The 84 Problems In Life
Empty Gate Zen Center Blog
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4M ago
During the Buddha’s time, there was a farmer who had many problems. He told the Buddha all about how difficult his life was. The weather never cooperated with what he wanted. It was too wet or too dry, so his crops often failed. His wife was very critical of him, and his children didn't show any gratitude for anything that he did for them. Also, his neighbors were always gossiping about him.   The farmer was expecting the Buddha to have a solution for his problems. But the Buddha said he could not help him. The Buddha told the farmer, "All human beings have 83 problems, and that is j ..read more
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The Heart Of Zen Practice
Empty Gate Zen Center Blog
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5M ago
This sitting, being with ourselves, and wondering who we are is the heart of Zen practice. Teachers can guide us, but we have to sit there with ourselves, we have to sit and wonder. I say with ourselves, but who is it that we’re sitting with? Once you use this kind of language suddenly there’s more than one person. I’m sitting with myself. Who’s "myself" and who’s "I"? So fundamentally the heart of this Zen practice is the question: What? Who? That’s a question that always comes up in Zen: what is truth? Is it my idea? Is it my opinion? Is it what I believe? It’s actually not my job to tell yo ..read more
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What Is Clear Mind?
Empty Gate Zen Center Blog
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8M ago
Clear mind is like the full moon in the sky. Sometimes clouds come and cover it, but the moon is always behind them. Clouds go away, then the moon shines brightly. So don't worry about clear mind: it is always there. When thinking comes, behind it is clear mind. When thinking goes, there is only clear mind. Thinking comes and goes, comes and goes, You must not be attached to the coming or the going. By Zen Master Seung Sahn From Dropping Ashes On The Buddha ..read more
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Why We Are Unhappy
Empty Gate Zen Center Blog
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8M ago
Buddhist practice is about coming back to the source and finding a way to find that stability so that we're not pulled and pushed around so much by everything that we like and everything we don't like. The Buddha simply said we suffer because we don't have what we want. Or we have what we want, but we're afraid to lose it. We're constantly trying to shape the world in the image that we think it should be, but it really translates into what we want. Usually, we want some safety, some security. We don't want so much change because it's hard to handle change. Change is hitting us all the time. Bu ..read more
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Poem for Founder’s Day
Empty Gate Zen Center Blog
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9M ago
Founder’s Day celebrates the legacy of Zen Master Seung Sahn, founding teacher of the Kwan Um School Of Zen Poem by Marshall White JDPSN Wind through leaves The tree speaks. Wind through throat Words appear: Tree, wind, voice Wind across water Ah! Waves! Wind across ear drums Ah! Voices! Wind inside, wind outside. Breathing in, breathing out. What is speaking, what listening? Where does this wind come from? Katz! A long time ago on a solo retreat A man heard footsteps and crows For the first time. Listen carefully: they are still speaking.   ..read more
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Awake In This Moment
Empty Gate Zen Center Blog
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10M ago
When you fall asleep, your conditioning runs the show. You just play things out the way conditioning would play it out. It’s only through being alive, aware, and awake in the moment that we are in, that there’s a possibility to change that. In Buddhist terminology, we say if you fall asleep then your karma, your conditioning, runs the show. But the only time you can change your conditioning is now. In your thoughts about the past or even your hopes for the future cannot change a thing. But right in this moment, you can choose. We’re always choosing what we do. So if you’re awake in this moment ..read more
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Direction for Zen Practice
Empty Gate Zen Center Blog
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1y ago
Like or dislike is what creates a prison that we live in. So if you only practice when you want to practice and then don’t practice when you don’t want to practice, that’s a fundamental problem. You are following the winds of your desire, and that’s what leads to suffering. The Buddha’s teaching is very simple. We suffer because of our desire, our anger, and our ignorance. So if our practice is based on desire, all it does is lead us to more suffering. Keep your direction clear. There is something that moves you to practice, that points you in the direction. Then find your "try mind". Inspirat ..read more
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The Buddha Lost Enlightenment
Empty Gate Zen Center Blog
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1y ago
The Buddha saw a star and got enlightenment. That's the myth of the Buddha, that's the story that's been told for over 2,500 years. Buddha had this experience. Zen Master Man Gong said, "I saw a star too and I lost enlightenment." Everybody thinks "Got Enlightenment" is what we want. But Man Gong says he lost enlightenment. What does that mean? If you think about it, is enlightenment something you get? Or lose? How do you get it? How do you lose it? We don't know. So already, we're starting to wonder what is this thing we call enlightenment? There is this concept. There is this idea. It's been ..read more
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Manifesting Buddha Nature
Empty Gate Zen Center Blog
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1y ago
We talk about the Buddhist teaching, but the talk is to help us actualize the teaching, the practice, and our own true nature in the very moment of our lives. In many ways, this is a pretty radical teaching because everybody can do it. It's not like you have to attain some special knowledge, or some special state of being and then you can do it in your life. You can show up and your Buddha nature can be manifested. Buddha nature can be expressed in this very moment of our lives. But much of Buddhist teaching makes you feel like it's something you accrue over time. You understand it and do a lo ..read more
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Right View is No View
Empty Gate Zen Center Blog
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1y ago
The first of the Buddha’s Eightfold Path is clear view, or right view. Right view means clarity. Right view means letting go of "my" view to be able to perceive the moment. We all know what this is like. There are times we are involved in an argument, and in the middle of it we start laughing because we realize how stupid it is. In that moment we can see clearly. To see clearly, we have to let go of our own perspective, our own opinion of right and wrong, what I should do and what you should do. If we can let go of that, then it’s possible to have what the Buddha called Right View. Sometimes i ..read more
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