November 2009 Archives

dancing with shadows ...

oxherd02.jpg


At the waters edge, under the trees - hoofmarks are numerous.
Balmy grasses grow abundantly - can you see them or not?
Even if you go deeper and deeper into the mountains,
How could his nostrils, well compassing the heavens,
    hide him at all?

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

RETREAT !! RETREAT!! (IV) - Bowing

At our 'Treeleaf Two-Day Online Retreat' scheduled for LIVE NETCAST over the weekend of DECEMBER 5 and 6, 2009 (and available in recorded form after that, for participation any time 'On Demand').

DETAILS CLICK HERE ...

... there will be times of prostrating (Raihai), done in a series or three (Sanpai) ...

I am often asked to whom or what we are bowing ... Is it to some thing, god, person or effigy?

I answer by saying that there is nothing that's true that is omitted from our bow. We might consider that we're simply bowing to the whole universe, and to ourself and the other people around us ... after all, 'All is One'! The hands, palms upwards, are raised in a gesture traditionally symbolic of lifting the Buddha's feet over one's head, but that truly means lifting all things of the universe over one's head. It's appropriate to cultivate an attitude of emptying, letting go, receptivity and gratitude in our bows.

If there is some physical or personal reason not to prostrate, a simple Gassho can be substituted.

 However, there is greatness in the humility of the prostration.



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It is traditional to have a Buddha Statue in the Zen Hall ... or, rather, a statue of Manjusri Bodhisattva astride a Lion, a symbol of Wisdom ...

But, really, any Buddha (or Bodhisattva) statue or picture will do.
In fact, where in these do you see or not see the 'True Buddha"?


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The first picture    ...  The Seeker


On his blog, Mike Dosho Port quotes Andy Ferguson's translation  of a poem by Sensu Tokujo, one of our Chinese ancestors:

Letting down the line ten thousand feet,
A single breaking wave makes ten thousand ripples.
At night in still water, the cold fish won't bite.
An empty boat filled with moonlight returns.


oxherding 1.jpg
The fish is the golden fish and stands for a metaphor of awakening for even dead its eyes are bright and wide open. Just like the bull or the ox. We fish something we will never get, we won't be allowed on the promised land, we won't be given what we expected. Much more. We end up with the moonlight , a symbol of the oneness of practice and realization. We end up with Shikantaza, being already home as we start our journey, for there is nowhere else to be. Just being is our home. So the seeking never ceases, it is the action through which we turn the Dharma wheel, it is this continous practice. Nowhere to go, nobody who travels, to destination to reach, just the full joy of being and unfolding this being-time now.

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

RETREAT !! RETREAT!! (II)

Today we will look at how to enter, walk through and be seated in the ''Zendo' ( 'Sitting Hall' ) ...

For our Retreat, it is suggested that one find a quiet, isolated space at home, where one can be alone with just a Zafu (and one's computer too! Of course, your computer will be dedicated to our Retreat that weekend, not any other web surfing!). A bare or uncluttered room is suggested, but if that is not possible, remember that true "clutter" is found in the mind.

There should also be a single Buddha Statue (although a "Buddha Statue" need not be a "Statue of a Buddha", and can be a flower, stone, rubber ball, coke bottle or any item in the whole universe ... we will talk about that in a later 'sit-a-long'). Place the 'Buddha Statue' on a small, raised table, preferably in the center of the room ... not against the wall. We place the 'Buddha Statue' in the center of the room, not against the wall, as we wish to avoid passing in front, but always pass behind if we need to cross the room. (However, if one must pass in front, then that is alright ... but it is nice to offer a little apologetic bow when passing. :-) )

When entering the Zen Hall, hold your hands in Shashu position and step forward with your left foot at the left side of the entrance. When leaving the Zen Hall, step out with your left foot at the other side of the entrance. After entering the hall each time, bow in Gassho toward the Buddha Statue and go to your seat. DO NOT cross in a diagonal 'short cut' across the room if needing to cross, but walk the 'long way' following the length of the walls, crossing behind the Buddha Statue (if in the center of the room). At all times when walking, please keep one's hands in Shashu (see picture below)


shashu delete.jpg

When you arrive at your seat, face the Zafu cushion and bow in Gassho. Fluff your Zafu while rotating it clockwise, then Gassho again to the Zafu. Next, turn around to the right (clockwise) until your seat is behind you, and Gassho to the open room. Sit down on your Zafu, spin around to the right (clockwise), and sit facing the wall. (If you cannot easily spin around, it is alright just to sit down facing the wall).

