August 2009 Archives

'MONDAYS with TAIGU' - the unknown

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... meeting the unknown ...




(remember: recording ends soon after the beginning bells;
a sitting time of 20 to 35 minutes is recommended)
Welcome to our Special "Live from Treeleaf" Zazen marking the FIRST DAY (although really without beginning or end) of our 100-DAY 'ANGO' PRACTICE SEASON

OUR ANGO SITTING NETCAST CAN BE VIEWED HERE (on Ustream)


PLEASE NOTE THAT THE ABOVE LINK WAS BROKEN YESTERDAY, BUT IS NOW WORKING

We run a little long in time today, about 1 hour 20 minutes, as I want to talk a little about what Ango means.

More information on participating in our Ango at Treeleaf (it is never too late to hop in) is provided at LINK: ANGO

It is not too late to join in!

Master Dogen wrote "What is attentively maintained by all practicing buddhas, and what is thoroughly mastered by practicing buddhas is like this .... Although the everyday activities of practicing buddhas invariably allow buddhas to practice, practicing buddhas allow everyday activities to practice. This is to abandon your body for dharma, to abandon dharma for your body. This is to give up holding back your life, to hold on fully to your life".

Even buddhas practice buddha, and they do so as and amid everyday activities. Those events of daily life are the place of practice, and are just one's life. In everyday activities, the Teachings can be both learned and put into practice. Allowing life to be fully life.

Such will be the theme of this Ango ... practice in the homes, offices, factories, with the people and situations with whom we find our self in our everyday activities.

In keeping with the philosophy and path of practice here at Treeleaf ("life is our temple"), we will seek to obtain many of the same ... (and, I believe, quite a few additional and very special) ... fruits and lessons of a traditional Ango while sitting within the "monastery" of our day-to-day lives, jobs, problems, unending distractions and family responsibilities.

In doing so, I believe, we will have the opportunity to taste the sweetness (and sometime bitterness ... no one without the other) of concentrated Zen practice ...

The most important point to keep in mind is that those work duties at the office, daily problems and family responsibilities ARE THE PRACTICE PLACE as much as the Zafu (sitting cushion). The home kitchen is the temple kitchen, the office, store or factory is the garden when we practice Samu (work practice), etc.  Each presents countless opportunities for practice, and for manifesting Wisdom and Compassion.

The purpose is not to overwhelm; it is to mutually work together through a period of dedicated practice. We will do our best each and every day, and let Zazen soak into our life. But key to that is consistency, not giving up, finding the time and not quitting.

I propose that Ango participants should commit (as best they can, given the circumstance of their lives) to as many of the following as possible. In all cases, the emphasis will be on increasing ... not raw quantity ... but the sincerity, commitment, vigor and seriousness of what we undertake:

  •  Add a minimum of 5 minutes per sitting to however long one's current sitting time, and commit to sit that time - at least daily - without missing a single day. As well, for those who can and whose schedule will realistically allow ... consider adding an additional full sitting period per day to however many times per day one is now sitting Zazen. Whatever your commitment, be realistic about what you can maintain ... and then (absent sheer impossibility) stick with it, without missing a single day

  • Join in each and every 1-hour Saturday Treeleaf Zazenkai, and 4-hour monthly Treeleaf Zazenkai
netcast without fail. However, as always, each will be available in recorded form (so may be joined at a time to fit your schedule).

  •  Listen, as possible, to each short (usually 5 minutes or so) 'Sit-a-Long' Talk (to be presented by Jundo and Taigu on this Treeleaf "Beliefnet" Blog) during the practice period, also all available in recorded form to meet your schedule. A special series of talks will be presented during the Ango period (we shall use Dogen's "Instructions for the Cook" Tenzokyokun, as well as other subjects. Necessary materials will be provided).

  • Join frequently in online discussions in our Forum (LINK) of the content and Ango experiences, sharing the ups and downs and middles.

  •  If technically possible, commit to meet with Jundo or Taigu by Skype video at least once per month during the Ango.

  •  If simultaneously studying for Jukai, complete and participate in each of the readings and discussions each week regarding the individual Precepts, as well as complete Rakusu sewing.

  •  Make formal study on the meaning and philosophy of Samu (work practice, the central theme of Dogen's "Instructions for the Cook"), and apply such perspectives and attitudes in your family and work duties each day.

  •  Commit to give up one or two items or passions one truly loves during the Practice period, for example, sweets after meals, luxurious meals, cigarettes, television, consumer purchases of luxury items.

  •  Commit to mindful eating, and silently or orally recite one short meal chant (to be provided) before all meals.

  • Commit a portion of your weekly income during the period to extra charitable donations (assuming you have the financial ability). I do not accept any "Dana" financial contributions for Treeleaf, as we now have sufficient resources for what we are doing. However, I do encourage people to make financial donations to charities that help folks, e.g., feeding the poor, finding a cure for a disease. Both donations and Samu work should be a bit beyond the point where it starts to hurt. If you have the time, consider extra volunteer activities in your community as well.

  •  Commit to sit our SPECIAL 2-DAY ROHATSU RETREAT (to be held online, currently scheduled for netcast the weekend of December 5 & 6) at the culmination of the Ango. Again, it would be good to participate "live", but all will be available in recorded form to fit schedules. The retreat will likely be similar to last year's schedule and content (LINK HERE):


And so, we support each other.

Gassho,  Jundo
We continue with our series on the Ten Pure Virtues or "Perfections" of a Bodhisattva ....



with Skillful Means (Upaya)



Historian and Soto Zen Priest Taigen Dan Leighton writes ...

