February 2009 Archives

Zazen Meditation with Jundo : Snowing

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it is snowing

two poems by dogen zenji about the snow ... about sameness and difference ...


A snowy heron
on the snowfield
where winter grass is unseen
hides itself
in its own figure.


Snow is falling far and wide,
Each snowflake neither the very same nor completely different than the other ones;
Singing and dancing, they chase after each other,
Till the whole universe is made afresh with its new covering,
As the snow even conceals the moon and clouds,
And puts out the flame in our hearth;
All kinds of leaves and flowers respond differently to the cycles of the seasons,
Yet remain oblivious to the cold of night or the chill of winter--
So goes the preaching of the Dharma
By the pines in the valleys and the bamboos on the mountains.



I am sure that some of our Sangha members sitting with us in places like Sweden, Finland and Canada will laugh at what I consider a "snowfall"



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


Zazen Meditation with Jundo : Flowing

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We abandon all need for life to be as we would make it ... we drop all thoughts of purpose, goal, attainment and meaning ... we strip ourselves naked and jump into a river, abandoning all demands that the river carry us where we wish. We cease all struggles, judgments and insistences, casting out our arms and floating ... us at one with that river ... then, in perfect balance and union, all thought of "us" and "river" dropped away.

Then, where the current flows is just where we flow. Better said, there is just the flowing, carrying all where the waters will. By total yielding, all is now totally free.

But in my belief, some people have unrealistic expectations for Buddhism, thinking that one can maintain such states in all situations, in all times of life. I do not think it is so (just idealized old tales of long dead masters), nor need be so. Anyway, it is not true for us ordinary beings, the ones I know in this world.

Even the most gifted river swimmers among us will sometimes blink and cough and thrash around wildly when, from time to time, the water gets in the eyes and throat.

Yet, before we drown in panic and confusion, our training allows us to recover our balance, breathe smoothly and float once again.



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


Of Buddhas & Ordinary Beings (Bendowa V)

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We'll talk about Buddhas and ordinary living beings ... living in one reality, yet conceiving and perceiving that fact so differently.




_____________________________

When you let go, the dharma fills your hands; it is not within the boundary of one or many. When you try to speak, it fills your mouth; it is not limited to vertical or horizontal. Buddhas continuously dwell in and maintain this dharma, yet no trace of conceptualization remains. Living beings constantly function in and use this dharrna, yet it does not appear in their perception. The wholehearted practice of the Way that I am talking about allows all things to exist in enlightenment and enables us to live out oneness in the path of emancipation. When we break through the barrier and drop off all limitations, we are no longer concerned with conceptual distinctions....

From: Talk on the Wholehearted Practice of the Way - Kosho Uchiyama (with Shohaku Okumura, Taigen Daniel Leighton)


When we let go, it has already filled the hands; how could it be defined as one or many? When we speak, it fills the mouth; it has no restriction in any direction. When buddhas are constantly dwelling in and maintaining this state, they do not leave recognitions and perceptions in separate aspects [of reality]; and when living beings are eternally functioning in this state, aspects [of reality] do not appear to them in separate recognitions and perceptions.' The effort in pursuing the truth6 that I am now teaching makes the myriad dharmas7 real in experience; it enacts the oneness of reality on the path of liberation. At that moment of clearing barriers and getting free, how could this paragraph be relevant? From: Bendowa - A Talk about Pursuing the Truth  - Nishijima-Cross




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


... Let Go ... (Bendowa IV)

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When you let go, the dharma fills your hands ... no restriction in any direction ...




_____________________________

When you let go, the dharma fills your hands; it is not within the boundary of one or many. When you try to speak, it fills your mouth; it is not limited to vertical or horizontal. Buddhas continuously dwell in and maintain this dharma, yet no trace of conceptualization remains. Living beings constantly function in and use this dharrna, yet it does not appear in their perception. The wholehearted practice of the Way that I am talking about allows all things to exist in enlightenment and enables us to live out oneness in the path of emancipation. When we break through the barrier and drop off all limitations, we are no longer concerned with conceptual distinctions....

