August 2007 Archives

SIT-A-LONG with JUNDO: Hair!

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Some folks have written recently to ask,


Hey, Jundo! What's with all the hair & the beard? I thought Zen monks are supposed to shave?


Well, many Zen teachers of old had hair and/or beards ...





... and even recent Ch'an monks ... and Western women (though usually not the beards) ...



... Master Dogen had a five-o'clock shadow some days ...


... and Zen immortals ... and Bodhidharma (with an earring, no less) ... and even the Bossman, Shakyamuni Buddha, had a gorgeous head of hair ...















Even in Southeast Asian traditions, where things are rather strict, the Rules state ...

Hair of the head. The hair of the head should not be worn long. It should be shaved at least every two months or when the hair has grown to a length of two fingerbreadths — whichever occurs first, says the Commentary. In Thailand there is the custom that all bhikkhus shave their heads on the same day, the day before the full moon, so that the Community can present a uniform appearance. Although this is not obligatory, a bhikkhu who does not follow the custom tends to stand out from his fellows ...

Beard. The beard should not be grown long, although — unlike the hair of the head — there is no explicit maximum length, unless the two month/two fingerbreadth rule is meant to apply here as well. One may not dress the beard as a goatee, a rectangle, or in any other design. The moustache may not be dressed, e.g., by making its ends stand up. Because there is no prohibition against using scissors to cut the beard, electric razors are clearly allowed in shaving the face.

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/authors/thanissaro/bmc2/bmc2.ch01.html

Oh, and did I mention the deep philosophical reasons for being hirsute? (I will in a minute).

As the song goes (for those old enough to remember) ...


Let it fly in the breeze and get caught in the trees
Give a home to the fleas in my hair A home for fleas, a hive for bees A nest for birds, there ain't no words For the beauty, the splendor, the wonder of my
Hair! (hair, hair, hair, hair, hair, hair)
Flow it, Show it;
Long as God can grow it, My Hair!

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SIT-A-LONG with GUDO & JUNDO: Kashaya

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Today, our most special guest 'sits-a-long' ...

The subject was the 'Kesa' (skt. kâshâya), the monk's outer robe. The 'Rakusu' is the shortened version that I wear most days. Nishijima Roshi always sits in a full Kashaya. He recently wrote this:

I think that not only monks, but all human beings should wear Kashaya when they practice Zazen. The reason why I recommend to do so to my students comes from that I actually experience that when I put on Kashaya on my body, I experience very sober and sincere consciousness without fail actually. Therefore in Shobogenzo, the 93th Chapter Doshin, Master Dogen insists that we should wear Kashaya, when we practice Zazen.

When we wear Kashaya, we usually sit on the floor stretching the waist, and putting the folded Kashaya on the head, with joining hands, and recite the Chodai Kesa no Ge, or the Poem of praising Kashaya three times. Then standing up, we wear it.

Chodai Kesa no Ge

Daisai Gedaffuku Muso Fukuden-e Hibu Nyoraikyoo Koodo Shoshujoo

(Meaning)

"Daisai" means it is so great. "Gedatsu" means to become free. "Fuku" means clothes. "Hibu" means to wear reverently. Nyoraikyoo means Gautama Buddha's teachings. Koodo means to save widely. Shoshujoo means miscellaneous living beings. Therefore the total meaning is:

How great is the clothing of liberation,
Formless, field of happiness, robe!
Devoutly wearing the Tathaagata's teaching,
Widely I will save living beings. (translated by Gudo Wafu & Chodo Cross)


Master Dogen wrote:


"The Kesa is the heart of Zen, the marrow of its bones."

My friend, Pierre Turlur, wrote this (he is an expert on Kesa sewing) ...

When you choose fabric for the kesa, please, remember that you are rags holding rags. So it can be cotton, linen, hemp, silk even artificial fabric…IT doesn’t cultivate any particular view. Rags are best. What collects fabric is a broken life, a life in pieces, what is collected is just rags. Nothing special, nothing holy in this. You may buy a beautiful and light fabric in a shop and dye it or not, you may ask people to give you bits and pieces of fabric, you may look into your wardrobe and get things you don’t wear anymore to make the robe…It is up to you. In Kesa-Kudoku, Dogen lists the ten sort of rags:

1)Rags chewed by an ox, 2) rags gnawed by rats,3) rags scorched by fire,4) rags soiled by menstruation,5) rags soiled by childbirth,6) rags offered at a shrine,7)rags left at a graveyard,8) rags offered in petitional prayer9)rags disregarded by king’s officers,10) rags brought back from the funeral. These ten sorts people throw away, there are not used in human society. We pick them up and make them into the pure material of the kasaya.


