September 2007 Archives

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I have been asked by a few folks recently about the meaning of 'Right Action'. Can we always knows the 'right' and 'wrong' thing to do in a certain situation?

I think that we cannot always know.

But is there still a 'Right Action' for every situation?

I think that there is.

Does 'Right Action' always mean taking action?

I think that, sometimes, no action is the 'Right Action'
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Attack on Ngwe Kyar Yan Monastery

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I just received this report (unconfirmed) through the grapevine of Zen teachers. Photos can be seen below. Since phones and internet are cut off to Burma, it may be assumed that events like this are widespread ... The incident happened at 12:30 am midnight when the military raided the monastery ... We sit with our brothers & sisters today ...

For one instance, the monastery at an obscure neighborhood of
Yangon, called Ngwe Kyar Yan (on Wei-za-yan-tar Road, Yangon) had
been raided early this morning.

A troop of lone-tein (riot police comprised of paid thugs)
protected by the military trucks, raided the monastery with 200 studying
monks. They systematically ordered all the monks to line up and
banged and crushed each one's head against the brick wall of the
monastery. One by one, the peaceful, non resisting monks, fell to
the ground, screaming in pain. Then, they tore off the red robes
and threw them all in the military trucks (like rice bags) and took
the bodies away.

The head monk of the monastery, was tied up in the middle of the
monastery, tortured , bludgeoned, and later died the same day,
today. Tens of thousands of people gathered outside the monastery,
warded off by troops with bayoneted rifles, unable to help their
helpless monks being slaughtered inside the monastery. Their every
try to forge ahead was met with the bayonets.

When all is done, only 10 out of 200 remained alive, hiding in the
monastery. Blood stained everywhere on the walls and floors of the
monastery.

Please tell your audience of the full extent of the fate of the
monks please please !!!!!!!!!!!!

'Arrested' is not enough expression. They have been bludgeoned to
death !!!!!!

Bows,


A few photos can be seen here ...

PHOTOS


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SIT-A-LONG with JUNDO: Metta

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The following are from the Metta Sutta (The Discourse on Loving Kindness), as published by the Ministry of Religious Affairs of Burma:


May all beings be always well and happy;

May they be free from danger and enmity;


May they live peacefully


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May all human beings be free from deceiving one another

May all human beings be free from looking down one another

May all human beings be free from causing miseries to one another



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Sign, quoting the Metta Sutta, carried by Burma protestors
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In Dogen-speak ... wholehearted Practice is realization ...

... each moment of Practice is purely what it is ...

... Zazen is enlightenment itself.




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


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


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from a t-shirt available at Cuke.Com
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SIT-A-LONG with JUNDO: Fukanzazengi LXXXVI

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The classical pianist, Arthur Rubinstein, was once approached on a New York street near the grand concert hall, Carnegie Hall, and asked, "Pardon me sir, but how do I get to Carnegie Hall?"



Rubinstein replied, "Practice, practice, practice."



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


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


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'Komuso' Zen Monk (face hidden, in the traditional manner) playing a Shakuhachi
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SIT-A-LONG with JUNDO: Fukanzazengi LXXXV

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In our Zen Practice ...

... to be intelligent is a hindrance, if we are overly analytical, philosophical, lost in words ...

... while being simple is a 'natural zen', if we are accepting, present, open to life.

Yet to be intelligent is a benefit, for we can study the philosophy of Buddhism, learning from the perspectives of Zen teachers ...

... while ignorance often leads to superstition, closed mindedness, greed and fear.



Further, all should learn from the trees, stones, mountains, walls and tiles ...



Shika areba sunawachi jôchi kagu o ronzezu, rijin donsha o erabu koto nakare, sen'itsu ni kufû seba, masani kore bendô nari. Shushô onozukara zenna sezu, shukô sarani kore byôjô naru mono nari

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


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


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SIT-A-LONG with JUNDO: Protest!

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Monks are on the march in Burma. Should Buddhists engage in protests? Is it in keeping with our Precepts?

In fact, should we hold political views at all, knowing that all such views, and human opinions, are ultimately illusion? And if so, which political views are Buddhist 'Right' views? Can we hold views and drop views too?

The Buddhist Peace Fellowship, a society for 'Engaged Buddhism', has published these policies on civil disobedience:
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Civil disobedience will be conducted with a spiritual posture of respectfulness, in line with the Fellowship of Reconciliation Pledge of Resistance. All who commit civil disobedience agree to the following guidelines:

1. Our attitude will be one of openness and respect toward all we encounter in our actions.
2. We will use no violence, verbal or physical, toward any person.
3. We will not destroy or damage any property.
4. We will carry no weapons.
5. We will not bring any drugs or alcohol, other than for medicinal purposes.
6. We will not run or resist arrest; we will remain accountable for our actions as a means of furthering our witness to the injustice in question.
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The upside down bowl, a refusal to accept Alms, is a sign of resistance
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SIT-A-LONG with JUNDO: Fukanzazengi LXXXIV

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Master Dogen, and all other Zen Teachers, speak of our experiencing this world before labeling sights and sounds, without thought and opinions, through the Practice of Zazen.

... But is such a strange experience of the world 'Real'?.

Recent neurological research indicates that our experiences of timeliness, self-lessness, oneness and the like during Zazen may be created through the stimulation or quieting of various regions within the human brain during meditation ... So are they but figments of our imaginations?