mannerszendodelete.jpg
At the end of Zazen, the procedure is reversed ... Spin to the right (clockwise) until again facing the room, and carefully (especially after a long sitting) stand up. Turn again to the right (clockwise) to face the Zafu, fluff it again while rotating, and replace it (or for Kinhin, place it out of the way). Gassho toward the Zafu. turn again right (clockwise) to face the room, Gassho toward the room. If beginning Kinhin turn to the left. If leaving the Zen Hall, retrace your steps to enter. Bow in Gassho toward the Buddha Statue before exiting. To the degree possible, we will maintain silence during our two day Retreat. Keep all talk to a minimum, and avoid to speak unless truly an emergency.

... Jundo will now demonstrate:

(you should set the video to "FULL SCREEN" with the button at the right)


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Honored Teacher: Azuma Roshi


I sat a short Zazenkai this weekend with my first teacher in Japan, Azumu Ikuo Roshi (東 郁雄), a great Dogen scholar and former instructor at Soji-ji ... now age 92 and sharp as a tack. Here he is Saturday, lecturing on Dogen as always ...

Azuma Roshi 1 SMALL.jpg



He led the lay persons' group there for many many years ... I may not have stayed with this practice without him.
He was always so kind, down to earth.When I came here 20 years ago, my Japanese was pretty bad the first few years, and he lectured in Japanese ... but always took time to summarize in broken English so I would get the gist. 



It is wonderful when we can still have a chance to say 'thank you' to old teachers, or any of the other people who support each of us in this life



Azuma Roshi 2 Small.jpg
(Note: MONDAYS with TAIGU will be TUESDAY with TAIGU this week)

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(remember: recording ends soon after the beginning bells;
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RETREAT !! RETREAT!! (I)

We will have a few talks over the coming week or two, in preparation for our 'Treeleaf Two-Day Online Retreat', scheduled for LIVE NETCAST over the weekend of

DECEMBER 5 and 6, 2009!

(and available in recorded form after that, for participation any time 'On Demand').


The Retreat is in celebration of our all-online JUKAI (Undertaking the Precepts Ceremony, to be in early January) as well as ROHATSU (the celebreation of Shakyamuni's Moment of Realization under the Bodhi Tree some 2,500 years ago, traditionally celebrated in Japan during the week leading up to December 8th)

If you would like more information on the Retreat and Jukai (you can sit the retreat even if you are not participating in Jukai), please watch for information here and in our forum ...

JUKAI FORUM

Additional information and updates on the Retreat will be posted from time to time here:

ADDITIONAL RETREAT INFORMATION

Talks here in the coming days will cover such hot topics as "How to Chant" "How to Oryoki" "How to Bow" "How to Go To The Bathroom during a Retreat" (Really) and many others.

In the coming days, some additional materials (including the 'Chant Book' and various "Retreat Pointers") will be available for download. Watch for them here, on this "Sit-a-Long" blog.



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Carving Buddhas

( Dogen's Instructions for the Cook - XXVII)


We continue our look at equanimity ... equanimity hand-in-hand with sincere endeavor. The two would seem to be at odds.


But the two tastes can be one taste ... one beyond one taste.


A beautiful way to live all of life ... equanimity with sincere endeavor.

