Zen Talks

Reaching with Effort – Being with No Effort – A Talk by Leland Shields

Posted by on Aug 11, 2019 in Zen Talks | Comments Off on Reaching with Effort – Being with No Effort – A Talk by Leland Shields

Lin-Chi was sleeping in the [Monks] Hall. Huang-po came in, and seeing him struck the front plank [of the sitting platform] with his staff. Lin-chi lifted his head, and seeing it was Huang-po, went back to sleep. Huang-po again struck the front plank, and went to the upper part of the Hall. Seeing the head monk sitting in meditation, he said: “That youngster down in the lower part of the Hall is sitting in meditation; what’re you doing here, cooking up wild fancies!” “What’s this old man up to?” said the head monk. Huang-po struck the front plank once more and left. (The Record of Lin-Chi,...

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Hazy Moon – A Talk by Madelon Bolling

Posted by on Jul 17, 2019 in Zen Talks | Comments Off on Hazy Moon – A Talk by Madelon Bolling

July 14, 2019 Case #6 of the Denkoroku is the story of the sixth patriarch in India, named Micchaka. Keizan’s closing verse to this story goes like this: Though we find clear waters raging to the vast blue sky in autumn; How can it compare with the hazy moon on a spring night? Most people want to have it pure white, But sweep as you will, you cannot empty the mind. (Aitken & Yamada translation)   “Clear waters” here refers to purity. And in this translation, the third line is Most people want to have it pure white. Pure white is a metaphor for emptiness or formlessness. But sweep as...

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Cart without Wheels – A Talk by Leland Shields

Posted by on Jul 17, 2019 in Zen Talks | Comments Off on Cart without Wheels – A Talk by Leland Shields

July 13, 2019 Hsi-chung Builds Carts The priest Yueh-an said to a monk, Hsi-chung made a hundred carts. If you take off both wheels and the axle, what would be vividly apparent? Wu-men’s comment: If you realize this directly, your eye is like a shooting star and your act is like snatching a bolt of lightning. Where the wheel revolves Even a master cannot follow it; The four cardinal half points, above, below, North, south, east west. (Case 8, The Gateless Barrier, Robert Aitken, p 60) I thank Larry for bringing this koan came to my attention recently. He referenced it as speaking to him in...

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Every day is a good day – a talk by Leland Shields

Posted by on May 17, 2019 in Zen Talks | Comments Off on Every day is a good day – a talk by Leland Shields

Blue Cliff Record, Case 6 Yun Men said, “I don’t ask you about before the fifteenth day; try to say something about after the fifteenth day.” Yun Men himself answered for everyone, “Every day is a good day.” Verse: He throws away one, picks up seven. Above, below, and in the four directions, there is no comparison. Placidly walking along, he treads down the sound of the flowing stream; His relaxed gaze decries the tracks of flying birds. The grasses grow thick, The mists overhang. ‘Round Suhuti’s cliff, the flowers make a mess; I snap my fingers; how lamentable is Shunyata! If you move,...

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On Emptiness and Daily Life – a talk by Madelon Bolling

Posted by on Jan 15, 2019 in Zen Talks | Comments Off on On Emptiness and Daily Life – a talk by Madelon Bolling

January 13, 2019 It is said that the world is empty, the world is empty, lord. In what respect is it said that the world is empty?” The Buddha replied, “Insofar as it is empty of a self or of anything pertaining to a self: Thus it is said, Ānanda, that the world is empty. –Sunna Sutra of the Pali canon Thank you for making the time, effort and sacrifice it took to join us here today to face the Great Matter together at the beginning of this new year, 2019. A new year reminds us to consider beginning again, getting a fresh take on life, to look with new eyes at what we have....

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Free Me from My Fetters – a talk by Leland Shields (October 14, 2018)

Posted by on Oct 24, 2018 in Zen Talks | Comments Off on Free Me from My Fetters – a talk by Leland Shields (October 14, 2018)

There are some koans that grabbed me and never loosened their grip. Today I’d like to share one that I long remembered without recalling its source, so I recently sought it out once again. The closest I could find was this, from Transmission of the Light: The thirty first patriarch (China’s Fourth Patriarch), Zen Master Dayi (Daoxin), bowed to the Great Master Jianzhi and said, “I beg the priest in his great compassion to give me teaching of liberation.” The Patriarch replied, “Who is binding you?” The master said, “No one is binding me.” The Patriarch answered, “Then why are you seeking...

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