, Woodpecker asked, "What is the Way?"

Unable to grasp the many kind explanations Raven has already given, Woodpecker now asks yet another variation on the same question. Raven, whose compassion knows no bounds, patiently explains.

Case
Helping Raven arrange the flowers before a meeting, Woodpecker asked, "What's liberation?"
Raven said, "Another couple of daffodils on this side, I think."
Woodpecker said "You're not answering my question."
Raven said, "Daffodils."
Verse
The orange five-ball, rolling across the green felt,
Its vector determined by
angle and magnitude of the force that acted upon it:
So utterly free, so totally liberated.
I, watching, cue stick in hand:
Another matter.
Case by Robert Aitken; introduction and verse by Meredith Garmon
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2019-09-12

Sep 9 - 15

Summer, week 12
"We use our daily activity as a shield against the fundamental ambiguity of our situation, expending tremendous energy trying to ward off impermanence and death. We don't like it that our bodies change shape. We don't like it that we age. The Buddhist teachings encourage us to relax gradually and wholeheartedly into the ordinary and obvious truth of change. We no longer believe that there are people who have managed to avoid uncertainty." --Pema Chodron
Saturday Zen: Sat Sep 14, 10:00a - noon
room 24
Community UU
468 Rosedale Ave
White Plains, NY
Practice to be led by Meredith Garmon

Chants for Mon Sep 9 - Sun Sep 15:
  • Hakuin's Song of Zazen, p. 23
  • Great Doubt, p. 23
  • Taego's Days Like Lighting, p. 23
Opening and Closing for Mon Sep 9 - Sun Oct 6:
  • Opening: Clear Mind, p. 4
  • Closing: Your True Self is the World, p. 28
See: BoWZ Westchester Sutra Book   ☙   Additional Texts   ☙   Boundless Way Zen Sutra Book, 4th ed.

Reading for Sat Sep 14:
  • Pema Chodron, Comfortable with Uncertainty, #14
  • Thich Nhat Hanh, Old Path White Clouds, Ch. 54
This Week's Raven Tale:
  • #114, Hide Yourself -- HERE

Raven 114: Hide Yourself

"Some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to him, 'Teacher, order your disciples to stop.'
He answered, 'I tell you, if these were silent, the stones would shout out.'" (Luke 19:39-40)
The stones are shouting in any case. You pour out from everything in the universe, as the whole universe pours out from you. Nothing can be hidden.

Case
One evening Wolverine appeared and said, "I've been thinking about hiding myself and fasting."
Raven kicked a twig at Wolverine and said, "Hide yourself in that."
Wolverine stepped behind Black Bear and said, "I'm hidden."
Raven said, "Piffle. You don't even dream of my meaning."
Wolverine was silent.
Woodpecker spoke up and said, "What is your meaning?"
Raven said, "Good question, Wolverine."
Verse
We named our car Blue,
and pronouned her,
as one does to recognize a personality,
part intrinsic, part projection,
as personalities are.

We wondered at the borders.
When the CD player stopped working,
Was that Blue? Or just Blue's?
"Where does a personality stop?"
I asked my spouse,
after I'd slid in a CD to no effect.
She turned on the left blinker, slowed for a turn,
and said to the oncoming traffic,
"Nowhere to hide."
Case by Robert Aitken; introduction and verse by Meredith Garmon
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2019-09-05

Sep 2 - 8

Summer, week 11
"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 Sep 7, 10:00a - noon
room 24
Community UU
468 Rosedale Ave
White Plains, NY
Practice to be led by Meredith Garmon

Chants for Mon Sep 2 - Sun Sep 8:
  • Shitou's Harmony of Relative and Absolute, p. 21
  • Shitou's Song of the Grass Roof Hermitage, p. 22
  • Torei's Bodhisattva's Vow p. 22
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 Sep 7:
  • Pema Chodron, Comfortable with Uncertainty, #13
  • Thich Nhat Hanh, Old Path White Clouds, Ch. 54
This Week's Raven Tale:
  • #113, Mara the Founder -- HERE

2019-09-04

Raven 113: Mara the Founder

In Buddhism, Mara is the demon who appeared to Siddhartha Gautama after his awakening and tried to tempt him to keep his enlightenment entirely to himself. Mara is "the personification of the forces antagonistic to enlightenment" (Nyanaponika Thera). As Raven recognizes, the forces antagonistic to enlightenment -- and thus also antagonistic to practice -- are also necessary for practice/enlightenment.

Our guides on the great way include the passions and delusions, blowing smoke from their ears, as well as our calm insight.

Case
Black Bear appeared one evening and said, "Tell me about Mara. I understand that he is the Great Destroyer."
Raven said, "The Great Founder."
Black Bear said, "That's what the Buddha Macaw is called."
Raven said, "Yes, but she never learned to blow smoke from her ears."
Verse
Psychotropic drugs
Utilize brain receptors
there for a reason.

Like that,
We are made to receive
our companions:
   ruby anger,
   ochre shame,
   blue-black fear,
   chartreuse envy,
   and all the rest.

Good medicine
In the right dose.
Case adapted from Robert Aitken; introduction and verse by Meredith Garmon
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2019-08-27

Aug 26 - Sep 1

Summer, week 10
"Out there are all the planets and all the galaxies and vast space, but we're stuck here in this cocoon. Moment after moment, we're deciding that we would rather stay in that cocoon than step out into that big space. Life in our cocoon is cozy and secure. We're in this zone of safety and that's what we consider life." --Pema Chodron
Saturday Zen: Sat Aug 31, 10:00a - noon
room 24
Community UU
468 Rosedale Ave
White Plains, NY
Practice to be led by TBA.
(Meredith will be away.)

Chants for Mon Aug 26 - Sun Sep 1:
  • Yongjia's Song of Realizing the Dao, p. 20
  • The Heart Sutra, p. 10
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 31:
  • Pema Chodron, Comfortable with Uncertainty, #12, "The Root of Suffering."
  • Thich Nhat Hanh, Old Path White Clouds, Ch. 53, "Dwelling in the Present Moment."
This Week's Raven Tale:
  • #112, What is the Way? (I) -- HERE

Raven 112: The Way

The Way is the way of ordinariness. The quest of specialness in ourselves and our experiences: this is what the Way abjures.

Case
The folks were sitting around one moonlit night, enjoying one another's company, when Woodpecker asked, "What is the Way?"
Raven said, "The Ancestors got up and stretched.
Woodpecker said, "Well, we do, too."
Raven nodded.
Woodpecker asked, "Then the Way is nothing special?"
Raven said, "I'll always remember this full-moon gathering."
Woodpecker said, "It's nice, but how is it special?"
Raven said, "The moon."
Verse
The Way

Picture it:
A woman, or a man, in a grocery store.
Also, a second shopper -- not hard to imagine.
Each peruses the shelves on aisle 6.
Each selects a jar of something
and is attended by the same thoughts and feelings
Running along the grooves of the same habits.
Implausible, I know, but imagine it.

If I then tell you that one of them does this
With greater freedom than the other,
I would mean that along with
The matching cognitive and affective processes
One of them is also listening,
Listening for a call
From far away or near, from any direction,
To something different
or the same.
Case by Robert Aitken; introduction and verse by Meredith Garmon
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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