December 2007 Archives

SIT-A-LONG with JUNDO: New Years EVER


HAPPY NEW MOMENT !!

May this be a moment of peace for all.


Here are some of my 'Happy New Moment' resolutions for 2008:

-- Lose 20 pounds (9 kilo), although there is no loss or gain

-- Finish the book I've been writing, although there is nothing to achieve

-- Improve my Japanese calligraphy, although our Way is beyond words & letters

-- Not miss a 'Sit-a-long with Jundo' sitting, although one sitting is all sittings





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SIT-A-LONG with JUNDO: Genjo Koan VIII


Before moving on in Genjo Koan, let's look at the specific words that Master Dogen uses in these first sentences. They arise from the question that originally sent a young Dogen on his search for an answer. He wrote ...

"As I study both the exoteric and the esoteric schools of Buddhism, they maintain that
human beings are endowed with Dharma-nature by birth.
If this is the case, why did the Buddhas of all ages - undoubtedly in possession of enlightenment -
find it necessary to seek enlightenment and engage in spiritual practice?"


In other words, though Buddhist teachings studied by Dogen maintained that we are already what we are searching for, why did they also hold it necessary to search for enlightenment and to Practice? Dogen found his answer in the countless "simultaneously true" perspectives we have seen so far ...


... that we are ordinary beings, deluded between our birth and death, who must Practice to find realization as buddhas beyond birth and death ...

... that there is no delusion, no realization, neither ordinary beings nor buddhas, no birth, no death ...

... that delusion is precisely delusion, realization just that, ordinary beings fully ordinary beings, buddhas completely buddhas, death death and birth birth ...

... that delusion is realization is ordinary beings is buddhas is death is birth ...

... that to realize all this, thus we must Practice ...

... that all is unfolded, fully embodied and authenticated in Practice, by a single instant of 'just sitting' Zazen:

Zazen
is the very finding of that which cannot be searched for.


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As all things are buddha-dharma (Jundo: "Dharma" = "Phenomena"), there are delusion, realization, practice, birth and death, buddhas and sentient beings. As myriad things are without an abiding self, there is no delusion, no realization, no buddha, no sentient being, no birth and death. The buddha way, in essence, is leaping clear of abundance and lack; thus there are birth and death, delusion and realization, sentient beings and buddhas. Yet in attachment blossoms fall, and in aversion weeds spread. [Aitken & Tanahashi]

When all things and phenomena exist as Buddhist teachings, then there are
delusion and realization, practice and experience, life and death, buddhas and ordinary people. When millions of things and phenomena are all separate from ourselves, there are no delusion and no enlightenment, no buddhas and no ordinary people, no life and no death. Buddhism is originally transcendent over abundance and scarcity, and so [in reality] there is life and death, there is delusion and realization, there are people and buddhas. Though all this may be true, flowers fall even if we love them, and weeds grow even if we hate them, and that is all. [Nishijima]




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SIT-A-LONG with JUNDO: Genjo Koan VII


We have encountered several "simultaneously true" perspectives of Master Dogen which vanquish suffering (and in coming sections of Genjo Koan and Shobogenzo, we will encounter countless more)...

... the separate, abiding 'self' is, is not, absolutely is just-as-it-is, etc.etc. ...

By these simultaneous perspectives, and others, we find no grounds to resist in life. But still, notes Master Dogen ...

Though all this may be true, flowers fall even if we love them,
and weeds grow even if we hate them,
and that is all.

Life is a time to laugh, time to weep, to everything a season. Each in its own time, says the old book.

And All is One, adds the Zen teacher. Through a many-layered view of things, each time holds all others, is-not and just-is too: Beyond tears and smiles, in abiding Peace, a tear rolls down Master Dogen's cheek. Old Buddhas smile and Old Buddhas cry.

