Sangha Resources

August 1, 2020 – Saturday
Rather than assuming you will know how people will act, take a deep breath and open yourself to the possibility that today is a new day.
Yael Shy, “Five Practices for Your Daily Commute”
CLICK HERE TO READ THE FULL ARTICLE

July 31, 2020 – Friday
A Long-Term View by Rev. Jishin Kinson is addressed to beginners and anyone returning to a practice of Zen. May a long-term view of the practice help you towards comfortably settling into it.


July 30, 2020 – Thursday
From Tricycle Magazine:
What happens when we sit is none of our business. The practice is to accept whatever arises instead of trying to control our experience. What we can control is our wise effort to be present with what is. —Narayan Helen Liebenson, “The Refuge of Sitting

CLICK HERE TO READ THE FULL ARTICLE



July 29, 2020 – Wednesday
You Don’t Know Me But
I miss you, fellow walkers – dad with double stroller,
rainbow legging woman, earnest black hound hauling
graybeard man on a never-slack leash.
I miss the Marc’s check-out clerk with three nose rings,
bitten nails, sardonic asides.
Miss the librarian whose voice is soft as my mother’s was
back when I sobbed myself weak, her hand
stroking my hair while she looked out the window.

Wherever you are now, I wish you well. Cast light around you
each night before you sleep. I want your granny to pull through,
your job to stick around, your landlord to grant you
every dispensation. I want flowers
to spout in your garbage, old milk turn into yoghurt.
May your junk mail transform into loans forgiven,
scholarships granted, grievances forgotten.
May we see each other soon, smile in recognition,
reimagine a worls where we all breathe free.
– Laura Grace Weldon

July 28, 2020 – Tuesday
From the Center for Action and Contemplation:
Look with the Eyes of Compassion
The Buddhist monk Thich Nhat Hanh (born 1926) is one of the world’s most influential spiritual teachers. During the Vietnam War, his work for peace brought him into friendship with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Thomas Merton, and other Christians who shared his belief that peace must be who we are, not just something we demand. Thich Nhat Hanh teaches:

This capacity of waking up, of being aware of what is going on in your feelings, in your body, in your perceptions, in the world, is called Buddha nature, the capacity of understanding and loving. . . . It is with our capacity of smiling, breathing, and being peace that we can make peace.

Many of us worry about the world situation. We don’t know when the bombs will explode. We feel that we are on the edge of time. As individuals, we feel helpless, despairing. The situation is so dangerous, injustice is so widespread, the danger is so close. In this kind of situation, if we panic, things will only become worse. We need to remain calm, to see clearly. Meditation is to be aware, and to try to help.

I like to use the example of a small boat crossing the Gulf of Siam. In Vietnam, there are many people, called boat people, who leave the country in small boats. Often the boats are caught in rough seas or storms, the people may panic, and boats can sink. But if even one person aboard can remain calm, lucid, knowing what to do and what not to do, he or she can help the boat survive. His or her expression—face, voice—communicates clarity and calmness, and people have trust in that person. They will listen to what he or she says. One such person can save the lives of many.

Our world is something like a small boat. Compared with the cosmos, our planet is a very small boat. We are about to panic because our situation is no better than the situation of the small boat in the sea. . . . Humankind has become a very dangerous species. We need people who can sit still and be able to smile, who can walk peacefully. We need people like that in order to save us. Mahayana Buddhism says that you are that person. . . .

The root-word “budh” means to wake up, to know, to understand. A person who wakes up and understands is called a Buddha. It is as simple as that. The capacity to wake up, to understand, and to love is called Buddha nature.

When you understand, you cannot help but love. . . . To develop understanding, you have to practice looking at all living beings with the eyes of compassion. When you understand, you love. And when you love, you naturally act in a way that can relieve the suffering of people.



July 27, 2020 – Monday
Rev. Enya Sapp offered her teaching on The Dog King Silver that you might find of help in your training.  Listen / Download  24 min

July 26, 2020 – Sunday
Sunday’s Redding Zen Dharma Talk
Other Dusty Countries
The Rules for Meditation are specific and practical.  When we are having problems or difficulties in our meditation practice, this is an extraordinary resource.  When we are challenged with the koan of daily life, the Genjo-koan, they offer insight for not only strengthening, but deepening our practice.

The Rules start with Dogen’s questioning approach to practice (Why are training and enlightenment differentiated…), as well as his detailing of the physical aspects helpful in setting up our practice (…you should meditate in a quiet room…), and the spiritual (…the koan appears naturally in daily life…) 

But today I’d like look at the last section of the Rules for Meditation – the part that seems to me to anticipate some of the challenges we might face in our meditation practice:  distraction, uncertainty, doubt, not “doing it”, not being persistent.

Distraction?
It is futile to travel to other dusty countries, thus forsaking your own seat….  This is more than just not sitting in your physical meditation place.  We “visit other dusty countries” when we focus on the past or the present.

We “visit other dusty countries” when we attach ourselves to any of the forms of discriminative thought…who do I want to be?  What do I want to be?  What do I want to have?  And so on…

We “visit other dusty countries” when we choose to be other than ourselves – our own Buddha Nature.  We “visit other dusty countries” when we don’t take refuge in the Buddha – the first of the Precepts.

Already you are in possession of the vital attributes of a human being…
Another distraction is looking at what we think we need in terms of the “vital attributes of a human being”.  

What is the “vital”?   
       Buddhism invites us to live fully.  
       Buddhism invites us to be alive in the present moment

       Buddhism invites us to both train and to be enlightened 
                (RM Jiyu Zen is Eternal Life)
       RM Jiyu:  …when life comes, there is only life…
…”attributes” of a human being?
      mind function, will, consciousness, perception, memory, and understanding
      And we have the opportunity to “control” these (Scripture of Great Wisdom) these by making enlightened choices.

Do not waste time with this and that – YOU can possess the authority of Buddha…

Each of us has this opportunity to do this.  
Each of us has the responsibility…the authority…the choice…the results….
Each of us – in our meditation practice – can have the “immovable-ness” of the Buddha, what Dogen calls Mountain Sitting.

…in a moment life is gone…
We distract ourselves when we think that life lasts forever, that it won’t happen to us.  I think about Joel’s friend Christopher Dickey.  As he shared with us last week – he was talking with him in the morning and hearing about his death in the afternoon.

Anicca…in all its forms…aging…accident…loss…death…the good moments, too

Oh, sincere trainees….
I love the intimacy of this…he really cares…

And here is his full-throated encouragement:

1.  …do not doubt the true dragon…

The true dragon is the True Dharma – take refuge in the Buddha’s Teaching.  …The Buddha’s words are true, not something that is empty and vain…

2.  Look inward and advance directly along the road that leads to the Mind…

Study the Four Noble Truths.  Follow the Eightfold Path.  Keep the Precepts.  Do what needs to be done.

3.  …respect those who have received the goal of goal-lessness…

4.  …become one with the wisdom of the Buddhas.

5. …transmit the wisdom of the Ancestors.

If you do these things for some time…
…you will become as herein described…
…and then the Treasure House will open naturally…

…and you will enjoy it fully.

July 25, 2020 – Saturday
Sometimes our light goes out, but is blown again into instant flame by an encounter with another human being. Each of us owes the deepest thanks to those who have rekindled this inner light. DR. ALBERT SCHWEITZER


July 24, 2020 – Friday
Nagarjuna is one of the most formidable and significant Ancestors in Mahayana Buddhism and in our Soto Zen Tradition.  He lived in India during approximately 150-250 CE.  Layne Russell offered this appreciation of him, pointing to his relevance in current lives.

Nagarjuna
you’ve got to hand it to Nagarjuna
putting it all together
taking it apart
telling us it is
it’s not
it’s both
showing us how samsara equals nirvana

not bad 
considering he lived right here
in the midst of the is and not
just like all the rest of us

September 1997  Layne Russell

July 23, 2020 – Thursday
Dogen says in The Shobogenzo:  Even when you are uncertain, do not use this one day wastefully. It is a rare treasure to value. Do not compare it with an enormous jewel. Do not compare it with a dragon’s bright pearl. Old sages valued this one day more than their own living bodies. Reflect on this quietly. A dragon’s pearl may be found. An enormous jewel may be acquired. But this one day out of a hundred years cannot be retrieved once it is lost. What skillful means can retrieve a day that is passed? No historical documents have recorded any such means. Not to waste time is to contain the passage of days and months within your skin bag, without leaking. Thus, sages and wise ones in olden times valued each moment, day, and month more than their own eyeballs or the nation’s land. To waste the passage of time is to be confused and stained in the floating world of name and gain. Not to miss the passage of time is to be in the way for the way.