Skillful Means, upaya in Sanskrit ... is an essential concept in Mahayana Buddhism. Skillful means, sometimes translated as tactfulness, expedients, or ingenuity, is the practice of applying awakening teaching to the diverse variety of students or practitioners. ...

The idea of skillful means became crucial to the adoption of Buddhist ideas into China, and thereafter in all of East Asia. Skillful means is fully expressed and elaborated in the Lotus Sutra, probably the most influential Buddhist text in East Asia. Several colorful parables depict aspects of skillful means. In the parable of the burning house, a man comes home to find his house in flames and his children playing inside. When he tells them to flee the house they refuse, as they would rather play with their toys. The father finally entices them from the house with descriptions of many colorful carriages waiting outside. They exit to find only one ox cart, symbolizing the One Vehicle of Buddha's Way that can carry everyone. The One Vehicle includes all the various skillful teachings for saving beings from the flames of worldly suffering. The sutra emphasizes that the father in the parable was not lying, as he lured the children from the burning house to save them. ...

The idea of many teachings and practices applied skillfully to the single aim of spiritual awakening is an appealing approach for a modern Western understanding of the sometimes confusing abundance of Buddhist schools. Moreover, skillful means might be a way of respecting the pluralism of all religious traditions in our contemporary global interconnectedness. All traditions may be equally respected for the value of their teachings as they apply to different peoples' particular approaches to ultimate religious truth, and to primary principles such as kindness and compassion. ...

The practice of skillful means reminds us to listen to others respectfully, honor their differences, and recognize that others may have different needs and benefit from different teachings and practices. Following the model of the bodhisattva of compassion, we must not self-righteously cling to any particular method. We can learn various useful approaches, and as we learn to trust and respond with whatever is at hand, our skillfulness can develop.

(from An Introduction to Skillful Means)




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

The Dancers The Dance

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(BENDOWA XLII)

In today's section of Bendowa, Master Dogen presents a rather philosophical argument (reprinted in full below) upholding the Buddha's rejection of the idea of a separate "soul" or "mind essence' which continues on, and is later reborn, after the body dies. He considers that a too simple, one-sided way to view things. It separates life into pieces.

His point is that body and mind are never separate ... and so we cannot say that one ends while the other does not. There is not a time, Master Dogen states, "when body and mind are one reality, and another time when they are not one reality."

However, that does not mean, according to Dogen, that "it's over when it's over". Not in the least! If you think "it's over when it's over" ... then get over "you" now!

I believe that what Master Dogen is describing may best be tasted by imagining all of reality as a Great Dance that has been ongoing with no seeming beginning, no visible end. All of us ... each being, the mountains, stars, wind and rain, all things and all events ... are part of this dance. We are all dancing together.

If we fail to see the "big picture", we see our own life as just a single dancer who steps on stage for a few years, moving here and there (sometimes tripping on our own feet, sometimes bumping into other dancers), all to disappear from the stage when we die.

Our main concern then (a view that fails to see the Big Picture, the WHOLE GRAND BALLET) may be to hope that, at best, we might get the chance merely to come back as another little clumsy dancer for a few more years.

But, says Dogen, that is because we cannot see that we are not just little dancers ...

... WE ARE THE DANCE!

... dancing, unbroken, through all time
. Wholly twirling and intertwined. The dance defined, created and made real, fully exerted, in each step by step we each and all make in this moment.

Then, it is not a question of our worrying about whether our small, clumsy dancer 'self' will be reborn in the future as another small, clumsy dancer 'self' (that may or may not be so). It is just the dancing dancing ongoing dancing ... life-and-death just the great whirling, dancers entering and exiting ...

... all this one Great Dance.


Thus, says Master Dogen in this section ...


... [We] should realize that living-and-dying is just nirvana; [Buddhists] have never discussed nirvana outside of living-and-dying. ... Further, if we think that life and death are something to get rid of [or be free of], we will [be guilty of hating] the Buddha-Dharma. How could we not guard against this? Remember, the lineage of the Dharma which [asserts that] "in the Buddha-Dharma the essential state of mind [Uchiyama: the vast total aspect of mind essence] universally includes all forms," describes the whole great world of Dharma inclusively, without dividing essence and form, and without discussing appearance and disappearance. There is no [state] - not even [life and death and] bodhi or nirvana- that is different from the essential state of mind. All dharmas, myriad phenomena and accumulated things [all the myriad phenomena in the who universe], are totally just the one mind, without exclusion or disunion [everything included and interconnected]. [The myriad things and phenomena] are the even and balanced undivided mind, other than which there is nothing; and this is just how Buddhists have understood the essence of mind. That being so, how could we divide this one reality into body and mind, or into life-and-death and nirvana? We are already the Buddha's disciples.





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

Bienvenue à Tenho

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Rev. Tenho, a student and Dharma Heir of Jean-Marc, flew in today from France and is also visiting Treeleaf, Japan. I thought I would also let her introduce herself and lead the sit-a-long today.

If you would like to see a short video (in French language) of Jean-Marc's Zen Dojo in Lyon, this is a story from the TV news there ...


Merci, Tenho et Tenryu


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

'MONDAYS with TAIGU' - ANGO

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This week, Rev. Taigu talks about ANGO, a special 100 day Practice Period, as we will begin at Treeleaf in a few days ...

He writes:

 
This is the text quoted in the following talk. It was given at the beginning of Ango, the summer practice. I strongly recommand the reading of the book itself. Amazing translations and real inspiring collection that give a perfect glimpse of Dogen's genius.

Formal Talk on the First Day of the Practice Period, recorded by Ejo, 1245, Echizen.