I believe that, through Zazen, we are merely substituting one mental simulation of the world (what we experience as ordinary, daily life before Zazen) with another quite valid, equally true, alternate simulation of the world ... a view of life from a very different perspective.


Speaking of technology, we had trouble with the end of the netcast today.

If you are sitting-a-long, please self time.



We see in the past that those who transcended the ordinary and transcended the sacred and those who died while sitting or died while standing, relied totally on this power. Moreover, changing of the moment through the action of a finger, a [flag]pole, a needle, or a wooden clapper; and exact experience of the state through the manifestation of a whisk, a fist, a staff, or a shout, can never be understood by thinking and discrimination. How could they be known through mystical powers [*] practice and experience? They may be dignified behavior beyond sound and form. How could they be anything other than criteria that precede knowing and seeing? [Nishijima]*[the word 'or' found here likely should be omitted]


In surveying the past, we find that transcendence of both mundane and sacred and dying while either sitting or standing have all depended entirely on the power of zazen. In addition, triggering awakening with a finger, a banner, a needle, or a mallet, and effecting realization with a whisk, a fist, a staff, or a shout-these cannot be understood by discriminative thinking; much less can they be known through the practice of supernatural power. They must represent conduct beyond seeing and hearing. Are they not a standard prior to knowledge and views? [SZTP]


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If you say that making a fist, giving a shout, holding a staff or showing a needle are but ordinary actions ...

... you are absolutely right, yet completely wrong.

If you say that they are magical actions that swallow the universe ...

... you are absolutely wrong, while completely right.


In her lectures on Fukanzazengi, Taitaku Pat Phelan quotes this ...

In Enlightenment Unfolds Kaz Tanahashi said, "Nirvana is regarded as the realm of nonduality, where there is no distinction between large and small....self and other. ....To experience this...in the midst of the passage of time, change, and decay, is a miracle." He said, "For Dogen, this miracle can happen each moment, as each moment of duality is inseparable from a moment of nonduality. Duality and nonduality, change and no-change, relative and absolute, coexist and interact with each other. Dogen calls the experience of this dynamic ‘actualizing the fundamental point.’" In Zen, miracles are nothing other than such activities as drawing water and carrying firewood, when we realize, really realize, each moment of samsara as inseparable from a moment of nirvana. http://www.intrex.net/chzg/pat41.htm



We see in the past that those who transcended the ordinary and transcended the sacred and those who died while sitting or died while standing, relied totally on this power. Moreover, changing of the moment through the action of a finger, a [flag]pole, a needle, or a wooden clapper; and exact experience of the state through the manifestation of a whisk, a fist, a staff, or a shout, can never be understood by thinking and discrimination. How could they be known through mystical powers [*] practice and experience? They may be dignified behavior beyond sound and form. How could they be anything other than criteria that precede knowing and seeing? [Nishijima]*[the word 'or' found here likely should be omitted]


In surveying the past, we find that transcendence of both mundane and sacred and dying while either sitting or standing have all depended entirely on the power of zazen. In addition, triggering awakening with a finger, a banner, a needle, or a mallet, and effecting realization with a whisk, a fist, a staff, or a shout-these cannot be understood by discriminative thinking; much less can they be known through the practice of supernatural power. They must represent conduct beyond seeing and hearing. Are they not a standard prior to knowledge and views? [SZTP]


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SIT-A-LONG with JUNDO: Fukanzazengi LXXXII

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Zazen is a 'reset' button on the human brain and our thinking, allowing a balance and clarity free of assembled opinions, memories, dreams, categorizations, judgments, likes and dislikes. The world is thereby perceived as free and simple. Dropping our sense of a separate 'self', we drop the many ways in which that 'self' resists or rejects a 'not-self' world, pushing back against some 'other' moving in ways that the 'self' would not wish. 'Self' and 'other' are not two.

How many problems in our lives and in the world would be eliminated by peoples' simply stopping to think of the problem as 'real', stopping to 'think the problem into existence'? Examples would include tensions based on religious, racial or nationalistic differences, each dependent on various peoples who feel themselves different. On a more personal level, it could include many marriage problems, dissatisfactions of all kinds with the circumstances of our lives and the people in them .

Likewise, how many problems in our lives and in the world would be eliminated if we were less bound by the wants and desires of our separate 'self'? How would we fear growing ill, old or even dying if we dropped a sense of separate 'self' to possess such fears? Would we be less clutching of treasure and attainment if our 'self' did not require self-affirmations and confirmations of 'self worth'?

Of course, Buddhist Practice will not eliminate all the problems of our lives or this world, and action in our lives and in this world is required (just ask these monks on the march today):


Nearly 1,000 Buddhist monks, joined by thousands of their countrymen, marched in Myanmar's largest city Thursday in the biggest challenge in at least a decade to the iron-fisted junta, a show of strength rare under military rule ... Processions of monks converged from various monasteries around Yangon in the early afternoon at the golden hilltop Shwedagon pagoda, the country's most revered shrine. ... Monks at the head of the procession carried religious flags and an upside-down alms bowl, a symbol of protest. http://www.buddhistchannel.tv/index.php?id=51,4912,0,0,1,0


But, through our Buddhist Practice, even those problems that remain (in our lives and in the world) will not be experienced in quite the same manner as before.



