October 2007 Archives

SIT-A-LONG with JUNDO: Zazenkai I

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We will have a few talks over the coming week, in preparation for our first 'Treeleaf One-Day Online Zazenkai Retreat', scheduled for Saturday, November 10th (and available in recorded form after that, for participation any time 'On Demand').

If you would like more information on the Retreat, please look here on our Forum:


And if you will be participating in the Retreat, either on that day or later, please print out this file (PDF) of introductory pointers:


In the coming days, some additional materials (including the 'Chant Book') will be available for download




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SIT-A-LONG with JUNDO: Trick or Treat

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ANNOUNCEMENT: Please see information on Treeleaf's
1st 'Online' Zazenkai One-Day Retreat
to be held Saturday, November 10th.
You can join us live if you wish, that day from your home,
or another time 'On Demand'.

CLICK HERE FOR INFORMATION



It's Halloween!





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SIT-A-LONG with JUNDO & KEITH

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Our guest today is an educator, a husband, a father, a friend, a great fellow

Keith

(who I gave the Dharma Name 'Dainin' ... 'Great Patience' ... at his Jukai)


That's him with 'Fishy', his famous puppet that he uses to teach reading to kids at school.
(Keith is the one on the right)


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SIT-A-LONG with JUNDO: Eightfold Path II

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The second branch of the 'Eightfold Path' is 'Right Intention' ... also spoken of as 'Right Aspiration' 'Right Thought' or 'A Will to the Truth' ...

... This is not some "black/white" promise to find "the one right answer", to never make a mistake, or to always "do the one right thing".

Instead, it is an aspiration to, as best we can, seek for wholesome conduct through a commitment to Practice. We aim to live in a way, as we can, (1) which softens and frees us from the dissatisfaction (Dukkha) brought about by inner desire and craving, while embracing life 'just as it is', (2) which nurtures good will and loving-kindness, reducing feelings of anger and aversion, and (3) which aspires to the avoidance of harm through thoughts, words or deeds, and to the development of Compassion.

In other words ... it is just the will to live, as best we can, a peaceful, healthful and nonharmful life ... at one with life and the world as-they-are ... through our Buddhist Practice.



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SIT-A-LONG with JUNDO: Eightfold Path I

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The first branch of the 'Eightfold Path' is 'Right View' (sometimes called 'Right Perspective' or 'Right Understanding') ...

... It is to study and to come to understand the world through fundamental Buddhist perspectives and philosophies, and to make those ways of seeing a natural part of one's life. The Four Noble Truths, The Eightfold Path, The Precepts, the doctrines of Impermanence, the 'Middle Way', Non-existence of the 'Self', Cause and Effect, 'Dependent Origination', Buddhist views on the workings of the Mind ... the insights of later teachers such as Master Dogen ... the list goes on ...

It's not merely a matter of intellectual understanding, but of views which become a natural part of countless aspects of our lives.

Our Zazen Practice brings life to these doctrines, while each doctrine helps give shape to our Zazen.



The Gesture of Teaching (Dharmacakra Mudra)
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As the Fourth Noble Truth, 'medicine' for Dukkha is prescribed via the 'Eightfold Path' ...

... Although the path is numbered sequentially, it is generally not seen as as series of steps, but instead (in modern terms) a 'holistic lifestyle' which is "to be developed more or less simultaneously, ... all linked together and each helping the cultivation of the others" (Buddhist Scholar Walpola Rahula in 'What the Buddha Taught'). For that reason, it is represented as the eight spokes of the Dharma Wheel, each supporting the entirety

The eight elements are typically divided into three groups ...

  • Wisdom (Sanskrit: prajñā)
1. Right View
2. Right Intention
  • Ethical Conduct (Sanskrit: śīla)
3. Right Speech
4. Right Action
5. Right Livelihood
  • Mental Discipline (Sanskrit: samādhi)
6. Right Effort
7. Right Mindfulness
8. Right Concentration



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SIT-A-LONG with JUNDO: Four Noble Truths - III

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An alternative wording of the Four Noble Truths is [emphasis added] ...