How often do you use uncertainty to not commit? 

What would it be like to practice wholeheartedly with not-knowing?

Using every ingredient of your life is a place of practice.

July 22, 2020 – Wednesday
Refraining from Malicious Speech
Disputes occur when a person is deceitful and fraudulent. Such a person dwells disrespectful and undeferential towards others, causing harm and unhappiness for many. If you see any such root of a dispute either in yourself or externally, you should strive to abandon it. And if you do not see any such root of dispute either in yourself or externally, you should practice in such a way that it does not erupt in the future. (MN 104)

Arguments and disputes do not come from external circumstances, but from the internal qualities of people’s minds. When there is a competing interest, for example, it might be negotiated peacefully and fairly, or it might escalate into a hateful argument and even become violent. The difference lies in what kind of internal mental and emotional states are brought to the table by both participants. We can influence how this unfolds. 

Take special care to refrain from being deceitful or fraudulent in all of your dealings with other people. And when other people are exhibiting these qualities, try hard not to be provoked into doing the same. These practices in daily life require a regular habit of being tuned in to the workings of your own mind and being sensitive to the extent your own experience is impacted by the mental and emotional qualities of others.

July 21, 2020 – Tuesday
Loneliness
Rev. Master Daishin Morgan 
In recent years I have spent much of my time in solitude and would like to offer some thoughts on loneliness, especially now when many of us are having to live in isolation. Most of the advice going around at the moment addresses loneliness through keeping up contact with family, friends and neighbours on various media and so on. This is good advice but what can be forgotten is the value there can be in allowing ourselves some space to explore the actual feeling of being lonely. Loneliness, the ache of the heart, impels us towards other people. The more I explore that feeling the more I can see how interwoven it is with the whole of my being like a rope of many threads. The wish to connect with others involves love, compassion, fears, doubts, desires, and more. Loneliness exposes us and that is part of its discomfort. On the other hand it is an opening. Once we begin to turn towards this complex experience, we may try to analyse all those threads. That can be productive in its way and to a degree it is probably necessary but it is also where we get bogged down. To just be lonely is a whole experience. There will be strands that are obvious and in our face and others that we become aware of more gradually but loneliness is the teacher. 

Recognition and acknowledgement of what we are actually feeling is essential for being at peace with ourselves. If we look carefully we see that experience is a whole that is experienced altogether and at once. 
Analysing our experience, the teasing apart of the threads, has its uses but its role is limited by the sheer impossibility of coming to a resolution. One thread on its own is never quite true because of all that has had to be pared away to examine it as a single thread; we are not really made of parts, we are ‘just this’. We can tease the threads apart but putting them back together results in a reconstruction that we have to keep trying to hold together. 

It will always lack the authenticity of immediate experience. If we trust the immediate experience we will see that it is not blind to complexity. It is multi-layered even as we experience it all at once. Direct experience is not serial. It is not a oneness in which all the detail is submerged and lost. All the threads are the endless subtlety or quality of a whole. When the threads are separated they become abstractions. Reality is the whole in its infinite quality just now. 

Loneliness rests on a sense of separation. Are we the rope or the thread? The answer is to delve into the quality of the present. We are profoundly involved, as separate beings and as a whole. Zazen is the whole aware of itself; zazen doing zazen in which I am involved. We don’t have to make anything or hold anything together, we need to trust enough to let conditions reveal their reality which they do without intervention. 
Our actual experience is not made up of parts, even while we recognise this being here and that being over there. Loneliness paradoxically can reveal undividedness, it then takes on a different cast; it is no longer about lacking anything. There is something profound going on that it is not meaningless to call loneliness, but it is not at all what it seemed to be before. At first loneliness is chaotic and it is tempting to grasp at solutions. I think that is often what makes us adopt someone else’s understanding. We may be able to tame loneliness with a strategy and keep it captive but it keeps escaping. 
Loneliness is valuable for its obduracy. We have to spend time with the chaos. I can offer some reassurance that being lonely, far from being some failure of practice, is a thread leading out of the maze. Loneliness as a guide starts with what it really feels like. The purpose is not to make the loneliness go away but to know it so that when we are lonely we can let ourselves be lonely. If we deny that part of ourselves it is no wonder we get lonely; it hurts until we accept its heart. We have no way to know if our loneliness is more or less than anyone else’s. Assessing its quantity is a hopeless business. We must let our experience stand as it is. As we sit, thoughts about loneliness will occur but they are about loneliness, when the real matter is loneliness itself.  For something so challenging it can be surprisingly elusive and we have to learn to be with the way it can be absent one moment and acutely present the next. Take a holiday from judgement. It helps if we don’t set this up as an ascetic challenge; it is like listening to complex music.  Our actual experience takes us beyond ourselves to where we and the loneliness are not two things. 

In the same manner we and our feelings are inseparable from all the rest of existence. To be this is to be undivided, the whole world. Where is loneliness then? Please take this as encouragement to engage. When you are lonely, to know your loneliness is to be in touch with reality and that is the longed-for gift offered to the part that aches. Even precious memories of being with someone we love are not well used if we make them a shield to hold between ourselves and loneliness. It is not you and your loneliness; it is the whole of being, endlessly unfolding. 

I can still be lonely; this is not about becoming impervious. One of the expectations many people have of practice and training is that it is like weeding a garden; that if you persist you will eventually have a garden without weeds. In the end we have to come to know the weeds, because weeds reveal the truth as much as the lilies. Reality is sufficient and liberation resides in reality, not in becoming some more acceptable thing. 

Space is a poor analogy for emptiness, 
It is the lightness of things being free. 
Being in a room is the same 
If the door opens easily or I am locked in
But so completely different.
Remorseless positivity is only pretending;
The cries must be heard, you must enter the room. The lightness is not the condition of the door. 

Finally, a word about distraction. I have come to appreciate the role of distraction in keeping some equilibrium. When on your own it is usually not a good idea to spend many hours in zazen as you might do on an intense retreat or sesshin. We can rely on conditions for the intensity. Enjoyment is important. I once had a dog who would chase his tail, distracting him with a biscuit would usually help. 


July 20, 2020 – Monday
Rev. Master Meian Elbert offered teaching the Paramita of Meditation 
20 minutes

July 19, 2020 – Sunday
In her talk on Fear and Compassion, Rev. Master Leandra describes how cultivating compassion is a most helpful practice in helping us to train with fear.

July 18, 2020 – Saturday 
THANKS   
W.S. Merwin, from The Rain in the Trees (Knopf, 1998) 

Listen
with the night falling we are saying thank you
we are stopping on the bridges to bow from the railings
we are running out of the glass rooms
with our mouths full of food to look at the sky
and say thank you
we are standing by the water thanking it
standing by the windows looking out
in our directions
back from a series of hospitals back from a mugging
after funerals we are saying thank you
after the news of the dead
whether or not we knew them we are saying thank you
over telephones we are saying thank you
in doorways and in the backs of cars and in elevators
remembering wars and the police at the door
and the beatings on stairs we are saying thank you
in the banks we are saying thank you
in the faces of the officials and the rich
and of all who will never change
we go on saying thank you thank you
with the animals dying around us
taking our feelings we are saying thank you
with the forests falling faster than the minutes
of our lives we are saying thank you
with the words going out like cells of a brain
with the cities growing over us
we are saying thank you faster and faster
with nobody listening we are saying thank you
thank you we are saying and waving
dark though it is

July 17, 2020 – Friday. 
Rev. Master Serena Seidner offered her perspectives on The Middle Way   in 1917.  You may find it helpful in preparation for our Morning of Mindfulness on Sunday, July 19.