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As all things are buddha-dharma (Jundo: "Dharma" = "Phenomena"), there are delusion, realization, practice, birth and death, buddhas and sentient beings. As myriad things are without an abiding self, there is no delusion, no realization, no buddha, no sentient being, no birth and death. The buddha way, in essence, is leaping clear of abundance and lack; thus there are birth and death, delusion and realization, sentient beings and buddhas. Yet in attachment blossoms fall, and in aversion weeds spread. [Aitken & Tanahashi]

When all things and phenomena exist as Buddhist teachings, then there are
delusion and realization, practice and experience, life and death, buddhas and ordinary people. When millions of things and phenomena are all separate from ourselves, there are no delusion and no enlightenment, no buddhas and no ordinary people, no life and no death. Buddhism is originally transcendent over abundance and scarcity, and so [in reality] there is life and death, there is delusion and realization, there are people and buddhas. Though all this may be true, flowers fall even if we love them, and weeds grow even if we hate them, and that is all. [Nishijima]




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SIT-A-LONG with JUNDO: Just Sitting

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I was going to talk about something philosophical ... but how about we just sit.






SIT-A-LONG with JUNDO: Explaining to Family

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At this time of year, meeting family and old friends ... how do you explain to them about "being a Buddhist"?







SIT-A-LONG with JUNDO: Merry Christmas

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We will have our Zazen today in celebration of Jesus' Birthday, and All the Season ...

... Peace to the World, Goodwill toward all Humankind




SIT-A-LONG with HARRY & JUNDO

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Céad míle fáilte romhat! Nollaig shona duit. Tá sé Harry! Fáinne óir ort!




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SIT-A-LONG with JUNDO: Genjo Koan VI


An additional "simultaneously true" perspective of Master Dogen (not so clear in this passage, but found throughout Shobogenzo and we will encounter it many times) is that everything in the universe is dependent for its existence on everything else. In fact, we might say, everything --is-- everything.

Thus, there would be no "birth" without "death". Like two sides of a single coin, we can say "birth" is "death" - "death" is "birth".

There is no "realization" without "delusion", no "Buddhas" without "sentient beings" and all else that is. So, "realization" is "delusion" - "delusion" just "realization". "Buddhas" are ordinary sentient beings and "fences, wall, tiles and pebbles".

This perspective can also be brought into your own life, whereby everything that occurs within life is intimately connected to the whole ... no sickness without health, no happiness without sadness, etc. What is more, your life may be viewed as co-dependently arising with the light of the most distant star in the universe ... that star is your life in this very moment, your life is that star. It is Indra's Net ...

In the ancient Huayan Buddhist teachings of the Avatamsaka Sutra, the entire universe is depicted as a great net spanning all directions, and at every point where the threads of the net cross jewels are set. Each jewel further reflects the light reflected in all the other jewels around it, and each of those jewels in turn reflects the lights from all the jewels around them, and so on, onwards and onwards. In this way each jewel, or each particular entity or event of the universe, including each person, ultimately reflects and expresses the entire universe. All of totality can be seen in each of its parts.

For Master Dogen, in this way, all of the universe, all time and space, is reflected in a single moment of Zazen.

Thus, in your own life, embrace what happens ... it is all of Reality.

(Tomorrow, we will look at another of Dogen's various "simultaneously true" perspctives).


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As all things are buddha-dharma (Jundo: "Dharma" = "Phenomena"), there are delusion, realization, practice, birth and death, buddhas and sentient beings. As myriad things are without an abiding self, there is no delusion, no realization, no buddha, no sentient being, no birth and death. The buddha way, in essence, is leaping clear of abundance and lack; thus there are birth and death, delusion and realization, sentient beings and buddhas. Yet in attachment blossoms fall, and in aversion weeds spread. [Aitken & Tanahashi]

When all things and phenomena exist as Buddhist teachings, then there are
delusion and realization, practice and experience, life and death, buddhas and ordinary people. When millions of things and phenomena are all separate from ourselves, there are no delusion and no enlightenment, no buddhas and no ordinary people, no life and no death. Buddhism is originally transcendent over abundance and scarcity, and so [in reality] there is life and death, there is delusion and realization, there are people and buddhas. Though all this may be true, flowers fall even if we love them, and weeds grow even if we hate them, and that is all. [Nishijima]