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What is regarded as the preparation of superb delicacies is not necessarily superior, nor is the preparation of a soup of the crudest greens necessarily inferior. When you select and serve up crude greens, if you do so with a true mind, a sincere mind, and a pure mind, then they will be comparable to superb delicacies. Why is that so? Because when one enters into the pure and vast oceanic assembly of the buddha dharma, superb delicacies are never seen and the flavor of crude greens does not exist: there is only the one taste of the great sea, and that is all (Uchiyama: The many rivers which flow into the ocean become the one taste of the ocean; when they flow into the pure ocean of the dharma there are no such distinctions as delicacies or plain food, there is just one taste, and it is the buddhadharma, the world as it is). Moreover, when it comes to the matters of nurturing the sprouts of the way and nourishing the sacred embryo, superb delicacies and crude greens are as one; there is no duality. There is an old saying that a monk's mouth is like a stove (meaning that a stove consumes all kinds of wood equally, regardless of its quality). You must not fail to understand this. You should think that even crude greens can nourish the sacred embryo and nurture the sprouts of the way (Uchiyama: Likewise, understand that a simple green has the power to become the practice of the Buddha, quite adequately nurturing the desire to live out the way). Do not regard them as base; do not take them lightly. A teacher of humans and devas is able to regard crude greens as things that convert and benefit [beings].

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




(remember: recording ends soon after the beginning bells;
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Karma Chameleon

( Dogen's Instructions for the Cook - XXVI)

The section we discussed yesterday mentions "Karma" and rebirth... so this is a good time for me to express a personal view on that.

My view is just my view, but is one that is sometimes criticized by Buddhists of a more literal or traditional bent ... who often tell me that my beliefs and comments will land me next life reborn as a wild fox, or perhaps in a Buddhist Hell.

According to Professor Foulk, the first

reference here is to "the famous story of a poor old woman who made an offering to Buddha of the water that she had used to rinse rice and, as a result, was reborn as a deva or human for fifteen kalpas [long ages], gained a male body [typically necessary for Budhahood in traditional Buddhism], and eventually became a buddha herself" ... the second is about "King Ashoka [who], legend has it, tried to contribute a huge amount of gold to a monastery, but was prevented by his son and ministers. ... Finally he took half a crabapple that he had in his own hands and ...  gave the fruit to the monks. They received it courteously, ground it into flour, and baked it into a cake, which was shared by all. This was Ashoka's final establishment of his good karmic roots."


(I mean, one may not need to take literally every belief of ancient Buddhism ... such as that belief about women, still felt in some corners of Buddhsm)

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As for the [proper] attitude in preparing food offerings and handling ingredients, do not debate the fineness of things and do not debate their coarseness, but take as essential the profound arousal of a true mind and a respectful mind.

Have you not seen that a single bowl of starchy water, offered to Him of the Ten Names, naturally resulted in wondrous merit that carried an old woman through future births; and that half a crabapple fruit, given to a single monastery, enabled King Ashoka finally to establish his vast good karmic roots, gain a prediction, and bring about a great result? Although they create a karmic connection with the Buddha, [donations that are] large and vacuous are not the same as [ones that are] small and sincere. This is the practice of a [true] person.

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




(remember: recording ends soon after the beginning bells;
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( Dogen's Instructions for the Cook - XXV)

In this section, Master Dogen continues to counsel that we should take the ingredients that life hands us and treat them with each of equanimity, gratitude and respect ... even if poor ingredients, small or not what we would necessarily want.

Master Dogen also emphasizes that a small donation or gift, though meagre yet given with sincerity and generosity, may mean more than a casual giving of great treasure.

He references a couple of old Buddhist stories to make his point: The first (from the Treatise on the Great Perfection of Wisdom) is a story of a poor old woman who made a simple offering to Buddha of the water that she had used to rinse rice and, as a result, was reborn to eventually became a buddha herself. The second concerns the great King Ashoka who, unable one day to give gold or money, donated with sincerity a mere half a crabapple to a monastery, which the monks received courteously, ground into flour, and baked into a cake which was shared by all (from the Ashoka sûtra).

The passage also refers to the Buddha as "Him of Ten Names", because many names are used to describe the Buddha. One sometimes heard is "awake and generous one", which seems fitting here.

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As for the [proper] attitude in preparing food offerings and handling ingredients, do not debate the fineness of things and do not debate their coarseness, but take as essential the profound arousal of a true mind and a respectful mind.

Have you not seen that a single bowl of starchy water, offered to Him of the Ten Names, naturally resulted in wondrous merit that carried an old woman through future births; and that half a crabapple fruit, given to a single monastery, enabled King Ashoka finally to establish his vast good karmic roots, gain a prediction, and bring about a great result? Although they create a karmic connection with the Buddha, [donations that are] large and vacuous are not the same as [ones that are] small and sincere. This is the practice of a [true] person.