July 16, 2020 – Thursday. 
Neighbors  
James Crew

Where I’m from, people still wave
to each other, and if someone doesn’t,
you might say of her, She wouldn’t
wave at you to save her life—

THANKS 

Listen

with the night falling we are saying thank you

we are stopping on the bridges to bow from the railings

we are running out of the glass rooms

with our mouths full of food to look at the sky

and say thank you

we are standing by the water thanking it

standing by the windows looking out

in our directions

back from a series of hospitals back from a mugging

after funerals we are saying thank you

after the news of the dead

whether or not we knew them we are saying thank you

over telephones we are saying thank you

in doorways and in the backs of cars and in elevators

remembering wars and the police at the door

and the beatings on stairs we are saying thank you

in the banks we are saying thank you

in the faces of the officials and the rich

and of all who will never change

we go on saying thank you thank you

with the animals dying around us

taking our feelings we are saying thank you

with the forests falling faster than the minutes

of our lives we are saying thank you

with the words going out like cells of a brain

with the cities growing over us

we are saying thank you faster and faster

with nobody listening we are saying thank you

thank you we are saying and waving

dark though it is

 –W.S. Merwin, from The Rain in the Trees (Knopf, 1998) 



July 18, 2020 – Saturday. 

July 17, 2020 – Friday. 
Rev. Master Serena Seidner offered her perspectives on The Middle Way   in 1917.  You may find it helpful in preparation for our Morning of Mindfulness on Sunday, July 19.

July 16, 2020 – Thursday. 
Neighbors  
James Crew

Where I’m from, people still wave
to each other, and if someone doesn’t,
you might say of her, She wouldn’t
wave at you to save her life—

but you try anyway, give her a smile.
This is just one of the many ways
we take care of one another, say: I see you,
I feel you, I know you are real. I wave

to Rick who picks up litter while walking
his black labs, Olive and Basil—
hauling donut boxes, cigarette packs
and countless beer cans out of the brush

beside the road. And I say hello
to Christy, who leaves almond croissants
in our mailbox and mason jars of fresh-
pressed apple cider on our side porch.

I stop to check in on my mother-in-law—
more like a second mother—who buys us
toothpaste when it’s on sale, and calls
if an unfamiliar car is parked at our house.

We are going to have to return to this
way of life, this giving without expectation,
this loving without conditions. We need
to stand eye to eye again, and keep asking—
no matter how busy—How are you,
how’s your wife, how’s your knee?, making
this talk we insist on calling small,
though kindness is what keeps us alive

July 15, 2020 – Wednesday. 
For consideration in making choices:

Nothing limits intelligence more than ignorance; 
nothing fosters ignorance more than one’s own opinions; 
nothing strengthens opinions more than refusing to look at reality. 
Sheri S. Tepper

May I be loving, open, and aware in this moment; If I cannot be loving, open, and aware in this moment, may I be kind; If I cannot be kind, may I be nonjudgmental; If I cannot be nonjudgmental, may I not cause harm; If I cannot not cause harm, may I cause the least harm.    
Larry Yang



July 14, 2020 – Tuesday. 
This is British news film and description of Reverend Master Jiyu-Kennett’s ordination in the Chinese Tradition by Venerable Seck Kim Seng in Malaysia in 1962.

This overview of Soto Zen Buddhism featuring teaching by Rev. Master Daishin Morgan was produced by the monks at Throssel Hole Buddhist Abbey.  It offers insight into Rev. Master Jiyu’s legacy as she brought the Buddha’s teaching from Japan to the West.

July 13, 2020 – Monday. 
Dharma Talk for Sunday, July 12, 2020
Transfer of Merit:  An Expression of Community

I recently sent out this reflection on community by Parker J. Palmer:

If we are to hold solitude and community together as a true paradox, 
we need to deepen our understanding of both poles. 
Solitude does not necessarily mean living apart from others; 
rather, it means never living apart from one’s self. 
It is not about the absence of other people-
-it is about being fully present to ourselves, 
whether or not we are with others. 
Community does not necessarily mean living face-to-face with others; 
rather it means never losing the awareness 
that we are connected to each other. 
It is not about the presence of other people-
-it is about being fully open to the reality of relationship, 
whether or not we are alone.


He leads into this with an excerpt from Dietrich Bonhoeffer: 
…let [the person] who cannot be alone beware of community. 
Let [the person] who is not in community beware of being alone.

Palmer sees this as a warning against seeing solitude and community 
as an either-or situation.


I’ve reflected on this as I prepared for our Transfer of Merit ceremony because the practice of Transfer of Merit is a practice that affirms community.

It reminds us of our connection with those we love, and those we don’t.

It is a practice that builds community.

In a practical sense developing our intention to connect is the key, which is done through our meditation practice and our training in the Precepts.

Again and again the Buddha points to the challenge and necessity of this offering of compassion for all and for community building. He says: 

One who repays an angry man with anger thereby makes things worse for himself. Not repaying an angry man with anger, one wins a battle hard to win. 

He practices for the welfare of both— his own and the other’s—
when, knowing that his foe is angry, he mindfully maintains his peace. 

When he achieves the cure of both— his own and the other’s—
the people who consider him a fool are unskilled in the Dhamma.”

A mutual caring community is one of the central teachings of the Buddha.  The sangha is one of the Three Treasures.  The word comes pretty directly from the Sanskirt word sangha – harmonious community.  

Twenty-five hundred years ago, the Buddha created a four-fold sangha that included monks and nuns, laymen and laywomen.   Female monks and lay were – and are –  equal parts of that Fourfold Sangha.  All castes were included.  A hereditary caste system, based on occupation and skin color, was already in place by the Buddha’s time. It has since evolved into a complex and hierarchical social system of graded inequality. At the top of the pyramid are the brahmins or priests. The Buddha himself was born into the warrior caste, the kshatriyas. Below them is a merchant and agriculturalist caste, the vaishyasShudras are laborers and servants. And below them were untouchables, more recently called Dalits, meaning, in Hindi and Marathi, people “broken” or ground up in the wheels of oppression. 

The Buddha’s egalitarian vision included them all, but position and nobility were evaluated on the basis of ethical action and understanding. In the Suttanipāta (v. 142) the Buddha says: 

Birth makes not a man an outcast, 
Birth makes not a man a brahmin; 
Action makes a man an outcast, 
Action makes a man a brahmin. 

The Sangha, according to the Buddha (The Sangha of the Blessed One’s Disciples),
      1.  practicing the good way – doing no harm
      2.  practicing the upright way – keeping the precepts 
      3.  practicing the knowledgeable way – following the 8-fold Path
      4.  practicing the proper way – acting with wisdom
      5.  practicing the mindful way – acting out of meditation

And the Buddha tells us take refuge in the sangha:
I take refuge in the Sangha, 
wishing that all sentient beings shall live in harmony, 
as well as harmonize the general multitudes, 
without any obstruction whatsoever, 
and that all shall respect the sacred sangha.

When we respect the sacred sangha how can we act with disrespect, divisiveness, in a way that creates or increases separateness.

The Buddha’s Teaching on Social and Communal Harmony 
The Buddha set the guidelines for the sangha – he organized a monastic community.  And it is important to remember that on occasion he was requested by civil leaders to provide advice on maintaining harmony in society at large, and the principles he laid down have been preserved in many discourses. 

He identified 5 kinds of communities: (p.111 Kinds of communities)
1.  The shallow and the Deep
2.  The Divided and the Harmonious
3.  The Inferior and the Superior
4.  The Ignoble and the Noble
5.  The Unrighteous and the Righteous

And we’ve talked about The Divided and the Harmonious Assemblies(AN 3:95).  There are, monks, the divided assembly and the harmonious assembly.  What is the divided assembly? Here, the assembly in which the monks take to arguing and quarreling and fall into disputes, stabbing each other with piercing words, is called the divided assembly. 

What is the harmonious assembly? Here, the assembly in which the monks dwell in concord, harmoniously, without disputes, blending like milk and water, viewing each other with eyes of affection, is called the harmonious assembly. 

He also spoke about The Ideal Community (from MN 31).  It is a description of a particular monastic community, but we can take the principles he was pointing to:

On one occasion the Blessed One was living at Nādikā in the Brick House. Now on that occasion the venerable Anuruddha, the venerable Nandiya, and the venerable Kimbila were living at the Park of the Gosinga Sāla-tree Wood. The Buddha went to visit them. Then all three went to meet the Blessed One. One took his bowl and outer robe, one prepared a seat, and one set out water for washing the feet. The Blessed One sat down on the seat made ready and washed his feet. Then those three venerable ones paid homage to the Blessed One and sat down at one side. When they were seated, the Blessed One said to them: “I hope you are all keeping well, Anuruddha, I hope you are all comfortable, I hope you are not having any trouble getting almsfood. 

We are keeping well, Blessed One, we are comfortable, and we are not having any trouble getting almsfood.