From: Talk on the Wholehearted Practice of the Way - Kosho Uchiyama (with Shohaku Okumura, Taigen Daniel Leighton)


When we let go, it has already filled the hands; how could it be defined as one or many? When we speak, it fills the mouth; it has no restriction in any direction. When buddhas are constantly dwelling in and maintaining this state, they do not leave recognitions and perceptions in separate aspects [of reality]; and when living beings are eternally functioning in this state, aspects [of reality] do not appear to them in separate recognitions and perceptions.' The effort in pursuing the truth6 that I am now teaching makes the myriad dharmas7 real in experience; it enacts the oneness of reality on the path of liberation. At that moment of clearing barriers and getting free, how could this paragraph be relevant? From: Bendowa - A Talk about Pursuing the Truth  - Nishijima-Cross




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


After a couple of days' being knocked a bit off my seat ... we're back in the saddle again!





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


I'm still feeling quite off my game today. This thing in my life really knocked me for a loop.

Some folks think that one is never ever supposed to have a bad day or days if one is a "Zen Teacher" (so, I must be a poor one!). They'll tell you that, once you get this Zen thing down pat, get "Enlightened" or whatever they think, it is just peaches and cream morning to night, floating on golden lotus pads in the clouds, beyond all human concerns.

Of course, most of the people who say that have never actually met such a 'perfected being' in the flesh (although they have read about them in old Buddhist stories).

Well, I don't think its true ... at least for most Buddhists or Zen Practitioners. To me, our Way is a way of balance and skillful living. And even the most skillful fellow can loose his skill and balance from time to time. I mean, if Tiger Woods can put a golfball in the sandtrap, Roger Federer hit a net ball, or Lance Armstrong take a bad spill off his bike ... we can have bad day(s) too. We're not machines, for gosh sakes (although even machines break down!)

Because our way is a way of balance, a lot like riding a bike, every corner we round is a surprise. Life throws a lot of bumps and curves and potholes on life's road, and our Zen Practice allows us to handle most of that with dexterity and ease. What knocks most people off their seats, or shakes them up, we can glide past via the mental balance and strength developed in Shikantaza.

But, from time to time, a good side wind or log in the road will push us right off balance and into the bushes. Our bike goes flying through the air, and we end up with bloody knees ... maybe a broken leg.

Does that mean we are doing our riding this life all wrong? I think not. I think it just human for even the best bike riders to fall off their bike from time to time. Even break their legs and be out of action for a time.

  But as soon as we can, we get back on our bikes, back in training, recover our balance ... and ride on again down life's road.

 There is always the next bend in the road.





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



It is much easier to be at peace with a disaster or war on the other side of the world ...

... than with the little troubles in one's own home or family. The people we are closest to, and most emotionally involved with, can certainly push our buttons sometimes ... even after years of Zen practice.

And that is just natural.

Some folks think that, if we are practicing Zen "right", we should be free of all fear, annoyance, worry, frustration. But I think that, if we were, we would lose so much of what it means to be human.

The point, I think, is that we need not be a prisoner of never ending fear, worry, depression and the like. But a sometime blue period, or reasonable fear for the future, or ordinary upset at some event in life, is nothing to reject. We are not robots, we are not stones ... and do not want to be so.

Sometimes the Buddhas in the old stories are portrayed as beyond all human emotion, but I feel that that may be a bit of fiction. As the stories were told, gradually the Buddha was turned into a golden statue or superhuman entity beyond human concern. Anyway, I feel that that is not the best way to be in our lives. One can be a Buddha with a heart!

I think that we should avoid to fall into excess harmful emotions, and try not to let them take us over. And I think that we should develop, as Buddhists, the ability always to know that all emotions are just our "self" playing games, like a dream and (in a very real way) they are not real.