(...) On the first day of the summer period he ascended the teaching seat, held up a whisk, drew a circle in the air, and said,"our practice period~peacefully dwelling~goes beyond this".
He drew another circle and said,"Peacefully dwelling is to study this thoroughly. So it is taught that the Buddha who is the King of the Empty Eon received this life vein, becoming a buddha,becoming an ancestor. The fist and the staff embody this point. They transmit Dharma and transmit the robe.
"During each summer practice period, make each moment the top of your head. Don't regard this as a beginning. Don't regard this as going beyond. Even if you see it as a beginning, kick it away. Even if you se it as going beyond, stomp on it. Then you are not bound by beginning or going beyond. How is it?"
Dogen took up the whisk, drew a circle and said: "Dwell peacefully in this nest".


(translated by Kazuaki Tanahashi in Enlightenment Unfolds)




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


WELCOME to our TREELEAF SPECIAL "ALL ONLINE" 6-HOUR ZAZENKAI

with Jean-Marc "Tenryu" Bazy (founder and teacher of  l'association zen Dogen Sangha de Lyon-Villeurbanne, France) ...

 ... recorded in "real time" and available "on demand" for sitting any time, any place, at the links below.

jeanmarcegudocut.jpg
The sitting schedule is approximately as follows (remember that Kinhin times also can serve to stretch, drink water, use the restroom, etc.). CLICK ON THE RESPECTIVE VIDEO LINKS FOR EACH SEGMENT:


00:00 - 00:50 CEREMONY (HEART SUTRA in JAPANESE / NAMES OF ANCESTORS) & ZAZEN
00:50 - 01:00 KINHIN
01:00 - 01:40 ZAZEN
01:40 - 01:50 KINHIN


01:50 - 02:30 DHARMA TALK (Jean-Marc-Bazy) & ZAZEN
02:30 - 02:40 KINHIN
02:40 - 03:20 ZAZEN
03:20 - 03:30 KINHIN
03:30 - 04:10 ZAZEN
04:10 - 04:20 KINHIN


04:20 - 05:05 DHARMA TALK (Jean-Marc Bazy) & ZAZEN
05:05 - 05:25 KINHIN
05:30 - 06:00 METTA CHANT & ZAZEN, VERSE OF ATONEMENT, FOUR VOWS, & CLOSING

Our Zazenkai will consist of chanting the 'Heart Sutra in JAPANESE' and the list of the Names of the Ancestors' (see below), some full floor prostrations (please follow along with me ... or a simple Gassho can be substituted if you wish), two short Dharma Talks by Jean-Marc ... and we close with the 'Metta Verses', followed at the end with the 'Verse of Atonement' and 'The Four Vows'.

Be aware that the cicadas and crickets were in fine form today, and speaking louder than the teachers sometimes. Well, perhaps we should just listen to what they have to preach
. :-)

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 6 HOURS.



PLEASE JOIN US AND SIT-A-LONG or, as they say in French ... s'il vous plaît avoir un siège :D

Gassho, Jundo

_________________________

Maka Hannya Haramita Shin Gyo*

(The Heart of the Great Perfection of Wisdom Sutra in JAPANESE)

 

Kan Ji Zai Bo Satsu Gyo Jin Han Nya Ha Ra Mi Ta Ji Sho Ken Go* On Kai Ku Do I Sai Ku Yaku Sha Ri Shi Shiki Fu I Ku Ku Fu I Shiki Shiki Soku Ze Ku Ku Soku Ze Shiki Ju So Gyo Shiki Yaku Bu Nyo Ze Sha Ri Shi Ze Sho Ho Ku So Fu Sho Fu Metsu Fu Ku Fu Jo Fu Zo Fu Gen Ze Ko Ku Chu Mu Shiki Mu Ju So Gyo Shiki Mu Gen Ni Bi Ze Shin Ni Mu Shiki Sho Ko Mi Soku Ho Mu Gen Kai Nai Shi Mu I Shiki Kai Mu Mu Myo Yaku Mu Mu Myo Jin Nai Shi Mu Ro Shi Yaku Mu Ro Shi Jin Mu Ku Shu Metsu Do Mu Chi Yaku Mu Toku I Mu Sho Tok ko Bo Dai Sat Ta E Han-Nya Ha Ra Mi Ta Ko* Shin Mu Kei Ge Mu Kei Ge Ko Mu U Ku Fu On Ri Is-Sai Ten Do Mu So Ku Gyo Ne Han San Ze Sho Butsu E Han Nya Ha Ra Mi Ta Ko* Toku A Noku Ta Ra San Myaku San Bo Dai Ko Chi Han-Nya Ha Ra Mi Ta Ze Dai Jin Shu Ze Dai Myo Shu Ze Mu Jo Shu Ze Mu To To Shu No Jo Is sai Ku Shin Jitsu Fu Ko Ko Setsu Han Nya Ha Ra Mi Ta Shu Soku Setsu Shu Watsu Gya* Tei Gya Tei Ha Ra Gya Tei Hara* So Gya Tei Bo Ji Sowa Ka Han Nya Shin Gyo


______________________

 