I hope, Anuruddha, that you are all living in concord, with mutual appreciation, without disputing, blending like milk and water, viewing each other with kindly eyes.” 

Surely, venerable sir, we are living in concord, with mutual appreciation, without disputing, blending like milk and water, viewing each other with kindly eyes. 

But, Anuruddha, how do you live thus? 

Venerable sir, as to that, I think thus: ‘It is a gain for me, it is a great gain for me, that I am living with such companions in the holy life.’  Gratitude

I maintain bodily acts of loving-kindness towards those venerable ones both openly and privately; I maintain verbal acts of loving-kindness towards them both openly and privately; I maintain mental acts of loving-kindness towards them both openly and privately.   Loving Kindness

I consider: ‘Why should I not set aside what I wish to do and do what these venerable ones wish to do?’ Then I set aside what I wish to do and do what these venerable ones wish to do. We are different in body, venerable sir, but one in mind.
Consideration and Selflessness

The venerable Nandiya and the venerable Kimbila each spoke likewise…

Good, good, Anuruddha. I hope that you all abide diligent, ardent, and resolute.” 
“Surely, venerable sir, we abide diligent, ardent, and resolute.”

“But, Anuruddha, how do you abide thus?”

Venerable sir, as to that, whichever of us returns first from the village with almsfood prepares the seats, sets out the water for drinking and for washing, and puts the refuse bucket in its place. 

Whichever of us returns last eats any food left over, if he wishes; otherwise he throws it away where there is no greenery or drops it into water where there is no life. 

He puts away the seats and the water for drinking and for washing. He puts away the refuse bucket after washing it and he sweeps out the refectory. 

Whoever notices that the pots of water for drinking, washing, or the latrine are low or empty takes care of them. 

If they are too heavy for him, he calls someone else by a signal of the hand and they move it by joining hands, but because of this we do not break out into speech. 

But every five days we sit together all night discussing the Dhamma. That is how we abide diligent, ardent, and resolute.Through our diligent effort, may we learn to find harmony even in times of conflict. As we grow in wisdom may we reflect that our “land was tranquil and not beset by thieves, and the people, with joy in their hearts, playing with their children, dwelt in open houses.” 

I’ll repeat Mr. Parkers words:  Community does not necessarily mean living face-to-face with others; rather it means never losing the awareness that we are connected to each other. 

It is not about the presence of other people – it is about being fully open to the reality of relationship, whether or not we are alone.


July 12, 2020 – Sunday. 
Rev. Master Scholastica Hicks offered her teaching on Non-Violence and the Bodhisattva Path in her Dharma Talk given at Shasta Abbey today.

July 11, 2020 – Saturday. 
Reading Dogen – Ryokan
On a somber spring evening around midnight,
Rain mixed with snow sprinkled on the bamboos in the garden.
I wanted to ease my loneliness but it was quite impossible.
My hand reached behind me for the Record of Eihei Dogen.
Beneath the open window at my desk,
I offered incense, lit a lamp, and quietly read.
Body and mind dropping away is simply the upright truth.
In one thousand postures, ten thousand appearances, a dragon toys with the jewel.
His understanding beyond conditioned patterns cleans up the current corruptions;
The ancient great master’s style reflects the image of India.

I remember the old days when I lived in Entsu Monastery
And my late teacher lectured on the True Dharma Eye.
At that time there was an occasion to turn myself around,
So I requested permission to read it, and studied it intimately.
I keenly felt that until then I had depended merely on my own ability.
After that I left my teacher and wandered all over.
Between Dogen and myself what relationship is there?
Everywhere I went I devotedly practiced the true dharma eye.
Arriving at the depths and arriving at the vehicle—how many times?
Inside this teaching, other’s never any shortcoming.
Thus I thoroughly studied the master of all things.

Now when I take the Record of Eihei Dogen and examine it,
The tone does not harmonize well with usual beliefs.
Nobody has asked whether it is a jewel or a pebble.
For five hundred years it’s been covered with dust
just because no one has had an eye for recognizing dharma.
For whom was all his eloquence expounded?
Longing for ancient times and grieving for the present, my heart is exhausted.

One evening sitting by the lamp my tears wouldn’t stop,
and soaked into the records of the ancient Buddha Eihei.
In the morning the old man next door came to my thatched hut.
He asked me why the book was damp.
I wanted to speak but didn’t as I was deeply embarrassed;
My mind deeply distressed, it was impossible to give an explanation.
I dropped my head for a while, then found some words.
“Last nights’ rain leaked in and drenched my bookcase.”

Translated by Daniel Leighton and Kazuaki Tanahashi
Copied from Moon in a Dewdrop, edited by Kazuaki Tanahashi

July 10, 2020 – Friday
However the seed is planted, in that way the fruit is gathered. Good things come from doing good deeds, bad things come from doing bad deeds. (SN 11.10) What is the purpose of a mirror? For the purpose of reflection. So too social action is to be done with repeated reflection. (MN 61)

One reflects thus: “I shall initiate and sustain verbal acts of kindness toward my companions, both publicly and privately.” One lives with companions in concord, with mutual appreciation, without disputing, blending like milk and water, viewing each other with kindly eyes. One practices thus: “We are different in body but one in mind.” (MN 31)

As social beings we speak a lot in the course of our daily lives. Here is an invitation to focus on the quality of our verbal actions in a social setting. The way to live in harmony with others is lubricated, so to speak, by verbal acts of kindness. As the text says, “Good things come from doing good deeds,” and this includes the things we say. The skill of living “without disputing, blending like milk and water,” is sorely needed these days. 

Speak with kindly intention to your friends, family members, and colleagues. The quality of mind behind our words is often more important than the words themselves, and here we are invited to emphasize the feeling of caring for others when we speak. When we speak with kindly intention we evoke kindness from others, as well as bring out and strengthen our own capacity for kindness. This contributes to social well-being.

July 9, 2020 – Thursday
Brian McLaren, a member of the Center for Action and Contemplation  (founded by Richard Rohr) reminds us why it matters that we pay attention to our health, not only physically but spiritually and ethically as well.

In these challenging, difficult times, we are discovering a wisdom that we needed all along, and that wisdom is that we are all connected. We are not separate. We used to think that we caught diseases as individuals: “I’m sick; you’re not.” But now we realize, no, we catch diseases as individuals who are part of families, and families who are part of cities, and cities that are part of states and nations. We realize now that our whole species can become infected, and that our whole globe can be changed because of our interconnectedness. . . 

Maybe this is also an opportunity for us to become enlightened about some other viruses that have been spreading and causing even greater damage, without being acknowledged: social and spiritual viruses that spread among us from individual to individual, from generation to generation, and are not named. We don’t organize against them, and so they continue to spread and cause all kinds of sickness [and death]. Social and spiritual viruses like racism, white supremacy, human supremacy, Christian supremacy, any kind of hostility that is spread, based on prejudice and fear.

What would happen if we said, as passionate as we are about being tested for coronavirus, we all wanted to test ourselves for these social and spiritual viruses that could be lurking inside of us? And then, when I come into your presence, I, in some way, inflict this virus on you. I make you suffer. What an awesome opportunity for us to say and begin to pray that we would be healed and cleansed, not just of a physical virus, but of these other invisible viruses that are such a huge and devastating part of human history. . . .

In this pandemic, many of us are nostalgic for the old normal. We want to get back to our favorite coffee shop, our favorite restaurant, our church service. And of course, there’s nothing wrong with so many of those desires for the old normal. But I’d like to make a proposal. If we are wise in this time, we will not go back unthinkingly to the old normal. There were problems with that old normal many of us weren’t aware of.

The old normal, when you look at it from today’s perspective, was not so great, not something to be nostalgic about, without also being deeply critical of it. As we experience discomfort in this time, let’s begin to dream of a new normal, a new normal that addresses the weaknesses and problems that were going unaddressed in the old normal. If we’re wise, we won’t go back; we’ll go forward.

July 8, 2020 – Wednesday
The Invocation for the Removal of Disasters
Adoration to all the Buddhas. 
Adoration to the limitless Teaching. 
Peace! Speak! Blaze! Up! Open! 
To the glorious, peaceful One,
For whom there is no disaster,  
Hail!, Hail! 

