“Embodied Spirituality” talk from Meido Roshi & Last Week’s “Six Paramitas” talk

This past Monday night we listened to part of a recorded dharma talk by Meido Moore Roshi: “Zen: Embodied Spirituality”, which was given at the University of Chicago recently, and had a good discussion about it afterwards. The full talk, including the Q&A, is available on the Korinji Patreon page and is open to non-subscribers. Also, a recording of our previous Monday night talk on the Six Paramitas is now available here. Next Monday, at the request of a member, we will discuss how Rinzai Zen fits into the larger picture of contemporary Buddhism. I’ll be referring in part to this interview with Robert Sharf on his critique of Buddhist modernism, if you’d like to read it ahead of time. See you Monday!

“Shugyo & Bodhicitta” Talk, Six Paramitas Reading

We had another full house this past Monday night–it’s truly wonderful to be able to practice together as a group! Here is the recording of the talk on Shugyo & Bodhicitta. Next Monday we’ll talk more about the Bodhisattva path and introduce the Six Paramitas. Here is a short reading selection for some background background information on these topics.

“Impermanence” Talk & Reading on Shugyo & Bodhicitta

Thank you again to everyone who’s been coming out to practice together on Monday evenings! Here is the recording of last Monday’s talk on Impermanence & Causality. Next Monday we’ll talk about the the word “shugyo“–practice or training–and its meaning in terms of Bodhicitta and the Bodhisattva Vow. Here is a short reading from Torei Enji’s “The Whip” that we’ll be referring to in next Monday’s talk and discussion.

“Dukkha” Talk & Six Realms Reading

Thank you again to everyone who attended last Monday! We filled our little zendo, and the difference it makes practicing together as a group was really quite palpable and amazing. Here is the link to the short talk on “Dukkha”. We will continue next Monday, after zazen and chanting practice, and finish the with Three Marks of Existence, taking a look at the concept of impermanence (“anitta”), and touching on causality and the Six Realms. Please take a look at this short reading on the Six Realms for some useful background information if you like!

“No-Self” Talk & Reading on “Dukkha”

We had a great turn out at our first Monday night practice this past Monday. It was really heartening to see so many faces there–new and old! I have transcribed the talk on “No-Self” and edited and expanded it for clarity and completeness, including some quotations that I only paraphrased in-person, so it will be worth looking at even if you heard the talk. Here’s the talk pdf. We will continue with another of the Three Marks of Existence this coming Monday night with a short talk on the concept of “Dukkha”, followed by a discussion, as we did last week, touching on practical exerience. I’ve also selected a short passage on “dukkha” that you can read before the talk for some useful background, if you like. Find the dukkha pdf here. Hope to see you on Monday night!

New Day in the New Year

Greetings, and Happy New Year Everyone!

I’d like to announce that with the new year, we will be moving our regular meeting time to Monday evenings from 7:00 to 9:00pm, (instead of Saturday mornings), starting Monday, January 8th. The schedule will be the same with two 25 minute periods of zazen with kinhin in between, chanting practice, and a short talk and discussion. We are still meeting at the Stillpoint building in Lawrenceville (137 41st St.).

With the new day, we’ll be able to offer practice consistently every week of the month, (rather than skipping fourth Saturdays, as we have been). Hopefully the weekday evening will be convenient for more people.

I’m planning to structure the topics of our weekly talks into a series on basic Buddhist concepts, establishing a home practice, engaging with the tradition, and more—culminating in an opportunity to receive Jukai, and formally enter the Buddhist path as a layperson. 

We will additionally be holding occasional Saturday practice sessions that will be a longer, half-day retreat style format. These will be announced as special events.

Looking back, it has been an amazing and precious year! I feel lucky to have met so many of you and had the chance to practice together. I look forward to seeing you in the coming year!

Autumn Update

A quick update—we will be meeting for practice tomorrow, 11/11, please join us if you can. My apologies for missing several Saturdays these past weeks. While away I was incredibly fortunate to attend a once-in-a-lifetime event at Korinji with the Tendai “marathon monk” Tanno Kakudo Mitsunaga Dai-Ajari. And last Saturday I was able to participate in the annual training for volunteer chaplains at the county jail. We will be meeting according to our usual schedule for the rest of November, but I will be away again the first two Saturdays in December (12/2 & 12/9) attending Rohatsu Dai-Sesshin at Korinji. Thank you!