* Bi bashi butsu Dai osho,

* Shiki butsu Dai osho,

* Bi shafu butsu Dai osho,

* Kuru son butsu Dai osho,

* Kuna gon muni butsu Dai osho,

* Kasho butsu Dai osho,

* Shakya muni butsu Dai osho,

Maka ka shyo Dai osho,

Anan da Dai osho,

Shona wa shyu Dai osho,

Ubaki kuta Dai osho,

Dai taka Dai osho,

Mi shaka Dai osho,

Bashu mitsu Dai osho,

Butsu da nan dai Dai osho,

Fuda mit ta Dai osho,

Bari shiba Dai osho,

Funa ya sha Dai osho,

Ana bo tei Dai osho,

Kabi mora Dai osho,

* Na gyaa ra jyuna Dai osho,

Kana dai ba Dai osho,

Rago rata Dai osho,

So gya nan dai Dai osho,

Kaya shya ta Dai osho,

Kumo rata Dai osho,

Shy yata Dai osho,

Ba shyu ban zu Dai osho,

Manu ra Dai osho,

Kaku ro kuna Dai osho,

 

Shishi bodai Dai osho,

Bashya shita Dai osho,

Funyo mi ta Dai osho,

Hann ya tara Dai osho,

* Bodai daruma Dai osho,

Tai so Eka Dai osho,

Kanchi Sosan Dai osho,

Daii Do shin Dai osho,

Daiman Ko nin Dai osho,

* Dai kan Eno Dai osho,

Seigen Gyoshi Dai osho,

Seki to Kisen Dai osho,

Yaku san Igen Dai osho,

Un gan Don jo Dai osho,

* To zan Ryo kai Dai osho,

Un go Do yo Dai osho,

Do an Do hi Dai osho,

Do an Kan shi Dai osho,

Ryo zan En kan Dai osho,

Dai yo Kyo gen Dai osho,

Tosu Gisei Dai osho,

Fuyo Do kai Dai osho,

Tanka Shi jyun Dai osho,

Cho ro Sei ryo Dai osho,

Ten do So kaku Dai osho,

Set cho Chikan Dai osho,

* Ten do Nyojo Dai osho,

* Ei hei Do gen Dai osho,

Ko un Ej o Dai osho,

Tetsu Gikai Dai osho,

*Kei zan Jo kin Dai osho,

Gasan Jôseki Dai osho

Taigen Sôshin Dai osho

Baisan Mompon Dai osho

 

*Jochû Tengin Dai osho

*Sekisô Enchû Dai osho

* Taigan Sôbai Dai osho

Kensô Jôshun Dai osho

Jisan Eikun Dai osho

Daichû Reijô Dai osho

Nan' ô Ryôkun Dai osho

Daijû Ryûzon Dai osho

Hôgan Zensatsu Dai osho

Ryôzan Chôzen Dai osho

Kisshû Genshô Dai osho

Kigai Mon' ô Dai osho

Kanshû Taisatsu Dai osho

Tensô Juntetsu Dai osho

Kenkoku Keisatsu

Raiten Gensatsu Dai osho

Kengan Zesatsu Dai osho

Hôkoku Satsuyû Dai osho

Rotei Shoshuku Dai osho

Fuhô Tatsuden Dai osho

Kachû Jakuchû Dai osho

Bunzan Kôrin Dai osho

Daichû Bunki Dai osho

Chôko Bungei Dai osho

Roshû Ezen Dai osho

Reisai Emon Dai osho

Tokuzui Tenrin Dai osho Shogaku Rinzui Dai osho

Butsuzan Zuimyô Dai osho

Bukkan Myôkoku Dai osho

Butsuan Emyô Dai osho

Zuigaku Rempô Dai osho

Gudô Wafu Dai osho


___________

THE METTA VERSE CAN BE OBTAINED AT THIS LINK
___________

VERSE OF ATONEMENT:

All harmful acts, words and thoughts, ever committed by me since of old,

On account of beginningless greed, anger and ignorance,

Born of my body, mouth and mind,

Now I atone for them all




FOUR VOWS:

To save all sentient beings, though beings numberless

To transform all delusions, though delusions inexhaustible

To perceive Reality, though Reality is boundless

To attain the Enlightened Way, a Way non-attainable


GOIN' TO AN ANGO ...

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THIS SATURDAY/SUNDAY (depending on location) ...

... to "unofficially" kick off our ANGO season a little early ("officially" beginning August 29th) ...


... and to mark the visit to Treeleaf Tsukuba all this coming week of JEAN-MARC BAZY, a teacher in Nishijima Roshi's Lineage from Lyon, France ...

LYON SANGHA LINK

... WE WILL BE HAVING A SPECIAL 6-HOUR ZAZENKAI THIS SUNDAY (SATURDAY IN MANY PLACES). I hope you will sit-a-long.. Because the live sitting time will not be possible in many locations, I hope you will all manage to sit with the recorded version which I will post here on the blog ... especially folks who will be participating in our upcoming Ango.

THE HOURS ARE NOW BEING FINALIZED
due to Jean-Marc's travel, and will be posted here shortly. It will REPLACE OUR USUAL SATURDAY ZAZENKAI.

PLEASE JOIN US AND SIT-A-LONG or, as they say in French ... s'il vous plaît avoir un siège :D

_________________


AND AS TO TODAY's SIT-A-LONG ... SOME QUOTES FROM TRUNGPA RINPOCHE on not falling into "SPIRITUAL MATERIALISM" ...

warning about the difference between false "Heroism" in our practice, and sincere, open, hard effort ...


The attitude of "heroism" is based upon the assumption that we are bad, impure, that we are not worthy, are not ready for spiritual understanding. We must reform ourselves, be different from what we are. For instance, if we are middle class Americans, we must give up our jobs or drop out of college, move out of our suburban homes, let our hair grow, perhaps try drugs. if we are hippies, we must give up drugs, cut our hair short, throw away torn jeans. We think that we are special, heroic, that we are turning away from temptation. We become vegetarians and we become this and that. There are so many things to become. We think our path is spiritual because it is literally against the flow of what we used to be, but it is merely the way of false heroism, and the only one who is heroic in this way is ego. We can carry this sort of false heroism to great extremes, getting ourselves into completely austere situations. If the teaching with which we are engaged recommends standing on our heads for twenty-four hours a day, we do it ... I am not saying that foreign or disciplinary traditions are not applicable to the spiritual path. Rather, I am saying that we have the notion that there must be some kind of medicine or magic potion to help us attain the right state of mind.