1. Suffering exists
2. Suffering arises from attachment to desires
3. Suffering ceases when attachment to desires ceases
4. Freedom from suffering is possible by practicing the Eightfold Path

Quiz: The 'self' strongly desires X, but the world gives Y instead (e.g., a 'failure' when 'success' was desired). Great dissatisfaction, disappointment, fear, grief and/or frustration are the result. In such cases, which of the following are an effective 'medicine' to desire and suffering, and a fruit of our 'Just Sitting' Zazen Practice? (Note: several answers will overlap):

A. For the 'self' to learn to redirect its desire from X toward Y or Q (a third, available object).
B. For the 'self' to soften or drop its attachment toward X.

C. For the 'self' to develop equanimity and acceptance toward any and all outcomes.
D. For the inner desires, drives and cravings to be calmed and, thus, to lose their force.
E. For the
inner desires, drives and cravings to be, when needed, forcibly restrained by willpower.
F. For the 'self' to drop all thought of both 'X' and 'Y' from mind.
G. For the sense of 'self' to soften, or fully drop away.
H. All of the above -- simultaneously or in various combinations at different times.

ANSWER: H

My point: Practice provides a whole bag of available tricks.



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SIT-A-LONG with JUNDO: Four Noble Truths - II

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In life, there's sickness, old age, death and loss ... other very hard times ...

But that's not why 'Life is Suffering'. Not at all, said the Buddha.

Instead, it's sickness, but only when we refuse the condition ...
...old age, if we long for youth ...
... death, because we cling to life ...
... loss , when we cannot let go ...
... violated expectations, because we wished otherwise ...

Our 'dissatisfaction', 'disappointment', 'unease' and 'frustration' ... Dukkha ... arises as a state of mind, as our demands and wishes for how things 'should be' or 'if only would be for life to be happy' differ from 'the way things are'. The gap is the source of Dukkha. Our Practice closes the gap

What's more, even happiness can be a source of Dukkha if we cling to the happy state, demand that it stay, are attached to good news, material successes, pleasures and the like ... refusing the way life may otherwise go.




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SIT-A-LONG with JUNDO: Four Noble Truths - I

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The heart of the Buddha's Teachings ... The Four Noble Truths ...

... so elegant and direct, thus the very simplicity of the teaching can be lost ...


Life is Dukkha,
there is a cause for Dukkha,
there is a way to the cessation of Dukkha,
that way is the Noble Eightfold Path


So, what is 'Dukkha'?

No one English word captures the full depth and range of the Pali term Dukkha. It is sometimes rendered as 'suffering', as in 'life is suffering'. But perhaps it's better expressed as 'dissatisfaction', 'anxiety', 'disappointment' 'unease at imperfection' or 'frustration', terms that wonderfully convey a subtlety of meaning.

Your 'self' wishes this world to be X, yet this world is not X. The mental state that may result to the 'self' from this disparity is Dukkha.

Shakyamuni Buddha gave many examples ... sickness (when we do not wish to be sick), old age (when we long for youth), death (if we cling to life), loss of a loved one (as we cannot let go), violated expectations, the failure of happy moments to last (though we wish them to last). Even joyous moments ... such as happiness and good news, treasure or pleasant times ... can be a source of suffering if we cling to them, are attached to those things.

In ancient stories, Dukkha is often compared to a chariot's or potter's wheel that will not turn smoothly as it revolves. The opposite, Sukkha, is a wheel that spins smoothly and noiselessly, without resistance as it goes.


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SIT-A-LONG with JUNDO: Florida Friends

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Today we're joined for Zazen by several old friends from the Southern Palm Zen Group, where I've been sitting
for several years and helping sometimes the head priest there (Doshin Cantor) when in Florida. I may not have reason to head back to Florida much after this trip, so I am so glad to get these guys together. Everyone got so serious looking when the camera came on!! But they're a fun and crazy bunch of 'Zenatics', down in the Sunshine State ...