But, so long as we have these human bodies and lives, we will feel. Do not be frustrated about a bit of frustration, do not be sad about some grieving, do no be angry even if once in awhile you get angry. It's okay.

I promise you that, if you follow this Zazen road for awhile, you will quickly realize that the way you experience all those emotions has become quite different from how you did before you took the Buddhist Way. The fear and other emotions will sometimes be there, but not like they were before.





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


Practice Makes Perfect (Bendowa III)

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You are already perfectly you, and life is already perfectly life ...

... but it's not a matter of merely saying so.

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ALL BUDDHA-TATHAGATAS TOGETHER have been simply transmitting wondrous dharma and actualizing anuttara samjak sambodhi [supreme perfect enlightenment] for which there is an unsurpassable, unfabricated, wondrous method. This wondrous dharma, which has been transmitted only from buddha to buddha without deviation, has as its criterion jijuyu zanmai. For disporting oneself freely in this samadhi, practicing zazen in an upright posture is the true gate. Although this dharma is abundantly inherent in each person, it is not manifested without practice, it is not attained without realization.

From: Talk on the Wholehearted Practice of the Way - Kosho Uchiyama (with Shohaku Okumura, Taigen Daniel Leighton)


When the buddha-tathagatas each having received the one-to-one transmission of the splendid Dharma, experience the supreme state of bodhi, they possess a subtle method that is supreme and without intention. The reason this [method] is transmitted only from buddha to buddha, without deviation, is that the samadhi of receiving and using the self is its standard. For enjoyment of this samadhi the practice of [Za]zen in the erect sitting posture, has been established as the authentic gate. This Dharma is abundantly present in each human being, but if we do not practice it, it does not manifest itself, and if we do not experience it, it cannot be realized.  From: Bendowa - A Talk about Pursuing the Truth  - Nishijima-Cross




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


Jijuyu Zanmai (Bendowa II)

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Continuing with Master Dogen's Shobogenzo Bendowa ...

I would like to talk a bit more about Jijuyu zanmai, "the samadhi, the still abiding taste of the self in self-fulfillment"  ...

... 
by this the self both drops away and is affirmed and fulfilled in that moment. All is complete.

Uchiyama Roshi's translation is that one "disports oneself freely in this Samadhi", which seems to convey that so nicely.

_____________________________

ALL BUDDHA-TATHAGATAS TOGETHER have been simply transmitting wondrous dharma and actualizing anuttara samjak sambodhi [supreme perfect enlightenment] for which there is an unsurpassable, unfabricated, wondrous method. This wondrous dharma, which has been transmitted only from buddha to buddha without deviation, has as its criterion jijuyu zanmai. For disporting oneself freely in this samadhi, practicing zazen in an upright posture is the true gate.

From: Talk on the Wholehearted Practice of the Way - Kosho Uchiyama (with Shohaku Okumura, Taigen Daniel Leighton)


When the buddha-tathagatas each having received the one-to-one transmission of the splendid Dharma, experience the supreme state of bodhi, they possess a subtle method that is supreme and without intention. The reason this [method] is transmitted only from buddha to buddha, without deviation, is that the samadhi of receiving and using the self is its standard. For enjoyment of this samadhi the practice of [Za]zen in the erect sitting posture, has been established as the authentic gate. From: Bendowa - A Talk about Pursuing the Truth  - Nishijima-Cross




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


We begin our series of talks on Master Dogen's Shobogenzo Bendowa ...

anuttara samjak sambodhi ... means "supreme, incomparable, unsurpassed, complete, perfect enlightenment"

Most think of Zazen as a means to reach and attain some sought after enlightenment, somewhere down the road.

But Master Dogen expressed the very sitting of Zazen as the realization of "supreme, incomparable, unsurpassed, complete, perfect enlightenment" itself, right in that moment and in that very action!

As if, walking down a road, each step by step is tasted as a perfect arrival home!