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(Sitting Time: About 25 minutes)

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EMAIL IS OFF AGAIN!

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The key to "Non-Attachment" is a loosening, or fading away, of a hard sense of 'self' ...

... because it is the self that is selfish, it is the self that has self needs, it is the self that wants to please itself, it is the self that is afraid of death and loss of itself, it is the self that needs money and power and fame to reinforce its sense of self, it is the self that judges other selves in comparison of 'failure' or 'success', it is the self that can't keep itself still ... etc. etc.

... but for some reason (and you have to trust me on this ... it just happens) the sense of self relaxes, or fades away, in the act of goalless, non-attaining, 'just sitting' Zazen.

And as the self is dropped (although, of course, the self remains too ... for we continue to live in the world ... self/no self becoming like two sides of a single coin) ... there is less selfishness, less need, there is the pleasure of not needing to be pleased, no fear of death for nothing to lose, no dependence on material achievements, no way to fail or succeed, simple stillness with no place else to go.

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EMAIL IS BACK!

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"Non-Attachment" is being mindful, yet not attached.


We allow events to go the way they go, do not cling to things.



There are 1000 opportunities to practice 'non-attachment' during a normal day.


(Please pardon my non-stop cough during Zazen. That cough is now attached to me!)

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SIT-A-LONG with JUNDO: Non-Attachment

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EMAIL DOWN: OUR EMAIL HAS BEEN DOWN FOR A FEW DAYS, FOR FOLKS TRYING TO REACH ME.

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I posted this in a discussion on the Forum, as the subject was "Non-attachment" ...


I like to go with a gentle approach to "attachments," because the simplest way to get rid of our "overly tight grip" on life is not by gripping life tighter. It is, instead, attained by releasing the wheel and allowing the vessel to go as it will.

One learns to walk this road by trusting and allowing life to be what it is, not trying (once again) to make ourselves and the world "the way we insist they should be".

So, I believe our approach to attachment should be simply a willingness to allow thing to come and go (even the treasures and people in our live that we cling to) ... and to embrace the world, and its events, the way they are (even when we do not care for them).

By doing so, one is non-attached.

Nurture the garden, take tender care of each blossom ... laugh as the flood sweeps it all away.

"Non-attached", by the way, does not mean "disattached" ... I love my family members, cherish our relationships and time together, for example ... but must be willing to see them go when the time has come.

That, for me, is the Buddhist way of unattached, yet mindful care ... or "non-attachment," you might say.

The Buddha had been an aescetic, and tried the road of "self-denial" as a means of freedom from attachments. But, ultimately, he rejected that way and preached the "middle road," the way of moderation. So, I think that having our small likes, dislikes, prejudices, biases, strong and weak points, bad habits and all the rest is not the problem of "attachment". Without those things, we are not human, just cold machines.

Instead, it is merely a matter of accepting our silly humanity with all the good and bad, beautiful and ugly points, seeking as best we can to nourish the good and not do harm ... but ultimately embracing the way we are as we are. Then, we are "non-attached". I think.


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EMAIL DOWN: OUR EMAIL HAS BEEN DOWN FOR A FEW DAYS, FOR FOLKS TRYING TO REACH ME.

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Yesterday's story of sadness, now this that comes from it ...

HELP IS ON THE WAY FOR YOUSSIF

Few stories have touched CNN.com users like that of 5-year-old Youssif,
an Iraqi boy set on fire by masked men.
A U.S. burns center has offered to pay for all his medical expenses.
When told of the news, the boy ran through his house in joy:
"Daddy, am I really going to get on a plane?!"

[read more]

Okay, okay, I know .. how these news pieces capture the hearts of people for a minute ... We open our purses and purge our guilty hearts. It lets us feel good for a time, making us feel generous ... as we ignore all the other needy children not seen on the tv. ... Sure, sure. That is all true.

But this story also shows the option for both harmful and helpful action by human beings, how we can be violent or loving. We live in a world where we are largely free to pursue either road, all by our choice and character.