So the point we come back to is that some kind of real gift or sacrifice is needed if we are to open ourselves completely. This gift may take any form. But in order for it to be meaningful, it must entail giving up our hope of getting something in return. It does not matter how many titles we have, nor how many suits of exotic clothes we have worn through, nor how many philosophies, commitments and sacramental ceremonies we have participated in. We must give up our ambition to get something in return for our gift. That is the really hard way.

Have we ever experienced the process of stripping and opening and giving? That is the fundamental question. We must really surrender, give something, give something up in a very painful way. We must begin to dismantle the basic structure of the ego we have managed to create

"But how," we might ask, "are we to conduct the examination? What method or tool are we to use?" The method that the Buddha discovered is meditation. He discovered that struggling to find answers did not work. It was only when there were gaps in his struggle that insights came to him. He began to realize that there was a sane, awake quality within him which manifested itself only in the absence of struggle. So the practice of meditation involves "letting be". ... said the Buddha, "in your meditation practice you should not impose anything too forcefully on your mind, nor should you let it wander." That is the feeling of letting the mind -be- in a very open way. ... In true meditation there is no ambition to stir up thoughts, nor is there an ambition to suppress them. They are just allowed to occur spontaneously and become an expression of basic sanity.

(Cutting through Spiritual Materialism, PP 78-81 and Introduction)





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

Jump In, The Water's Fine

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(BENDOWA XLI)


Today, a message for so-called "armchair Buddhists" ... hesitant to get their feet wet ...


_____________________________

Questions Eight and Nine ...


[Someone] asks, "The masters who spread the teachings through our country in previous ages had all entered Tang China and received the transmission of Dharma. Why, at that time, did they neglect this principle [that practice-enlightenment are one], and transmit only philosophical teaching?"

I [Dogen] say: The reason that past teachers of human beings did not transmit this method was that the time had not come.


[Someone] asks, "Did those masters of former ages understand method?"

 

I say: If they had understood it, they would have made it known to all.

..

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




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

Play Ball!

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Continuing with Master Dogen's Bendowa ...

(BENDOWA XL)

So, let's say "enlightenment" is like baseball ...

Dogen went around visiting a lot of baseball stadiums, meeting the players and coaches ... and here is what he learned about the playing of baseball:

Says Dogen, if you want to make baseball baseball ... ya don't just talk about baseball, you don't sit in the locker room. You don't just focus on the 9th inning and winning the game  ...

Baseball is made real by playing the game, getting on the field and playing baseball, pitch by pitch and inning by inning.

Someone who wants to truly know baseball, must grab a bat and glove and play baseball, swing at the ball and run the bases.

The finding of the truth, and the making of baseball, is in the playing.

This is true for both pros and amateurs, high schoolers and little leaguers .... finding the "truth" of the game is in playing the game, not in collecting trading cards or watching on TV.

Nor is baseball about "only winning the game" as much as "win or lose, it is the great game of 'Baseball pitch by pitch, catch by catch ... that is the true beauty of the game, victory made real, win or lose'

In fact, even a fully accomplished baseball player like Babe Ruth must keep playing the game if he wants to show what it means to be "Babe Ruth".

Something like that (I hope I did not 'strike out' with this analogy!) :-)  

_____________________________

Question Seven (Cont.):


... Moreover, as I saw with my own eyes in great Song China, the Zen monasteries of many districts had all built Zazen Halls accommodating five or six hundred, or even one or two thousand monks, who were encouraged to sit in zazen day and night. The leader of one such order7[my teacher, Tendo Nyojo] was a true master who had received the Buddha's mind-seal. When I asked him the great intent of the Buddha-Dharma, I was able to hear the principle that practice and [enlightenment] are never two stages. Therefore, in accordance with the teaching of the Buddhist patriarchs, and following the way of a true master, he encouraged [everyone] to pursue the truth in zazen; [he encouraged] not only the practitioners in his order but [all] noble friends who sought the Dharma, [all] people who hoped to find true reality in the Buddha-Dharma, without choosing between beginners and late learners, without distinction between common people and sacred people. Have you not heard the words of the ancestral Master {Nangaku Ejo} who said, "It is not that there is no practice-and-[enlightenment], but it cannot be tainted."Another [master] said, "Someone who sees the way practices the way.'"' Remember that even in the state of attainment of the truth, we should practice.

From: Bendowa - A Talk about Pursuing the Truth  - Nishijima-Cross [with some amendments according to Uchiyama]





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

'MONDAYS with TAIGU' - Shikantaza 1

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I am happy to annouce a new weekly feature on the 'sit-a-long' ...


"MONDAYS with TAIGU"


... a talk each Monday by Rev. Taigu Turlur, teacher at the Treeleaf Sangha ...

Welcome Taigu!

