September 2009 Archives

The mind and all things

( Dogen's Instructions for the Cook - VIII )


A pair of other translations of the first lines of this passage. First, by Uchiyama Roshi ...

Both day and night, allow all things to come into and reside within your mind. Allow your mind (Self) and all things to function together as a whole.

Yasuda Joshu Dainin and Anzan Hoshin write ...

Throughout the day and night, practice the coming and going of things as arising in the mind, the mind turning and displaying itself as things.


_____________________________

During the day and through the night, whether things come and dwell in your mind or your mind turns and dwells on things, put yourself on a par with them and diligently pursue the way. Prior to the third watch take stock of the next morning's tasks; after the third watch take charge of making the morning gruel. When that day's gruel is finished, wash the pots, steam the rice, and prepare the soup. When soaking the rice for the midday meal, the cook should not leave the vicinity of the sink. Keep a sharp eye on everything, so as not to waste even a single grain, and properly rinse out any foreign objects. Put the rice in the pots, light the fires, and steam it. Of old it was said, "When steaming rice, treat the pot as one's own head; when rinsing the rice, know that the water is one's own lifeblood." When the steaming is done, collect the rice in bamboo baskets or rice tubs and place it on the table. Preparation of vegetables, soup, and the like, should be done while the rice is being steamed.

From: Tenzo Kyokun - Instructions for the Cook by Eihei Dogen - Translated by Griffith Foulk




(remember: recording ends soon after the beginning bells;
a sitting time of 20 to 35 minutes is recommended)

'MONDAYS with TAIGU' - beginners mind

As I was on my way to Kyoto this morning, i wrote the followings cheap poems:

Books and ideas are far too serious
Children and walks
will show you the way

All these words
pointing at the ineffable
snow on snow

Cluttered head
never ending blossoms
this life


Well, this is an attempt to convey the sheer simplicity of our path. Studying is of course important, reading sutra and texts is a necessary food more for practice than for thought. It is not intended to fill our head with notions, opinions, views and concepts. The reading of Shobogenzo should take us to the reading of things as it is not to blur our vision. We live in this ever changing beauty and at the same time, we are often trapped in a box filled with old stuff. How can we open our eyes to the very wonder? How can we never get caught by self importance and certainty?
Sitting in the unconditionnal state, resting in the seal at ease and in peace, and begin each and every time.

gassho


Taigu




(remember: recording ends soon after the beginning bells;
a sitting time of 20 to 35 minutes is recommended)

Accepting what is given ...

( Dogen's Instructions for the Cook - VII )


Cheerfully accepting what one is handed ...

... yet sincerely and carefully doing one's best to make it good


**(
Before the noon meal, the tenzo conducts a service in the kitchen for Soko Shinsai, a Chinese folk deity and the guardian spirit of the oven who came to be enshrined in Chinese Zen temples, later brought to Japan.)

_____________________________

When you have finished, think about the ingredients for the next day's meals. First, pick over the rice. If there are any insects, green beans, hulls or pebbles, carefully pick them out. While picking over the rice and vegetables, the postulants should chant sutras and dedicate the merit to the kitchen god. ** Next, select the ingredients for the vegetables and soup and cook them. Do not argue with the store officers over the amount of ingredients you have received. Without worrying about their quality, simply make the best of what you have. It is prohibited to show your feelings or say anything about the amount of ingredients.

From: Tenzo Kyokun - Instructions for the Cook by Eihei Dogen - Translated by Griffith Foulk




(remember: recording ends soon after the beginning bells;
a sitting time of 20 to 35 minutes is recommended)





dewdrops
are dancing on pampas grass
and how the moon is sailing
above them all!!

