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...

Read More

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...

Read More

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...

Read More

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...

Read More

“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...

Read More

The Indestructible Dharma-body, a Talk by Madelon Bolling (October 13, 2019)

Posted by on Oct 1, 2019 in Zen Talks | Comments Off on The Indestructible Dharma-body, a Talk by Madelon Bolling (October 13, 2019)

Blue Cliff Record, Case 82: A monk asked Ta-lung, “The body of form and color perishes. What is the indestructible Dharma-body?” Ta-lung said, “The mountain flowers bloom like brocade; the river between the hills runs blue as indigo.” The body of form and color perishes. Asking why is a complete waste of energy. There is nothing to be done about it. Going to my sitting spot in the morning for a half-hour or so makes total sense, though I cannot say why. Seems to be the only thing to do at the moment. Like the first touch of morning light on the underside of leaves—it is as inexorable and as...

Read More