The Buddha Way

Here is the text of the passage we read and discussed at our Saturday, 8/19 practice. It is from the newly released and very highly recommended book “Throw Yourself Into the House of the Buddha: The Life & Zen Teachings of Tangen Harada Roshi” translated by Belinda Attaway Yamakawa, edited by Kogen Czarnik.

“The Buddha Way

Even while living lost in ignorance, there remains hidden in the belly of life itself—in your belly—the one who cannot help but seek to know true nature. Dont forget this one, who never lets you forget. This true one is always close by, urging you on, calling upon you to open your eyes. This one prompts you toward a way of being that is genuine, urging you to walk the Buddha Way. The genuine seeks to awaken to the genuine.

There are people who say that it is greedy or wrong to desire the realization of our inherent nature. They say that Shakyamuni Buddha has awakened for us and that is enough, or that our state of mind is not important as long as we physically sit zazen, so there is no need for realization. Those beliefs make the Buddha’s teaching small and insignificant. The passionate desire to know true nature is inherent in all human beings. It is life’s very working. So if you desire to awaken, please never think that is wrong. “I will without fail awaken to true nature”—with this mindset, we walk the Buddha Path. The belief that you cannot attain awakening is a refusal to fulfill the reason for being alive, to repay your gratitude. If you do not practice, you will not awaken to reality, to your very own reality. No one can do it for you. No one can see into truth for you. It is your world, solely your world.

Do you want to continue to live in delusion? If we spend this lifetime only seeking pleasure, singing and dancing, drinking and making merry, when the end comes, we will know that we didn’t resolve this one important matter. It is necessary to clearly resolve and determine to wake up to original life, your true nature.

In our temple, each morning we chant the lineage of buddhas and great teachers who guide us in our practice. Thanks to their great vow, to the great noble intention of each and every one of them, and thanks to their diligent practice, each one was able to hit the mark, to attain the Way. Each of them received the teaching and directly experienced this same truth, just as water is poured directly from one cup to another.

Everyone is able to do the same; no one is left out. Freedom is our essence. If the Dharma weren’t universal, what would be the value in it? If the Dharma were only for the chosen few, where would be the value in pursuing it? If the Dharma could be obtained and lost, I would not be here urging you to deepen your faith beyond all doubt and to let go of body and mind; I would not be here begging you to give it your all. The Dharma is absolute, perfect, all-pervading, all inclusive, all-embracing. Liberation is yours from the beginning. We are altogether in essence free; all-being abides in the radiance of buddha-nature. All-being is the radiant light of buddha. “Together with all beings, sentient or insentient, with grasses and trees, together with the great earth, I attain the Buddha Way, uttered Shakyamuni Buddha. With his great enlightenment, Shakyamuni, the World-Honored One, attained perfect liberation. He came to life, to true life, to liberation—which is our birthright, our essence.

Yet how easily we doubt, how quickly we forget. “I don’t know if I have what it takes to awaken. Maybe I am not ready. Maybe I can’t do it.” Those doubts are utterly unfounded. This one truth is just as true for you as it is for all the buddhas. In the Buddha Way, in reality, there are no exceptions. Each of you now receiving these words is blessed with this sacred reality. It might sound even too good to be true to you. “How can it be that I am so blessed when I don’t even feel good about myself?” I could repeat it for you a million more times, and it would still not even begin to express the absolute perfection with which we are blessed.

Because of upside-down false perceptions, we fail to see this inherent buddha-nature. We are just looking off at the play of our discriminating mind, and that is taken to be the host. For once, realize the true host! Become one with who you really are, and all is well. What a shame for you not to awaken to this wonder, not to prostrate yourself before it, before everything in the universe—not to come to appreciate, to celebrate real life.

For that we are doing our practice. We start with what we have got to do, right here, right now. The aim is to come to awaken, to know yourself, to see what life is really about, and this one-way path is the universal Way, which includes all beings. It is not only for our own small liberation; it is for the liberation of all beings. We start out with this as our aim.”