Ryokan


Far from being a distant and benevolent Boddhistava ,Kannon can be seen as the dynamic radiance of stillness, it arises from the mudra of non-duality and shines through time and space, sun-like.
Like the moon of Genjokoan, it touches,  permeates  the myriad forms without altering them. Every action is an expression of its loving and caring energy, from breakfast to bedtime, from toilet to supermarket, the daily actions of life are just as they are, the face and arms of Avalokitesvara. Nothing is hidden, and yet one cannot see. Kannon is merged in perfect intimacy with chores, breaks, deeds, laughs and cries. So Kannon doesn t abide anywhere, it is our own being manifested as compassion in 1000 daily actions. Kannon is also a listening ability, an open mindedness which can be experienced in every step of our life. Buddhas and Boddhistavas represents aspects of our being-life, you may want to find them in somebody special, but I am afraid that his will take you to the stage of burning incense and doing ceremonies. Dogen s Zen is not to pray Kannon, but to allow Kannon to be alive in our life, in people, situations, and things we meet. 




(remember: recording ends soon after the beginning bells;
a sitting time of 20 to 35 minutes is recommended)
More of the Bodhisattva Virtue of Miraculous, Mystical Powers (bala)

In the Tashin tsû (Penetration of Other's Minds) portion of the Shôbôgenzô, the subject is mental telepathy, one of the supernormal powers (abhijñâ) regularly said in Buddhist literature to be accessible to great meditators. Here, Dôgen takes up the famous story of a Zen master's test of the mind-reading powers of an Indian monk claiming such ability. Dogen expresses his doubts about such powers, while seeing the mind of self and the mind of others in a grander way ... :

"Tell me," said the [National Teacher, Master Dazheng Huizheng to the Indian Master], "where's this old monk right now?"
The [Indian] Master said, "Reverend Preceptor, you're the teacher to a nation;  [so, why are you thinking to] go off to Xichuan to watch the boat races?"
The Teacher asked again, "Tell me, where's this old monk right now?"
The [Indian] Master said, "Reverend Preceptor, you're the teacher to a nation; how could you be on the T'ianjin bridge watching the playing monkeys?"
The Teacher asked a third time, "Tell me, where's this old monk right now?"
The [Indian] Master said nothing for a while, not knowing where the Teacher had gone.
The Teacher said, "This fox spirit! Where's his penetration of other minds?"


[Dogen comments]:

[T]he National Teacher's basic intention in testing the Master [from India by] saying, "Tell me, where's this old monk right now?" is to test whether the [Indian] Master is an eye to see the buddha dharma -- to test whether the [Indian] Master has the penetration of other minds in the buddha dharma. ... The National Teacher's saying, "Where's this old monk right now?" is like his asking, "What is this old monk?" [To say,] "Where's this old monk right now?" is to ask, "What time is right now?" [To ask,] "Where?" is to say, "Where is here?" There is a reason [to ask] what to call this old monk: a national teacher is not always an "old monk"; an "old monk" is always a "fist." ... Do not think that those types who seek to get the penetration of other minds can know the whereabouts of the National Teacher ... If it cannot know the way of the buddhas and ancestors, what good is [such ability]? It is useless to the way of the buddha ...In the buddha dharma, if we are going to say that there is the penetration of other minds, there should be the penetration of other bodies, the penetration of other fists, the penetration of other eyes. If this is so, there should also be the penetration of one's own mind, the penetration of one's own body. And once this is the case, one's own mind taking up itself is at once the penetration of one's own mind. To express such a statement is the penetration of other minds as one's own mind itself. Let me just ask, "Should we take up the penetration of other minds, or should we take up the penetration of one's own mind?
 Speak up! Speak up!




(remember: recording ends soon after the beginning bells;
a sitting time of 20 to 35 minutes is recommended)


Welcome to our Special "Live from Treeleaf" Zazen marking the FIRST DAY (although really without beginning or end) of our Jukai (Undertaking the Precepts) Study and Preparations. 