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




(remember: recording ends soon after the beginning bells;
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'MONDAYS with TAIGU' - The Ten Oxherding Pictures (II)

Monday November 16, 2009






the 10 simultaneous pictures







ten oxherding all at once.gif



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Master Dogen, Business Consultant ?!?

( Dogen's Instructions for the Cook - XXIV)


We could almost write a modern corporate management advice book with this stuff ...

Maybe we can say that, even if the head of the whole organization, the president of the company ... watch the small details and make sure that the necessary materials and equipment are in stock ... make sure that your staff is properly fed and supplied ... don't just think about the bottom line, and merely concern yourself with how best to do the work and get the job done. If you keep thinking that the sky's the limit, you will think outside the box.

Maybe we could even do one of those late night infomercials to sell seminars? http://www.treeleaf.org/forum/images/smilies/icon_cool.gif

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 There are many old stories we can hear and present examples of monks training as tenzo. A great many teachings concern this because it is the heart of the Way.

  Even if you become the Abbot of a monastery, you should have this same understanding. [The Rules of Purity for Chan Monasteries] states, "Prepare each meal with each detail kept clear so that there will be enough. Make sure that the four offerings of food, clothing, bedding, and medicine are adequate just as the Generous One offered to his disciples the merit of twenty years of his lifetime [it being said that he died 20 years early in order to bequeath the remaining 20 years of merit to his followers in future generations]. We ourselves live today within the light of that gift because the energy of even a white hair between his brows is inexhaustible." It also says, "Just think about how to best serve the assembly without being hindered by thoughts of poverty. If your mind is limitless, you enjoy limitlessness." This is how the abbot serves the assembly.

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

Yasuda Joshu Dainen roshi and Anzan Hoshin roshi




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One Flavor, Five Poisons

( Dogen's Instructions for the Cook - XXIII)


Maybe we could say this like this ...


In cooking your life out of life's cookbook ... you had better see clearly what's what.

If you do so, you may be able to obtain a life of whole and harmonious flavor ... not limited to the words in the book.

If not, you may end up with a bitter, unpalatable, poisoned mess of a life.

So much of the result is up to you.


You can read a bit more about Viktor Frankl's finding meaning and peace even in a concentration camp here [LINK]

Viktor Frankl's 1946 book Man's Search for Meaning chronicles his experiences as a concentration camp inmate and describes his psychotherapeutic method of finding a reason to live. ... Frankl concludes that the meaning of life is found in every moment of living; life never ceases to have meaning, even in suffering and death. ...  Frankl concludes from his experience that a prisoner's psychological reactions are not solely the result of the conditions of his life, but also from the freedom of choice he always has even in severe suffering. The inner hold a prisoner has on his spiritual self relies on having a faith in the future, and that once a prisoner loses that faith, he is doomed.

 

Some Viktor Frankl quotes ...

    * "A man can get used to anything, but do not ask us how."

    * "We who lived in concentration camps can remember the men who walked through the huts comforting others, giving away their last piece of bread. They may have been few in number, but they offer sufficient proof that everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms--to choose one's attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one's own way."

    * "When we are no longer able to change a situation - just think of an incurable disease such as inoperable cancer - we are challenged to change ourselves."

    * "Fundamentally, therefore, any man can, even under such circumstances, decide what shall become of him - mentally and spiritually. He may retain his human dignity even in a concentration camp."

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You disciples who come after me, [must be able to see that side from this side, as well as this side from that side]. If you make this kind of effort, you will be able to obtain ... the Zen of a single flavor [that goes beyond the surface of words]. If you are not like this, you will be subjected willy-nilly to the poison of the Zen of five flavors, and when it comes to arranging the monks' meals, you will not be able to do it skillfully.

From: Tenzo Kyokun - Instructions for the Cook by Eihei Dogen - Translated by Griffith Foulk [with portion from Uchiyama]




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Raining



Raining, all day today, cold .... brrrrrrr ...






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The Tenth of the Bodhisattva's Ten Virtues is .... Knowledge (
Jñāna) ...



In Saving All Sentient Beings ... Knowledge Goes a Long Way ...