We see in the past that those who transcended the ordinary and transcended the sacred and those who died while sitting or died while standing, relied totally on this power. Moreover, changing of the moment through the action of a finger, a [flag]pole, a needle, or a wooden clapper; and exact experience of the state through the manifestation of a whisk, a fist, a staff, or a shout, can never be understood by thinking and discrimination. How could they be known through mystical powers or practice and experience? They may be dignified behavior beyond sound and form. How could they be anything other than criteria that precede knowing and seeing? [Nishijima]


In surveying the past, we find that transcendence of both mundane and sacred and dying while either sitting or standing have all depended entirely on the power of zazen. In addition, triggering awakening with a finger, a banner, a needle, or a mallet, and effecting realization with a whisk, a fist, a staff, or a shout-these cannot be understood by discriminative thinking; much less can they be known through the practice of supernatural power. They must represent conduct beyond seeing and hearing. Are they not a standard prior to knowledge and views? [SZTP]


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SIT-A-LONG with JUNDO: Fukanzazengi LXXXI

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Nothing to think. No opinions. No names. No comparisons.





We see in the past that those who transcended the ordinary and transcended the sacred and those who died while sitting or died while standing, relied totally on this power. Moreover, changing of the moment through the action of a finger, a [flag]pole, a needle, or a wooden clapper; and exact experience of the state through the manifestation of a whisk, a fist, a staff, or a shout, can never be understood by thinking and discrimination. How could they be known through mystical powers or practice and experience? They may be dignified behavior beyond sound and form. How could they be anything other than criteria that precede knowing and seeing? [Nishijima]


In surveying the past, we find that transcendence of both mundane and sacred and dying while either sitting or standing have all depended entirely on the power of zazen. In addition, triggering awakening with a finger, a banner, a needle, or a mallet, and effecting realization with a whisk, a fist, a staff, or a shout-these cannot be understood by discriminative thinking; much less can they be known through the practice of supernatural power. They must represent conduct beyond seeing and hearing. Are they not a standard prior to knowledge and views? [SZTP]


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SIT-A-LONG with JUNDO: Fukanzazengi LXXX

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Traditionally, Zen Teachers would give a shout of 'KATSU' ... arising from somewhere, spreading everywhere ... beyond thinking or discrimination ... power to swallow the universe whole ...
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... Such as in these stories of Master Rinzai (who was a little physical):

A monk asked: "What is the essence of Buddhism?"

Master Rinzai raised his fly-whisk.

The monk gave a Katsu shout.

The Master hit him.

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Again, a monk asked: "What is the essence of Buddhism?"

The Master raised his fly-whisk again.

The monk gave a Katsu.

The master also gave a Katsu.

The monk hesitated.

The Master hit him.

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The master asked a monk: "Where do you come from?"

The monk gave a Katsu.

The Master folded his arms and told him to sit down.

The monk hesitated – then the Master hit him.


Master Yōsō Sōi composed a final poem ...


On the death bed—Katsu!

Let he who has eyes see!

Katsu! Katsu! Katsu!

And once again, Katsu!


Today, Jundo will demonstrate the power of the Katsu Shout!


We see in the past that those who transcended the ordinary and transcended the sacred and those who died while sitting or died while standing, relied totally on this power. Moreover, changing of the moment through the action of a finger, a [flag]pole, a needle, or a wooden clapper; and exact experience of the state through the manifestation of a whisk, a fist, a staff, or a shout, can never be understood by thinking and discrimination. How could they be known through mystical powers or practice and experience? They may be dignified behavior beyond sound and form. How could they be anything other than criteria that precede knowing and seeing? [Nishijima]


In surveying the past, we find that transcendence of both mundane and sacred and dying while either sitting or standing have all depended entirely on the power of zazen. In addition, triggering awakening with a finger, a banner, a needle, or a mallet, and effecting realization with a whisk, a fist, a staff, or a shout-these cannot be understood by discriminative thinking; much less can they be known through the practice of supernatural power. They must represent conduct beyond seeing and hearing. Are they not a standard prior to knowledge and views? [SZTP]


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SIT-A-LONG with JUNDO: Clear Skies

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Yesterday trains, now planes ... My family and I are heading back to Florida for a few weeks. We have to pack up things, say farewell to a few friends, after many years of splitting our time between there and Japan.

Plane trips always are particularly good times for Zazen, in part due to an irrational fear of flying that I sit with. That fear, despite having made the Pacific crossing over 70 times.

Our lives, from a Buddhist perspective, are actually much like a mysterious airplane flight: We are born, we find ourselves on a strange trip ... not sure of the point of origin or the destination. Perhaps this plane goes around in endless circles. In life, we are not even sure who, if anyone, is at the controls ... but certainly we are not, ultimately, at the controls (our choices pretty limited to food and drinks and trips to the bathroom). So, the plane goes up and we go up, the plane goes down and we go down. Turbulence come and go, and so we bounce bounce bounce. A movie, a work of fiction, passes before our eyes on a screen.

Perhaps, from a Buddhist view, the only true difference between an actual plane ride and our life ride is this: In our life, we do not merely ride the plane ... we and all the other passengers ARE the plane.


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SIT-A-LONG with JUNDO: Shinkan-Zen

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Leon and I continue our father-son travels. Today, on the 'Shinkansen' (The 'Bullet Train'), coming home very late and both very tired. So, it was a good place for our Zazen sitting ...

... traveling at fast speeds, there is no where we can go ...

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(Sitting Time: About 25 minutes)

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SIT-A-LONG with JUNDO: The McBuddha

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A discussion of McDonalds on the Treeleaf Forum ... coupled with the fact that it is a 'Father & Son' weekend (mom is at an Ai-ki-do meet) ... has led Leon and I to the playground at the local Golden Arches in Tsukuba.