(Tomorrow, we'll begin a series of short talks&sittings on the Four Noble Truths & the Eightfold Path. Please sit-a-long.)

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SIT-A-LONG with JUNDO: SCANDAL!!

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Today's subject is ...

SEX
MONEY
POWER
BIGOTRY
SCANDAL
&
ZEN

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"SID"-A-LONG with JUNDO


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Another very honored guest today ...

Ram Dass?

Bernie Glassman Roshi?





Swami Satchidananda?

Or this wiseman with a beard ...





Please "Sid"-a-Long and find out!
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SIT-A-LONG with JUNDO: Fukanzazengi C

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To mark the end of our talks on Fukanzazengi, I thought to chant the original text (and talk a little about chanting).

I'm no Pavarotti, so you may wish to consider this as practice in sitting with disturbing noises: e.g., car alarms, dogs barking, babies' crying, Jundo's singing voice ...

If, by some chance, you would like to try chanting along, you can print out this (supplied by another teacher in Nishijima Roshi's Lineage, my brother Ven. Eric Rommeluère of Paris). As you will hear, each syllables gets its own beat, and those syllables with a mark over the vowel (and syllables ending in the letter 'n' , and those ending in a double consonant like 'tt' or 'ss') get a double beat. Due to mistransciptions, the version in the English alphabet here may be slightly different on a couple of syllables from the Japanese version I will be using. And I may get tongue tied once in awhile, so please keep along!)



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Fukanzazengi in Master Dogen's own hand.
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SIT-A-LONG with JUNDO: Fukanzazengi XCIX

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Continue to practice the ineffable, live in such way.





I beseech you, noble friends in learning through experience, do not grow used to images and doubt the real dragon. Apply yourself to the path which is directly indicated and straightforward. Revere people who are beyond study and free of the intention to achieve. Accord with the enlightened state of the buddhas. Be a rightful heir to the balanced state of the ancestors. If you practice the ineffable for a long time, you will be ineffable. The treasure-house will open naturally, and you will receive and use [its contents] as you like. [Nishijima]

Please, honored followers of Zen, long accustomed to groping for the elephant, do not doubt the true dragon. Devote your energies to the way of direct pointing at the real. Revere the one who has gone beyond learning and is free from effort. Accord with the enlightenment of all the buddhas; succeed to the samadhi of all the ancestors. Continue to live in such a way, and you will be such a person. The treasure store will open of itself, and you may enjoy it freely.[SZTP]


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SIT-A-LONG with JUNDO: Fukanzazengi XCVIII

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If you would like to know how Dogen's methods, and 'Just Sitting' Zazen,
differ from other Buddhist schools and spiritual teachings, the following's the clearest I can make it:



Dogen Zenji's teachings, and the practice of 'Just Sitting' Shikantaza, turn Zazen on its head ... and there's a very good reason for that:

Imagine you are living in a house that is not satisfactory to you, and thus you wish to find another house that is 'perfect' for you, that truly will make you happy. There are two ways to do that:

One way is to work very hard to search for such a home-of-your-dreams, to acquire it through effort, then find a way to move there to stay. You may even have to leave much of your current life behind. Many forms of Buddhist meditation and other spiritual practices are searches for a new house or place to reside, existing somewhere in our dreams. (Much of our life, in fact, is a non-stop quest to achieve things outside ourselves that will make us happy).

The other way (Master Dogen's way) is simply to drop all resistance to the house you have been living in all along, to realize that there is nowhere to 'go' in life, to cease all efforts to add to or take away from the structure, to let go of the ego's insisting on how things "should be" in order for the house to be "good" ... Then you find, in dropping that resistance, that the house you have always been in is "perfectly what it is", and you can be joyful right where you are. You can be content with that house even as, hand in hand, there is still much serious repair work to do (an acceptance-without-acceptance of the leaky windows, spiders and creaky doors. There is nothing to prevent your fixing those, even as you accept their existence).