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This is an Enso from the great Zen teacher Nantembo who lived a century ago, his temple in Nishinomiya is very close to where I live.

It says: Everything fundamentally is perfect roundness in this world. As soon as you are born in this world, your mind is fundamentally perfect roundness.


Taiguox1.jpg




(remember: recording ends soon after the beginning bells;
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This month's sitting and ceremony is dedicated to a friend whose son is leaving for service in Afghanistan ... and to all such families ...

Please join our NOVEMBER 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

One, seven, three, five --

( Dogen's Instructions for the Cook - XXII)

Master Dogen continues his story of the Yuwang Monastery cook.

(I have added capitalized notes inspired by Uchiyama Roshi's comments) ...

I again asked the cook: "You are venerable in years; why don't you sit in meditation to pursue the way or contemplate the words of the ancients? It is troublesome being cook; all you do is labor. What good is that?" The cook laughed and said, "My good man from a foreign country, you do not yet understand pursuit of the way and do not yet know about written words [of the ancients]."

IF ONE THINKS THAT ZAZEN IS JUST SITTING AROUND, ONE TRULY DOES NOT UNDERSTAND ZAZEN IN ITS WIDEST MEANING. THE TENZO MEANS THAT DOGEN DOES NOT UNDERSTAND THE TRUE MEANING OF PRACTICE (THROUGH LABOR AND ALL OF LIFE) NOR THE TRUE MEANING OF THE BUDDHIST TEACHINGS.

When I heard him speak in this manner, I suddenly felt ashamed and taken aback. I asked him, "What are written words? What is the practice of the way?" The cook said, ["Keep asking and penetrate this question and then you will be someone who understands"]

IN OTHER WORDS, WHEN YOU FINALLY FIGURE OUT THIS QUESTION, YOU WILL TRULY UNDERSTAND PRACTICE AND THE TEACHINGS AND "YOU".

At the time, I did not understand. The cook said, "If you still don't understand, come to Yuwang Mountain at some other time, in the future. On that occasion we can discuss the principle of written words." Having spoken thus, the cook got up and said, "It is late in the day and I am in a hurry, so I am going back now."

In the seventh month of the same year, I registered at Tiantong [Monastery]. While I was there, that [Yuwang] cook came to meet me and said, "At the end of the summer retreat I retired as cook and am now returning to my home village. I happened to hear a disciple say that you were here; how could I not come to meet you?"

I jumped for joy and was very grateful. In the ensuing conversation that I had with him I brought up the [matter he had touched on aboard the ship concerning the practice and study of words]. The cook said, "The study of written words is to understand the purpose of written words. Exertion in pursuit of the way requires an affirmation of the purpose of pursuing the way." I asked him, "What are written words?" The cook answered, "One, two, three, four, five." I also asked, "What is pursuit of the way?" He said, "In the whole world, it can never be hidden."

UCHIYAMA ROSHI COMMENTS:, "THERE IS NOTHING IN THE WHOLE WORLD THAT IS HIDDEN" ... MEANING THAT THE TRUTH OF LIFE MANIFESTS ITSELF IN ALL PLACES AND IN ALL THINGS, JUST AS THEY ARE. WHEN THE TENZO COUNTS TO FIVE, HE IMPLIES THAT "EVERYTHING" IS THE ANSWER; HERE HE SAYS THAT EVERYTHING IN OUR LIVES IS PRACTICE.


Although there was a great variety of other things that we discussed, I will not record them at this point. The little I know about written words and understand about pursuing the way is due to the great kindness of that cook. I told my late teacher Myôzen about the things that I have just related here, and he was very happy to hear of them.

Later I saw a verse that {the poet and Zen Master] Xuedou wrote to instruct the monks:

[One, seven, three, five --

The truth you search for cannot be grasped.

As night advances, a bright moon

illuminates the whole ocean;

The dragon's jewels are found in every wave.

Looking for the moon, it is here,

in this wave, in the next.]

THE TRUTH IS EVERYWHERE IF WE CAN SEE, AND EVEN IF WE CANNOT.

What that cook said some years before and what Xuedou expresses in this verse clearly coincide. More and more I understand that the cook was a true man of the way. But in the past what I saw of written words was one, two, three, four, five. Today what I see of written words is also six, seven, eight, nine, ten.