In our Zazen, we sit peacefully on that center point, at the exact cross-roads to both. And we just are there, still, dropping all thoughts of 'good' or 'bad' ... yet observing it all with tears and smiles.




We are sitting at the center of this complex, turning wheel.


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Yesterday, I described Buddhism as a positive, joyful, optimistic philosophy, with Zazen an experience pleasant and peaceful, filled with feelings of deep contentment. I was kidding around with my little nieces and son, shooting the garden hose, celebrating a child's birthday ...

Then I looked at the news, and saw one of those stories ... I woke up during the night brokenhearted, crying. I have a son that age ... what in the world?


BOY, 5, DOUSED AND SET ON FIRE BY MASKED MEN:
They grabbed him on a January day outside his central Baghdad home,
doused him with gas and set him ablaze. It's an act incomprehensibly savage, even by Iraq's standards today ... the motive remains unknown. "They dumped gasoline, burned me, and ran," Youssif said, pointing down the street with his scarred hands where his attackers fled. As he sucked his thumb, he repeated, "I was burning." He tried to put the flames out himself. It's hard to see the energetic outgoing child his parents describe beneath the sullen demeanor that defines Youssif today. [more here]


I have a son that age. I am brokenhearted at this world sometimes.

So am a kidding myself? Kidding you?

What joy, peace, optimism or contentment in Zazen can possibly exist in the face of that?



What is called sitting-Zen is not learning Zen meditation. It is just a peaceful and effortless gate to reality. It is practice-and-experience which perfectly realizes the Buddha's enlightenment. The Universe is realized, untouched by restrictions or hindrances. To grasp this meaning is to be like a dragon that has found water, or like a tiger before a mountain stronghold. Remember, true reality is naturally manifesting itself before us, and gloom and distraction vanish at a stroke. [NISHIJIMA]


The zazen I speak of is not meditation practice. It is simply the dharma gate of joyful ease, the practice-realization of totally culminated enlightenment. It is the koan realized; traps and snares can never reach it. If you grasp the point, you are like a dragon gaining the water, like a tiger taking to the mountains. For you must know that the true dharma appears of itself, so that from the start dullness and distraction are struck aside. [SZTP]


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Burned and Vandalized Buddha Statue from S.Korea
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Nishijima Roshi describes Buddhism as a positive, joyful, optimistic philosophy. It does not have that image to many people, who see it as a means of escape from all emotions, pleasing or not. It just is not so.

Zazen is (usually) pleasant, joyful and filled with sensations of peace and contentment. On the contrary, one might think that "not seeking", and our accepting this crazy world "just-as-it-is", would lead to some empty neutrality, dull blankness, emotional coldness or 'stiff upper lip' stoicism. But it is not so.

Zazen is the Pleasure that manifests in pausing in our constant search for pleasure, the Peace of halting a struggle to make the world 'the way I want it to be'. It is a Joy found in releasing all clinging to 'joy', and a willingness to let joy go. It is the Contentment that arises by floating along midstream in this tumultuous life 'as it is'.

Yes, pleasure and joy, peace and contentment are (usually) part and parcel of Zazen. The non-seeking for treasure is where unexpected treasure is found.

However, one should not be attached to even that Pleasure, Joy, Peace and Contentment. We must be content in Zazen even when an experience -not- pleasant, joyful, peaceful or filled with feelings of contentment. Then we must remind ourselves that merely sitting Zazen, crossing the legs and straightening the back, is already Satori itself.

That is True Contentment. That is True Pleasure, Joy and Peace.


(There is an old, ascetic tradition in Japan of Zazen or chanting under a freezing waterfall. Today was my much dumber version. It was fine until the garden hose went up my nose. Of course, when the kids finally put the wash bucket on my head, the world became very still and quiet. I recommend Zazen in a bucket to everyone.)


What is called sitting-Zen is not learning Zen meditation. It is just a peaceful and effortless gate to reality. It is practice-and-experience which perfectly realizes the Buddha's enlightenment. The Universe is realized, untouched by restrictions or hindrances. To grasp this meaning is to be like a dragon that has found water, or like a tiger before a mountain stronghold. Remember, true reality is naturally manifesting itself before us, and gloom and distraction vanish at a stroke. [NISHIJIMA]


The zazen I speak of is not meditation practice. It is simply the dharma gate of joyful ease, the practice-realization of totally culminated enlightenment. It is the koan realized; traps and snares can never reach it. If you grasp the point, you are like a dragon gaining the water, like a tiger taking to the mountains. For you must know that the true dharma appears of itself, so that from the start dullness and distraction are struck aside. [SZTP]


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In Asian legend, dragons are wonderous water dwelling creatures, a symbol of good fortune. Tigers live in their mountain lair. They are in their true element.
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In Zazen, human beings find their true element ....
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.... untouched by restrictions or hindrances.