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SIT-A-LONG with JUNDO: Genjo Koan V


Master Dogen observes that you, and all the other "selves" of the universe, do not exist as separate selves. Next, Master Dogen observes that you and all the other selves absolutely exist, that the universe transcends abundance or scarcity, that nothing is missing or to be taken away from the universe or anything it contains. Each is absolutely, wholly and completely, just-what-it-is. Birth is thoroughly birth, death death ... each moment of Practice is precisely each moment of Practice, and all the Wisdom and Ignorance of the world too.

In this way too, there vanishes the suffering of a "self" bumping in to all the other "selves", for each self is fully self-contained and self-sufficient.

This view, and the view of "no self" are simultaneously true.

(Tomorrow, we will look at another of Dogen's various "simultaneously true" perspctives).

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As all things are buddha-dharma (Jundo: "Dharma" = "Phenomena"), there are delusion, realization, practice, birth and death, buddhas and sentient beings. As myriad things are without an abiding self, there is no delusion, no realization, no buddha, no sentient being, no birth and death. The buddha way, in essence, is leaping clear of abundance and lack; thus there are birth and death, delusion and realization, sentient beings and buddhas. Yet in attachment blossoms fall, and in aversion weeds spread. [Aitken & Tanahashi]

When all things and phenomena exist as Buddhist teachings, then there are
delusion and realization, practice and experience, life and death, buddhas and ordinary people. When millions of things and phenomena are all separate from ourselves, there are no delusion and no enlightenment, no buddhas and no ordinary people, no life and no death. Buddhism is originally transcendent over abundance and scarcity, and so [in reality] there is life and death, there is delusion and realization, there are people and buddhas. Though all this may be true, flowers fall even if we love them, and weeds grow even if we hate them, and that is all. [Nishijima]

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SIT-A-LONG with JUNDO: Genjo Koan IV


In our ordinary experience of phenomena, we live in a world of self, other things and people-not-ourself, birth, death, and Buddhist practice that is required to overcome delusion and bring about realization. [Jundo Note: I believe that there is some clarification required with the Nishijima-Cross translation here. The phrase "Buppo" (佛法), or "Dharma", can have various meanings. It can mean "Buddhist Teachings", as in the Nishijima-Cross version, and it can also mean physical or universal "phenomena", which I believe is a good rendering here]. This is the realm of dissatisfaction, as one's own "self" bumps into all the other "selves", in a world not always satisfying to our "self", leading us perhaps into a search for peace and meaning through Buddhist Practice.

But Master Dogen's genius was to describe several layers of apparently conflicting, yet simultaneously true, perspectives on Reality. All are "true", and Dogen's insight was to say that we should experience all-at-once. The first perspective is the "standard" Buddhist view of "realization" by which all is without an abiding "self". Thus, there is no "you" separate from a world "not you", no life no death, no need for Practice, no delusion no realization.

(While some might consider that a view of "no self" is the goal of Buddhist Practice, and its realization "Enlightenment", Dogen viewed this merely as part of the picture and did not stop there. Tomorrow, we will look at another of Dogen's various "simultaneously true" perspctives).

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As all things are buddha-dharma (Jundo: "Dharma" = "Phenomena"), there are delusion, realization, practice, birth and death, buddhas and sentient beings. As myriad things are without an abiding self, there is no delusion, no realization, no buddha, no sentient being, no birth and death. The buddha way, in essence, is leaping clear of abundance and lack; thus there are birth and death, delusion and realization, sentient beings and buddhas. Yet in attachment blossoms fall, and in aversion weeds spread. [Aitken & Tanahashi]

When all things and phenomena exist as Buddhist teachings, then there are
delusion and realization, practice and experience, life and death, buddhas and ordinary people. When millions of things and phenomena are all separate from ourselves, there are no delusion and no enlightenment, no buddhas and no ordinary people, no life and no death. Buddhism is originally transcendent over abundance and scarcity, and so [in reality] there is life and death, there is delusion and realization, there are people and buddhas. Though all this may be true, flowers fall even if we love them, and weeds grow even if we hate them, and that is all. [Nishijima]