It is not the first time I have sat Zazen at McD's (one reason being that the stores in Japan have internet). However, there is another reason too ...

I believe that our sitting should, most times, be done in a quiet room, facing a blank wall. The calm and outer stillness is important to our learning to settle the mind. But our Zen Practice is also all about being out in the world, amid the chaos ... learning to touch, while in the rat race, the very same stillness of mind that we find on the Zafu. So, I encourage all Zazen sitters to do some of their 'sittings' in obnoxious places ... noisy, foul smelling, unpleasant or emotionally difficult places. That is why I do a portion of our sittiings on this blog next to the side of highways, in train stations, in downtown Tokyo and the like. Everyone should do 'mini-sittings' during their day too: in the postal line, when cut off by a crazy driver in traffic, when work and family become overwhelming ...

Furthermore, our usual Zazen is non-focused on open 'awareness' ... just sitting embracing of all, not focused on anything in particular or any one object, not imposing value judgments (good/bad, pleasant/unpleasant, etc.), dropping categorizations of the objects around us (chair, table, father, son, etc.), balanced in body and mind. It is "awareness" because we are not asleep, not in a stupor. We are present and awake and aware, with balanced mind. But meditating with a child at McDonalds adds simultaneously a bit of 'mindfulness' in the mix, as I must maintain care and attention to the situation, and my son's doings ... to prevent disaster.

You will witness two near disasters narrowly averted within the first minutes of today's talk!

So, this is not some fast-food 'McZen' shooting for 'McEnlightenment' ... this is the Real Thing!

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A monk asked Master Joshu, "Why did Bodhidharma come from the west?"
Joshu responded, "The tree in the garden."

The tree in the Treeleaf garden was a Japanese Pine ... about 50 years old, when we counted the rings after.


Ah, impermanence ... we had a taste today ...

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SIT-A-LONG with JUNDO: Samu

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While Zazen is at the heart of our Way, other aspects of traditional Zen Practice also should be introduced and encouraged. I have been meaning to do so more and more around Treeleaf. One of the most vital is the non-doing of 'Samu' (traditional work practice) ...

Samu is well described in this excerpt ...


Samu is manual work done with the same concentration as zazen. All masters of transmission, especially Master Hyakujo (720-814), have insisted on this. Even in his old age, Master Hyakujo worked every day in the field with his students. One day, they hid his tools, thinking that their master should spare himself. Hyakujo declared: “A day without working, a day without eating.” And he stopped eating until his disciples gave him back his tools.

In zen, work has great value, because it allows us to practise the Way in action. In the dojo and during retreats (sesshins), zazen is followed by samu, which is when we do the chores to ensure the smooth functioning of communal life. Samu also means putting our efforts at the service of the community, without expecting anything in return. French version of the texts from Zen, by Bovay, Kaltenbach and De Smedt, Albin Michel Publishing, 1993

Yes, Samu is just Zazen in action. It may not look like seated meditation, but it is to be done from the same state of mental balance. Couple this with an attitude of goalless, non-striving, 'just doing', also a halmark of Zazen. As well, work is to be performed mindfully, as the only action in and of the whole universe : One engaged in Samu should devote to it all care and attention, never wishing for or thinking of anything else.

The result is a job performed diligently and patiently and with certain goals, but with no thought of anything to achieve (not a contradiction in Zen). Today, for example, I pull the weeds in our garden, knowing that it is a continuing job that just needs to be done without end.

I encourage those Treeleaf folks with the time to give a few hours each week to volunteer activities in their community (please consult with me, if you wish, about an appropriate choice of work). However, those with heavy family or employment duties can make that part of that their 'Samu', approaching it with the mindset described above. Or, one can do traditional Zen Samu work ... such as what I am doing today, just pulling weeds in the garden.

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SIT-A-LONG with JUNDO: Fukanzazengi LXXIX

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There are many Koans about Zen Masters waving about their staffs. Three of those Koans happen to illuminate the very same point ...


I - Shuzan held out his short staff and said, "If you call this a short staff, you oppose its reality. If you do not call it a short staff, you ignore the fact. Now what do you wish to call this?"
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II - Master Basso said to a monk, "If I see you have a staff, I will give it to
you. If I see you have no staff, I will take it away from you.
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III- When Master Yamaoka was a brash young student, he visited Master
Dokuon. Wanting to impress the master, he said:

"There is no mind, there is no body, there is no Buddha. There is
no better, there is no worse. There is no master and there is no
student; there is no giving, there is no receiving. What we think
we see and feel is not real. All that is real is Emptiness. None
of these seeming things really exists."

Dokuon had been sitting quietly smoking his pipe, and saying
nothing. Now he picked up his staff, and without warning gave
Yamaoka a terrible whack. Yamaoka jumped up in anger.

"Since none of these things really exists," said Dokuon, "and all
is Emptiness, where does your anger come from? Think about it."


We see in the past that those who transcended the ordinary and transcended the sacred and those who died while sitting or died while standing, relied totally on this power. Moreover, changing of the moment through the action of a finger, a [flag]pole, a needle, or a wooden clapper; and exact experience of the state through the manifestation of a whisk, a fist, a staff, or a shout, can never be understood by thinking and discrimination. How could they be known through mystical powers or practice and experience? They may be dignified behavior beyond sound and form. How could they be anything other than criteria that precede knowing and seeing? [Nishijima]


In surveying the past, we find that transcendence of both mundane and sacred and dying while either sitting or standing have all depended entirely on the power of zazen. In addition, triggering awakening with a finger, a banner, a needle, or a mallet, and effecting realization with a whisk, a fist, a staff, or a shout-these cannot be understood by discriminative thinking; much less can they be known through the practice of supernatural power. They must represent conduct beyond seeing and hearing. Are they not a standard prior to knowledge and views? [SZTP]


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SIT-A-LONG with JUNDO: Fukanzazengi LXXVIII

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Master Zhaozhou (Jap.: Joshu) has this story ...