Rev. Pierre Taigu Turlur (also know as "Kuma san", meaning "big stupid bear", though many prefer "cuddly bear") was born in France in 1964. A student of French language and literature, he formally made his profession in academia. Taigu started Zazen at age 13! Received Shukke Tokudo in 1983, at age 18, from Rev. Mokudo Zeisler of the Deshimaru Lineage (AZI). After Rev. Zeisler's death, and disagreeing with some rigidity and dogmaticism in the AZI, he became a Sangha-less priest until eventually meeting Michael Chodo Cross in the Nishijima Lineage through reading the Nishijima-Cross translation of the Shobogenzo. Received Dharma Transmission from Chodo Cross in 2003. After many twists and turns, including long residence in England, he made it to Japan, where he now lives in Nishinomiya near Osaka. He lives teaching French, although he is known as a regular sight in front of local train stations engaging in Takuhatsu with his begging bowl (seen here) ..

Thumbnail image for taigu takuhatsu.jpgEnjoys 10,000,000 things, including writing cheap poetry and playing music, being with family and friends ... a student of the sewing of the Kesa robe.

His blog on the sewing and history of "Nyoho-e Kesa" is here ...

http://nyohoekesa.blogspot.com/




(remember: recording ends soon after the beginning bells;
a sitting time of 20 to 35 minutes is recommended)
This week (actually, the holiday is in both July and August) is the major Japanese Buddhist holiday of Obon ... a time for remembering the deceased and our ancestors ...

Here is the description by the Soto Zen headquarters in Japan

The memorial services held at Obon have two meanings. One is to honor the Buddha and show reverence for one's ancestors and others who have died. The other is to express gratitude to all people to whom we are indebted, including people who are alive such as our parents, relatives, and friends.

The full expression for Obon is Urabon-e which is derived from "Ullabana," an old Indian word. According to the Bussetsu Urabon Sutra, the origin of this tradition goes back to a ceremony performed by Shakyamuni Buddha for the deceased mother of Maudgalyayana, one of the Buddha's immediate disciples. Ullabana means "hanging upside down" and it was by means of this ceremony that the suffering of that world in which she lived (the suffering was so intense it was like hanging upside down) was removed.

These days, people think that this ceremony will prolong the life of parents and remove all suffering and anguish. This is also one of the traditional holiday periods in Japan when people exchange gifts. The other traditional time is over New Years. Obon is a ceremony to respectfully honor the spirits of the ancestors; it is also to ask for the long life or our parents. In preparation for meeting the spirits, it is customary to thoroughly clean our house and put ourselves in order as if meeting guests.

On the evening of the 13th, fires are lit with hemp stalks or pine torches. These lights serve as a guide for the returning ancestors -They are like a voice crying out, "Come this way, Grandpa and Grandma." If these lights are not clearly visible, the spirits will be unsure which way to go.

The spirits are usually sent back on the 15th or 16th. Once again, hemp stalks are lit and in some places are set out on small boats with offerings to float down rivers or out to sea. Lately, because of the problem of pollution, the boats are collected at temples and other places. People chant "Obon spirits, go away on this boat," and send them off carefully. On the 16th, it is said that the ancestral spirits return home riding on cows and carrying luggage on horses. Eggplants and cucumbers, in the shapes of cows and horses, are offered.

Where will the ancestors who have come for the offerings be greeted? A special shelf called an Obon-dana or Tama-dana is made where the family memorial tablet is place along with various offerings. At those houses where this kind of shelf is not set up, the ancestral spirits are greeted at the Buddha-altar. This is where the temple priest chants the tana-gyo, a sutra read for the ancestors.

The Obon Sejiki-e, a ceremony to comfort the ancestral spirits, is an important ceremony in The Soto Zen School. At every The Soto Zen School temple, this ceremony is performed as a way of making offerings to the family ancestors, to one's parents, relatives, and spirits of other people we are connected with, as well as for spirits that are no longer connected to any living person.



In popular Japanese culture, it has evolved into a time of family reunion, which people return to ancestral hometowns and visit and clean their ancestors' graves, and when the spirits of ancestors are supposed to revisit the household altars. There is a kind of square dancing or "Bon Dance", said to come because the disciple, Maudgalyayana, happy because of his mother's release and grateful for his mother's kindness, danced with joy.

I am not too much for the more magical and superstitious elements of the holiday. But, whatever the origins and popular ideas, on Obon, we express gratitude and compassion for the lives of our ancestors, family and friends, past and still living.

We also reflect upon how we are living now.

If you would like to see an image of traditional Japanese 'Bon' dancing ... a kind of celebration to welcome back the "spirits of the dead" ...




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


ANNOUNCEMENT: ANGO! JUKAI!

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No video today, but an ANNOUNCEMENT of our upcoming, "fully online" 100 day 'ANGO' ... as well as Precepts study and Rakusu sewing in preparation for our next 'JUKAI' (Undertaking the Precepts Ceremony, scheduled for January 2010) ... both resources we wish to make available through Treeleaf Sangha to those in the Zen Community who (due to living in remote areas, health issues, or childcare and family needs) cannot participate easily in such events ... So,


commencing from AUGUST 29th 2009 ...


... AND CULMINATING WITH OUR SPECIAL 2-DAY 'AT HOME' ROHATSU RETREAT (currently scheduled for the weekend of December 5 & 6, via live netcast), our Treeleaf Sangha will hold our first traditional (yet "fully online") ...



--------------------------- 'ANGO' (100 Day Special Practice Season) --------------------------


I hope you will consider to participate.

(One may wish to 'just sit' just ANGO, or may combine participating in ANGO with undertaking preparations for JUKAI ... including Precepts Study and an online Rakusu sewing circle, also all online ... which we will be beginning about the same time at Treeleaf ... details of our Jukai at this LINK)

http://www.treeleaf.org/forum/viewtopic ... 641#p25641

What is "ANGO"?