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SIT-A-LONG with JUNDO: Genjo Koan III

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A friend wrote today to say that his beloved dog is dying of old age or cancer, may need to be put down, and its a bit of a difficult time for his family. I thought that his story of ordinary human sadness would serve to illustrate Master Dogen's message in this first passage of 'Genjo Koan'. It will show the practicality to ordinary life situations of Dogen's vision.

So, here goes.
(If you cannot yet see the Reality of all the assertions it contains, please trust me. Or if you think that there is conflict or incongruity between opposing assertions, be assured that there is not)
...


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When all things of the universe exist as individual phenomena, there is you, a beloved dog, sickness and death ... there is our Buddhist Practice in search of meaning to it all. [JUNDO: So, this is our current lifeview, in which we are sad when beloved dogs get sick and die though we want it to be otherwise.]

When the myriad phenomena of the universe are perceived as without an abiding self, there is no
'you', no 'dog', no 'sickness' or 'death'. ... there is no need to search. [JUNDO: So, there is no you, no dog to die, no sickness, no birth and death ... thus no ground for sadness or searching. We drop all thought of these things in Zazen, and might call this the 'Buddha Realm'.]

Because the Buddhist view is beyond seeing anything to add or take away, you are precisely you, dying dogs are perfectly dying dogs, sickness just that, life fully life, death is thoroughly death ... it is all our Buddhist Practice. [JUNDO: By this further perspective, here is no room for sadness too, as all phenomena are seen as perfectly 'just what they are', with nothing to change, nothing to add or take away. Thus, life's events are completely life's events, are what they are. Also, things are fully connected such that life IS death, death IS life, two sides of one coin, and your life IS the joy and sadness of dying dogs and the like. Without dogs to die, sickness, life and death, life just would not be life. So, this is a further ground without conflict or resulting sadness. We practice with this day by day.]


Though all that may be true, dogs die even though we love them, and cancers grow even if we hate them, and that is all.
[JUNDO: Though there are all the foregoing perspectives whereby the basis for sadness and searching disappears, your dog's dying still breaks your heart.]

All of the foregoing perspectives are simultaneously true. Thus, please cry and do not cry (at once) for dying dogs.

And in the end, we do not merely philosophize about this all: So, sit Zazen, dropping resistance to life, experiencing through practice.



(we'll go over each of these individual lines and perspectives in the coming days)



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When all things and phenomena exist as Buddhist teachings, then there are delusion and realization, practice and experience, life and death, buddhas and ordinary people. When millions of things and phenomena are all separate from ourselves, there are no delusion and no enlightenment, no buddhas and no ordinary people, no life and no death. Buddhism is originally transcendent over abundance and scarcity, and so [in reality] there is life and death, there is delusion and realization, there are people and buddhas. Though all this may be true, flowers fall even if we love them, and weeds grow even if we hate them, and that is all. [Nishijima]

As all things are buddha-dharma, there are delusion, realization, practice, birth and death, buddhas and sentient beings. As myriad things are without an abiding self, there is no delusion, no realization, no buddha, no sentient being, no birth and death. The buddha way, in essence, is leaping clear of abundance and lack; thus there are birth and death, delusion and realization, sentient beings and buddhas. Yet in attachment blossoms fall, and in aversion weeds spread. [Aitken & Tanahashi]



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SIT-A-LONG with JUNDO: Genjo Koan II

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One key to understanding the Genjo Koan (and thus, one key to Buddhist 'realization' as taught by Master Dogen) is in the word pairs below ...

In most commonly understood interpretations of Buddhist Teachings, we human being are 'deluded' and seek to attain 'realization' as delusion's cure. Accordingly, we must 'practice' so as to achieve that cure. Only then can 'ordinary beings' become (or realize our innate nature as) 'buddhas'. Thus, while ordinary beings live in a world of 'life' and 'death', as 'buddhas' we escape 'life' and 'death'.


