The Zen Boddhisattva Precepts as Form and Formation
Turning Words
by Jeff
1w ago
I gave this talk at our Full Moon Zen evening sit on Thursday, June 7th. A recording follows the text. We’ll begin a study group on the Zen Boddhisattva Precepts later this month, so I thought I’d talk tonight about the precepts and how we think about and practice them.  The 16 precepts we chanted earlier this evening evolved from the Vinaya, the oldest and smallest of the three sections of the Pali Canon, which are the early Buddhist scriptures.  Dōgen crafted the version we chanted tonight.  Our Zen Boddhisattva Precepts derive, in part, from the Vinaya and the much longer set ..read more
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Enlightenment is Nothing Personal
Turning Words
by Jeff
1M ago
I gave this talk on May 1, 2024, during our Full Moon Zen Sunrise Sit. A recording follows. This is part of the Zen teacher Reb Anderson’s guidance to us on shikantaza, which is included in our Sutra Book: Zazen does not prefer success over failure, or enlightenment over delusion. If we are enlightened, we sit still in the middle of enlightenment, with no preference for it. If we are deluded, we sit still in the middle of delusion, with no aversion to it. This is the Buddha’s zazen. Zazen practice is selfless. The goal of zazen is the liberation of all living beings from suffering, but the goa ..read more
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Sesshin Encouragement Talk
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by Jeff
1M ago
I gave this short encouragement talk on April 27, 2024, deep into our recent sesshin. For context, see Wu-men’s comment and verse on Case 2 in The Gateless Gate in my prior post. A young monk approaches a teacher with a question.  That teacher, now an old man, approaches a teacher with the same question.  The first teacher gets it wrong.  The second teacher gets it right. How can we know who and what to trust?  On which teacher and teachings can we rely? It may seem one error, one misstep, one misguided response, will deny us what we’re seeking. &nb ..read more
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Pai-chang’s Fox
Turning Words
by Jeff
1M ago
I gave this talk at our Full Moon Zen sesshin on April 26, 2024. A recording follows. This is Case 2 in The Gateless Gate, with it We-men’s verse and comment: Once when Pai-chang gave a series of talks, a certain old man was always there listening together with the monks. When they left, he would leave too. One day, however, he remained behind. Pai-chang asked him, “Who are you, standing here before me?” The old man replied, “I am not a human being. In the far distant past, in the time of Kāśyapa Buddha, I was head priest at this mountain. One day a monk asked me, ‘Does an enlightened person f ..read more
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On Anger, War and Famine in Gaza, and Reversing Vicious Cycles
Turning Words
by Jeff
2M ago
I gave this talk at our Full Moon Zen Sunrise Sit on April 10, 2024. A recording follows the text. This is an excerpt from a sutra in the Pali Canon: Monks, there are these three kinds of persons found existing in the world.  What three?  The person who is like a line etched in stone; the person who is like a line etched in the ground; and the person who is like a line etched in water. And what kind of person is like a line etched in stone?  Here, some person often gets angry, and his anger persists for a long time.  Just as a line etched in stone is not ..read more
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Precariousness or Suffering: Will the Real Noble Truths Please Stand Up?
Turning Words
by Jeff
2M ago
I gave this talk yesterday at our Full Moon Zen Thursday evening sit. A recording follows the text. This is a passage from the Pali Canon: Now this, bhikkhus, is the noble truth of suffering: birth is suffering, aging is suffering, illness is suffering, death is suffering; union with what is displeasing is suffering; separation from what is pleasing is suffering; not to get what one wants is suffering; in brief, the five aggregates subject to clinging are suffering. Now this, bhikkhus, is the noble truth of the origin of suffering: it is this craving which leads to re-becoming accompanied by ..read more
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The Thing Speaks for Itself
Turning Words
by Jeff
3M ago
I gave this talk today at our Full Moon Zen Sunrise Sit. This is Case 3 in The Gateless Gate: Whenever Chu-Chih (J: Gutei) was asked a question, he simply raised one finger. One day a visitor asked Chu-Chih’s attendant what his master preached. The boy raised a finger. Hearing of this, Chu-Chih cut off the boy’s finger with a knife. As the boy ran from the room, Chu-Chih called to him. When the boy turned his head Chu-Chih raised a finger. The boy was suddenly enlightened. When Chu-Chih was about to die he said to his assembled monks, “I received this one finger Zen from T’ien-lung ..read more
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Ordinary Mind is Tao
Turning Words
by Jeff
4M ago
Yesterday Full Moon Zen and Providence Zen Center held a joint retreat at PZC, with about 30 people participating. The theme was Two Traditions, One Family. The late Korean Zen Master Seung Sahn, who founded the Kwan Um school of Zen (and PZC as its primary center in North America), and the late Japanese Zen Master Taizan Maezumi, who founded the White Plum Asanga, our lineage, were good friends. Yesterday’s retreat was both a tribute to their friendship and an expression of the abiding friendship between our two Zen families. Yesterday we juxtaposed many of each Zen stream’s forms (chants, ko ..read more
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What is going on in meditation, anyway?
Turning Words
by Jeff
4M ago
I gave this talk at our Full Moon Zen sit on Thursday, February 1, 2024. A close friend of mine who began practicing a secularized form of mindfulness meditation a couple of years told me last week that he’s become more curious about what he’s been doing.  He has settled into the practice he took up, but that practice is unrelated to any tradition, any historical or social context, that situates it and offers a broader perspective and supportive scaffolding.  He has questions about what he’s doing and experiencing that his meditation coach, who mainly works with companies and busines ..read more
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Rōhatsu 2023
Turning Words
by Jeff
6M ago
I gave this talk this morning at our Full Moon Zen Sunrise Sit. A recording follows the text. Today is Rōhatsu, when Zen Buddhists celebrate Siddhartha Guatama’s enlightenment. Rōhatsu simply means “the eight day of the twelfth month” in Japanese. Earlier this week, in anticipation of this talk, I reread accounts of the Buddha’s enlightenment in two important compilations of Buddhist texts, the Pali Canon (which is the most complete compilation of early Buddhist scriptures) and a newer translation of the Zen text Records of Transmission of the Lamp (which is an 11th century Chinese compilation ..read more
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