UCHIYAMA ROSHI COMMENTS: "6,7,8,9 and 10. THAT IS, THOUGH THE PHENOMENA WE ENCOUNTER BEFORE AND AFTER ENLIGHTENMENT ARE THE SAME, THE FUNCTION COMPLETELY CHANGES"

From: Tenzo Kyokun - Instructions for the Cook by Eihei Dogen - Translated by Griffith Foulk [with portion from Uchiyama and Anzan Hoshin]




(remember: recording ends soon after the beginning bells;
a sitting time of 20 to 35 minutes is recommended)
(there is no video today ... )

Well, I just had the pleasure of visiting a Meditation Hall with 1,300 members, from all Buddhist traditions ... some of whom are pirates, golden fairies, meditating dogs, flying dragons and .... the imagination is the only limit! It is called "Kannonji", and is located in that weird wonderful and wild realm known as Second Life!


I will have the honor of giving a talk there, and leading Zazen  "LIVE" (?!?!) on Saturday, Nov. 14 @ 5 PM SLT (PDT ... Pacific Daylight Time).

Click Here to visit Kannonji in Second Life
(although requires viewer software install)

Today, Adam (or "Caspian", as he is know there), one of the founders of Kannonji, showed me the ropes (actually, he showed me such basic stuff as how not to walk into walls, how to put on clothes and sit down! All important skills in any life). He also was kind enough to buy me some Soto Zen robes to wear (perhaps a little fancy for my taste ... but lovely nonetheless. He helped me purchase a body which, I must say, has 6-pack abs under all those robes! I guess that is why they call "Second Life" a fantasy world!!)

Here is my avatar ... 


second life jundo.jpg

Anyway, I hope you can make it to Kannonji ... but if not, I may be able to post a recording of the talk here.

Here is a video tour of Kannonji  ... it looks like something out of the Lotus Sutra ...




I am new to "Second Life" ... so new, that my big achievement this week will be to try to move my avatar without falling down the stairs. I have no judgment about the experience yet based on my short few hours there, but the community seems very welcoming ... and it is a fascinating lesson in how we create a world from the mind.

I will say that my talk next week (not to give the drama away :blush: ) will probably be something along the lines of "Second Life is magical and wondrous and fantastic ... but so is First Life when we learn to see it as such ... and also please drop into "No Life" ("No Death" either) ... because that's where the real action is". :PP:

If not me, who? If not now, when?

( Dogen's Instructions for the Cook - XXI)


In the following section, Master Dogen recounts his encounters in China with two old Tenzo  ...


The stories speak for themselves today ... so I'll let them ...


(I'll have a little to say about the last lines tomorrow)

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When this mountain monk [I, Dôgen] was at Tiantong Monastery, the position [of cook] was held by cook Yong, of the same province [as the monastery]. Once, after the midday meal I was passing through the east corridor on my way to the Chaoran room [where my teacher Myôzen was being nursed] when I saw the cook in front of the buddha hall airing mushrooms. He carried a bamboo staff in his hand, but had no hat on his head. The sun was hot, the ground tiles were hot, and sweat streamed over him as he worked diligently to dry the mushrooms. He was suffering a bit. With his backbone bent like a bow and his shaggy eyebrows, he resembled a crane.

I approached and asked the cook his dharma age. He said, "Sixty-eight years." I said, "Why do you not employ postulants or laborers?" He said, "They are not me." I said, "Venerable sir, your attitude is indeed proper, but the sun is so hot; why are you doing this [now]?" The cook said, "What time should I wait for?" I took my leave, but as I walked along the corridor, I began to realize how important an opportunity this position affords.

Again, in the fifth month of the sixteenth year of the Jiading era [1223], I was on the ship at Qingyuan. While I was talking with the Japanese captain, there was an old monk who arrived. He was about sixty years old. He came directly onto the ship and inquired of the Japanese passengers if he could buy Japanese mushrooms. I invited him to drink tea and asked where he was from. He was the cook of the monastery on Mount Ayuwang. He said, "I come from Sichuan, but I left my home village forty years ago. This year I am sixty-one years old. In the past I have trained in quite a few different monasteries. In recent years, I stayed for a while with Guyun. I was able to register at Yuwang [monastery], but for some time I felt out of place. At the end of the summer retreat last year, however, I was appointed cook of that monastery. Tomorrow is the fifth day [feast], but the entire menu does not yet include a single delicacy. I need to cook noodle soup, but still have no mushrooms, and thus have made a special trip here to try to buy mushrooms to offer to the monks of the ten directions.