This is not mere resignation, but one's current place revealing itself as a hidden palace
(despite the scattered and often terrible defects)


Dogen Zenji taught a path of finding our 'perfect home' through Zazen ... not by trying to 'get somewhere' or to reach some special state ... but by finding our home right on the Zafu, here and now. We drop all attempt to change, to attain, to experience something else, and we do not judge "good" or "bad" ... thus, we radically embrace things 'just as they are'.

In fact, said Master Dogen, just sitting Zazen ... merely crossing the legs and stretching the back ... is already 'Enlightenment Itself'. This 'goal-lessness' is radical: Dogen hands us the prize automatically, from the very start of the game. As we have the prize, there is no need to look even for that.

Most people think that we're practicing Zazen in order to become like the Buddhas and Ancestors, to attain what they attained, to arrive where they arrived ...

In Master Dogen's view, merely crossing the legs and straightening the back ... not only is an experiencing of what Buddhas and Ancestors experienced ... but is the natural state of being and manifesting, right here and now, the Buddhas and Ancestors themselves.

If you give up, through and through, all longing and desire for change, drop your escape ... in the complete sitting of Zazen just as it is ... you --
are
-- the Buddhas and all the Ancestors. By abandoning the search, there is the finding.

I beseech you, noble friends in learning through experience, do not grow used to images and doubt the real dragon. Apply yourself to the path which is directly indicated and straightforward. Revere people who are beyond study and free of the intention to achieve. Accord with the enlightened state of the buddhas. Be a rightful heir to the balanced state of the ancestors. If you practice the ineffable for a long time, you will be ineffable. The treasure-house will open naturally, and you will receive and use [its contents] as you like. [Nishijima]

Please, honored followers of Zen, long accustomed to groping for the elephant, do not doubt the true dragon. Devote your energies to the way of direct pointing at the real. Revere the one who has gone beyond learning and is free from effort. Accord with the enlightenment of all the buddhas; succeed to the samadhi of all the ancestors. Continue to live in such a way, and you will be such a person. The treasure store will open of itself, and you may enjoy it freely.[SZTP]


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SIT-A-LONG with JUNDO & WILL

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We have a visitor from China today ...


Not the Emperor Huangdi ...




... or a Shaolin Monk ...


... LIVE from just south of Inner Mongolia ...






WILL ...
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SIT-A-LONG with JUNDO: Family Sunday

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It's Sunday, and my wife said she'd like to sit with us today. She's usually a bit camera-shy, but maybe I can get her to sit here more often.


(Contrary to Leon's comment, Mina is not always grumpy and I am not always happy. She's be really grumpy if I didn't say that ... which would make me very unhappy).

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SIT-A-LONG with JUNDO: Fukanzazengi XCVII

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In an old Chinese story ...



A man was a collector of paintings and carvings of dragons. He loved to talk about dragons, and to read every book about dragons. He would debate endlessly, with other dragon collectors, what makes and does not make a dragon.
One day, a real dragon heard about the man and thought to pay his respects to such a great fan. He thus flew down to the man's door.
The man, terrified at seeing an actual dragon before his eyes, ran away at first sight of the real thing.
The dragon, in return, reached out and sunk his teeth deep into the man's backside.


Moral of the Story -- Don't miss the real thing as it bites you on the butt



I beseech you, noble friends in learning through experience, do not grow used to images and doubt the real dragon. Apply yourself to the path which is directly indicated and straightforward. Revere people who are beyond study and free of the intention to achieve. Accord with the enlightened state of the buddhas. Be a rightful heir to the balanced state of the ancestors. If you practice the ineffable for a long time, you will be ineffable. The treasure-house will open naturally, and you will receive and use [its contents] as you like. [Nishijima]

Please, honored followers of Zen, long accustomed to groping for the elephant, do not doubt the true dragon. Devote your energies to the way of direct pointing at the real. Revere the one who has gone beyond learning and is free from effort. Accord with the enlightenment of all the buddhas; succeed to the samadhi of all the ancestors. Continue to live in such a way, and you will be such a person. The treasure store will open of itself, and you may enjoy it freely.[SZTP]


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SIT-A-LONG with JUNDO: Fukanzazengi XCVI

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A group of disciples went to the Buddha and said, "Sir, there are living here in Savatthi many wandering hermits, monks and scholars who indulge in constant dispute, some saying that the world is infinite and eternal and others that it is finite and not eternal, some saying that the soul dies with the body and others that it lives on forever, and so forth. What, Sir, would you say concerning them?"

