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Three Treasures Sangha

Three Treasures Sangha of the Pacific Northwest (TTS) is a lay Zen group located in Seattle, Washington and affiliated with the Diamond Sangha, an independent lineage founded by Robert Aitken Rōshi, a dharma heir in the Sanbō Kyōdan (Harada-Yasutani-Yamada) lineage. Read more about us here.

“Even prior to heaven and earth”

June 12, 2014

By Madelon Bolling
This piece was originally given by Madelon as a dharma talk
at the Three Treasures Sangha zazenkai on June 8, 2014.

[Note: Daio Kokushi is a dharma name. Daio means “great Yes,” “great affirmation,” or “great response.” Kokushi is the Japanese version of a Chinese term meaning “national teacher,” pronounced like the English “coke-she.” The middle “u” is silent.]

In his verse, “On Zen,” Daio Kokushi (1235-1309) wrote, “There is a reality even prior to heaven and earth.” We often recite this fairly automatically, so today I’d like to consider it with more respect. “Respect” just means “to look again,” and this morning we’ve been looking again at this line: even prior to heaven and earth.

“Heaven and earth” might mean everything we know and everything we dream about. We know about “Earth” and its associated experiences of toil, trouble, confusion, and death. We dream about “Heaven” and the possibility of experiencing peace, light, joy, and eternal life. But students of Zen are not in the business of relating to mythical places, so what would Daio Kokushi intend by even mentioning “heaven” when writing about a deeper reality? Read more…

Zazenkai, June 8: Even Prior to Heaven and Earth

May 28, 2014

Please join us on Sunday June 8 at Dharma Gate for a one-day zenkai with Madelon from 9am to 3pm.
There will be an informal lunch, with soup, as well as brad & cheese for sandwiches, provided; please bring other sandwich fixings or other food to share. We will consider hints given in Daio Kokushi’s verse On Zen, settling in to the deep attraction that practice holds even in the presence of the contradictions of daily experience.

The schedule will be as follows:

9:00 Opening, Five Remembrances, Zazen

9:35 Pointers: selected lines of On Zen, Zazen

10:30 Recitation: Daio Kokushi’s On Zen, Dharma talk, Comments and discussion, Kinhin

11:30 Zazen

12:30 Informal lunch (Soup, bread & cheese provided. Please bring sandwich fixings or other food to share.)

1:30 Sutras

2:00 Zazen, Interviews

2:50 Closing, Great Vows

We’re looking forward to sitting with you.

Wild Sacredness: Floating through the Grand Canyon

May 21, 2014

Here begin the terrors

Here begin the miracles

―The Legend of the Grail


Have you also learned that secret from the river; that there is no such thing as time?

That the river is everywhere at the same time, and that the present only exists for it,

not the shadow of the past nor the shadow of the future.

― Hermann Hesse, Siddhartha


“Oh, Eeyore, you are wet!” said Piglet, feeling him.

Eeyore shook himself, and asked somebody to explain to Piglet

What happened when you had been inside a river for quite a long time.

― A.A. Milne


Something certainly does happen, being inside a river for quite a long time, as I found out on our wonderful eighteen-day dory float trip down that part of the Colorado River that runs through the Grand Canyon. The question is: what exactly happened? Read more…

Poetry of Ancestors Retreat at Mountain Lamp – May 10 – 30

May 6, 2014

poetry of ancestorsA three-week Poetry Study Retreat will be held from May 10-30 at Mountain Lamp. The retreat will be led by Jack Duffy and Eileen Kiera, and includes a weekend with Red Pine.

For more information download the flyer: ML 3-Week Spring Retreat 2014. To register, visit

Rain Chain

March 3, 2014

By Madelon Bolling

I don’t know how to write frost melting
to drip gold, wink red, clear — pinging
the bronze cups chained under eaves,
enticing fall of cold-trapped water
from air to earth

because there never was frost
or bronze cups or eaves, let alone
air or earth but in these words
that freeze us to them until —

a bumblebee lands
right here on the page,
fuzzy amber on black legs, ticking,
ticking over these weed-scratches
that will yield no pollen

and we melt open in the hawk’s call,
the horse-snorting rooster-crow
singing tablesaw and echoing gunshot
several yards closer than far away.

Undoing the Usual – Zenkai Talk by Madelon Bolling (Feb 9-10, 2014)

February 17, 2014

How can we extend the experience of sesshin and bring that settled focus into our workaday life?

Madelon Boling

Right after sesshin, things often seem to go smoothly for awhile. For a few days as we recover from exhaustion and notice the strangeness of our surroundings, meal gathas echo quietly in our minds when we look around the lunchroom at work. Dōgen’s words about practice and enlightenment gentle us into the same directness we had as Cook, Chopper, Dishwasher or Bathroom Cleaner during sesshin. That experience enfolds us as we cook, chop, wash dishes and clean bathrooms at home and as we perform similarly necessary tasks at work. The experience of sesshin naturally extends itself in this way.
Read more…

Participate in Online Discussion on Zen Master Keizan’s Transmitting the Light

October 29, 2013

You can read Jack’s comments or post a comment at:

Book currently under discussion: Transmitting the Light: Zen Master Keizan’s Denkoroku with translations by both Francis Cook and Thomas Cleary

Schedule of Postings:

10/19: Nagarjuna, 14th Ancestor
10/26: Rahulata, 16th Ancestor
11/2: Gayasata, 18th Ancestor
11/9: Shih-t’ou, 36th Ancestor (Coincidence of Opposites’ Grass-Roof Hermitage)
11/14-17: Retreat at Kairos; Spokane (Please join us)
11/23: T’ung-an Kuan-chih
11/29: L’ang-shan Yuan-kuan
11/29-12/7: Winter Bones Rohatsu Sesshin (Please join us)
12/14: I will post the rest of the schedule on my return from Kyoto…Jack


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