The Invocation for the Removal of Disasters – The monks ate Shasta Abbey


July 7, 2020 – Tuesday
Great Master Dogen says in Bendowa:  Xiangyan, Zen Master Zhixian, cultivated the way with Guishan. When Xiangyan tried to come up with one phrase of understanding, he could not utter it even after trying several times. In anguish, he burned his su ̄tras and books of commentary, and for many years he took up the practice of serving meals. Later he climbed up Mt. Wudang to visit the remains of National Teacher Nanyang and built a retreat hut there. One day when he was sweeping the path, a pebble flew up and struck a bamboo. At the crack he was suddenly enlightened.

Later he became abbot of Xiangyan Monastery and maintained the practice of one bowl and one robe. He lived his life discreetly in this monastery of extraordinary rocks and clear springs, and rarely left the mountain. Many spots where he practiced are still there.
How can you allow your sweeping, recycling,  and brushing your teeth today to be places of continuous practice?  Allowing for surprise is a place of practice.
**********

James Finley of the Center for Action and Contemplation offers the following perspective on practice:

What is the practice that matters now? A practice is any act habitually entered into with our whole heart that takes us to the deeper place. Some of these practices, we might not think of as prayer and meditation: tending the roses, a long, slow walk to no place in particular, a quiet moment at day’s end, being vulnerable in the presence of that person in whose presence we’re taken to the deeper place, the pause between two lines of a poem. There are these acts that reground us in the depth dimensions of our life that matter most; so if we’re faithful to our practice, our practice will be faithful to us. . . .


July 6, 2020 – Monday
Rev. Alina Burgess offers her perspectives on TRAINING WITH EVERYTHING. She uses quotes and analogies in this talk about sitting and original nature. There is an indefinable way that our particular and ordinary everyday experience is happening as part of a greater whole, both unfolding together. There is much in this that we cannot imagine, but as we continue sitting, we find our real connected life. This is experienced in many subtle ways; everything can show us when we let go and open to what is here. Being just where we are, reality helps and grounds us.

July 5, 2020 – Sunday
A Dharma Talk On the Occasion of the Fourth of July 
Today’s ceremony is an offering of gratitude to be able to practice Buddhism in this country without restraint or interference.

The Buddha came from a warrior caste and was naturally brought into association with kings, princes and ministers. Despite His origin and association, He never resorted to the influence of political power to introduce His teaching, nor allowed His Teaching to be misused for gaining political power.

The Buddha spoke about the equality of all human beings long before the political pundits of our time.  Does this sound familiar?  All men are created equal?

He taught that classes and castes are artificial barriers erected by society.   Does this sound familiar?  The amendments that speak to the rights of African American?  Women?

The only classification of human beings, according to the Buddha, is based on the quality of their moral conduct.  

The Buddha preached non-violence and peace as a universal message. He did not approve of violence or the destruction of life, and declared that there is no such thing as a ‘just’ war. He taught: ‘The victor breeds hatred, the defeated lives in misery. He who renounces both victory and defeat is happy and peaceful.’  Does this sound familiar?

The Buddha discussed the importance and the prerequisites of a good government. He showed how the country could become corrupt, degenerate and unhappy when the head of the government becomes corrupt and unjust. He spoke against corruption and how a government should act based on humanitarian principles. 

The Buddha once said, ‘When the ruler of a country is just and good, the ministers become just and good; when the ministers are just and good, the higher officials become just and good; when the higher officials are just and good, the rank and file become just and good; when the rank and file become just and good, the people become just and good.'(Anguttara Nikaya)

In the Cakkavatti Sihananda Sutta, the Buddha said that immorality and crime, such as theft, falsehood, violence, hatred, cruelty, could arise from poverty. Kings and governments may try to suppress crime through punishment, but it is futile to eradicate crimes through force. 

In the Kutadanta Sutta, the Buddha suggested economic development instead of force to reduce crime. The government should use the country’s resources to improve the economic conditions of the country. It could embark on agricultural and rural development, provide financial support to entrepreneurs and business, provide adequate wages for workers to maintain a decent life with human dignity.

In the Jataka, the Buddha had given to rules for Good Government, known as ‘Dasa Raja Dharma’. These ten rules can be applied even today by any government which wishes to rule the country peacefully. The rules are as follows: 

1) be liberal and avoid selfishness,
2) maintain a high moral character,
3) be prepared to sacrifice one’s own pleasure for the well-being of the subjects,
4) be honest and maintain absolute integrity,
5) be kind and gentle,
6) lead a simple life for the subjects to emulate,
7) be free from hatred of any kind,
8) exercise non-violence,
9) practise patience, and
10) respect public opinion to promote peace and harmony.

Regarding the behavior of rulers, He further advised:
– A good ruler should act impartially and should not be biased and discriminate between one particular group of subjects against another.

– A good ruler should not harbor any form of hatred against any of his subjects.

– A good ruler should show no fear whatsoever in the enforcement of the law, if it is justifiable.

– A good ruler must possess a clear understanding of the law to be enforced. It should not be enforced just because the ruler has the authority to enforce the law. It must be done in a reasonable manner and with common sense. — (Cakkavatti Sihananda Sutta)

In the Milinda Panha,it is stated: ‘If a man, who is unfit, incompetent, immoral, improper, unable and unworthy of kingship, has enthroned himself a king or a ruler with great authority, he is subject to be tortured‚ to be subject to a variety of punishment by the people, because, being unfit and unworthy, he has placed himself unrighteously in the seat of sovereignty. The ruler, like others who violate and transgress moral codes and basic rules of all social laws of mankind, is equally subject to punishment; and moreover, to be censured is the ruler who conducts himself as a robber of the public.’ In a Jataka story, it is mentioned that a ruler who punishes innocent people and does not punish the culprit is not suitable to rule a country. 

The king always improves himself and carefully examines his own conduct in deeds, words and thoughts, trying to discover and listen to public opinion as to whether or not he had been guilty of any faults and mistakes in ruling the kingdom. If it is found that he rules unrighteously, the public will complain that they are ruined by the wicked ruler with unjust treatment, punishment, taxation, or other oppressions including corruption of any kind, and they will react against him in one way or another. On the contrary, if he rules righteously they will bless him: ‘Long live His Majesty.’ (Majjhima Nikaya)

The Buddha’s emphasis on the moral duty of a ruler to use public power to improve the welfare of the people had inspired Emperor Asoka in the Third Century B.C. to do likewise. Emperor Asoka, a sparkling example of this principle, resolved to live according to and preach the Dhamma and to serve his subjects and all humanity. He declared his non-aggressive intentions to his neighbors, assuring them of his goodwill and sending envoys to distant kings bearing his message of peace and non-aggression. He promoted the energetic practice of the socio-moral virtues of honesty, truthfulness, compassion, benevolence, non-violence, considerate behavior towards all, non-extravagance, non-acquisitiveness, and non-injury to animals. He encouraged religious freedom and mutual respect for each other’s creed. He went on periodic tours preaching the Dhamma to the rural people. He undertook works of public utility, such as founding of hospitals for men and animals, supplying of medicine, planting of roadside trees and groves, digging of wells, and construction of watering sheds and rest houses. He expressly forbade cruelty to animals.

He condemned the caste system, recognized the equality of people, spoke on the need to improve socio-economic conditions, recognized the importance of a more equitable distribution of wealth among the rich and the poor, raised the status of women, recommended the incorporation of humanism in government and administration, and taught that a society should not be run by greed but with consideration and compassion for the people. 

But it is only in the human mind that true reform can be effected.  This is why our practice matters.  Reforms imposed by force upon the external world have a very short life because they have no roots. But those reforms which spring as a result of the transformation of man’s inner consciousness remain rooted. 

As we celebrate Independence Day, let’s remember that keeping a democracy remains the duty and obligation of its citizens. At the close of the of the constitutional convention, Ben Franklin was asked “What have we got, a republic or a monarchy?” His famous reply “A republic, if you can keep it,” underscores the ongoing vigilance required to keep a democracy secure and democratic

Does this sound familiar?  

July 4, 2020 – Saturday

The Buddha In Glory
Center of all centers, cores of all cores,
almond self-enclosed and growing sweet —
all this universe, to the furthest stars
and beyond them, is your flesh, your fruit,
Now you feel how nothing clings to you;
your vast shell reaches into endless space,
and there the rich, thick fluids rise and flow.
Illuminated in your infinite peace,
a billion stars go spinning through the night,
blazing high above your head.
But in you is the presence that
will be, when all the stars are dead.
~Rainer Maria Rilke


From Tricycle on July 4, 2020

Freedom Beyond Choice
 Happy Fourth of July! This Independence Day, as our country celebrates its freedom, we’re pausing to reflect on what it truly means to be free. 