What is called sitting-Zen is not learning Zen meditation. It is just a peaceful and effortless gate to reality. It is practice-and-experience which perfectly realizes the Buddha's enlightenment. The Universe is realized, untouched by restrictions or hindrances. To grasp this meaning is to be like a dragon that has found water, or like a tiger before a mountain stronghold. Remember, true reality is naturally manifesting itself before us, and gloom and distraction vanish at a stroke. [NISHIJIMA]


The zazen I speak of is not meditation practice. It is simply the dharma gate of joyful ease, the practice-realization of totally culminated enlightenment. It is the koan realized; traps and snares can never reach it. If you grasp the point, you are like a dragon gaining the water, like a tiger taking to the mountains. For you must know that the true dharma appears of itself, so that from the start dullness and distraction are struck aside. [SZTP]


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SIT-A-LONG with JUNDO: Aches and Pains

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A koan for people growing older ...


If there is no self, whose arthritis is this?
(From Zen Judaism, by David Bader)


It's not only the 'big stuff', but the little aches and pains (sore knees, sore back), annoyances and distractions (the phone ringing during Zazen) that also must be embraced in our Practice. Nothing is to be rejected, even if it truly was no fun to crawl to the Zafu from bed this morning.

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When a body is too old or sick, it dies. The remains are burned, or placed in the ground ... the life of that body is over. The mental realm held within its skull is, quite likely, stone-cold-dead and gone too.

Philosophers and theologians have debated whether some consciousness survives, some soul or spirit, but truly we cannot know. Nobody has ever returned to tell the tale (at least, not in any way that can be scientifically confirmed). Anyway, it's not immediately important: Whether there is life-after-death, whether there is nothing ... whatever will happen will happen (or not). Thus our Zen Practice instructs us to ignore the question, to live and breathe now, leaving such things to take care of themselves.

Best to simply be and live, here and now.

But our Buddhist Teachings also offer this little nugget: The whole question of 'life-after-death' is nonsense. It is nonsense because, in an absolute sense, we never die. We never die because, quite obviously, we were never born.

How is that?

Imagine a single leaf, but one of countless leaves springing from a tree of vast age and size. That little leaf will live for but a season, soon to fall and decay, though the tree goes on and on. When its time has come, that leaf will wither. It is finished.

But, simultaneously, in our Buddhist perspective, that lonely leaf is not merely a separate thing (it is, of course, a separate thing ... just not that alone). Nor is that small leaf but a part of the tree, though that too. Instead ...

it --is-- the tree.

It is just that great tree in a localized expression, at a certain place and time. Not symbolically or figuratively, but actually: It is the tree in an absolute sense, and the tree is all it holds. And to the extent that the tree was, is and will be ... the leaf was, is and will be too ... being precisely that tree which encompasses all its leaves. Thus, as the leaf was, is and will be ... so a leaf is never born, never dies. (Is not each cell of your body, each of the trillions and trillions of cells, both a "cell" and merely "you"? For "you" are nothing but them -- without them, "you" are not. Thus, while cells may come and go, they do not -- so long as you do not).

What is more, as the leaf is but the tree, and as every other leaf that ever was, is or will be, anyplace in space and time, is but the tree too ... our leaf is all those other leaves, and they are it, as much as our leaf is itself. (Something like: B is A, and C is A, so B is C ... meaning not just that "B equals C", but that "B is C" in the most intimate sense).

All human creatures should perceive the "self" as being as much our universe as the single leaf is its mother tree ... as the single leaf --is-- the mother tree by being an expression thereof. (How can this be seen? It is the mind which does the seeing. It is much like viewing a wall made of piled bricks: If the mind sees a wall, there is a wall; If the mind sees but stacked bricks, there are but bricks. The wall is not seen. If the mind sees a wall and bricks, both are at once).

Of course, there is so much we do not understand about the tree, our universe ... What is its true source? To where do its branches stretch? Is there purpose and direction in its growth? Does it grow by wild chance or a gardener's hand? Has it always existed, complete unto itself? Is it part of some larger whole?

