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- Hold workshops focused on racism, disability and issues of social justice that are critical in our world right now.
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- Train the next wave of Zen practitioners in the art of liturgy and inspire them to carry our sacred traditions forward.
Most importantly, you make it possible to hold a peaceful space in our hectic city, a sanctuary of nourishment and wholeness that fosters community and a sense of belonging.
Roshi offers thoughts from Dogen and a koan about spilled tea — to encourage us to show up and take responsible action.
How our practice helps in troubled times.
Joshin looks at how ignorance of reality produces suffering: only in facing it can we liberate it.
Roshi describes how our Zen practice can liberate us from default thinking.
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I felt very surprised and honored when Roshi asked me to be shuso for this summer’s ango period. I feel humbled to be included in the group of Village Zendo Shusos – each of whom shows such exemplary practice.
I first encountered Buddhism when I was ten years old and read “Gleanings in Buddha-fields” by Lafcadio Hearn. I found the book misfiled in the library between two volumes of his Japanese fairy tales I planned to read but ended up checking out the book with the mysterious title instead. When I finished it I announced to my family that I was a Buddhist and was told I could decide about that when I went to college.
I majored in Buddhist Studies in college. For many years I practiced Ch’an with Master Sheng yen as did my husband and two children. After he died I searched for a new teacher and in 2009 I came to the Village Zendo. Moving from Ch’an to Zen was challenging for me. While meditation and retreats are part of Ch’an practice, participating in classes about the history of Buddhist teachings, comparative Buddhist philosophy, and scripture study were equally encouraged. My natural inclination to intellectualize things was reflected in my practice.
Coming to the Village Zendo shook me up. With the support and guidance of Roshi, the teachers and the sangha I experienced a burgeoning sense of intimacy and immediacy in practice that has changed my life. The study text for this summer’s ango will be Dogen’s Fascicle 64, Everyday Activity. We will be posting it on the web. It speaks directly to the exhilarating “right here and now” of practice. Summer ango at the Grail is the perfect time to explore the meaning of Everyday Activity in your life.
Please commit to intensifying your practice during ango either by coming to a retreat at the Grail or increasing your practice with the sangha in the City. I am providing a commitment form to help you articulate your practice goals. We only have right here! Right now! Make the most of it!
With three deep bows,
More info: the Summer Ango Retreat 2016 page.
“Kajo”, Translated By Kaz Tanahashi
In the domain of buddha ancestors, drinking tea and eating rice are everyday activity. Drinking tea and eating rice have been transmitted for a long time and are present right now. Thus, the buddha ancestors’ vital activity of drinking tea and eating rice comes to us.
Priest Daokai, who would later become abbot of Mt. Dayang, asked Touzi [Yiqing], “It is said that the thoughts and words of buddha ancestors are everyday tea and rice. Besides this, are there any words or phrases for teaching?”
Touzi said, “Tell me, when the emperor issues a decree in his territory, does he depend upon [ancient] Emperors Yu, Tang, Yao, or Shun?”
As Daokai was about to open his mouth, Touzi covered it with his whisk. “While you were thinking, you’ve already received thirty blows.”
Daokai was then awakened. He bowed deeply and began to leave.
Touzi said, “Wait, reverend.”
Daokai did not turn around, and Touzi said, “Have you reached the ground of no doubt?”
Daokai covered his ears with his hands and left.
From this, clearly understand that the thoughts and words of buddha ancestors are their everyday tea and rice. Ordinary coarse tea and plain rice are buddhas’ thoughts, ancestors’ phrases. Because buddha ancestors prepare tea and rice, tea and rice maintain buddha ancestors. Accordingly, they need no powers other than this tea and rice, and they have no need to use powers as buddha ancestors.
Investigate and study the expression Does he depend upon Emperors Yu, Tang, Yao, or Shun? Leap over the summit of the question Besides this are there any words or phrases for teaching? Try to see whether leaping is possible or not.
Shitou, Great Master Wuji, at the Shitou Hut on Mt. Nanyue, said:
I have built a grass hut where no coins are kept.
Having had rice, I am ready for a leisurely nap.
Having had rice—words come, words go, words come and go, filled with buddha ancestors’ thoughts and phrases. Not yet having rice means not yet being satisfied. However, the point of having had rice and a leisurely nap is actualized before having rice, while having rice, and after having rice. To assume that the experience of having rice lies only after having had rice is the mere study of four or five sho [small amount] of rice.
Rujing taught the assembly:
I heard that a monk asked Baizhang, “What is an extraordinary thing?” Baizhang said, “Sitting alone on Daxiong Peak. The assembly cannot move the person. For now, let the person totally sit.” Today if someone were to ask me, “What is an extraordinary thing?” I would say, “Is anything extraordinary? How was it? The bowl of Jingci has moved; I’m eating rice in Tiantong.”
In the domain of buddha ancestors there is always something extraordinary. This is sitting alone on Daxiong Peak. Being allowed to totally sit is itself an extraordinary thing. Even more extraordinary is The bowl of Jingci has moved; I’m eating rice in Tiantong.