America was built on the idea of freedom: the freedom to choose who we are, what we believe, how we live, what we do, and what we own. In our modern consumer culture, we’ve come to equate freedom with the notion of choice. The more choice we have, the more free we are—right? 

That’s not usually how it works out, explains Buddhist writer Ken McLeod. In an essay from the Tricycle archives, McLeod shows how too much choice becomes a trap, ensnaring us in a cycle of reactivity and leading to exhaustion. The more options we have, the more energy we consume in making decisions: Which toothpaste to buy? Which shirt to wear? Which show to watch? Which career path to take? Which spiritual path to commit to? At the extreme, choice makes it possible for us to live inside a cocoon of our own preferences—which can quickly become a prison of our own patterns. 

Actually, it’s often within conditions of restriction or constraint that we find true inner growth and liberation. 

Given the limitations that we currently face in our lives and the world, can we find a greater freedom within ourselves? Read the full essay to learn more.
Read now »



July 3, 2020 – Friday
Where We Are Headed – Rosemerry Wahtola Trommer
At first we just say flower. How
thrilling it is to name. Then it’s
aster. Begonia. Chrysanthemum.

We spend our childhood learning
to separate one thing from another.
Daffodil. Edelweiss. Fern. We learn

which have five petals, which have six.
We say, “This is a gladiolus, this hyacinth.”
And we fracture the world into separate

identities. Iris. Jasmine. Lavender.
Divorcing the world into singular bits.
And then, when we know how to tell

one thing from another, perhaps
at last we feel the tug to see not
what makes things different, but

what makes things the same. Perhaps
we feel the pleasure that comes
when we start to blur the lines—

and once again everything
is flower, and by everything,
I mean everything.

July 2, 2020 – Thursday
The Summer 2020 OBC Journal is an extended issue, this time in response to the Coronavirus pandemic. Ten articles on a range of topics have been offered by monastic and lay authors.  We hope you find this Journal helpful at this challenging time we are all facing.  In addition we have news and photos from some of the temples in the US, Canada, the Netherlands and the UK. These show the creative responses by their priors and sangha to maintain contact and support practice when it has not been possible to physically meet.

July 1, 2020 – Wednesday
The Wave (17 min. Given at Shasta Abbey on September 27th , 2012.) This talk was given this fall during a retreat, the theme of which was Preceptual Communications. The talk was given during formal meditation, the recommended setting for your listening to it.

June 30, 2020 – Tuesday
Transport of the mails, transport of the human voice, transport of flickering pictures — in this century, as in others, our highest accomplishments still have the single aim of bringing men together. Antoine de Saint-Exupery (1900-1944) 

*******
Dogen tells us:  Keep in mind that these palaces were thatched with grass. If we compare ourselves to the Yellow Emperor, Emperor Xiao, or Emperor Shun, the gap is wider than that between heaven and earth.
Ah! Dogen always comes back to our comparing minds!How does your comparing mind impact your practice? How can you work with it differently?  A mind of equanimity is a place of practice.

June 29, 2020 – Monday
Here is the link to the movie Lee mentioned in a recent Dharma Discussion.  We shown this at Shasta Abbey and it is reasonably accurate.  It was filmed with the assistance of the monks at Eihei-ji. Please let me know if you have any questions about it:    Zen – The Life of Zen Master Dogen   It’s in Japanese with English subtitles.

Rev. Mugo at Throssel suggests:  I can do no better this evening than to point you towards a talk Rev. Roland recorded titled Learning How to Live. It is intended for people contemplating taking the Precepts…What remains with me having listened to the talk a couple of days ago is the kind and compassionate addressing of our humanity; habits, attitudes, views formed early (sometimes out of conscious awareness) and in innocence which benefit from tender reflection. The talk is intended for ‘beginners’ but I feel this is good for anybody however much, or little, they know about Buddhist practice.

June 28, 2020 – Sunday
Dogen and Avalokiteshwara and Overwhelm
When Dogen was returning to Japan from China, the ship he was on was caught in a storm. In this instance, the storm became so severe, that the crew feared the ship would sink and kill them all. 

Dōgen then began leading the crew in recitation of chants to Kannon, during which, the Bodhisattva appeared before him, and several of the crew saw her as well.   After the vision appeared, the storm began to calm down, and consensus of those aboard was that they had been saved due to the intervention of the Bodhisattva.  There is a 14th-century copy of a painting of the same Kannon, that was supposedly commissioned by Dōgen, that includes a piece of calligraphy that is possibly an original in Dōgen’s own hand, recording his gratitude to Avalokiteshwara: 

From the single blossom five leaves uncurled: 
Upon one single leaf a Tathagata stood alone. 
Her vow to harmonize our lives is ocean deep, 
As we spin on and on, shouldering our deeds of right and wrong. 
–written by the mendicant monk Dōgen, September 26, 1242.[28][21]

Did this really happen?  Who knows.  But we can all relate to being overwhelmed.

Even the bravest among us, who give their lives to care for others, go numb with fatigue, when the heart can take in no more, when we need time to digest all we meet. 

Overloaded and overwhelmed, we start to pull back from the world, so we can internalize what the world keeps giving us. 

Always, on the inside of our hardness and shyness and numbness is the face of compassion through which we can reclaim our humanity. 

Our compassion waits there to revive us. 

When opened, our heart can touch the Oneness of things we are all a part of. 

Then, we can stand firmly in our being like a windmill of spirit: letting the cries of the world turn us over and over, until our turning generates a power and energy that can be of use in the world.

Overwhelm, in a sense, is a form of Running from the Cries.
Sometimes, being alive is so hard that we think it would be better to avoid all the suffering. But we can’t, anymore than mountains can avoid erosion. And there is a danger in running from the cries of the world.  There is a danger from refusing to stay vulnerable.  We cut ourselves off from others, yes, but more problematically we cut ourselves of from our own Buddha Nature.  We cut ourselves off from ourselves.

But running from what we fear only makes us more violently afraid.  Cutting ourselves off from ourselves makes us even more separate.

This danger is insidious in today’s rush of incessant news coverage twenty-four hours a day. And indeed we can be brought into heartbreaking kinship in a second, as with the September 11th attacks on the World Trade Center in New York City or the horrific death of George Floyd. 

We can be compelled to look at the raw insides of tragedy to glimpse how tenuous our time is on Earth, while being repulsed by the violence that opens such a stark revelation. But if not careful, the endless replaying of tragedy from countless angles can push us over the line till we are overwhelmed.


True connection requires that a part of us dissolves in order to join with what we meet. This is always both painful and a revelation, as who we are is rearranged slightly, so that aliveness beyond us can enter and complete us. 

Each time we suffer, each of us is broken just a little, and each time we love and are loved, each of us is beautifully dissolved, a piece at a time. We break so we can take in aliveness and we dissolve so we can be taken in. 

This breaking and dissolving in order to be joined is the biology of compassion. 

The way that muscles tear and mend each time we exercise to build our strength, the heart suffers and loves. Inevitably, the tears of heartbreak water the heart they come from, and we grow.

Our fear of such breaking and dissolving – our fear of being overwhelmed – keeps us from reaching out, from stopping to help those we see in pain along the way, telling ourselves it’s none of our business. 

This is why it is important to remember that The Scripture of Great Wisdom is a Kanzeon ScriptureIt points us to the law of impermanence, to the ephemeral quality of this thing we call the self.  And it points us to the invitation of compassion, to the invitation to Gate Gate, always going on beyondalways becoming Buddha – without fear of overwhelm.




June 27, 2020 – Saturday
The Many Faces of Compassion Retreat:
Talk 6 The Litany of the Great Compassionate One and Joy.
38 minutes


June 26, 2020 – Friday
The Many Faces of Compassion Retreat:
Talk 5 Awakening the Heart of Compassion
. 36 minutes

Here is a PFD of one of the books recommended for The Many Faces of Compassion Retreat  Step by Step by Maha Ghosananda.

Jack Kornfield’s Preface to this wonderful book gives a sense of why this amazing monk – Maha Ghosananda – is a ture Bodhisattva.

Since I met him more than twenty years ago, Maha Ghosananda has represented to me the essence of sweet generosity and unstoppable courage of heart.