I asked him, "What time did you leave there?" The cook replied, "After the midday meal (i.e., the last meal of the day)." I inquired, "How long is the road from Yuwang to here?" He said, "Thirty-four or thirty-five li." I asked, "When will you return to the monastery?" He said, "If I can buy the mushrooms now, I will set off right after that." I said, "Today I did not expect to meet you and have a conversation on this ship. It is most fortunate, is it not, to form this karmic bond? Dôgen [I] will treat the cook Zen master [you] to a meal." The cook said, "It is impossible. If I do not oversee the preparations for tomorrow's meal offering, it will not turn out well." I said, "Are there not co-workers in the monastery who understand the meals? What will be deficient if only one officer, the cook, is not present?" The cook said, "I took up this position in my later years; it is this old man's pursuit of the way. How could I hand it over to others? Besides, when I came I did not ask to stay away overnight."

I again asked the cook: "You are venerable in years; why don't you sit in meditation to pursue the way or contemplate the words of the ancients? It is troublesome being cook; all you do is labor. What good is that?" The cook laughed and said, "My good man from a foreign country, you do not yet understand pursuit of the way and do not yet know about written words." When I heard him speak in this manner, I suddenly felt ashamed and taken aback. I asked him, "What are written words? What is the practice of the way?" The cook said, "If you do not slip up and pass by the place you ask about, how could you not be a man?" At the time, I did not understand. The cook said, "If you still don't understand, come to Yuwang Mountain at some other time, in the future. On that occasion we can discuss the principle of written words." Having spoken thus, the cook got up and said, "It is late in the day and I am in a hurry, so I am going back now."

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)


Self Responsibility

( Dogen's Instructions for the Cook - XX)


This is a chance to talk about Buddhist practice and personal (or "self") responsibility. The world and our self are not two, meaning that we can do a lot to repair this world starting by looking and changing within our self.

Also, it is important to realize this life & world as perfectly "just what is" ... and we accept it all, are at one with it all, reject none of it ...

However, we must simultaneously seek to free our "self" of greed, anger and ignorance, freeing our "self" of its "self", dropping all that away.

All at once. If one merely says "all is perfect" and, thus, there is no need to practice ... one is foolish.

Dirty teeth, clean teeth ... each perfectly what they are, as they are, dirty teeth precisely dirty, each a jewel in its own way. ..................... Yet, brush brush brush each day!

This is true for our little life, and for this whole world ... all the weeds and flowers, each natural in its way ... yet constantly pull those weeds, nurture the flowers as one can.

You may recall the famous poetry slam in the "Platform Sutra of the 6th Patriarch". It is said that Shenxiu lost the contest with these lines ...

The body is a Bodhi [Perfect Wisdom] tree,
the mind a standing mirror bright.
At all times polish it diligently,
and let no dust alight.

and that Huineng won the day with this little diddy ...

Bodhi is no tree,
nor is the mind a standing mirror bright.
Since all is originally empty,
where does the dust alight?

But, really, it is not that Shenxiu was wrong (in fact, their Master, Hongren, praised each in its way) and both are truly right at once ... both two sides of a complete view.


_____________________________

Throughout the day, as you prepare the meals, do not pass the time in vain. If your preparations are true, then your movements and activities will naturally become the deeds of nurturing the womb of the sage. The way to put the great assembly at ease is to step back and transform yourself.

It has been a long time now since the name "buddha-dharma" came to be heard in our country, Japan. However, our predecessors did not record, and the former worthies did not teach, anything about the proper procedure for monks' meals, and they never even dreamed of the rite of making nine prostrations before the monks' meals. People in this country say that the way in which the monks eat and the way in which monasteries prepare food are just like the feeding methods of [domestic] birds and beasts. This is truly pathetic, truly deplorable. How could it be?

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' - simplicity



simplicity, please ...






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