Zhaozhou went to a hermit's cottage and asked, "Is the master in? Is the master in?" The hermit raised his fist. Zhaozhou said, "The water is too shallow to anchor here," and he went away. Coming to another hermit's cottage, he asked again, "Is the master in? Is the master in?" This hermit, too, raised his fist. Zhaozhou said, "Free to give, free to take, free to kill, free to save," and he made a deep bow.


We see in the past that those who transcended the ordinary and transcended the sacred and those who died while sitting or died while standing, relied totally on this power. Moreover, changing of the moment through the action of a finger, a [flag]pole, a needle, or a wooden clapper; and exact experience of the state through the manifestation of a whisk, a fist, a staff, or a shout, can never be understood by thinking and discrimination. How could they be known through mystical powers or practice and experience? They may be dignified behavior beyond sound and form. How could they be anything other than criteria that precede knowing and seeing? [Nishijima]


In surveying the past, we find that transcendence of both mundane and sacred and dying while either sitting or standing have all depended entirely on the power of zazen. In addition, triggering awakening with a finger, a banner, a needle, or a mallet, and effecting realization with a whisk, a fist, a staff, or a shout-these cannot be understood by discriminative thinking; much less can they be known through the practice of supernatural power. They must represent conduct beyond seeing and hearing. Are they not a standard prior to knowledge and views? [SZTP]


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SIT-A-LONG with JUNDO: Fukanzazengi LXXVII

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Master Dongshan (Jap.: Tozan) had this exchange with Master Yunyen (Ungan). It involves a Hossu, the horsehair fly swatter or whisk, one of the traditional implements of a Zen Teacher ...

Dongshan asked, "What sort of person is able to hear the Dharma expounded by insentient beings?"

Yunyen said, "Insentient beings are able to hear it."

"Can you hear it, Master?" asked Dongshan.

Yunyen replied, "If I could hear it, then you would not be able to hear the Dharma that I teach."

"Why can't I hear it?" asked Dongshan.

Yunyen raised his fly whisk and said, "Can you hear it yet?"

Dongshan replied, "No, I can't."

Yunyen said, "You can't even hear when I expound the Dharma. How do you expect to hear when insentient beings expound the Dharma?"

Dongshan then asked what sutra teaches that insentients expound the Dharma, and Yunyen said that the Amitabha Sutra states, "Water, birds, tree groves, all without exception recite the Buddha's name, recite the Dharma."


We see in the past that those who transcended the ordinary and transcended the sacred and those who died while sitting or died while standing, relied totally on this power. Moreover, changing of the moment through the action of a finger, a [flag]pole, a needle, or a wooden clapper; and exact experience of the state through the manifestation of a whisk, a fist, a staff, or a shout, can never be understood by thinking and discrimination. How could they be known through mystical powers or practice and experience? They may be dignified behavior beyond sound and form. How could they be anything other than criteria that precede knowing and seeing? [Nishijima]


In surveying the past, we find that transcendence of both mundane and sacred and dying while either sitting or standing have all depended entirely on the power of zazen. In addition, triggering awakening with a finger, a banner, a needle, or a mallet, and effecting realization with a whisk, a fist, a staff, or a shout-these cannot be understood by discriminative thinking; much less can they be known through the practice of supernatural power. They must represent conduct beyond seeing and hearing. Are they not a standard prior to knowledge and views? [SZTP]


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SIT-A-LONG with JUNDO: Fukanzazengi LXXVI

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From a talk on Fukanzazengi by Taitaku Pat Phelan (Chapel Hill Zen Center)

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"A mallet" refers to the first case of the Shoyoroku, or Book of Equanimity, which is a Soto Zen koan collection. One day the World Honored One ascended the seat or teaching platform. When Buddha took his place on the raised platform, Manjusri, the Bodhisattva of Wisdom, struck the gavel and said, "Clearly observe the Dharma of the King of Dharma; the Dharma of the King of Dharma is thus." Then without saying anything, the World Honored One got down from the seat, and that’s the end of the story. It was the custom at the opening of the teaching hall to strike the gavel and announce this verse which is similar to the way we chant before a Dharma talk. Except that after the verse was said, Buddha got down and walked out without saying anything. In this case, the teaching is in what was not said.

We see in the past that those who transcended the ordinary and transcended the sacred and those who died while sitting or died while standing, relied totally on this power. Moreover, changing of the moment through the action of a finger, a [flag]pole, a needle, or a wooden clapper; and exact experience of the state through the manifestation of a whisk, a fist, a staff, or a shout, can never be understood by thinking and discrimination. How could they be known through mystical powers or practice and experience? They may be dignified behavior beyond sound and form. How could they be anything other than criteria that precede knowing and seeing? [Nishijima]


In surveying the past, we find that transcendence of both mundane and sacred and dying while either sitting or standing have all depended entirely on the power of zazen. In addition, triggering awakening with a finger, a banner, a needle, or a mallet, and effecting realization with a whisk, a fist, a staff, or a shout-these cannot be understood by discriminative thinking; much less can they be known through the practice of supernatural power. They must represent conduct beyond seeing and hearing. Are they not a standard prior to knowledge and views? [SZTP]


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SIT-A-LONG with JUNDO: River

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I am hiking in Northern Japan today. It is a very beautiful place, abutting the Oirase River.