The Buddha answered, "Once upon a time there was a certain king who called to his servant and said, 'Come, good fellow, go and gather together in one place all the men of Savatthi who were born blind... and show them an elephant.' 'Very good, sire,' replied the servant, and he did as he was told. He said to the blind men assembled there, 'Here is an elephant,' and to one man he presented the head of the elephant, to another its ears, to another a tusk, to another the trunk, the foot, back, tail, and tuft of the tail, saying to each one that that was the elephant.

"When the blind men had felt the elephant, the king went to each of them and said to each, 'Well, blind man, have you seen the elephant? Tell me, what sort of thing is an elephant?'

"Thereupon the men asserted that the elephant is like a pot (head), winnowing basket (ear), ploughshare (tusk), plough (trunk), granary (body), pillar (foot), mortar (back), pestle (tail), or brush (tip of the tail).

"Then they began to quarrel, shouting, 'Yes it is!' 'No, it is not!' 'An elephant is not that!' 'Yes, it's like that!' and so on, till they came to blows over the matter.

"Brethren, the king was delighted with the scene.

"Just so are these preachers, monks and scholars holding various views blind and unseeing.... In their ignorance they are by nature quarrelsome, wrangling, and disputatious, each maintaining reality is thus and thus."

Then the Exalted One rendered this meaning by uttering this verse of uplift,

      O how they cling and wrangle, some who claim
      'Preacher' or 'monk' as their honored name!
      For, quarreling, each to his own view clings.
      Such folk see only one side of a thing.

A Jundo Comment: Catholic, Protestant, Atheist, Conservative or Liberal Jew, Sunni and Shiite, Buddhist, whether Theravada, Zen ... Rinzai or Soto ... my own Lineage, myself: Do any of us see but swaths of the elephant, some narrow and some perhaps a bit more wide? Yet we debate and fight. Thus, we drop all thought of this and that ... leg or trunk or tusk ... and just sit, silently.

I beseech you, noble friends in learning through experience, do not grow used to images and doubt the real dragon. Apply yourself to the path which is directly indicated and straightforward. Revere people who are beyond study and free of the intention to achieve. Accord with the enlightened state of the buddhas. Be a rightful heir to the balanced state of the ancestors. If you practice the ineffable for a long time, you will be ineffable. The treasure-house will open naturally, and you will receive and use [its contents] as you like. [Nishijima]

Please, honored followers of Zen, long accustomed to groping for the elephant, do not doubt the true dragon. Devote your energies to the way of direct pointing at the real. Revere the one who has gone beyond learning and is free from effort. Accord with the enlightenment of all the buddhas; succeed to the samadhi of all the ancestors. Continue to live in such a way, and you will be such a person. The treasure store will open of itself, and you may enjoy it freely.[SZTP]


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SIT-A-LONG with JUNDO: Fukanzazengi XCV

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These words close The Diamond Sutra ...

So I say to you -
This is how to contemplate our conditioned existence in this fleeting world:

Like a tiny drop of dew, or a bubble floating in a stream;
Like a flash of lightning in a summer cloud,
Or a flickering lamp, an illusion, a phantom, or a dream.

So is all conditioned existence to be seen.

Thus spoke Buddha.



We have already received the essential pivot which is the human body: let us not pass time in vain. We are maintaining and relying upon the pivotal essence which is the Buddha's truth: who could wish idly to enjoy sparks [that fly] from a flint? What is more, the body is like a dewdrop on a blade of grass. Life passes like a flash of lightning. Suddenly it is gone. In an instant it is lost. [Nishijima]

You have gained the pivotal opportunity of human form. Do not pass your days and nights in vain. You are taking care of the essential activity of the buddha way. Who would take wasteful delight in the spark from a flintstone? Besides, form and substance are like the dew on the grass, the fortunes of life like a dart of lightning-emptied in an instant, vanished in a flash.[SZTP]


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SIT-A-LONG with JUNDO: Fukanzazengi XCIV

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I want to jump back a few lines in 'Fukanzazengi', because similar questions have come up from a couple of folks:

Is our practice at Treeleaf "Western" Buddhism or "Internet/Global" Buddhism?