Please note the Rev. Taigu, who was supposed to lead things today, is sick and unable to make the trip. Our thoughts to him, and we will see him soon.
In the meantime, Jundo will be the "emergency relief pitcher"


We start with 3 floor prostrations (or deep Gassho), then chant the Heart Sutra in ENGLISH (see below), then sit about 40 minutes of Zazen, then 10 minutes of Kinhin, a little talk, Zazen, closing with the chants of Metta, the "Verse of Atonement" and "Four Vows". Please join in, one and all.

Our special sitting schedule today will be approximately as follows ...

00:00 - 00:50 CEREMONY (HEART SUTRA) & ZAZEN
00:50 - 01:00 KINHIN
01:00 - 01:40 DHARMA TALK & ZAZEN
01:40 - 01:45 SHORT KINHIN
01:45 - 02:00 METTA CHANT & ZAZEN, VERSE OF ATONEMENT, FOUR VOWS, & CLOSING

Gassho, Jundo

(video below "continue reading this post")


Press on arrow for 'play'
NOTE: IF YOU ARE HAVING TROUBLE TO SEE THE SCREEN OR START BUTTON,
PLEASE UPDATE FLASH
e now come to the Bodhisattva Virtue of  ....


Miraculous, Mystical Powers (bala)


Mahayana sutras and lore refer to a variety of supernatural powers developed through meditation and Buddhist practice, said of aid to the Bodhisattva ... such as the ability to foretell the future, to see the past lives of beings, to read minds, to radiate light and to cause rain ... others too ...

There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy.

Taigen Dan Leighton writes ...

Buddhist attitude toward such powers has often been ambivalent, particularly in the Zen tradition, which emphasizes attention to ordinary, everyday activity. This outlook was epitomized in the legendary utterance by the great eighth-century Chinese adept, Layman Pang, that the ultimate super- natural power was chopping wood and carrying water. The ordinary world, just as it is, can be appreciated as an amazing, wondrous event. And experiences that seem supernatural and miraculous may only appear so to the limited portions of our mental and spiritual faculties that we conventionally employ.

ALSO A NOTE: OUR WEEKLY ZAZENKAI THIS WEEK WILL BE A DAY LATER, SUNDAY INSTEAD OF SATURDAY (10 p.m. Japan time, which is currently New York 9am, Los Angeles 6am, London 2pm and Paris 3pm SUNDAY), AS WE WILL BE WELCOMING REV. TAIGU WHO WILL LEAD A SPECIAL 2-HOUR ZAZENKAI TO MARK THE FORMAL START OF OUR JUKAI  PREPARATIONS 




(remember: recording ends soon after the beginning bells;
a sitting time of 20 to 35 minutes is recommended)

Every precious thing ...

( Dogen's Instructions for the Cook - VI )


Waste not, want not ...

Everything always in its place ...


The reference to "high and low" places is from this Koan concerning Guishan Lingyou (771-853) and his disciple Yangshan Huiji (807-883). The dialogue reads:

 

    One day [Yangshan] went along with Guishan to prepare a field for planting. The teacher [Yangshan] asked, "Why is it that this part is low and that part is high?" Guishan said, "Water can level things; let us just use water to level it." The teacher said, "Water is not reliable, master. It is just that high places are high and level; low places are low and level."

Guishan assented.


_____________________________

Keep the white water with which you have washed the rice; do not wastefully discard it. In ancient times they used a cloth bag to strain the white water and used it to boil the rice when making gruel. Having put [the rice] into the cooking pot, pay attention and guard it. Do not allow mice and the like to touch it by mistake, nor any covetous idlers to examine or touch it.

When cooking the vegetable side dishes for the morning gruel, also prepare the platters and tubs used for rice, soup, etc., as well as the various utensils and supplies that will be used for that day's midday meal. Wash them so that they are completely pure and clean, placing up high those that belong in high places and putting down low those that belong in low places. "High places are high and level; low places are low and level." Treat utensils such as tongs and ladles, and all other implements and ingredients, with equal respect; handle all things with sincerity, picking them up and putting them down with courtesy.

