Talks

Photo of Madelon, Lee, and Jack

Left to right, Madelon, Lee, and Jack

A Reality Even Prior . . . A Talk by Madelon Bolling

Posted by on Jan 13, 2022 in Zen Talks | Comments Off on A Reality Even Prior . . . A Talk by Madelon Bolling

Blue Cliff Record, case 43 A monk asked Dongshan, “When cold and heat visit us, how should we avoid them?” Dongshan said, “Why not go where there is neither cold nor heat?” The monk asked, “Where is there neither cold nor heat?” Dongshan said, “When it is cold, the cold kills you. When it is hot, the heat kills you.” This is the start of a new year, our first zenkai in 2022. It’s so strange that even here, in this gathering dedicated to seeing through delusion, our most casual language...

read more

Using the Mind to Seek the Mind — Isn’t That a Great Mistake? A Talk by Leland Shields – November 14, 2021

Posted by on Nov 28, 2021 in Zen Talks | Comments Off on Using the Mind to Seek the Mind — Isn’t That a Great Mistake? A Talk by Leland Shields – November 14, 2021

(This is taken from a passage in…) Verse of the Faith-Mind …Using the mind to seek the mind — isn’t that a great mistake? (Attributed to Chien-Chih Seng-ts’an], d. 606) Case 37 of the Gateless Barrier:      The Oak Tree in Front of the Garden A monk asked Chao-Chou in all earnestness, “What is the meaning of the patriarch’s coming from the West?” Chao-Chou said, “The oak tree in the front of the garden.” (Robert Aitken, The Gateless Barrier, page 226) Case 43 of the Gateless Barrier:      Shou-shan’s Short Bamboo Staff The priest...

read more

Taking Refuge in the Dharma a talk by Leland Shields – October 10, 2021

Posted by on Oct 15, 2021 in Zen Talks | Comments Off on Taking Refuge in the Dharma a talk by Leland Shields – October 10, 2021

In our sutra service, we chant: I take refuge in the Buddha; I take refuge in the Dharma; I take refuge in the Sangha. In June I spoke of taking refuge in the Buddha – taken from the chant in our sutra book titled, “Ti-Sarana,” Pali for “three refuges.” As I said in June, the refuges or jewels are used in the initiation ceremonies of the various Buddhist traditions. Thus, they are an expression of participation in, and application of the way that we have come to call Buddhism. Today I’d like to talk about taking refuge in the Dharma. The...

read more

Refuge In the Buddha – a Talk by Leland Shields, June 13, 2021

Posted by on Jun 14, 2021 in Zen Talks | Comments Off on Refuge In the Buddha – a Talk by Leland Shields, June 13, 2021

In our sutra service, we chant: I take refuge in the Buddha; I take refuge in the Dharma; I take refuge in the Sangha. And in Pali as: Buddham saranam gacchami; dhammam saranam gacchami; sangham saranam gacchami. In our sutra book this chant is titled, “Ti-Sarana,” Pali for “three refuges.” The same chant can be found with the title, “Ratanattaya,” Pali for the three jewels, or three treasures.[1] The refuges or jewels are used in the initiation ceremonies of the various Buddhist traditions. In that context, I take them to be an expression of...

read more

Nothing to Attain – a talk by Madelon Bolling

Posted by on May 7, 2021 in Zen Talks | Comments Off on Nothing to Attain – a talk by Madelon Bolling

Case 19, The Gateless Barrier Zhaozhou asked Nanquan, “What is the Dao?” Nanquan said, “Ordinary mind is the Dao.” Zhaozhou asked, “Should I direct myself toward it or not?” Nanquan said, “If you try to direct yourself you turn against it.” Zhaozhou asked, “How can I know the Dao if I do not direct myself?” Nanquan said, “The Dao is not subject to knowing or not knowing. Knowing is delusion; not knowing is blankness. When you really reach the Dao beyond doubt, it is as vast and boundless as space. How could affirmation and negation persist?”...

read more

Tung-shan’s Crossed Swords – a talk by Leland Shields, March 7, 2021

Posted by on Mar 17, 2021 in Zen Talks | Comments Off on Tung-shan’s Crossed Swords – a talk by Leland Shields, March 7, 2021

Within Tung-shan’s Five Ranks is this verse titled, “Proceeding Within Phenomena”: Like two crossed swords, neither permitting retreat;dexterously wielded, like the lotus in the midst of fire -a natural imperative to assail heaven itself. Robert Aitken, The Morning Star, p. 139. Tung-shan Liang-chieh (also translated as Dongshan Liangjie) was a Tang dynasty teacher recognized as the founder of the Ts’ao-tung, Soto, line of Zen. He left us two series of 5 verses each. The first set of verses expresses modes of the fundamental world we share....

read more

hands and eyes – a talk by Madelon Bolling

Posted by on Nov 4, 2020 in Zen Talks | Comments Off on hands and eyes – a talk by Madelon Bolling

The Blue Cliff Record, case 89: Yunyan asked Daowu, “How does the Bodhisattva Guanyin use those many hands and eyes?” Daowu answered, “It is like someone in the middle of the night reaching behind her head for the pillow.” Yunyan said, “I understand.” Daowu asked, “How do you understand it?” Yunyan said, “All over the body are hands and eyes.” Daowu said, “That is very well expressed, but it is only eight-tenths of the answer.” Yunyan said, “How would you say it, Elder Brother?” Daowu said, “Throughout the body are hands and eyes.” “How does...

read more

Why Does it Come to This? / I Vow to Free – A Talk Given by Lee Shields, October 11, 2020

Posted by on Oct 26, 2020 in Zen Talks | Comments Off on Why Does it Come to This? / I Vow to Free – A Talk Given by Lee Shields, October 11, 2020

After the sittings on Friday mornings, the koan that has been shared recently is case 98 from The Record of Tung-shan (Dongshan) that goes like this: One time when the Master was washing his bowls, he saw two birds contending over a frog. A monk who also saw this asked, “Why does it come to that?” The Master replied, “It’s only for your benefit, Acarya.” Before sitting on Wednesday evenings, we have taken up the translations of the first of the Four Infinite vows, also known as the Bodhisattva Vows. The Mountain Lamp version is: All beings...

read more

Dahui, Swampland Flowers: 9 Enlightenment and Delusion (a talk by Lee Shields, September 7, 2020)

Posted by on Oct 3, 2020 in Zen Talks | Comments Off on Dahui, Swampland Flowers: 9 Enlightenment and Delusion (a talk by Lee Shields, September 7, 2020)

Dahui, Swampland Flowers: 9 Enlightenment and Delusion In the last paragraph of lecture 9 of the Swampland Flowers, Dahui directed us with the following: If you want to cut directly through, don’t entertain doubts about buddhas and ancestral teachers, or doubts about birth and death – just always let go and make your heart empty and open. When things come up, then deal with them according to the occasion. Be like the stillness of the water, like the clarity of a mirror, (so that) whether good or bad, beautiful or ugly approach, you don’t make...

read more

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,...

read more