Jijuyu zanmai is another phrase that means something like "the samadhi, the still abiding taste of the self in self-fulfillment"  ...

... 
In other words, by experiencing Zazen as complete, by dropping all thought of any other place or action to be or do in that moment, by just sitting without judgment or feeling of lack ... the self both drops away and is affirmed and fulfilled in that moment. All is complete.

_____________________________

ALL BUDDHA-TATHAGATAS TOGETHER have been simply transmitting wondrous dharma and actualizing anuttara samjak sambodhi [supreme perfect enlightenment] for which there is an unsurpassable, unfabricated, wondrous method. This wondrous dharma, which has been transmitted only from buddha to buddha without deviation, has as its criterion jijuyu zanmai. For disporting oneself freely in this samadhi, practicing zazen in an upright posture is the true gate.

[Kosho Uchiyama comments, "...we can understand this (jijuyu zanmai) samadhi of self-fulfillment and enjoyment as the samadhi or concentration on the self when it simply receives and accepts its function, or its spiritual position in the world."] 

From: Talk on the Wholehearted Practice of the Way - Kosho Uchiyama (with Shohaku Okumura, Taigen Daniel Leighton)


When the buddha-tathagatas each having received the one-to-one transmission of the splendid Dharma, experience the supreme state of bodhi, they possess a subtle method that is supreme and without intention. The reason this [method] is transmitted only from buddha to buddha, without deviation, is that the samadhi of receiving and using the self is its standard. For enjoyment of this samadhi the practice of [Za]zen in the erect sitting posture, has been established as the authentic gate. From: Bendowa - A Talk about Pursuing the Truth  - Nishijima-Cross




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





Today's subject is "sitting with Anxiety" ... 


Is it true that "the only thing we have to fear is fear itself" ??




(and thank you very much to all the folks who wrote to ask about my son Leon. He is feeling much better today)








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


I was going to start a series of talks yesterday on an old Zen writing ... Master Dogen's Bendowa (sometimes called "A Talk about Pursuing the Truth") ...

But our son, Leon, started throwing up at 4am ... and I've been up all night and all day with him (he is better now, after the doctor gave him something. But my wife, Mina, is off at an Ai-ki-do tournament this week, so it is just me to take care of Leon).

That's okay. In fact, that is practice, life ... life-practice. A child's moans are just a Sutra being chanted, his fever the Dharma (we have some parents in our Sangha with kids with physical conditions truly chronic and serious, much more than a passing stomach flu. Those families practice with this every day, and in a profound way I can barely imagine).

Master Dogen's "Talk about Pursuing the Truth" will have to wait a couple of days, cause right now there is the truth of a sick child.





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


Zen is sometimes described as "A special transmission outside the scriptures, not relying on words or letters."

Yet historians of Zen Buddhism almost unanimously agree these days that the 'Zen way' rarely, if ever, left the words and letters behind. In fact, throughout its history, Zen Practice has been intertwined with Buddhist philosophy, Sutra study, and scholarship of the highest order. Yes, there were ancient monks who would burn all their books ... build a hut in the woods and leave all intellectual pursuits behind ... but most would choose to write and study  in between doing so!
.

(today's video sitting below)

Perhaps we should best say that there are moments when we "burn the books", moments when we grasp the moon or a flower without an added thought, and times when we build a hut on a stone cliff far removed from busy life ... but other moments when we read and philosophize about the words while piercing through the words to the spaces between.

For further reading on this topic, I recommend this histrorian's article:






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


Well, it is nearly Valentine's Day, and love is in the air ...


A few days ago I spoke about how most "Zen Monks" in Japan marry:




and today you will meet this monk's "better half"!!


What is a Zen Buddhist perspective on love? 

(today's video sitting below)

Maybe its that "the couple that Zazen's together ... stays together!"




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

IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO SEE MORE BELIEFNET PAGES ON LOVE AND VALENTINES ....

