Just Sit or Wake Up? A Tale of Two Old Teachers

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The tension over what to emphasize in dharma practice, just sitting or waking up (aka, meditation or wisdom), goes way back, probably to the time of the historical Buddha. And because we are in an emergency situation – born and soon to die – discovering the most skillful approach for resolving the great matter of birth and death - and throwing ourselves into it - is an urgent matter.If we make the wrong choice, well, lost time won’t be found again.In China, an atypical tension between tho … [Read more...]

Buddha’s Enlightenment: Yielding Assertively, Touching the Heart

Note: This is the fifth of five post based on talks from Rohatsu 2014. Students (Brian, Ryan, Erik, and Vera-Ellen – thank you!) transcribed them and I edited. The final one will be posted here soon. Click here for the first part:  “The Root of Zen.” Here for the second: “Sitting Through it All.”  Here for the third: “Not Clear About the Self.” And here for the fourth: "Buddha's Enlightenment: A Single Body is Revealed."---------First, a word about “sesshin,” the word we use for intensive … [Read more...]

Buddha’s Enlightenment: A Single Body is Revealed

Note: This is the fourth of five post based on talks from Rohatsu 2014. Students (Brian, Ryan, Erik, and Vera-Ellen – thank you!) transcribed them and I edited. The final one will be posted here soon. Click here for the first part:  “The Root of Zen.” Here for the second: “Sitting Through it All.” And here for the third: "Not Clear About the Self."---------For Zen practice, it is vital to become a zazen person and establish your seat firmly, just as the Buddha did. As Keizan says, “…sitti … [Read more...]

Buddha’s Enlightenment: Not Clear About the Self

Note: This is the third part of five, based talks from last year’s Rohatsu that students (Brian, Ryan, Erik, and Vera-Ellen – thank you!) transcribed and I edited. The others will be posted here over the next couple weeks. Click here for the first part:  “The Root of Zen.” And here for the second: "Sitting Through it All.""If you want to understand, if you want an intimate understanding of enlightenment, you should get rid of 'you' and 'Buddha' and quickly understand this matter of 'I'. 'I' i … [Read more...]

Buddha’s Enlightenment: Sitting Through It All

Note: This is the second part of five, based talks from last year's Rohatsu that students (Brian, Ryan, Erik, and Vera-Ellen - thank you!) transcribed and I edited. The others will be posted here over the next couple weeks. Click here for the first part:  "The Root of Zen."Sitting so that the reeds grow up around us, we sit upright and tranquil, becoming a zazen person as a necessary condition – but not a sufficient one.A sufficient condition for what?In the passage cited in the pr … [Read more...]

Buddha’s Enlightenment: The Root of Zen

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Note: This is the first part of five - talks from last year's Rohatsu that students (Brian, Ryan, Erik, and Vera-Ellen - thank you!) transcribed and I edited. The others will be posted here over the next couple weeks."Shakyamuni Buddha saw the morning star, and realized enlightenment. He said, 'I together with all beings and the great earth attain the way.' At age nineteen Shakyamuni leapt over the palace walls in the dead of the night and shaved off his hair. After that he practiced … [Read more...]

After Buddhism: Embrace Life, Let Go of What Arises, See its Ceasing, Act!

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When I mentioned to a friend that I was reading Stephen Batchelor's new book, After Buddhism: Rethinking the Dharma for a Secular Age, he asked, "Is it as acerbic as his last book?"Ouch!Now, I've been reading Batchelor for a long time. Way back in 1983, Batchelor's Alone with Others: An Existential Approach to Buddhism, was a powerful and important book for me. Living with the Devil (2005) is still a personal favorite. And perhaps because of my own acerbic proclivity, I haven't found any … [Read more...]

Shaking Up the Buddhadharma With Online Practice

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Quick question: what sparked the compassion revolution in Buddhism that we now call the Great Vehicle (aka, Mahayana)?One answer: Writing.Yup. A new theory has it that the proliferation of the ability to read and write that took place a bit more than 2,000 years ago changed the Buddha Way by inviting a level of intersubjective reflection that was previously not as readily available.As Alan Cole puts it in "The Diamond Sutra as Sublime Object: Negation, Narration, and Happy Endings," " … [Read more...]

Zen: The Authentic Gate

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       Zen: The Authentic Gate, by Koun Yamada Roshi (1907—1989; pictured above), is an essential text for any student of Zen interested in a clear expression from the source of the Zen reformation that unfolded in the 20th Century and continues to shape Zen practice today. Yamada Roshi is a towering figure in 20th century Zen. His great enlightenment was first presented in a cloaked manner in Three Pillars of Zen. Here's David Loy f … [Read more...]


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