But Master Dogen thought outside (and inside) that old box ...


(we'll discuss how he did so over the coming days)

When all things and phenomena exist as Buddhist teachings, then there are delusion and realization, practice and experience, life and death, buddhas and ordinary people. When millions of things and phenomena are all separate from ourselves, there are no delusion and no enlightenment, no buddhas and no ordinary people, no life and no death. Buddhism is originally transcendent over abundance and scarcity, and so [in reality] there is life and death, there is delusion and realization, there are people and buddhas. Though all this may be true, flowers fall even if we love them, and weeds grow even if we hate them, and that is all. [Nishijima]

As all things are buddha-dharma, there are delusion, realization, practice, birth and death, buddhas and sentient beings. As myriad things are without an abiding self, there is no delusion, no realization, no buddha, no sentient being, no birth and death. The buddha way, in essence, is leaping clear of abundance and lack; thus there are birth and death, delusion and realization, sentient beings and buddhas. Yet in attachment blossoms fall, and in aversion weeds spread. [Aitken & Tanahashi]

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SIT-A-LONG with JUNDO: Genjo Koan I

The words 'Genjo Koan' have been translated in so many ways ... 'Actualizing the Fundamental Point' (Aitken & Tanahashi), 'Manifesting Suchness' (Waddell & Abe), 'The Issue at Hand' (Cleary), 'The Koan of Everyday Life' (Daido Loori, shown below), and 'The Actualization of Enlightenment' (Nishiyama & Stevens). My teacher, Gudo Nishijima Roshi, has called it both 'The Realized Universe' and 'The Realized Law of the Universe' ...


... and then there's my (Jundo's) rather pithy:

'The Reality of the Universe Manifesting As This Present Moment'.




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SIT-A-LONG with JUNDO: Zen and Aikido

Note: We may start talks, from tomorrow, on the Genjo Koan of Master Dogen's Shobogenzo


Just a quiet sitting tonight with my wife, Mina. She's the Aikido-ist.

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SIT-A-LONG with JUNDO: Master Egret

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Great Master 'Great Egret' (a friend & rival of Master Heron) visited our creek, with a pointed lesson on one-pointed work and mindful eating (he's a pescatarian).



If you would like more information on his esteemed lineage, please look here.



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(Sitting Time: About 25 minutes)

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SIT-A-LONG with JUNDO: Bah Humbug!

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Did the Buddha ever, just once in awhile, get somethin' like the 'holiday blues'?


I think maybe he did.

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SIT-A-LONG with JUNDO: O Tannenbaum

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We sit with a very special guest today, answering questions of the Holiday Season ...


O Tannenbaum, o Tannenbaum,
Your branches green delight us.
O Tannenbaum, o Tannenbaum,
Your branches green delight us.
They're green when summer days are bright;
They're green when winter snow is white.
O Tannenbaum, o Tannenbaum,
Your branches green delight us!
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SIT-A-LONG with JUNDO: Shakya Claus

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Just sitting 'round the Dharma Tree, chanting carols and wrapping empty boxes ...
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SIT-A-LONG with JUNDO: Happy Hanukkah!!

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Today is the 7th day of the Jewish holiday of Hannukah.


Happy Hannukah everybody!


My family always celebrated Hannukah every year. Probably you come from a non-Buddhist tradition with a holiday this month (I'm just guessin'!)


How should we relate to our family traditions at this time of year?
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SIT-A-LONG with JUNDO: The Big Quitter


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I gave a little talk during our Rohatsu sitting. Unfortunately, it was never recorded. But I really liked it!

So, I think I will give the short version again ... today.


It's about why the Buddha was a 'Big Quitter' - and that's not a bad thing!!

In his searching for answers, he finally came to say "enough is enough" ... "enough is enough".



