Talks

Photo of Madelon, Lee, and Jack

Left to right, Madelon, Lee, and Jack

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,...

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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...

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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...

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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...

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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...

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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...

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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...

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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...

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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...

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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...

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