Ryotan Sensei follows his last Dharma talk on “moment to moment non-stop flow” with this talk on “ordinary mind is the way.” Ryotan finds that “ordinary mind” is the condition of constant change. While we can not grasp it, we can explore and encounter it in our Zazen meditation. It is the natural functioning of the mind that we can notice. The comings and goings of “stuff”: sounds, thoughts, emotions and desires are all temporary conditions that we can appreciate. Ryotan encourages us to let ordinary mind teach us. Recorded June 14, 2018
At our Saturday Zazenkai Joshin Sensei goes back to the fundamentals. Zen makes things simple. When the bell rings, get up… When it’s time to chant, put your hands together… Dropping everything we know, to show up fully for what is here. In the words of Zen master Mr. Rogers, “Just you being you.” Joshin finds other examples of this direct awareness in the words and actions of Zen masters Glenda Jackson, James Baldwin, Eve Marko, and Andrew Olendzki. Just sitting like a mountain so we can open to the vastness of who we are. Recorded Saturday June 9th 2018.
If you enjoyed this talk, why not support the words and actions of the Village Zendo with a donation.
In this talk Shinryu Sensei asks us “How was your Zazen?” He then describes his own experience on the day of this talk: Blurry thoughts, a slight pain, wondering about where the light in the room was coming from. He then investigates the metaphor of the mirror that is often used to describe our Zen practice. He brings up examples of the Greek myth of Perseus who brings down Medusa with a mirrored shield, and Zen’s 6th Patriarch who sees no mirror anywhere. Shinryu feels that while many of the stories and metaphors we use in Zen practice are useful, they don’t adequately describe the actual experience of Zazen. He asks what is it when all the metaphors, models, teachings and Buddhas have dropped away? Seeing the minds reactions, without reacting to them, leaves you just as yourself. Only you as you are right now. Recorded June 7th, 2018
Here Roshi talks generally about koans, and asks us to let the old Chinese stories enter into our concousness where we can ask ourselves how the koan can serve us now. Instead of looking for the “true meaning,” we can experience the koan as a way of looking at reality in fresh way. She then examines case 75 of the Book of Serenity “Ruiyan’s Constant Principal.” She quotes David Bowie, and celebrates a great teaching of impermanence and the moving flow of our lives. Recorded Sunday May 20th, 2018.
Ryotan Sensei starts this Zazenkai talk with a fond fairwell to long-time practitioner Al Jones who died recently, and a fond welcome to three new practitioners who are to become formal students. Ryotan was asked by a publisher to verify some pithy “Zen” slogans from the internet. Although the slogans were not untrue, they do not capture in-the-least our truly intimate moment to moment practice. Ryotan then looks into the koan “Joshu’s New Born Baby” which asks “Does a new born baby also have the sixth consciousness?” Ryotan sees the “moment to moment non stop flow” in this story to be a miraculous ordinariness that is at the center of our experience of being human. Recorded May 12th, 2018.
Myoko Sensei starts this talk with an appreciation of the Zendo on a Sunday morning. She mentions an exhibit by a friend of surrealist art, and how it captures a sense of strangeness and familiarity. This leads to Myoko’s own struggle with time. Finding time, running out of time, not having enough time, and a general sense that there is always a better situation, with many “if only I had…” and “what I should be doing is…” thus creating a scattered sense of one’s self. This lack of trust in one’s self is a subtle but potent form of suffering that becomes a false reality. Myoko asks that we take a few breaths and enjoy our lives as the are. Recorded April 28th, 2018.
In this Zazenkai Dharma talk Kaku looks deeply into Dogen’s essay “On the Endeavor of the Way” and see it as Dogen’s direct expression of his central question; If we are perfect and complete, lacking nothing, why do we need to practice? Kaku then puts the question to us. What is your own driving spiritual question? How are you doing at trusting yourself? How are you at trusting others? Kaku sees trust as crucial to our spiritual growth. Recorded Saturday April 14th 2018.
What Are They?
In this talk Shinryu Sensei returns to the subject of 18th century abolitionist and radical dissident Benjamin Lay. Shinryu classifies Lay as an “antinomian,” those who challenge and live outside authoritarian institutions. He then invokes the long tradition of Zen antinomianism in Japan and China, and as an example reads a few poems by the Japanese fifteenth century vagabond monk Ikkyu. Shinryu goes on to talk about the sixteen Zen precepts that offer discipline as well as freedom. He asks can we experience discipline and freedom without these being separate from each other? He ends with the story of Xuefeng and the Hermit. Shinryu sees a friendship in this story that is beyond expression. Recorded March 8th, 2018.
The life of Buddha is our own.