From: Tenzo Kyokun - Instructions for the Cook by Eihei Dogen - Translated by Griffith Foulk




(remember: recording ends soon after the beginning bells;
a sitting time of 20 to 35 minutes is recommended)

Rolling up one's sleeves ...

( Dogen's Instructions for the Cook - V )


Getting up from the Zafu and down to work ...


Looking in to oneself and changing out ...


_____________________________

In the past, eminent men in possession of the way practiced in this way [as cooks], working energetically with their own hands. In this latter day, how can we who are so late getting started [in our practice] be negligent about this? The ancients said that cooks regard tying up their sleeves [for manual work] as the way-seeking mind. Lest there be any mistakes in the sifting out of rice and sand, you should examine it with your own hands. The Rules of Purity say, "When preparing meals, one should reflect intimately on one's own self; [the food] will then of itself be pure and refined."

From: Tenzo Kyokun - Instructions for the Cook by Eihei Dogen - Translated by Griffith Foulk




(remember: recording ends soon after the beginning bells;
a sitting time of 20 to 35 minutes is recommended)

Overturing the Rice Bucket

( Dogen's Instructions for the Cook - IV )


In this passage, the "six flavors" are bitter, sour, sweet, salty, mild and hot.

The "three virtues" are to be light & gentle, pure & healthy, and prepared correctly.

Life, like cooking, is sometimes bitter, sometimes sweet and all the other flavors.

With a bit of skill and attention, however, we may be able to fashion that into something balanced, healthy, nourishing and delicious. A good meal.

(and, of course, if we treat our life with imbalance, excess, inattention and a lack of care,
we may end up with a horrible, stinking, unhealthy mess
).

In the hands of a wise cook, even rough ingredients can be turned into a good meal ...
while a fool will ruin even the finest materials.

What is more, saying that it is "all the same, no matter" from an absolute perspective is not right either ... Some Buddhist theory may lead us to say that it is "all the same", rice and sand, however we cook, because all is ultimately just 'emptiness'.

In this passage, say some commentators, "rice" is a metaphor for wisdom & enlightenment - and "sand" for delusions & excess desires (the dirt that must be cleaned away).

Xuefeng's overturning the pot, and his statement that "sand and rice are simultaneously removed", may be seen as a demonstration that all fades away into emptiness.

But Dongshan, while not questioning Xuefeng's point, still thinks it is a bit too much: "Wonderful, it is all empty", he implies. "But, now that you have spilled over the pot, what are we expected to eat for dinner, fella?"


_____________________________

The Rules of Purity for Chan Monasteries says, "If the six flavors are not provided, then it cannot be said that the cook has served the assembly." When examining the rice, first check for sand; when examining the sand [sifted from the rice], first check for rice. If you pay careful attention to detail, watching when coming and watching when going, then your mind cannot be scattered, and [the food] will naturally be replete with the three virtues and endowed with the six flavors.

When Xuefeng resided at Dongshan [monastery], he served as cook. One day when he was sifting rice [master] Dongshan asked him, "Are you sifting the sand and removing the rice, or sifting the rice and removing the sand?" Xuefeng said, "Sand and rice are simultaneously removed." Dongshan asked, "What will the great assembly eat?" Xuefeng overturned the bowl. Dongshan said, "In the future you will go and be scrutinized by someone else."

From: Tenzo Kyokun - Instructions for the Cook by Eihei Dogen - Translated by Griffith Foulk




(remember: recording ends soon after the beginning bells;
a sitting time of 20 to 35 minutes is recommended)

'MONDAYS with TAIGU' - the bowl of dirty soup



On Metta ... and letting go of the territory as well as the owner ...




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a sitting time of 20 to 35 minutes is recommended)

On the Anniversary of 9-11



A Buddhist Response to Terror ...

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a sitting time of 20 to 35 minutes is recommended)

Tired, Nothing to Say



I'm tired, nothing to say ...