We do not know.

But, whatever its source or spread, that tree did bring us forth, gave us birth and growth. It has gotten us this far, allowing our bittersweet lives on this little world. Thus, we should trust it to do as it will (it will anyway) ... that universal tree which we are.



Leaves come and go, Only the tree remains ...
For all that grows there, Only the tree.


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'no birth no death' by Nonin Chowaney Roshi, Nebraska Zen Center
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SIT-A-LONG with JUNDO: Silent Sitting

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Today, I was going to explain how death is merely an illusion, that we truly live forever without end, that reincarnation is as real as the sunrise (just not in the simplistic manner often portrayed), that life is not at all as it seems ...

... and I was going to do so in such a short, clear and direct way ... without superstition or hocus-pocus ... that not even the greatest skeptic could argue with its reasoning.

But I think I will leave all that for tomorrow.

Instead, let us have a 30-minute silent sitting.

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SIT-A-LONG with JUNDO: Friction

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The two Buddhist perspectives mentioned yesterday, while seemingly contradictory, each dissolve the frictions between ourselves and the world ... our experience of the disagreeable, conflict, things bumping one into the other, life not going quite as we would wish ...

First, if the sense of a separate self softens, or is fully dropped, what 'separate things' remain to crash against each other? What "you" remains for events to "not go your way"? The friction is gone.

Second, if you -- and every other object in the universe -- exists perfectly as perfectly-just-what-it-is, what is there to criticize or resist? Everything is as it is. The friction is gone.

Each of these perspective, although seemingly quite different, is tasted in the goalless, objectless experience of "just sitting" Zazen. When our mind ceases its hard divisions and categorizations, the first. When we relax from imposing our judgments on ourselves and on the world as to how each "should be", the second.

"No friction", or better (since we still must live in a world of things that bump and crash, even as we simultaneously drop all resistance) ...

non-friction


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Two Buddhist perspectives on Reality, seemingly contradictory at first glance, are absolutely vital to understanding our True Nature:

First, you -- and every other object in the universe that the mind identifies as having separate self-identity -- are not so, do not truly exist in such way, are mental illusions created by our assigning labels and definitions, imagined as separate objects, merely sets of conditions and circumstances which come together temporarily in expressions of the various 'wholes' which hold them ...

A tree and mountain, for example, do not bother to call themselves 'tree' and 'mountain', or to define where the tree ends and the mountain that the tree sits upon begins. Only the mind does that. They, by themselves, are just their 'tree/mountain' whole, as it exists before a thought of tree or mountain.

Second, you -- and every other object in the universe that your mind identifies as having separate self-identity -- absolutely exists as itself, and is perfectly just what it is. There is nothing to add or take away from it to make it more itself ...

Much as each door and window, tile and brick that makes a house is not truly a separate thing but (when stepping back and seeing the whole) is just the house.

Yet each door and window, tile and brick, simultaneously, is perfectly itself, just that door, window, tile or brick as it is.

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SIT-A-LONG with JUNDO: Kitchen Chaos

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Today was to be a father/son sit, quietly facing the kitchen wall. It was quiet sometimes.

The emergency 'potty' break in the middle was an unexpected part (our refrigerator led the Zazen for awhile).

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SIT-A-LONG with JUNDO: Zazen in a Truck

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'Zazen in a truck'. It should have been 'sleeping in a truck', but I didn't fall asleep after all. Falling asleep during Zazen is no shame or waste of time (nothing about Zen Practice involves shame or any waste) ... at least if just once in awhile. (Every time would be a big waste and a shame, I think). If you really need to sleep, just sleep. We've been driving this truck all day it seems.

Now, I feel great, like I can drive all night, and Zazen can substitute for quite a bit of sleep, in my experience.

However ... I think I'll let Mina take the next leg. Why take chances?