Sometimes when I encounter a particularly picturesque scene ... a grand tree, a massive rock, a moss and fern garden, a waterfall ... I try to have a 'Zen experience', to feel a bit of instant 'Satori'. I try to force myself to feel something, perhaps 'oneness' or 'suchness', or I try to perceive some deep lesson in the object. After all, 'river and flowing waters do remind us that time flows' ... that kind of thing I repeat in my head.

In the end, it usually feels forced, and I feel no harmony ... I feel divided somehow from it all.

But that's when I stop trying to do anything. I no longer try to have a 'Zen' or any other kind of mind blowing experience ... and I merely let the scene be. If it is a waterfall, I cease demanding that it be a beautiful waterfall, I no longer compare it to other waterfalls ... I even stop to label it 'waterfall.' Now, it just-is-what-it-is, and that is enough. When I stop labeling or categorizing, every rock I see becomes the only rock in the whole universe ... in fact, it stands for the universe itself. Each tree is perfectly that tree, with not a branch or leaf to add or take away.

Thus I sit or stand there, not doing anything ...



... and that is how the moment turns.



(There is no bell today, so please self-time if you sit-a-long)
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SIT-A-LONG with JUNDO: Fukanzazengi LXXV

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Years prior to becoming the fifteenth Zen patriarch, the Venerable Kanadeva called upon his future teacher, the Great Nagarjuna, asking to become his student. Nagarjuna sensed that Kunadeva was someone of great Wisdom. Thus, to test Kanadeva, Nargarjuna placed a bowl of clear water placed before the visitor. Kanadeva thereupon produced a needle from his robes and threw the needle into the bowl of water, presenting it to Nagarjuna. They met each other and joyfully realized that they were of like minds. Nargarjuna accepted Kanadeva as his student, and eventually he became Nagarjuna's Dharma Successor.

We might say that the needle is there, ever so subtly standing out from the water. Then, in a blink, it is no longer visible, ... it is now not there ... it is just the water, yet it is still the needle somehow. All perspectives can be seen by a discerning eye.

Master Dogen might have phrased it like this ...


When Kandeva threw the needle, Nargarjuna threw the needle (as did you and Jundo). In fact, Nargarjuna threw you, pierced the matter threw and threw, and Kanadeva drowned old Nargarjuna in his bowl.

What does all that mean? Such turning phrases can never be understood at all by mental consideration or intellectual distinction alone. But a moment of Zazen, and the needle's point swallows a the whole sea


(If you play the following talk through to the end, you will see me, a lake, sky and clouds ... then, subtly, we each fade until only the wind remains. Am I still there? Not there? What of the lake, the clouds, the wind ... what of you?).


We see in the past that those who transcended the ordinary and transcended the sacred and those who died while sitting or died while standing, relied totally on this power. Moreover, changing of the moment through the action of a finger, a [flag]pole, a needle, or a wooden clapper; and exact experience of the state through the manifestation of a whisk, a fist, a staff, or a shout, can never be understood by thinking and discrimination. How could they be known through mystical powers or practice and experience? They may be dignified behavior beyond sound and form. How could they be anything other than criteria that precede knowing and seeing? [Nishijima]


In surveying the past, we find that transcendence of both mundane and sacred and dying while either sitting or standing have all depended entirely on the power of zazen. In addition, triggering awakening with a finger, a banner, a needle, or a mallet, and effecting realization with a whisk, a fist, a staff, or a shout-these cannot be understood by discriminative thinking; much less can they be known through the practice of supernatural power. They must represent conduct beyond seeing and hearing. Are they not a standard prior to knowledge and views? [SZTP]


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SIT-A-LONG with JUNDO: Fukanzazengi LXXIV

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From a talk on Fukanzazengi by Taitaku Pat Phelan (Chapel Hill Zen Center)

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... "a banner" refers to Ananda’s enlightenment story. Ananda was the Buddha’s first cousin and became his attendant. Both Ananda and Kasyapa were disciples of Buddha [but] Ananda realized enlightenment after Buddha’s death when he was practicing with Kasyapa. ... Ananda’s enlightenment story goes: One day Ananda asked Kasapya, "Elder brother, did the World-Honored One (or Buddha), transmit anything else to you besides the gold brocade robe?" Kasyapa, knowing the time was right, called, "Ananda!" Like a valley spirit echoing in response to a call, Ananda immediately replied, "Yes!" like a spark issuing from a flint. Kasyapa said, "Knock down the banner in front of the gate." Ananda was greatly awakened.

In India at that time, when two religious or philosophical groups debated, both sides put up a banner; when one side was defeated, their banner was taken down. The commentary says, it’s as if Kasyapa and Ananda had lined up for debate and set up their banners next to each other, since now Ananda was appearing in the world, Kasyapa should fold up his banner–one appearing, one disappearing. But this story is not about debating or winning and losing. When Kasyapa instructed Ananda to take down the banner, Ananda was greatly enlightened because master and disciple had become one in the Way, so they no longer needed two banners. This is a story from the Transmission of the Light which is a collection of the enlightenment stories of the ancestors in our lineage whose names we chant in the Names of Buddha’s and Ancestors.