( and that's maybe the best talk of all )


______________________________________________


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a sitting time of 20 to 35 minutes is recommended)

Not A Single Moment of Carelessness ...

( Dogen's Instructions for the Cook - III )


Doing things carefully ... the Zen way ...


_____________________________

Next, the various stewards consult in the store hall about what seasonings should be used on the following day, what vegetables should be eaten, how the rice gruel should be prepared, and so on. The Rules of Purity for Chan Monasteries says, "When deciding about ingredients as well as the flavors and numbers [of side dishes] for meals, first consult with the stewards in the store offices." The stewards referred to here are the prior, comptroller, assistant comptroller, rector, cook, and labor steward. When the flavors and numbers have been decided, write them on the announcement boards in the abbot's quarters, common quarters, and elswehere.

After that, ready the next morning's rice gruel. When washing rice, preparing vegetables, and so on, do so with your own hands, with close attention, vigorous exertion, and a sincere mind. Do not indulge in a single moment of carelessness or laziness. Do not allow attentiveness to one thing to result in overlooking another. Do not yield a single drop in the ocean of merit; even a mountain of good karma can be augmented by a single particle of dust.

From: Tenzo Kyokun - Insturctions for the Cook by Eihei Dogen - Translated by Griffith Foulk




(remember: recording ends soon after the beginning bells;
a sitting time of 20 to 35 minutes is recommended)

Frugal, Simple

( Dogen's Instructions for the Cook - II )


Keeping it simple ...


_____________________________

When this mountain monk [I, Dôgen] was in Song China, on my days off I inquired of retired elderly monks who had held minor and important offices, and they shared something of their views with me. Their explanations are the bones and marrow bequeathed by the buddhas and ancestors who were possessed of the way in ancient times. As a rule, one should carefully read the Rules of Purity for Chan Monasteries. After that, one should pay heed to the detailed explanations of those retired senior officers.

The duties of the cook over the course of a single day and night [are as follows].

First, following the midday meal, go to the offices of the prior and comptroller and get the ingredients for the next day's meals: rice, vegetables, and so on. Having received them, protect and be frugal with them, as if they were your own eyes. Chan Master Yong of Baoning [Monastery] said, "Protect and be frugal with monastery property, which is [like] your own eyes." Respect and value them as if they were ingredients for an imperial repast. These cautions apply to fresh and cooked things alike.

From: Tenzo Kyokun - Insturctions for the Cook by Eihei Dogen - Translated by Griffith Foulk




(remember: recording ends soon after the beginning bells;
a sitting time of 20 to 35 minutes is recommended)

The Zen Way of Cooking

( Dogen's Instructions for the Cook - I )




For our ongoing 100-day ANGO ... let's start cooking ...




If you would like to find the complete translation we will be using ...


_____________________________

Buddhist monasteries have, in principle, six stewards. All are disciples of Buddha and all carry out the work of Buddha. Among them is the officer known as the cook, who is in charge of preparing meals for the assembly of monks. The Rules of Purity for Chan Monasteries (Chanyuan qinggui) says, "In order to offer nourishment to the monks of the community, there is a cook." From ancient times, the position has been assigned to senior monks who have the way-seeking mind -- eminent persons who have aroused the thought of awakening.

In general, the job of cook is an all-consuming pursuit of the way. If one lacks the way-seeking mind, it will be nothing but a vain struggle and hardship, without benefit in the end. The Rules of Purity for Chan Monasteries says, "One should maintain a way-seeking mind, make adjustments in accord with the occasion, and see to it that the great assemby receives what is necessary and is at ease." In days of yore, [emminent] monks such as Guishan and Dongshan performed this job, and various other great ancestral teachers did too at some point in their careers. Thus, it is surely not the same as the work of worldy cooks, imperial cooks, and the like.

..

From: Tenzo Kyokun - Insturctions for the Cook by Eihei Dogen - Translated by Griffith Foulk




(remember: recording ends soon after the beginning bells;
a sitting time of 20 to 35 minutes is recommended)

'MONDAYS with TAIGU' - suchness




... just suchness ...