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It's traditional in Japan to have a Shinto Priest come out and 'appease the spirits (Kami)' when starting big construction like we are at Treeleaf. My wife insisted.
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I don't know so much about appeasing the spirits, but I do know about appeasing my wife. So, we had it done. You can see a few minutes of the ceremony here (those Shinto priests sure have cool Heian Age clothes, and, like Japanese Buddhist priests, some smooth dance moves). Unfortunately, it all made Leon start crying (especially when the Kami-nushi, or 'Spirit Master', let out a couple of cries to wake the dead ... listen in the middle for that. Hope it made the spirits smile).
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My attitude toward such things is, well, 'Don't know if it will help, but it sure can't hurt'. Some of the rocks, trees, grounds and such around the building ... even the building itself ... sure feel sometimes that they might have a little spirit to them. Who knows? 
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I don't think I believe in such spirits, or any god, but I could be wrong. So, I call it "winking at the gods ... asking for the benefit of the doubt too" ...
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Today, I am joined for Zazen by my 14-year-old nephew. It is his first time for Zazen (I didn't make him do it. He volunteered. Really.)
I just told him that, for the time we are sitting, don't think about school, his parents, his iPod, his Gameboy, comic books, cars, baseball and, of course, girls.
I figured that those items would about cover the teenage brain, and other than that it would be pretty quiet in there.
I think he did great. Not sure if he wants to do it again though.


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I find the places for our sit-a-longs each day, mostly because there is an internet connection there (they take some hunting to find) or because it connects in some way to the theme of the sitting.
But I don't choose places because they are exciting or interesting. In fact, my point in sitting in different places is quite the opposite, that we can sit Zazen EVERYWHERE! A quiet place to sit is within us and outside too.
I want to say that every place, and everything, is a treasure or sacred. Even when we do not feel it so.

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SIT-A-LONG with JUNDO: 'Let's Zen'

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I went today to a special exhibit at the National History Museum called 'Let's Zen' ... old temple stuff, statues, portraits of great masters ....

(LOOK HERE)
Let's Zen

... beautiful. But my practice is not really about that.

Then I came out to the streets of Tokyo ... loud, busy, colorful, crowded.

... distracting. But my practice is not disturbed by that.

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(Sound is not so good today. Sorry for that)
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'Genjo Koan' is also the title of one of the most famous sections of Master Dogen's Shobogenzo. The phrase has been translated many ways.

Nishijima Roshi rendered these words as "The Realized Universe." Prof. Reiho Masunaga called it "the Koan expressed in daily life." Shohaku Okamura Roshi wrote:

My understanding of the title "Genjo-koan" is genjo (reality actually and presently taking place) is koan (absolute truth and also a question from reality to us). And koan is nothing other than genjo (things actually happening in front of our eyes).

Every thing, every place, is 'the universe realized'


What is called sitting-Zen is not learning Zen meditation. It is just a peaceful and effortless gate to reality. It is practice-and-experience which perfectly realizes the Buddha's enlightenment. The Universe is realized [公案現成 Kôan genjô], untouched by restrictions or hindrances. To grasp this meaning is to be like a dragon that has found water, or like a tiger before a mountain stronghold. Remember, true reality is naturally manifesting itself before us, and gloom and distraction vanish at a stroke. [NISHIJIMA]


The zazen I speak of is not meditation practice. It is simply the dharma gate of joyful ease, the practice-realization of totally culminated enlightenment. It is the koan realized; traps and snares can never reach it. If you grasp the point, you are like a dragon gaining the water, like a tiger taking to the mountains. For you must know that the true dharma appears of itself, so that from the start dullness and distraction are struck aside. [SZTP]

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'Tosu' (Latrine) at Tofuku-ji Zen Temple, Kyoto (Muromachi Period, 16th? Century)
Designated 'Important Cultural Property'

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Just sitting, in the universe as-it-is ... untouched by restrictions, hindrances, obstructions or distractions ...



That means all obstructions of any kind, both humankind and nature's beauty or ugliness.




What is called sitting-Zen is not learning Zen meditation. It is just a peaceful and effortless gate to reality. It is practice-and-experience which perfectly realizes the Buddha's enlightenment. The Universe is realized, untouched by restrictions or hindrances. To grasp this meaning is to be like a dragon that has found water, or like a tiger before a mountain stronghold. Remember, true reality is naturally manifesting itself before us, and gloom and distraction vanish at a stroke. [NISHIJIMA]


The zazen I speak of is not meditation practice. It is simply the dharma gate of joyful ease, the practice-realization of totally culminated enlightenment. It is the koan realized; traps and snares can never reach it. If you grasp the point, you are like a dragon gaining the water, like a tiger taking to the mountains. For you must know that the true dharma appears of itself, so that from the start dullness and distraction are struck aside. [SZTP]


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Remains of Buddha Statute from Temple at 'Ground Zero', Atomic Bombing, Hiroshima, 1945
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Zazen is perfect enlightenment, the Buddha's enlightenment.