We see in the past that those who transcended the ordinary and transcended the sacred and those who died while sitting or died while standing, relied totally on this power. Moreover, changing of the moment through the action of a finger, a [flag]pole, a needle, or a wooden clapper; and exact experience of the state through the manifestation of a whisk, a fist, a staff, or a shout, can never be understood by thinking and discrimination. How could they be known through mystical powers or practice and experience? They may be dignified behavior beyond sound and form. How could they be anything other than criteria that precede knowing and seeing? [Nishijima]


In surveying the past, we find that transcendence of both mundane and sacred and dying while either sitting or standing have all depended entirely on the power of zazen. In addition, triggering awakening with a finger, a banner, a needle, or a mallet, and effecting realization with a whisk, a fist, a staff, or a shout-these cannot be understood by discriminative thinking; much less can they be known through the practice of supernatural power. They must represent conduct beyond seeing and hearing. Are they not a standard prior to knowledge and views? [SZTP]


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SIT-A-LONG with JUNDO: Fukanzazengi LXXIII

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PLEASE NOTE NEW EMAIL ADDRESS !!

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Master Gutei always raised his finger whenever he was asked a question about Zen. A boy attendant began to imitate him in this way. When a visitor asked the boy what his master had preached about, the boy raised his finger.

Gutei heard about the boy's mischief, seized him and cut off his finger with a knife. (Jundo's Comment: Ouch!) As the boy screamed and ran out of the room, Gutei called to him. When the boy turned his head to Gutei, Gutei raised up his own finger. In that instant the boy was enlightened (Jundo's Comment: Yeah, if he didn't bleed to death right after! Jeez!!).

When Gutei was about to die, he said to the assembled monks,"I received this one-finger Zen from (my teacher) Tenryu. I used it all my life and yet could not exhaust it" and then he passed away.



We see in the past that those who transcended the ordinary and transcended the sacred and those who died while sitting or died while standing, relied totally on this power. Moreover, changing of the moment through the action of a finger, a pole, a needle, or a wooden clapper; and exact experience of the state through the manifestation of a whisk, a fist, a staff, or a shout, can never be understood by thinking and discrimination. How could they be known through mystical powers or practice and experience? They may be dignified behavior beyond sound and form. How could they be anything other than criteria that precede knowing and seeing? [Nishijima]


In surveying the past, we find that transcendence of both mundane and sacred and dying while either sitting or standing have all depended entirely on the power of zazen. In addition, triggering awakening with a finger, a banner, a needle, or a mallet, and effecting realization with a whisk, a fist, a staff, or a shout-these cannot be understood by discriminative thinking; much less can they be known through the practice of supernatural power. They must represent conduct beyond seeing and hearing. Are they not a standard prior to knowledge and views? [SZTP]


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SIT-A-LONG with JUNDO: Fukanzazengi LXXII

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[OUR EMAIL IS OUT AGAIN, IF ANYONE IS TRYING TO WRITE]


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Koan study was a vital part of Master Dogen's philosophy. It was and remains so today. Koans are vital for understanding Zen views beyond mere words, and are a subject of intense focus and experience ...



Just not --during-- the sitting of Zazen.


We see in the past that those who transcended the ordinary and transcended the sacred and those who died while sitting or died while standing, relied totally on this power. Moreover, changing of the moment through the action of a finger, a pole, a needle, or a wooden clapper; and exact experience of the state through the manifestation of a whisk, a fist, a staff, or a shout, can never be understood by thinking and discrimination. How could they be known through mystical powers or practice and experience? They may be dignified behavior beyond sound and form. How could they be anything other than criteria that precede knowing and seeing? [Nishijima]


In surveying the past, we find that transcendence of both mundane and sacred and dying while either sitting or standing have all depended entirely on the power of zazen. In addition, triggering awakening with a finger, a banner, a needle, or a mallet, and effecting realization with a whisk, a fist, a staff, or a shout-these cannot be understood by discriminative thinking; much less can they be known through the practice of supernatural power. They must represent conduct beyond seeing and hearing. Are they not a standard prior to knowledge and views? [SZTP]


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(Master Dogen's Koan Collection, translated by Master Gudo Nishijima)
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SIT-A-LONG with JUNDO: Fukanzazengi LXXI

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Many Zen masters of the past, when they felt death approaching, would take brush and ink in hand, compose a death poem, sit in the Lotus Position and die in such way. Bodhidharma, the Fourth, Fifth and Sixth Zen Ancestors are all said to have died this way. The Third Ancestor, Kanchi Sosan, author of the Hsin Hsin Ming, died while standing under a towering tree.

In Japan, an ancient practice (although mostly within a particular branch of the esoteric Shingon school, not as many in the Zen Schools) was that of Self-Mummification. It is described here:


The Buddhist "mummies" appeared in China during the 4th century and during the 11th century in Japan, with the exception of the corpse of the monk Kukai, founder of Shingon [in Japan], the esoteric school of Buddhism at the 9th century. The monk Kukai (posthumous name Kobo Daishi) is the most famous case. He would have entered in samadhi, at the end of his life, at the Koya mountain in the south of Osaka (Japan) at the beginning of the 9th century. His is the legendary model which the monk-ascetics of the Edo period were to follow from the 12th til19th century whose mummies were found in the North of Japan. The Japanese tradition reports that Kukai, at the time to of his death, announced to his disciples that he was going to enter Samadhi to leave there only at the time of the coming of the future Buddha Maitreya. At the end 49 days (7 times 7), his disciples opened the sarcophagus and noted that he was "as if living sat in meditation"; 70 years later, another eminent monk went up on imperial order to the top of MT Koya to open the mausoleum once again and found the body intact. He left after having cut the hair of Kukai (which had continued to grow) and having changed his clothes. The door of the mausoleum was not reopened except every fifty years by the Archbishop of Koya san to cut the nails and the hair and to change his clothes for him which will then be used to manufacture amulets for the faithful. ...