(remember: recording ends soon after the beginning bells;
a sitting time of 20 to 35 minutes is recommended)
This month's sitting and ceremony is dedicated to Dennis, who left this world a few days ago, to his family and to his very good friend ...

Please join our AUGUST MONTHLY 4-hour 'Live from Treeleaf' ZAZENKAI, recorded in "real time" and available at the following links:

The recording is divided into 2 parts as follows (click on the blue link) :

00:00 - 00:50 CEREMONY (HEART SUTRA / SANDOKAI) & ZAZEN
00:50 - 01:00 KINHIN
01:00 - 01:40 ZAZEN
01:40 - 01:50 KINHIN

ZAZENKAI PART I

01:50 - 02:30 DHARMA TALK & ZAZEN
02:30 - 02:40 KINHIN
02:40 - 03:20 ZAZEN
03:20 - 03:30 KINHIN
03:30 - 04:00 METTA CHANT & ZAZEN, VERSE OF ATONEMENT, FOUR VOWS, & CLOSING

Remember, when we drop all thought of 'here' 'there' 'now' and 'then' ... we are sitting all together!

Our Zazenkai consists of our chanting the 'Heart Sutra' and the 'Identity of Relative and Absolute (Sandokai)' in English (please download our Chant Book at the link below), some full floor prostrations (please follow along with me ... or a simple Gassho can be substituted if you wish), a little talk by me ... and we close with the 'Metta Chant', followed at the end with the 'Verse of Atonement' and 'The Four Vows'.

Please download and print out the Chant Book (PDF) at the following link:


Please join in, one and all.


I SUGGEST THAT YOU POSITION YOUR ZAFU ON THE FLOOR IN A PLACE WHERE YOU ARE NOT STARING DIRECTLY AT THE COMPUTER SCREEN, BUT CAN GLANCE OVER AND SEE THE SCREEN WHEN NECESSARY. YOUR ZAFU SHOULD ALSO BE IN A POSITION WHERE YOU CAN SEE THE COMPUTER SCREEN WHILE STANDING IN FRONT OF THE ZAFU FOR THE CEREMONIES.

ALSO, REMEMBER TO SET YOUR COMPUTER (& SCREEN SAVER) SO THAT IT DOES NOT SHUT OFF DURING THE 4 HOURS.



Gassho, Jundo

Our theme today is ... Peace ...




PEACE


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(remember: recording ends soon after the beginning bells;
a sitting time of 20 to 35 minutes is recommended)
In keeping with our 100-day Ango Practice Season, we look at the Bodhisattva Virtue of  ....



Vow and Commitment (pranidhana)



The most fundamental Bodhisattva's vows are these four, which we chant daily ...



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


Likewise,  'Ango' is a time of many other vows ... an expression of dedication and intention sustaining effort, practice and beneficial activities toward our self and others (not two)




(remember: recording ends soon after the beginning bells;
a sitting time of 20 to 35 minutes is recommended)
I offer a Buddhist Perspective on one of the many unspeakable horrors and tragedies that are sometime encountered in this world ....

 




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a sitting time of 20 to 35 minutes is recommended)

The Meal Verse and Aware Eating


For our ongoing 100-day ANGO Special Practice Season (SEE HERE) ...

... one encouraged practice is the recitation of a Meal Verse prior to each meal. Here is one we have used during Retreats at Treeleaf that I suggest ...


(Hands in Gassho) This food comes from the efforts
of all sentient beings past and present,
and is medicine for nourishment of our Practice.
We offer this meal of many virtues and tastes
to the Buddha, Dharma, and Sangha,
and to all life in every realm of existence.
May all sentient beings in the universe
be sufficiently nourished.



I will talk a little about the significance of this verse ...

 




(remember: recording ends soon after the beginning bells;
a sitting time of 20 to 35 minutes is recommended)