Ango, literally "peaceful dwelling", is a period of concentrated and committed Zen practice, usually lasting three-months in the Soto Zen tradition. The roots of Ango arise from the earliest days of the Buddhist monastic community in India, when monks and nuns would cease their wandering and settle together in one place for the rainy season. Even today in Zen monasteries of Japan, Ango is a time of intense and rigorous training, typically including long hours of Zazen, short hours for sleep, formal meals taken in the Zendo (meditation hall), and a structured schedule for the rest of the day comprising periods for work, liturgy, study, rest, and personal needs. In the West, most Zen groups have adapted the form of the three-month practice period to the needs and demands of life in their communities.

In keeping with the philosophy and path of practice here at Treeleaf ("life is our temple"), we will seek to obtain many of the same ... (and, I believe, quite a few additional and very special) ... fruits and lessons of a traditional Ango while sitting within the "monastery" of our day-to-day lives, jobs, problems, unending distractions and family responsibilities.

In doing so, I believe, we will have the opportunity to taste the sweetness (and sometime bitterness ... no one without the other) of concentrated Zen practice ... and learn lessons ... in many ways more poignant, practical, immediate and powerful than what might be known to monks locked away in a sheltered mountain monastery. As always, we will be tasting the power of this practice in the world, in daily life ... and not hidden away from it all.

Zen Sangha around the world have experimented in recent years with various forms of Ango for people who cannot (or do not wish to) isolate themselves from the world for weeks on end, often commuting to practice and with limited time. We will build our Ango learning from their precedents and experiences. As well, there have been a handful of attempts recently at a fully "online" Ango ... including Tricycle Magazine's "Big Sit" of this year ... and our Treeleaf Ango will build upon both the successes, and hurdles, of those efforts.

Now, I believe that "intensity" of practice can best be attained ... not by increasing the raw quantity, bodily discomfort or physical isolation of practice ... but primarily and powerfully by bringing new sincerity, commitment, vigor and seriousness into what we may already do (non-do).

As each person's life situation, family and work responsibilities vary, I will be happy to consult with folks to adjust and design a practice schedule and content to fit those circumstances. However, the most important point to keep in mind is that those work duties at the office, daily problems and family responsibilities ARE THE PRACTICE PLACE as much as the Zafu (sitting cushion). The home kitchen is the temple kitchen, the office, store or factory is the garden when we practice Samu (work practice), etc. Each presents countless opportunities for practice, and for manifesting Wisdom and Compassion.

One can be flexible in designing one's schedule, and flexible in meeting the changing demands of each day ... but commitment to "stick with this" is required. One might change the order of things, even push certain practices back a few days ... but one must also not let things slide, and must somehow promptly find the time to accomplish all that one has committed to do. There is flexibility and moderation ... but not laxity. The purpose is not to overwhelm or "burn us out"; it is to mutually work together through a period of dedicated practice. We will do our best each and every day, and let Zazen soak into our life. But key to that is consistency, not giving up, finding the time and not quitting.

Now, this "First All-Online Treeleaf Ango" (as so many things about Treeleaf) is an experiment ... so many of the following elements may be adjusted as we go along (even in the coming days, as Sangha members provide input). However, I believe that Ango participants should commit to all or most of the following. In all cases, the emphasis will be on increasing ... not raw quantity ... but the sincerity, commitment, vigor and seriousness of what we undertake:

+ Add a minimum of 5 minutes per sitting to however long one's current sitting time, and commit to sit that time - at least daily - without missing a single day. As well, for those who can and whose schedule will realistically allow ... consider adding an additional full sitting period per day to however many times per day one is now sitting Zazen. Whatever your commitment, be realistic about what you can maintain ... and then (absent sheer impossibility) stick with it, without missing a single day

+ Join in each and every 1-hour Saturday Treeleaf Zazenkai, and 4-hour monthly Treeleaf Zazenkai video netcast without fail. However, as always, each will be available in recorded form (so may be joined at a time to fit your schedule). All will be available, together with netcast daily sittings, on our BELIEFNET.COM blog ...

http://blog.beliefnet.com/treeleafzen/

+ Listen, as possible, to each short (usually 5 minutes or so) 'Sit-a-Long' Talk (to be presented by Jundo and Taigu on the Treeleaf "Beliefnet" blog) during the practice period, also all available in recorded form to meet your schedule. A special series of talks will be presented during the Ango period (on a theme still being determined. I am thinking right now that we shall use Dogen's "Instructions for the Cook" Tenzokyoku, although it is subject to change. Necessary materials will be provided).

+ Join frequently in online discussions in our Forum of the content and Ango experiences, sharing the ups and downs and middles.

+ If technically possible, commit to meet with Jundo or Taigu by Skype video at least once per month during the Ango.

+ If simultaneously studying for Jukai, complete and participate in each of the readings and discussions each week regarding the individual Precepts, as well as complete Rakusu sewing.

+ Make formal study on the meaning and philosophy of Samu (work practice, the central theme of Dogen's "Instructions for the Cook"), and apply such perspectives and attitudes in your family and work duties each day.

+ Commit to give up one or two items or passions one truly loves during the Practice period, for example, sweets after meals, luxurious meals, cigarettes, television, consumer purchases of luxury items.

+ Commit to mindful eating, and silently or orally recite one short meal chant (to be provided) before all meals.

+ Commit a portion of your weekly income during the period to extra charitable donations (assuming you have the financial ability). I do not accept any "Dana" financial contributions for Treeleaf, as we now have sufficient resources for what we are doing. However, I do encourage people to make financial donations to charities that help folks, e.g., feeding the poor, finding a cure for a disease. Both donations and Samu work should be a bit beyond the point where it starts to hurt. If you have the time, consider extra volunteer activities in your community as well.

