Archive

Listen to the River

All of us need to bring our beginner’s mind to this moment.  This is the case whether we’ve been practicing for two weeks or twenty years.  Return to asking questions or being curious.  Practice as though this was the first time you have practiced meditation because it is.  This is “no self” in its practical application.  We change from moment to moment, so who we are now is different from who we were yesterday, or even a minute ago when we began reading. 

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When Yoga Meets Zen Meditation

In the United States there is a cultural idea born in part by early commentators, like Ralph Waldo Emerson, on the Bhagavad Gita and the Buddhist Sutras that meditation is about control, that this control requires one’s own individual efforts alone, and one will eventually experience peace if practiced for long enough.  These ideas are fine but can be misleading when taken out of context. 

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Transmitting Light

Both the Lotus Sutra and Zen Master Dogen are saying something very similar, that what we do matters and has an effect on those around us, perhaps beyond what we are willing or prepared to notice.

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A Belief that Changes the World

First you must believe that you are already within the Way.  You must believe that you are free of delusion, illusory thoughts, confused ideas, increase, and decrease and mistaken understanding.  Believe in this manner, clarify the Way and practice accordingly.  This is the essence of studying the Way.

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Loss is Gain

Sawaki Kodo Roshi, a 20th century Japanese Zen Master, talked about Zen as the “Study of loss.”  What I like about this is how unappealing this sounds on the surface.  In a culture that values unending growth and gain, who wants to study about loss?  Kodo Roshi, in fact, says in Japanese, “Son wa toku, toku wa son” =  “Loss is gain and gain is loss.”

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Saving All Sentient Beings without Becoming a Superhero

I grew up watching TV shows and movies that portrayed superheroes like Luke Skywalker and Yoda defeating supervillains like Darth Vader.  I’m still attracted to these kinds of movies, but I also know that we don’t need to be super-human, saintly, or even to become a Buddha to be of service to others or to save the world.

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Have No Designs

Improvement or “transformation” modes of practice have their merit and may be viable for us in some ways and at some times.  I genuinely respect these approaches.  However, Soto Zen meditation is different from other schools of Buddhism, Hinduism and secular meditation in an important respect.

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“Improving” Zazen with Yoga

Sometimes people make the mistake of thinking meditation is going to do something for them, make them calmer or happier. There has been loads of research on how meditation does that.  But without adequate preparation it really just gets us in touch with our own misery.  This is why I suggest asking not what your meditation practice can do for you, but what you can do for your meditation practice.

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What is Meditation?

It can be helpful to remember why we came to meditation in the first place.  For many of us, anxiety and stress are big issues. 

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For Hundreds of Thousands of Years, the Stew in the Pot Has Boiled up a Resentment Very Hard to Level

The contents of this lecture are difficult and challenging to many if not all of us. The point of this article is not to shame people for eating meat, nor to make people become vegan, but to offer encouragement to lessen meat consumption – even by one meal a week or month – and to draw awareness to the intimate connection between the humane treatment of animals and the humane treatment of human beings.

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