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SIT-A-LONG with JUNDO: This First Moment

As Buddhists we might say ... "This is the first moment of the rest of your moments".

It
sounds trite, but it is true. Trite but true.

And what the next moment becomes is greatly up to you. Trite but true too.

Ah, freedom is hard to handle (also trite but true!).





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SIT-A-LONG with JUNDO: Richard

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Today, an old Zenfriend stops by ... Richard. We haven't seen each other for a very long time. Since we're leaving Florida, I might not see him again for a long time. Trying to sit with some of the Zen folks here before that.


Richie hasn't been sitting for awhile (too much time floating in the pool, from the looks of this picture), so I persuaded him to come on over and get back to it.




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SIT-A-LONG with JUNDO: ROHATSU

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Today, a long sitting to celebrate Shakyamuni's Moment of Realization under the Bodhi Tree, some 2,500 years ago ...

... After sitting, day upon day, having searched everywhere, he finally found something always right there.

Perhaps, in giving up the search, he truly saw.



In commemoration of this attaining of non-attaining, we will sit long and intensely ...

... searching for nothing, expecting nothing, not judging or dividing,
embracing what is ...



we will sit four successive periods of 55 minute Zazen,
followed by 5 minutes of Kinhin ...




WARNING: TECHNICAL PROBLEM ...
CUTS OUT AT 12 MINUTES!!
PLEASE SELF-TIME FOR REMAINING 228 Minutes!

(RUNNING TIME: appoximately 4 hours)


Although it is worthwhile to sit sometimes with a bit of difficulty,
we do not risk our health or seek excess discomfort:
Please change positions, stand, walk or recline at any time, not waiting for the bell.
Please have ample water nearby (tea is helpful too), and drink freely when you need.




Today's sittings are specially dedicated to children everywhere,
may they be happy, free from suffering and danger.



We will briefly chant the FOUR VOWS (1x) at the start and end today ...


To save all sentient beings, though beings numberless

To transform all delusions, though delusions inexhaustible

To perceive Reality, though Reality is boundless

To attain the Enlightened Way, a Way non-attainable



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SIT-A-LONG with JUNDO: Eightfold Path VIII

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Please see information on our upcoming 'ZAZENATHON',
a special focused sitting this Friday to celebrate 'ROHATSU' (Buddha's Enlighenment Day)
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The 'last' branch of the 'Eightfold Path' is 'Right Concentration', 'Right Meditation' ...

... Zazen


But the path has no beginning, no end


... each branch supporting and supported by the others





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SIT-A-LONG with JUNDO: Eightfold Path VII(iii)

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Please see information on our upcoming 'ZAZENATHON',
a special focused sitting this Friday to celebrate 'ROHATSU' (Buddha's Enlighenment Day)
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'Right Mindfulness' is not just a single state of mind, but provides us with a variety of mental tools for encountering our world and our selves (not two) each moment of each day ...

... some of the most useful tools on the Buddhist toolbelt.

I reached for my toolbelt several times today.




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SIT-A-LONG with JUNDO: Buddha-bot

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Please see information on our upcoming 'ZAZENATHON',
a special focused sitting this Friday to celebrate 'ROHATSU' (Buddha's Enlighenment Day)
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The hyper-idealized, super-human images of the Buddha and Ancestors contained in the Sutras and other Buddhist storybooks have (in many ways) done Buddhism a great disservice. I think. People writing such religious legends dip the hero in gold, place him on a platform, and omit the humanity and rough edges (give me the imperfect Greek or Norse Gods over that!) .

Surely, if we were to travel back in time to meet the actual Buddha and others, we'd find people who were people ...

... wondrous, spiritual, good, wise people perhaps, but people nonetheless. Not statues, not gods, not all-perfect saints. Assuming that even the best of human beings will have a few pimples, bad habits, fears, prejudices and all scattered imperfections, would they not too? Should we, thus, be disappointed at who we'd find?