+ Commit to sit our SPECIAL 2-DAY 'AT HOME' ROHATSU RETREAT (to be held online, currently scheduled for netcast the weekend of December 5 & 6) at the culmination of the Ango. Again, it would be good to participate "live", but all will be available in recorded form to fit schedules. The retreat will likely be similar to last year's schedule and content:

http://blog.beliefnet.com/treeleafzen/2 ... day-j.html



The way to go about registering for this Ango is to post your commitment here in this Forum or at Treeleaf. In the traditional manner, once your commitment is received, your name is entered on a list of ango participants which, at the start of the Ango period, is inscribed on a 'paper scroll' and posted at Treeleaf Zendo in Japan.

All in all, I do not believe that the above demands will unreasonably add to the amount of time people are already dedicating to their Jukai and Rakusu sewing work, or to their existing practices. I believe, if examined closely, the time is manageable. Again, I am flexible to work out a schedule for those with special needs ... commitment and consistency being the most important.

I hope you will join us in this endeavor to manifest Great Non-Doing. How wonderful it will be if you join the Treeleaf community in this commitment to intensive practice for a time, together finding our self where we find ourself!


Gassho, Jundo

After The Storm

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Well, the typhoon passed, just a glance and a lot of rain here. Also, yesterday's earthquakes did no more than rattle the roof a bit.

All is still, peaceful and the sky is blue once again!

I like sunny days. But ya know, the true worth of this Practice is tasted on the stormy days ... the really hard days ... when life is battering us about and all seems dark. That's when the darkness is seen as also light. Peace, clarity, optimism, acceptance, yielding, "at oneness" ... these are some tastes of this practice which (arising from somewhere within) stand out most clearly at times of turmoil, chaos, resistance, despair and fear.

Somehow, there's stillness amid and as the storm. Somehow, there is peace (not at every second perhaps, not at each moment of the crisis when we are being battered about ... but abiding peace nonetheless, when we least expect it.)  

(oh,yes, I know that there are supposed to be no "benefits" sought from this practice ... but that does not mean there are no benefits) 




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

Typhoon Comin'

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There's a typhoon heading toward where we are in Eastern Japan tonight, and it is interfering with the internet ... so no video today ...

However, please sit with me in the coming storm. Hopefully, in this practice, we learn to find the stillness even in the howling wind ... the eye of the storm. Typhoons are just symbolic of the storms of life that come to all of us from time to time.

We meditating folks do better than most, I think, in keeping balance no matter what life tosses at us. Sure, we may get knocked over when life tosses a massive hurricane in our path. I do not know a human being who can stay on her feet in any wind, any earthquake, no matter how powerful. But this practice sure helps. It helps us keep our balance and, if knocked over by a blow, it helps us get back up and recover our balance.

I recall when we were living in Florida and a hurricane was heading our way a couple of years ago. I was worried enough that I stocked up on water, put shutters on the windows, moved my family into a shelter. Even though our Zen practice allows us to accept life, we need not sit passively. When the hurricane actually hit, when the roof was shaking and windows breaking ... I stretched out my arms and said "carry us where you will". In other words, I did what I could ... and when there was no more I could do, I just merged into the storm and let it do what it would do.

(After that, we had a surprise retreat when the storm left our town without electric power ... including grocery stores, refrigerators, tv, computers, telephones and cars ... for nearly a month. Lovely! We think we need these things for happiness ... when they are taken away we resist ... then find we did not need any of that for life and happiness at all!)

I think the ways we Zen folks react to crisis may seem a little strange ... even welcoming the storm in some ways ... but it is a healthy way to be.

Anyway, this typhoon is not as powerful as that hurricane was, and all will likely blow over tomorrow. 

Even though there is no camera tonight, please sit with me in in the storm.


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

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

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

ZAZENKAI PART I

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

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

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

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


Please join in, one and all.


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

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


below is the burned shell of a Buddha Statue from a temple at ground zero
during the atomic bombing of Hiroshima

hiroshima_buddha.gif
a short video re-enactment of the bombing is found here

Hiroshima Video
.

Gassho, Jundo

Lava and Sea Zazen

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On our way back to Japan today ...

But this morning had the great experience of going on a boat and heading out to sea before sunrise to witness something that can be seen few places in the world ... the entry of rivers of hot lava into the ocean, here on the coast of Hawaii. The captain, if I may say, was a bit daring ... heading in within about 20 feet of the lava spouts and explosions (as the hot lava hit the cold seawater)

Between the bouncing of the boat in 7 foot seas, the steam and heat ... well, it was something. I sat Zazen as the boat tossed around for about an hour ... or, better, I bounced Zazen.

I cannot show any video, but this is similar to what we experienced (look about 30 seconds or a minute into the recording).

Without millions and millions of years of this process, there would be no land for us to walk upon, nor air to breathe ... no complex life on this world. All is inter-connected in the constant process of creation-destruction and being.




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

Zazen in Pahoa

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I am in Pahao, Big Island, Hawaii tonight ... great town, population 962 in the last census. Pretty much sitting right on top of Kilauea Volcano, which rips through this area with a flood of lava every few decades.


A perfect place for a little Zazen ...


I would like to dedicate tonight's sitting to two friends who have known each other for decades, both of whom have been very kind to my family on this trip, both of whom are unusual gentleman who have lived unusual life stories ... and to the incredible family we met this week. I can't go into details, but what a wonderful story of this family! It was an honor to meet them. 




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

On The Road

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Still on the road with my family ... today, in Volcano National Park


A few Zazen tips for the traveler





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