Just to be in his presence, to experience his smile and the infectious loving kindness that flows from him is healing to the spirit.

I have seen Maha Ghosananda in many circumstances: practicing as a forest monk, as a father figure for Cambodian children, as a translator and scholar of fifteen languages, as a meditation master for Western students, as a peacemaker at the United Nations, and as one of the living treasures of Cambodia leading the Khmer refugee communities around the world. In these situations, his heart has remained unfalteringly compassionate and joyful, and he emanates the teachings of simplicity and love. He would and has offered the robe off his back and the food in his bowl to anyone who needs them.

Dome years ago, in the dusty, barren heat of Cambodian refugee camps that hold hundreds of thousands of shell-shocked survivors, I saw the greatness of Maha Ghosananda‟s heart and the Buddha‟s shine as one. In the camps of the Khmer Rouge, where people were warned not to cooperate at the cost of their lives, Maha Ghosananda opened a Buddhist temple. He wanted to bring the Dharma back to these people who had suffered as deeply as any on Earth. In spite of the threats, when the lage bamboo temple was completed, nearly 20,000 refugees gathered to recite again the lost chants of 2,000 years – left behind when their own villages were burned and temples destroyed. Maha Ghosananda chanted to them the traditional chants as thousands wept.

Then it was time to speak, to proclaim the holy Dharma, to bring the teachings of the Buddha to bear witness to the unspeakable sorrows

of their lives. Maha Ghosananda spoke with utmost simplicity to those who had suffered, reciting over and over in ancient the language of the Budhha and in Cambodian this verse from the Dhammapada:

Hatred never ceases by hatred
but by love alone is healed.
This is the ancient and eternal law.

It is this spirit that flows through Maha Ghosananda. If he could come out of this book, he would smile at you or laugh with sparkling joy. Because he cannot, you will find him in these words, the quiet simplicity and truth that underlie his loving presence.

Enjoy these blessings.



June 25, 2020 – Thursday
The Many Faces of Compassion Retreat:
Talk 4 The Great Grief and Loving Kindness
. 40 minutes.

Creating Compassion
Whatever you intend, whatever you plan, and whatever you have a tendency toward, that will become the basis upon which your mind is established. (SN 12.40) Develop meditation on compassion, for when you develop meditation on compassion, any cruelty will be abandoned. (MN 62).  The purpose of compassion is warding off cruelty. (Vm 9.97)

Intention is the forerunner of the mind, guiding us toward the next moment. Intention steers a course through the world, directing our path to tread healthy or unhealthy terrain. However we set our minds in this moment will determine where our mind goes next. Compassion is a choice that we can make over and over, and the result will be the gradual development of a compassionate character.

Cultivate intentions of compassion by encouraging yourself to be aware of the suffering of others and care for their well-being. This does not mean feeling sorry for people or merely hoping they will somehow be better off. Buddhist texts describe compassion as “the trembling of the heart” when witnessing suffering, which gives rise to an intention of caring. Allow your heart to tremble—and to care.


The following short verses might be helpful in expressing compassion in your daily life.  You might find it helpful to create your own.  Please do share them with us, if you would. 

Hand Washing Verse
As I wash my hands I offer merit to all beings in need of the cleansing water of compassion in our daily lives.

Mask Wearing Verse
I wear this mask to express my compassion for all I encounter face-to-face.

Watching the News Verse
As I watch the news I offer merit to ALL beings that we may know True Wisdom and Great Compassion.


June 24, 2020 – Wednesday
The Many Faces of Compassion Retreat:
Talk 3 What Is Compassion? 40 minutes


To understand that others are much like oneself creates a different perspective, a startlingly changed worldview. When this is internalized, you are not confronting another over a divide, but meeting someone with whom you have so much in common. Jeffrey Hopkins

Cultivating Loving Kindness
Whatever you intend, whatever you plan, and whatever you have a tendency toward, that will become the basis upon which your mind is established. (SN 12.40) Develop meditation on loving kindness, for when you develop meditation on loving kindness, all ill will will be abandoned. (MN 62)  The purpose of lovingkindness is warding off ill will. (Vm 9.97)

Our capacity for lovingkindness is one of the great resources we have as human beings. Yes, we can be nasty and feel ill will toward one another, but this can always be replaced by loving kindness, at least in principle. Learning how to do this is both a challenge and an opportunity. Here we are told that if we are able to arouse and maintain a feeling of kindness, our minds will be immune, at least for the time being, from all aversion.

Practice loving kindness, if only as a protection from ill will. It is easy to get annoyed, to be bothered by people and things, to be surly and sour as you go through the day. But this is unhealthy, does not feel good, and infects the people around you. Look instead at others with goodwill and benevolence and kindness, even if this is difficult to do. You will not only release ill will toward others but also shield yourself from others’ ill will toward you.  

June 23, 2020 – Tuesday
The Many Faces of Compassion Retreat:
Talk 2 She Who Hears the Cries of the World
31 minutes

Not always so is a good little phrase to carry around when you’re sure. It gives you an opportunity to look again more carefully and see what other possibilities there might be in the situation. Zenkei Blanche Hartman.

June 24, 2020 – Wednesday
The Many Faces of Compassion Retreat:
Talk 3 What Is Compassion? 40 minutes


To understand that others are much like oneself creates a different perspective, a startlingly changed worldview. When this is internalized, you are not confronting another over a divide, but meeting someone with whom you have so much in common. Jeffrey Hopkins

Cultivating Loving Kindness
Whatever you intend, whatever you plan, and whatever you have a tendency toward, that will become the basis upon which your mind is established. (SN 12.40) Develop meditation on loving kindness, for when you develop meditation on loving kindness, all ill will will be abandoned. (MN 62)  The purpose of lovingkindness is warding off ill will. (Vm 9.97)

Our capacity for lovingkindness is one of the great resources we have as human beings. Yes, we can be nasty and feel ill will toward one another, but this can always be replaced by loving kindness, at least in principle. Learning how to do this is both a challenge and an opportunity. Here we are told that if we are able to arouse and maintain a feeling of kindness, our minds will be immune, at least for the time being, from all aversion.

Practice loving kindness, if only as a protection from ill will. It is easy to get annoyed, to be bothered by people and things, to be surly and sour as you go through the day. But this is unhealthy, does not feel good, and infects the people around you. Look instead at others with goodwill and benevolence and kindness, even if this is difficult to do. You will not only release ill will toward others but also shield yourself from others’ ill will toward you.  

June 23, 2020 – Tuesday
The Many Faces of Compassion Retreat:
Talk 2 She Who Hears the Cries of the World
31 minutes

Not always so is a good little phrase to carry around when you’re sure. It gives you an opportunity to look again more carefully and see what other possibilities there might be in the situation. Zenkei Blanche Hartman.


June 22, 2020 – Monday
The Many Faces of Compassion Retreat:
Talk 1 Turning the Stream of Compassion Within
. 23 minutes

Rev. Master Daishin Yalon  offers teaching on Living Dharma   
 Listen / Download  29 minutes

June 21, 2020 – Sunday
The Many Faces of Compassion Retreat:
Introductory Talk

Rev. Master Shiko Rom  6/21/20      18 min     
With apologies, the first few minutes of this talk were not recorded.


In celebration of the Solstice may I offer the following from Dr. Albert Schweizer:

Sometimes our light goes out, 
but is blown again into instant flame 
by an encounter with another human being. 
Each of us owes the deepest thanks 
to those who have rekindled this inner light.


Rev. Master Koten Benson, Prior of Lions Gate Buddhist Priory writes: Dear Friends, Recently, I have given several Dharma talks during retreats on the meaning of the various daily scriptures in plain language. Some people have found it helpful and urged me to write the talks out so others could read them. The following, on the Kanzeon Scripture, is the result and I hope to do more if they are useful to people.

Kanzeon Scripture
Why is Great Compassion so important to training that it is called the very offspring and heir of the Buddha? Just Listen:

Great Compassion responds to all beings and situations without exception. It produces and comes forth from deep commitment to training ourselves. It is essential to understanding and practicing the teaching of all the Buddhas.

When people hear about Great Compassion, look for its manifestations in their lives and cherish it within their own hearts, then everything is transformed.

If events should overwhelm you, pushing you towards suffering and pain, bring to mind, practice and realize Great Compassion and that situation will be transformed and you will be able to be still no matter what happens.

If you are drifting, without purpose, and life seems to be about to drown you, remember, think on, bring to mind and call upon Great Compassion and you will see compassion in the situation and be able to stay afloat.