Is it the same as practice in Japan, China or India, or something different?

Is it different from the Zen of centuries past?

How does it compare to the Buddha's original practice of 2500 years ago?

Well, I am not sure what label to put on our Practice. Sometimes it is the same in outer form with the customs of other places and times, sometimes it is different. Many of our new, 'Western' ways may be --better-- than those of ancient days, a refinement upon the original teachings of the Buddha himself.

But that is just a matter of outer form, or the expression of teachings in words ...

The moment we sit Zazen,
realizing this very instant in Zazen as still and complete,
there is not the slightest gap,
there is no difference ...
Your sitting Zazen, is the Buddhas and Ancestors sitting Zazen.

Broadly then, in this world and in other worlds, in India and in China, all similarly maintain the Buddha-posture, and solely indulge in the fundamental custom: we simply devote ourselves to sitting, and are caught by the still state. Although there are myriad distinctions and thousands of differences, we should just pursue the truth through Zen balance. Why should we abandon our own sitting platform, to come and go without purpose through the dusty borders of foreign lands? If we misplace one step we pass over the moment of the present. [Nishijima]

In general, in our world and others, in both India and China, all equally hold the buddha-seal[*]. While each lineage expresses its own style, they are all simply devoted to sitting, totally blocked in resolute stability. Although they say that there are ten thousand distinctions and a thousand variations, they just wholeheartedly engage the way in zazen. Why leave behind the seat in your own home to wander in vain through the dusty realms of other lands? If you make one misstep, you stumble past what is directly in front of you. [SZTP]

[*]Here, "Buddha Seal" means the Buddha-mind seal, or Buddha’s mind of enlightenment. The Chinese character for "seal" is mudra in Sanskrit, a bodily or hand position which is used in meditation and other ritualistic activities. It thus can mean Zazen itself, which is inseparable from Buddha's mind, as mind and body are one.

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SIT-A-LONG with JUNDO: Fukanzazengi XCIII

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While Zen Buddhism generally does not take a stand (one way or the other) on questions of diety and the origins of the universe ... and while we concern ourselves primarily with the life right before our eyes, here and now ... there are several perspectives that echo Judeo-Christian beliefs:

For example, while the Bible has a "Story of Creation", no such story of universal or earth creation is found in Zen Buddhism. On the other hand, Zen Buddhists do tend to some suspicion (given the chain of a priori events required in universal history for you and I to be alive right now ... and the seeming original unlikelihood of our having been born) that there is something 'special' (or even 'sacred') about our coming into existence, our being alive as self-reflective sentient beings.

Furthermore, while a believer in God, in a time of personal crisis, may entrust her fate to the "Hands of God" ... Buddhists may entrust their lives to "the universe" (or to some nameless whatever that is the source of that), believing that we came from that, ARE that ... feeling that events (having come 'this far') will go where they are going anyway.

Finally, since we do find ourselves alive in this world, our home ... (and though the 'Precepts' are not 'Commandments', and while standards of 'right' and 'wrong' may vary among people) ... we all tend to believe that human beings should live for the 'good', not killing, not stealing, not harming others, etc.


We have already received the essential pivot which is the human body: let us not pass time in vain. We are maintaining and relying upon the pivotal essence which is the Buddha's truth: who could wish idly to enjoy sparks [that fly] from flint? What is more, the body is like a dewdrop on a blade of grass. Life passes like a flash of lightning. Suddenly it is gone. In an instant it is lost. [Nishijima]

You have gained the pivotal opportunity of human form. Do not pass your days and nights in vain. You are taking care of the essential activity of the buddha way. Who would take wasteful delight in the spark from a flintstone? Besides, form and substance are like the dew on the grass, the fortunes of life like a dart of lightning-emptied in an instant, vanished in a flash.[SZTP]


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SIT-A-LONG with JUNDO & GREG

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Today, we'll sit with one of the true pillars of the Treeleaf's community ...