Each and every extraordinary activity is simply eating rice. Thus, sitting alone on Daxiong Peak is just eating rice. The monk’s bowl is used for having rice, and what is used for having rice is the monk’s bowl. It is the bowl of Jingci and it is having rice in Tiantong. Being satisfied is to know rice. Eating rice is to be satisfied. To know is to be satisfied with rice. To be satisfied is to continue eating.
Now, what is the monk’s bowl? I say it is not wood and it is not black lacquer. Is it an immovable rock? Is it an iron person? It is bottomless. It has no nostrils. One mouthful swallows the open sky. The open sky is received with palms together.
Rujing once taught the assembly at the buddha hall of the Ruiyan Jingtu Monastery of Tai Region:
When hunger comes, have rice.
When fatigue comes, sleep.
Furnace and bellows, each covers the entire sky.
When hunger comes is the vital activity of a person who has had rice. A person who has not had rice has not had hunger. Since this is so, a person who gets hungry every day is someone who has had rice. Understand this completely. When fatigue comes means that there is fatigue in the midst of fatigue; it springs forth completely from the summit of fatigue. Accordingly, the entire body is completely turned right now by the activity of the entire body.
Sleep is to sleep using the buddha eye, dharma eye, wisdom eye, ancestor eye, and pillar‑and‑lantern eye.
Rujing once accepted an invitation and moved to the Jingci Monastery of Linan Prefecture from the Rulyan Monastery of Tai Region, ascended the seat and said:
Half a year, just having rice and sitting on Wan Peak.
This sitting cuts through thousands of layers of misty clouds.
One sudden clap of roaring thunder.
Spring in the mystic village—apricot blossoms are red.
The teaching of buddha ancestors who transmit the Buddha’s lifelong practice is entirely having rice and sitting on Wan Peak. To study and practice the inheritance of the Buddha’s ancestral wisdom is to bring forth the vital activity of having rice. Half a year, . . . sitting on Wan Peak is called having rice. You cannot tell how many layers of misty clouds this sitting cuts through. However sudden the roar of thunder may be, spring apricot blossoms are just red. Mystic village means red through and through right now. This is having rice. Wan Peak is the name of a peak that represents the Ruiyan Monastery.
Rujing once taught the assembly at the buddha hall of the Ruiyan Monastery, Qingyuan Prefecture, Ming Region:
Wonderous golden form
wears a robe and eats rice.
So I bow to you;
go to sleep early and wake up late. Hah!
Discuss the profound, expound the inconceivable—endless.
I avoid the self‑deception of holding up a flower.
Immediately penetrate this. Wonderous golden form means wearing a robe and eating rice. Wearing a robe and eating rice is wonderous golden form. Do not wonder who is wearing a robe and eating rice. Do not say whose wonderous golden form it is.
Speaking in this way is complete expression. This is the meaning of So I bow to you. Thus “I have already had rice. You have just bowed to the rice.” This is because “I completely avoid holding up a flower.”
Changqing, Priest Da’an, Zen Master Yuanzhi, of the Changqing Monastery, Fu Region, ascended the seat and taught the assembly:
I have been at Mt. Gui for thirty years and have been eating Mt. Gui’s rice and shitting Mt. Gui’s shit. I have not studied Guishan’s Zen but just see a single water buffalo. When it wanders off the road and begins grazing, I yank it back. When it trespasses onto other people’s rice fields, I whip it. In this way, I have been taming it for a long time. Such an adorable one! It understands human speech, and now has transformed into a white ox. All day long it walks round and round in front of us. Even if we try to drive it away, it does not leave.
Clearly accept this teaching. Thirty years of pursuit in the assembly of buddha ancestors is eating rice. There are no other pursuits. If you actualize this endeavor of eating rice, invariably you will see the buffalo.
Zhaozhou, Great Master Zhenji, asked a newly arrived monk, “Have you been here before?”
The monk said, “Yes, I have been here.”
Zhaozhou said, “Have some tea.”
Later, he asked another monk, “Have you been here before?”
The monk said, “No, I have not been here.”
Zhaozhou said, “Have some tea.”
The temple director then asked Zhaozhou, “Why do you say, ‘Have some tea,’ to someone who has been here, and ‘Have some tea,’ to someone who has not?”
Zhaozhou said, “Director.”
Zhaozhou said, “Have some tea.”
Zhaozhou’s word here does not mean the top of the head, the nostrils, or Zhaozhou. Since here leaps off here, a monk said, I have been here, and another said, I have not been here. It means: What is now? Whatever is here, just say, “I have been here” or “I have not been here.”
Regarding this, Rujing said:
Who in the picture of a wineshop
faces you and drinks Zhaozhou’s tea?
Thus, the everyday activity of buddha ancestors is nothing but having tea and eating rice.
Presented to the assembly at the foot of Yamashi Peak, Echizen Province on the seventeenth day, the twelfth month, the first year of the Kangen Era .
Treasury of the True Dharma Eye, Shambhala Publications. Vol. 2, p612ff.
More info: the Summer Ango Retreat 2016 page.