Just sitting, in the universe itself ... legs crossed and spine straight ... untouched by restrictions, hindrances, obstructions or distractions ... balance of body-mind ... no 'you' to resist the world, no 'world' to be resisted ... you are experiencing the Buddha's enlightenment ...

... just the Buddha experiencing the Buddha's enlightenment.

No gap. Nothing more to attain.

That to be completed ... all complete.


It is vital to trust in this.




What is called sitting-Zen is not learning Zen meditation. It is just a peaceful and effortless gate to reality. It is practice-and-experience which perfectly realizes the Buddha's enlightenment. The Universe is realized, untouched by restrictions or hindrances. To grasp this meaning is to be like a dragon that has found water, or like a tiger before a mountain stronghold. Remember, true reality is naturally manifesting itself before us, and gloom and distraction vanish at a stroke. [NISHIJIMA]


The zazen I speak of is not meditation practice. It is simply the dharma gate of joyful ease, the practice-realization of totally culminated enlightenment. It is the koan realized; traps and snares can never reach it. If you grasp the point, you are like a dragon gaining the water, like a tiger taking to the mountains. For you must know that the true dharma appears of itself, so that from the start dullness and distraction are struck aside. [SZTP]


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Ceremony of Cleaning the Great Buddha, Nara, Japan
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Like fine Japanese carpentry, Zazen is a learnable skill of body-mind. It is mastered through years of observing and practice.

But unlike many skills we have a desire to master, mastery of this skill comes by radically dropping all goals of mastery ... including dropping the goal to master the dropping of goals.


Learning this dropping is helped along with the guidance of teachers, but ultimately, it is mastered by our own doing ...

... by doing that is non-doing.
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Thus, Master Dogen stated that Zazen is not learning Zen, nor seeking to practice Zen ... it is immediate practice-experience, practice-realization ... known only in the act itself.

Learning this skill is hard, I think, only when we try to attain non-attaining.

But when we thoroughly stop trying to attain non-attaining, non-attaining is easily attained.




What is called sitting-Zen is not learning Zen meditation. It is just a peaceful and effortless gate to reality. It is practice-and-experience which perfectly realizes the Buddha's enlightenment. The Universe is realized, untouched by restrictions or hindrances. To grasp this meaning is to be like a dragon that has found water, or like a tiger before a mountain stronghold. Remember, true reality is naturally manifesting itself before us, and gloom and distraction vanish at a stroke. [NISHIJIMA]


The zazen I speak of is not meditation practice. It is simply the dharma gate of joyful ease, the practice-realization of totally culminated enlightenment. It is the koan realized; traps and snares can never reach it. If you grasp the point, you are like a dragon gaining the water, like a tiger taking to the mountains. For you must know that the true dharma appears of itself, so that from the start dullness and distraction are struck aside. [SZTP]

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They say, "Practice makes Perfect".

But, in our Zen philosophy, we are already "Perfect". So why bother to practice?

Our Way is the Way of Non-Seeking, Non-Attaining, Goallessness.

But, if so, what are we seeking, what goal are we trying diligently to attain?


Not seeking is not the same as Non-Seeking, not attaining is not Non-Attaining.

Without a goal is nowhere near True Goallessness.


It is important that this distinction be understood.
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What is called sitting-Zen is not learning Zen meditation. It is just a peaceful and effortless gate to reality. It is practice-and-experience which perfectly realizes the Buddha's enlightenment. The Universe is realized, untouched by restrictions or hindrances. To grasp this meaning is to be like a dragon that has found water, or like a tiger before a mountain stronghold. Remember, true reality is naturally manifesting itself before us, and gloom and distraction vanish at a stroke. [NISHIJIMA]


The zazen I speak of is not meditation practice. It is simply the dharma gate of joyful ease, the practice-realization of totally culminated enlightenment. It is the koan realized; traps and snares can never reach it. If you grasp the point, you are like a dragon gaining the water, like a tiger taking to the mountains. For you must know that the true dharma appears of itself, so that from the start dullness and distraction are struck aside. [SZTP]

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Our first sitting from the Treeleaf Zendo ... the one made of wood and dirt.

Of course, each sitting will be our first sitting too.