To subscribe to "Treeleaf Zen" click here.

http://www.feedburner.com/fb/a/emailverifySubmit?feedId=2769166

 


Hi,

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


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

I have a little cold today, so I'm not at full speed! However, we take it as it comes ... and there is never any 'bad' Zazen (even with a 'cold'!).

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

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


The schedule is as follows:

00:00 - 00:50 CEREMONY (HEART SUTRA / SANDOKAI) & ZAZEN
00:50 - 01:00 KINHIN
01:00 - 01:40 ZAZEN
01:40 - 01:50 KINHIN
01:50 - 02:30 DHARMA TALK & ZAZEN
02:30 - 02:40 KINHIN
02:40 - 03:20 ZAZEN
03:20 - 03:30 KINHIN
03:30 - 04:00 METTA CHANT & ZAZEN, VERSE OF ATONEMENT, FOUR VOWS, & CLOSING


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

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


Please join in, one and all.

Gassho, Jundo



Let's taste some other ways that Zen teachers, like 'ol Master Dogen, have looked at time ...



And you thought that the past ran into the present which becomes the future!



How about a future that flows into past, all nothing but the present?



How about forgettin' about time all together!




It's TIME to knock time out!






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

Continuing our discussion of time ... we go back to the future ...

What's a Zen 'approach' to the future? 

Well, again, we experience the future many ways at once!

Today's sitting is dedicated to Chan Master Sheng Yen, who passed away in a hospital in Taiwan last night. A wonderful and sincere teacher. Shortly before his death, he composed this poem ...

無事忙中老,

 空裡有哭笑,

本來沒有我,

生死皆可拋。

 Busy with nothing, growing old.

Within emptiness, weeping, laughing.

Intrinsically, there is no "I."

Life and death, thus cast aside.




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


How do Zen Buddhists experience the 'past' ?

Well, we let the sad times be sad times, the happy times be happy, the painful moments painful, the joys joyful ... each moment just what it was. We don't run from what was.

We also learn from the past, as best we can, before we move on.

As well, we let the past go. What was was, now like a dream. We drop it all away.


And we can hold all those views at once!




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


Here's the incredible medical case of H.M. ...

_____________________________

He knew his name. That much he could remember.

He knew that his father's family came from Thibodaux, La., and his mother was from Ireland, and he knew about the 1929 stock market crash and World War II and life in the 1940s.

But he could remember almost nothing after that.

He developed a syndrome neurologists call profound amnesia. He had lost the ability to form new memories.

For the next 55 years, each time he met a friend, each time he ate a meal, each time he walked in the woods it was as if for the first time.

Living at his parents' house, and later with a relative through the 1970s, Mr. Molaison helped with the lawn, raked leaves and relaxed in front of the television. He could navigate through a day attending to mundane details -- fixing a lunch, making his bed -- only by drawing on what he could remember from his first 27 years.

_____________________________

The next time you hear that Zen is about "Living in the Moment", remember that incredible life story. The expression "Living in the Moment" is a kind of Zen cliche, too easily bandied about without folks really knowing what it means. If you truly lived only "in the moment" with no thought of past or future, you would be much like that poor man who was barely able to function in life. You would stumble into walls, forget where you were going.

We can not only live in the present, but need to learn from the past and plan for the future ... otherwise we would just keep repeating the same mistakes again and again, would not remember where we parked the car, and could not even go shopping for tomorrow's supper or remember to get the baby out of the bath!

Human beings need to learn from the past, plan for the future. So, when Zen folks talk about "being in the moment", a better meaning is that we learn to embrace this present moment, and our crazy lives as they are now, without any thought that this moment should be some other way other than it is. We learn to "just be here" when we want to be ... playing with our children, appreciating a mountain scene, at home or work ... without always having our head lost somewhere else.

Yet sometimes we must have our heads somewhere else and be occupied with thoughts of past and future. At those times, just be present with that:  Be present with not always being present!! That is truly 'being present' with what is in that moment, you see.



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