Zen Talks

This Moment – A Talk by Madelon Bolling – June 14, 2020

Posted by on Jun 24, 2020 in Zen Talks | Comments Off on This Moment – A Talk by Madelon Bolling – June 14, 2020

A monk asked, “What is the essential meaning of Buddhism?” Mazu said, “What is the meaning of this moment?”      (Ferguson, p. 76)     Our world has changed so radically that ordinary routines don’t work any more or are not available. Like any other living thing, when the old ways don’t work, we try to meet our needs in new ways. Deprived of overhead light, an upright tree will begin reaching sideways, growing a new shape. We talk a lot about sudden radical change and unpredictability under the current threats of death, destruction, disease, and disorder. We talk about how this maps on to...

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Separate and Not Separate Are Consistent – Leland Shields, May 10, 2020, Zoom Zenkai

Posted by on May 29, 2020 in Meditation Retreat, Zen Talks | Comments Off on Separate and Not Separate Are Consistent – Leland Shields, May 10, 2020, Zoom Zenkai

In the apparent but misleading dichotomy of practice, there is one breath, all else falling away. Yet in one breath, there is context – fast, chest heaving after running for a bus; ragged, with congestion; tortured, when in respiratory distress. Each is one breath. We cannot deny this breath, that is only obscured by our descriptions. In these days, we cannot deny this breath is connected to all things, through the illness of exposure, or through the health arising from our shared care through isolation and hygiene. I am not the first to observe that the contagion of pandemic baldly exposes...

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Encouragement for Windblown Plum Home-Based Intensive — a talk by Leland Shields, April 5, 2020

Posted by on Apr 28, 2020 in Zen Talks | Comments Off on Encouragement for Windblown Plum Home-Based Intensive — a talk by Leland Shields, April 5, 2020

The phrase, “never apart from this very place” takes on new relevance as we are in lockdown for Covid-19, each practicing in our own homes, our own quiet rooms. This week is a chance to truly bring practice home, to the place before we were born, and to the home in which we sleep, cook, clean, and many of us now work. This bizarre practice, assisted by the technology that has existed for only moments within the span of the Buddha-Dharma, is not a backup or compromise. It is the only practice. It is sesshin, without need to parse definitions of the word, “sesshin,” affording us the benefit of...

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Staying Home–What’s the Point? — a talk by Madelon Bolling (April 6, 2020)

Posted by on Apr 28, 2020 in Zen Talks | Comments Off on Staying Home–What’s the Point? — a talk by Madelon Bolling (April 6, 2020)

This talk was given during Windblown Plum. In these strange and confusing days when we have to isolate ourselves to stay healthy and alive, many have lost a sense of fitting in, of belonging. We cannot visit friends and neighbors in person, cannot experience the usual give-and-take with others the way we always have. Amid our loneliness, the question arises: so who am I? Why am I here? I’m no good to anybody just knocking around the house this way. “Staying safe”– what’s the point? This week I was charmed into reading Dogen’s chapter on The Four Virtues of a Bodhisattva. Nishijima and...

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Like There Is No Tomorrow, A Talk By Madelon Bolling (February 9, 2020)

Posted by on Feb 14, 2020 in Zen Talks | Comments Off on Like There Is No Tomorrow, A Talk By Madelon Bolling (February 9, 2020)

Case 32, Shaseki-shu [Collection of Stone and Sand]: A lord asked Takuan Soho, a Zen teacher, to suggest how he might pass the time. He felt his days very long attending his office and sitting stiffly to receive the homage of others. Takuan wrote eight Chinese characters and gave them to the man: Not twice this day Inch time foot gem. The translator explains: This day will not come again. Each minute is worth a priceless gem. PSC Not twice this day. It’s a new year—a good year to experience seeing clearly, you might say, 20/20. Last year brought the death of one of my siblings, a serious...

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“No Body” Breaks a Toe A Talk by Leland Shields, January 12, 2020

Posted by on Jan 23, 2020 in Zen Talks | Comments Off on “No Body” Breaks a Toe A Talk by Leland Shields, January 12, 2020

A nun was walking along a path, chanting the Heart Sutra. She accidentally kicked a stone, broke her toe and shouted out in pain. As she did so, the line in the Heart Sutra came to mind, “no body.” With this, body and mind dropped away. The related passage from the Heart Sutra is this one: Therefore in emptiness there is no form, no sensation, perception, mental reaction, consciousness; no eye, ear, nose, tongue, body, mind, no color, sound, scent, taste, touch, thought; no seeing and so on to no thinking; no ignorance and also no ending of ignorance, and so on to no old age and death and...

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