The Tetsumonkai saint ascetics of the Chuzen temple, Chûkai of the Dainichibô temple, those of the Kaikoji temple or the 18 others, all chose this self-mummification at the end of their life, to give to the world the merits acquired during the course of their life because the population suffered from epidemics. The monk Chukai began his life of asceticism by offering his left eye to the god-dragon to benefit Tokyo which suffered at the time from an epidemic of pox. His altruistic gesture reproduced that of the future Sakyamuni Buddha which in one his former lives, offered his life to the tiger so that it could have milk in sufficiency to be able to nurse its young. During the feudal times, the epidemics were thought to be the manifestation of demons. It seems that the belief in the continuity of the supernatural capacities of the Saints remains even beyond death, through the relics. There is thus a survival of the Saints beyond death itself. I make a point of specifying that the presence of only one relic is equivalent to the presence of an alive Buddha in flesh and bone! Not only do the relics have all the capacities of the late one, but they connect the world of the living to the invisible world.

http://members.shaw.ca/shugendo/mummies.html


We see in the past that those who transcended the ordinary and transcended the sacred and those who died while sitting or died while standing, relied totally on this power. Moreover, changing of the moment through the action of a finger, a pole, a needle, or a wooden clapper; and exact experience of the state through the manifestation of a whisk, a fist, a staff, or a shout, can never be understood by thinking and discrimination. How could they be known through mystical powers or practice and experience? They may be dignified behavior beyond sound and form. How could they be anything other than criteria that precede knowing and seeing? [Nishijima]


In surveying the past, we find that transcendence of both mundane and sacred and dying while either sitting or standing have all depended entirely on the power of zazen. In addition, triggering awakening with a finger, a banner, a needle, or a mallet, and effecting realization with a whisk, a fist, a staff, or a shout-these cannot be understood by discriminative thinking; much less can they be known through the practice of supernatural power. They must represent conduct beyond seeing and hearing. Are they not a standard prior to knowledge and views? [SZTP]


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SIT-A-LONG with JUNDO: Fukanzazengi LXX

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A saying by St. Jerome ...


In the sacred is the ordinary,
In the ordinary is the sacred





But in dropping all mental weighing of both sacred and ordinary ...



katte miru, chôbon osshô, zadatsu ryûbô mo kono chikara ni ichinin suru koto o. Iwan ya mata shi kan shin tsui o nenzuru no tenki, hokken bô katsu o kosuru no shôkai mo, imada kore shiryô funbetsu no yoku gesuru tokoro ni arazu, ani jinzû shushô no yoku shiru tokoro to sen ya. Shôshiki no hoka no iigi tarubeshi, nanzo chiken no saki no kisoku ni arazaru mono naran ya. Shika areba sunawachi jôchi kagu o ronzezu,

We see in the past that those who transcended the ordinary and transcended the sacred and those who died while sitting or died while standing, relied totally on this power. Moreover, changing of the moment through the action of a finger, a pole, a needle, or a wooden clapper; and exact experience of the state through the manifestation of a whisk, a fist, a staff, or a shout, can never be understood by thinking and discrimination. How could they be known through mystical powers or practice and experience? They may be dignified behavior beyond sound and form. How could they be anything other than criteria that precede knowing and seeing? [Nishijima]


In surveying the past, we find that transcendence of both mundane and sacred and dying while either sitting or standing have all depended entirely on the power of zazen. In addition, triggering awakening with a finger, a banner, a needle, or a mallet, and effecting realization with a whisk, a fist, a staff, or a shout-these cannot be understood by discriminative thinking; much less can they be known through the practice of supernatural power. They must represent conduct beyond seeing and hearing. Are they not a standard prior to knowledge and views? [SZTP]


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SIT-A-LONG with JUNDO: Fukanzazengi LXIX

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Sometimes, there are no hidden meanings ...



Moshi za yori tataba jojo to shite mi o ugokashi, anshô to shite tatsubeshi,
sotsubô narubekarazu



If we rise from sitting, we should move the body slowly. Rise with calm confidence. We should not be hurried or violent. [Nishijima]


When you arise from sitting, move slowly and quietly, calmly and deliberately. Do not rise suddenly or abruptly. [SZTP]


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Yesterday, we looked at a book by a Swami, promising states of eternal bliss and joy, imperishable and pure, a freedom from the need to return to, in the Guru's words, "this miserable land of birth, old age, disease and death" ...

Our Zen practice is very different from that.

However, it is also quite like that too.

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SIT-A-LONG with JUNDO: Over the Rainbow

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I came across a book by a Swami, promising states of eternal bliss and joy, imperishable and pure, a freedom from the need to return to, in the Guru's words, "this miserable land of birth, old age, disease and death" ... all to be found just "over the rainbow" ... Such claims are very typical of many "Eastern" teachings and philosophies, including some flavors of Buddhism.

Our Zen practice, however, is very different from that. Today I will tell you how.

(And tomorrow I will tell you how we're not so different after all).

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