What is called sitting-Zen is not learning Zen meditation. It is just a peaceful and effortless gate to reality. It is practice-and-experience which perfectly realizes the Buddha's enlightenment. The Universe is realized, untouched by restrictions or hindrances. To grasp this meaning is to be like a dragon that has found water, or like a tiger before a mountain stronghold. Remember, true reality is naturally manifesting itself before us, and gloom and distraction vanish at a stroke. [NISHIJIMA]


The zazen I speak of is not meditation practice. It is simply the dharma gate of joyful ease, the practice-realization of totally culminated enlightenment. It is the koan realized; traps and snares can never reach it. If you grasp the point, you are like a dragon gaining the water, like a tiger taking to the mountains. For you must know that the true dharma appears of itself, so that from the start dullness and distraction are struck aside. [SZTP]

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'Ko-no-ha Zendo' (Treeleaf Zendo) - Calligraphy by Gudo Wafu Nishijima
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Nothing to clean from the start, no washer to run ...

... Just sit Zazen, and the laundry's done.



What is called sitting-Zen is not learning Zen meditation. It is just a peaceful and effortless gate to reality. It is practice-and-experience which perfectly realizes the Buddha's enlightenment. The Universe is realized, untouched by restrictions or hindrances. To grasp this meaning is to be like a dragon that has found water, or like a tiger before a mountain stronghold. Remember, true reality is naturally manifesting itself before us, and gloom and distraction vanish at a stroke. [NISHIJIMA]


The zazen I speak of is not meditation practice. It is simply the dharma gate of joyful ease, the practice-realization of totally culminated enlightenment. It is the koan realized; traps and snares can never reach it. If you grasp the point, you are like a dragon gaining the water, like a tiger taking to the mountains. For you must know that the true dharma appears of itself, so that from the start dullness and distraction are struck aside. [SZTP]

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Master Bodhidharma said of Zen:

"A special transmission beyond Scriptures,

Not depending on words or letters ... "


So is there nothing worth study? No place for books and learning? Why should we master an ancient philosophy and arcane teachings 'just to be' now?

Dogen says that Zazen is all that is required. Merely to cross the legs and straighten the back IS Enlightenment itself. Zazen is not about learning Zen, but about doing-non-doing Zen.

However, the person who ignores the learned words and perspectives of old teachers like Bodhidharma, Hui Neng and Dogen is likely traveling blind.



Iwayuru zazen wa shuzen ni wa arazu, tada kore anraku no hômon nari. Bodai o gûjin suru no shushô nari. Kôan genjô raro imada itarazu. Moshi kono i o eba, ryû no mizu o uru ga gotoku, tora no yama ni yoru ni nitari. Masani shirubeshi, shôbô onozukara genzen shite, konsan mazu bokuraku suru koto o.


What is called sitting-Zen is not learning Zen meditation. It is just a peaceful and effortless gate to reality. It is practice-and-experience which perfectly realizes the Buddha's enlightenment. The Universe is realized, untouched by restrictions or hindrances. To grasp this meaning is to be like a dragon that has found water, or like a tiger before a mountain stronghold. Remember, true reality is naturally manifesting itself before us, and gloom and distraction vanish at a stroke. [NISHIJIMA]


The zazen I speak of is not [learning] meditation practice. It is simply the dharma gate of joyful ease, the practice-realization of totally culminated enlightenment. It is the koan realized; traps and snares can never reach it. If you grasp the point, you are like a dragon gaining the water, like a tiger taking to the mountains. For you must know that the true dharma appears of itself, so that from the start dullness and distraction are struck aside. [SZTP]

WE LOST THE NETCAST SIGNAL ABOUT 20 minutes INTO THE SITTING.
SO, IF ANYONE IS SITTING WITH THE VIDEO (IT IS NOT NECESSARY TO DO THAT EVERY OR MOST DAYS, BY THE WAY) PLEASE SELF-TIME.

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SIT-A-LONG with JUNDO: Moving Home

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It's late at night. Mina and the baby are asleep already. We are moving from our temporary house tomorrow back to the Treeleaf.

Actually, we are moving our futons into the kitchen, because the rest of the house is pretty much torn apart ... no floors in some rooms. We have a few bowls and coffee cups, chopsticks and such, a a couple of suitcases with clothes and small items. But, we'll make do. The carpenters say they can work around us.

What home is not temporary, as all things are ever changing?

And our True Home in this world is always present.
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