GREG !


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SIT-A-LONG with JUNDO: Fukanzazengi XCII

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In other words ... no need to travel to a distant monastery, nor to seek a far off teacher ...

no reason to buy another 'Zen' or 'Self-help' book, or watch another 'Sit-a-long with Jundo' ...


It is all right here, right now.




Where did you think it was?



Broadly then, in this world and in other worlds, in India and in China, all similarly maintain the Buddha-posture, and solely indulge in the fundamental custom: we simply devote ourselves to sitting, and are caught by the still state. Although there are myriad distinctions and thousands of differences, we should just pursue the truth through Zen balance. Why should we abandon our own sitting platform, to come and go without purpose through the dusty borders of foreign lands? If we misplace one step we pass over the moment of the present. [Nishijima]

In general, in our world and others, in both India and China, all equally hold the buddha-seal. While each lineage expresses its own style, they are all simply devoted to sitting, totally blocked in resolute stability. Although they say that there are ten thousand distinctions and a thousand variations, they just wholeheartedly engage the way in zazen. Why leave behind the seat in your own home to wander in vain through the dusty realms of other lands? If you make one misstep, you stumble past what is directly in front of you. [SZTP]


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SIT-A-LONG with JUNDO: Fukanzazengi XCI

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Zazen is boring, there is nothing to get out of it.

Some days are joyful or peaceful, some days are not.


So what attitude gets my backside over to that Zafu, day in and day out?


'Homeless' Kodo said
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Each and every step is our Practice, is our Life


Therefore, we do not discuss intelligence as superior and stupidity as inferior. Let us not choose between clever persons and dull ones. If we make effort devotedly, that is just wholehearted pursuit of the truth. Practice-and-experience is naturally untainted. The direction of effort becomes more balanced and constant. [Nishijima]


This being the case, intelligence or lack of it is not an issue; make no distinction between the dull and the sharp-witted. If you concentrate your effort single-mindedly, that in itself is wholeheartedly engaging the way. Practice-realization is naturally undefiled. Going forward is, after all, an everyday affair. [SZTP]


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SIT-A-LONG with JUNDO: Fukanzazengi XC

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If there is nothing to obtain, no place to go, why does Master Dogen speak of "the direction of effort", "going forward"?

And what is there to 'achieve' if there is nothing to achieve? Where are we trying to get to?



Attaining 'non-attainment' is a very great attainment



'Homeless' Kodo said
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If we don’t watch out, we’ll start believing that the buddha-dharma is like climbing up a staircase.
But it isn’t like this at all.
This very step right now is the one practice which includes all practices,
and it is all practices, contained in this one practice.

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Each and every step is our Practice, is our Life


Therefore, we do not discuss intelligence as superior and stupidity as inferior. Let us not choose between clever persons and dull ones. If we make effort devotedly, that is just wholehearted pursuit of the truth. Practice-and-experience is naturally untainted. The direction of effort becomes more balanced and constant. [Nishijima]


This being the case, intelligence or lack of it is not an issue; make no distinction between the dull and the sharp-witted. If you concentrate your effort single-mindedly, that in itself is wholeheartedly engaging the way. Practice-realization is naturally undefiled. Going forward is, after all, an everyday affair. [SZTP]


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SIT-A-LONG with JUNDO: Fukanzazengi LXXXIX

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'Homeless' Kodo said ...


Zazen has no results ... there’s nothing to gain ...



