Friday, July 29, 2016

Talks from Boundless Way Zen Summer Sesshin 2016

photo by David Dae An Rynick
Talks are now available, thanks to the work of Steve Wallace, from our most recent sesshin.  Our topic was the 83rd koan in the Book of Serenity, "Daowu Tends the Sick" and its connection to the recent gun violence and terrorist acts in this country and throughout the world.  There are powerful talks from three of our Guiding Teachers:  Josh Bartok, David Rynick and me, and our three Dharma Holders:  James Cordova, Diane Fitzgerald and Kate Hartland.

Here's the link:

Friday, July 22, 2016

You see, I'm hiding nothing from you

In Case 18 from the koan collection Entangling Vines (translated by Thomas Kirchner), the teacher, Huitang Zuxin quotes a line from Confucius to his student, the poet Shangu:  "My friends, do you think I'm hiding things from you?  In fact, I am hiding nothing from you."  And then he says, "It's just the same with the Great Matter of Zen.  Do you understand this?"  Shangu doesn't understand, but later, while walking in the mountains with his teacher, the air is full of the scent of sweet-olive blossoms, and Huitang asks, "Do you smell the fragrance of the blossoms?"  When Shangu says that he does smell them, Huitang says, "You see, I'm hiding nothing from you."  And Shangu has an awakening.

When I was new to Zen, I came to my first teacher for an individual meeting, dokusan, full of distress about something or other.  I have no memory at this point what I was bothered about, but my teacher choose to ignore all of that anyway, and asked me, "Do you hear the call of the mourning dove outside?"  That beautiful call, which sounds like someone singing, "who, who, who" had been out of my awareness until my teacher called attention to it.  And in that moment, as my ears turned to that lovely sound, there was nothing else in the universe.  Just for a moment.  But after all these years, that moment is evoked every time I hear doves calling.    Everything is like this.  Our practice is to stop and see, listen, smell, taste, touch whatever is right here with us.  This is the Great Matter of Zen.  You see, I am hiding nothing from you.

Sunday, July 3, 2016

musings on Independence Day Eve

The 12th century Chinese teacher and poet Hongzhi says,

Not entering the world, 
Not following conditions;
In the emptiness of the pot of ages there's a family tradition.
White duckweeds, breeze gentle -- evening on an autumn river;
An ancient embankment, the boat returns -- a single stretch of haze.

In this world where everything comes and goes, we can find a way to be free.  At some point in our practice, we come to know without a doubt that we are completely interdependent with everything. And just on the other side of our interdependence is the refreshing taste
of independence.  We are caught less and less in the content of our thinking.  Thoughts come and go, many of them sticky with the glue of old habits of self-criticism.  But like the gentle breeze on the water in Hongzhi's poem, we let them blow right through us, and they stop their ornery sticking.

Happy Independence Day!