No! In fact, it gives me hope: For so many Buddhist Practitioners misunderstand the point as the attainment of unreal, extreme, otherworldly, emotionally removed, bizarre states. No wonder some folks talk of countless lives required to achieve such fantastic goals. Instead, our Buddhist practices and Buddhist philosophy have survived for millenia simply because real people find real benefits in this world, in ordinary life.

Our Zen practice is for our living as truly "human" human beings ... not unerring saints, not robots, not machines.


Beware of the BUDDHABOTS!




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SIT-A-LONG with JUNDO: Eightfold Path VII(ii)

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Please see information on our upcoming 'ZAZENATHON',
a special focused sitting this Friday to celebrate 'ROHATSU' (Buddha's Enlighenment Day)
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'Right Mindfulness' of 'things without' is an awareness and understanding of the events that surround us in the present moment, seeing clearly phenomena as they arise and how we perceive them. We experience how our inner condition, our thoughts and emotions, help create our experience of the world without.

We learn to discern the nature of samsara, impermanent, possessing self yet lacking self, so often dissatisfactory to our own 'self' which judges it. But we also learn how a change to our inner condition, our emotions and thoughts, will change our experience of all that.


inner is outer, outer is inner ... not two.




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SIT-A-LONG with JUNDO: Eightfold Path VII(i)

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The seventh branch of the 'Eightfold Path' is 'Right Mindfulness' ...

It may be termed a 'mindfulness' of things within and things without (though those are not truly 'two'. We will talk about 'things without' tomorrow).

'Right Mindfulness' of things within includes being attentive to our inner conditions, the causes and workings of the body-mind, emotions and thoughts. We are aware so as to better understand ourselves by understanding mental origin and effects.
By becoming aware of the processes, we may thereby gain a degree of acceptance, understanding and control over the mind.



Some reported difficulty with the video: Please self time if sitting along
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SIT-A-LONG with JUNDO: DOSHIN

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I am so happy to present as a guest teacher today Mitch Doshin Cantor, the leader of the Southern Palm Zen Group in Florida...

Doshin, a Dharma Heir of Peter Muryo Matthiessen in Maezumi Roshi's White Plum Lineage, is my adopted Zen 'Dad' in Florida (I don't think he will mind if I call him 'Dad'). I started to come back to America for three or four months at a time a few years ago because my real mother was sick, and found a home with Mitch's group. When I was ordained, Mitch taught me so much about bowing, incense lighting, chanting ... you know, the stuff a priest has to know. Doshin is the inspiration behind the Treeleaf Zendo, because for several years I was able to watch the many ways he nurtures a Sangha and keeps it going week by week, moment by moment, year by year. So much of what Mitch has brought to the Southern Palm, I am hoping to bring here ... from the atmosphere of open questioning to the way we do our Retreats and how we will study for Jukai early next year. If not sure what to do, I usually ask myself, 'What would Doshin do?'

Mitch is a font of wisdom ... listening to one of his talks, as we will today, is like listening to a great Jazz musician. Unlike Zen teachers in Japan, Western teachers will often reach into a variety of sources and traditions, both 'Buddhist' and not. It is difficult to do while yet staying on course as a Zen Teacher, not becoming lost in an eclectic, New Agey mess. Mitch, a walking encyclopedia of Wisdom writings, shows how it is done right. Never losing his diamond focus on our Zen tradition, he will pull into his talks Tibetans, Hindus, Jewish Mystics, Sufi Masters, Babe Ruth and Groucho Marx, ranging from homelife to the farthest star. Mitch introduced me to something very much present in Western Buddhism but sorely lacking in Japan ... immersion in diverse ideas and an attitude of constant questioning (Students tend not to ask many questions of Teachers in Japan, and just to listen and observe. That is certainly --not-- the case in the West).

I wanted to let Mitch give a bit longer talk today than I usually do, but at the end there is a 25 minute sitting as always.



Thank you, Mitch. Nine Bows.



(YOU MAY WANT TO TURN THE SOUND DOWN A BIT AFTER DOSHIN's TALK DUE TO WIND SLAMMING A DOOR!)
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