But one thing we certainly gain is balance ... balance in body and mind ... balance as we go forward in everyday life

It is not unlike an acrobat or tightrope walker, as we maintain a stable inner balance amid the changing circumstances of life ... always finding our center ... never falling to extremes ... knowing a firm foundation

As with the acrobat, it is a balance learned by body and mind through constant Practice

Each and every step is our Practice, is our Life


Therefore, we do not discuss intelligence as superior and stupidity as inferior. Let us not choose between clever persons and dull ones. If we make effort devotedly, that is just wholehearted pursuit of the truth. Practice-and-experience is naturally untainted. The direction of effort becomes more balanced and constant. [Nishijima]


This being the case, intelligence or lack of it is not an issue; make no distinction between the dull and the sharp-witted. If you concentrate your effort single-mindedly, that in itself is wholeheartedly engaging the way. Practice-realization is naturally undefiled. Going forward is, after all, an everyday affair. [SZTP]


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SIT-A-LONG with JUNDO: Fukanzazengi LXXXVIII

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'Homeless' Kodo Sawaki Roshi (our Nishijima Roshi's first teacher) had this to say about Zazen ...

Often people ask me how many years they have to practice zazen before it shows results. Zazen has no results. You won’t get anything at all out of zazen.

In true dharma there’s nothing to gain. In false dharma there’s something to gain.

The way of buddha means that there is nothing to seek, nothing to find [mushogu-mushotoku]. If there’s something to find, no matter how much we practice, it’s got nothing to do with the buddha-dharma. If there’s nothing to find [mushotoku], that’s the buddha-dharma.

What’s zazen good for? Absolutely nothing! This “good for nothing” has got to sink into your flesh and bones until you’re truly practicing what’s good for nothing. Until then, your zazen is really good for nothing.

Don’t whine. Don’t stare into space. Just sit!

Zazen isn’t like a thermometer where the temperature slowly rises: “Just a little more … yeah … that’s it! Now, I’ve got satori!” Zazen never becomes anything special, no matter how long you practice. If it becomes something special, you must have a screw lose somewhere.

If we don’t watch out, we’ll start believing that the buddha-dharma is like climbing up a staircase. But it isn’t like this at all. This very step right now is the one practice which includes all practices, and it is all practices, contained in this one practice.

You want to become a buddha? There’s no need to become a buddha! Now is simply now. You are simply you. And tell me, since you want to leave the place where you are,where is it exactly you want to go?

Zazen means just sitting without even thinking of becoming buddha.

In the world, it’s always about winning or losing, plus or minus. Yet in Zazen, it’s about nothing. It’s good for nothing. That’s why it is the greatest and most all-inclusive thing there is.

We don’t achieve satori through practice: practice is satori. Each and every step is the goal.



Therefore, we do not discuss intelligence as superior and stupidity as inferior. Let us not choose between clever persons and dull ones. If we make effort devotedly, that is just wholehearted pursuit of the truth. Practice-and-experience is naturally untainted. The direction of effort becomes more balanced and constant. [Nishijima]


This being the case, intelligence or lack of it is not an issue; make no distinction between the dull and the sharp-witted. If you concentrate your effort single-mindedly, that in itself is wholeheartedly engaging the way. Practice-realization is naturally undefiled. Going forward is, after all, an everyday affair. [SZTP]


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Kodo Sawaki Roshi
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Dogen Zenji wrote about Zazen (in Fukanzazengi):

Do not think of good and bad. Do not care about right and wrong.


.So, should we just live any way we want, without thought of 'right' and 'wrong'?

Since Zen is about 'Freedom', should we live with a freedom to do as we please, pillaging and plundering as we go?

Do Buddhists lack (for a world and life that is not so 'definite') a definite standard of ethical conduct?



Absolutely not!



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Yesterday, I said that 'Right Action' is largely determined by the intent of the heart ...

Our hearts judge whether conduct is likely to be helpful and healthful to others and to ourselves, or likely to cause harm ... Our hearts are the judge even if, ultimately, the outcome is not quite what was expected.

But our Buddhist Practice, our Zazen, day by day changes the heart ... creating a heart better able to see what is 'Right' and beneficial.

So, it is mutual: 'Right Action', living by the Precepts nourishes our Zazen ... and our Zazen nourishes a heart that knows 'Right Action'.
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