If circumstances cast you down and there seems no way to get up, bring to mind, remember and practice great compassion and you will be lifted up.

If you fall and hurt yourself on the rocks of life, remember again Great Compassion and let go of the hurt and continue on.

If surrounded by threatening events and people who wish you harm, call upon, bring to mind and practice Great Compassion and the minds of those people will change for the better.

When you are persecuted by events and there is no way out, think on, remember the great power of compassion and a way through will appear.

If tied up and chained down by events, frustrated, unable to escape, bear in mind and remember compassion and it will free you.

When others spread poison about you or try to manipulate you, call upon, practice and rely on Great Compassion and they will be unable to do you any real harm.

If evil should come, terrifying you, rely on the strength of Great Compassion and it will be unable to have any power over you.

When anger or desire threaten to overwhelm you, remember, hold fast to, and take refuge in compassion and you will be able to be still in the midst of it.

When you cannot see what is good to do because of overwhelming distractions, think on, remember and take refuge in Great Compassion and the sky will clear.

If struck by unfairness and disaster or pain you cannot bear, remember, take refuge in and practice compassion and you will be able to go on.

The power of Great Compassion is miraculous, can be applied in all situations, in all worlds, everywhere. There is no place where it cannot manifest itself ­ hellish, bestial, evil, pain. In all circumstances and mental states compassion can be applied.

To view things in this way and take refuge in compassion is not delusion or wishful thinking but seeing things as they really are, in Truth, free from confusion, full of love for all beings.

Great Compassion must always be remembered, prayed to, thought upon throughout our entire lives. She is Pure Light, Wisdom dispelling all darkness, overcoming all obstacles. When the entire universe is shaking She sits still and pours out Great Compassion on the entire world, putting out the fires.

When the news of the world grieves and oppresses us, think on the power of Great Compassion and remember that nothing can resist the power of Compassion.

When we listen for the call of Great Compassion in our lives we will hear the exquisite, powerful and incomparable Voice of kindness and clarity and stillness above all the clamor and din of the world.

Because of all of this we should have faith in and remember Great Compassion, a true, holy refuge in all grief, trouble and disaster, even in the face of death and destruction.

Great Compassion can never be exhausted, is full of merits and virtues. Because of this She must forever be adored.

They who hear this Teaching about Great Compassion and remember to practice it will receive inestimable merit because here the power of Great Compassion is described and explained. The life of Compassion, endowed with all miraculous power, appears everywhere.

The power of this teaching on Great Compassion causes those who truly listen to and practice it to want to go all the way on this incomparable Path to the Unborn.



June 20, 2020 – Saturday Dogen wrote in Bendowa: 
After many years a monk from the assembly of Yanquan went to the mountain looking for wood to make a staff. He lost his way and after a while found himself in front of Fachang’s hut. 

Sometimes we think we are lost and yet our lives have found our way to exactly where we need to practice.  How can you be curious about what door you are in front of now and knock?  The intimacy of not-knowing is a place of practice.

June 19, 2020 – Friday.
Refraining from False Speech is unhealthy. Refraining from false speech is healthy. (MN 9) Abandoning false speech, one dwells refraining from false speech, a truth-speaker, one to be relied on, trustworthy, dependable, not a deceiver of the world. One does not in full awareness speak falsehood for one’s own ends or for another’s ends or for some trifling worldly end. (DN 1) One practices thus: “Others may speak falsely, but I shall abstain from false speech.”  (MN 8). When one knows covert speech to be true and correct but unbeneficial, one should try not to utter it. (MN 139)

The main thing to look at when deciding if it is appropriate to speak or not is whether what you are saying is likely to be beneficial. Yes, it is important to speak the truth, but even when something is true it may not always be helpful to say it. By beneficial what is meant is, will it help a person move away from what is unhealthy and point them toward what is healthy? If so, then by all means speak up; if not, try to keep silent.
Be careful what you whisper to others, making sure it is not a subtle form of false speech. Even if what you are saying is true, the fact that it is spoken in secret or covertly suggests there may be something about it unsuited to the light of day. Better to speak only what can be said openly whenever possible. Just ask yourself as you are about to speak: Is this helpful? Will this contribute in a beneficial way?

June 18, 2020 – Thursday
Understanding the Noble Truth of Suffering
When people have met with suffering and become victims of suffering, they come to me and ask me about the noble truth of suffering. Being asked, I explain to them the noble truth of suffering. (MN 77) What is suffering? (MN 9). Despair is suffering. The trouble and despair, the tribulation and desperation of one who has encountered some misfortune or is affected by some painful state. (MN 9)

We don’t need to look deeply to understand what this text is pointing to. The human condition is laced with despair, as people regularly encounter misfortune and are constantly affected by painful states. The goal of these teachings and practices is not to avoid the difficult aspects of life but to see them clearly, understand them thoroughly, and pass through them (rather than around them) to the peace lying on the other side.

When you encounter despair, do not be afraid of it and do not try to push it away or hide from it. It is just a mental state, just a passing condition of the mind and of the emotional life. It is okay to turn toward it and examine it, because that is just what is happening right now. Take heart in the knowledge that the Buddha is only pointing us toward suffering because he will go on to show how it can be brought to an end.

June 17, 2020 – Wednesday
He drew a circle that shut me out –
Heretic, rebel, a thing to flout.
But love and I had the wit to win:
We drew a circle and took him in!
Edwin Markham

Rev. Master Koten has offered the a contemporary translation of the Litany of Avalokiteshwara – Why is Great Compassion?  

June 16, 2020 – Tuesday
Primary Wonder – Denise Levertov
Days pass when I forget the mystery.
Problems insoluble and problems offering
their own ignored solutions
jostle for my attention, they crowd its antechamber
along with a host of diversions, my courtiers, wearing
their colored clothes; cap and bells.
And then
once more the quiet mystery
is present to me, the throng’s clamor
recedes: the mystery
that there is anything, anything at all,
let alone cosmos, joy, memory, everything,
rather than void: and that, O Lord,
Creator, Hallowed One, You still,
hour by hour sustain it. 

June 15, 2020 – Monday
 Rainer Maria Rilke said: Be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves, like locked rooms and like books that are now written in a very foreign tongue. Do not now seek the answers, which cannot be given you because you would not be able to live them. And the point is, to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps you will then gradually, without noticing it, live along some distant day into the answer.

June 14, 2020 – Sunday Dharma Talk
On Compassion
Compassion and wisdom are at the heart of the path of the Buddha. In the early Buddhist stories we find young men and women asking the same questions we ask today: How can we respond to the suffering that is woven into the very fabric of life? How can we discover a heart that is truly liberated from fear, anger, and alienation? Is there a way to discover a depth of wisdom and compassion that can genuinely make a difference in this confused and destructive world?

We may be tempted to see compassion as a feeling, an emotional response we occasionally experience when we are touched by an encounter with acute pain our own, those we love, and the society around us. 

In these moments of openness, the layers of our defenses crumble; intuitively we feel an immediacy of response and we glimpse the power of connection, of nonseparation. Milarepa, a great Tibetan sage, expressed this when he said, “Just as I instinctively reach out to touch and heal a wound in my leg as part of my own body, so too I reach out to touch and heal the pain in another as part of this body.” 

The Bodhisattva of Compassion – that “personalized” expression of compassion -is Avalokiteshwara.  Her Sanskrit name means She Who Hears the Cries of the World.  She is known in China as Kwan Yin, and in Japan as Kanzeon.Her name tells us about the unfolding of compassion.

First, it is important that we “cry” for help.  A corollary to this – for us as bodhisattvas – is to make the space for some else to feel safe enough to “cry” for help or to encourage them to trust enough to “cry” for help.  Vulnerability and honesty, seeing clearly – these are an essential part of compassion. Second, it is important to see that listening – truly hearing – is foundational to the process of compassion.

First, to “cry”.  Is this part of our practice? The Scripture that we will sing next week at our Festival of Avalokiteshwara – the Scripture of Avalokiteshwara Bodhisattva – is a chapter from the Lotus Sutra.  It details some of the situations we might find ourselves in and underscores that “…there is not a place where Kanzeon does not go…”

Great Kanzeon views all the world in Truth, free from defilement, loving, knowing all, full of compassion;  all the world – compassion exists everywhere.  Yes, everywhere.  It is said that the kindest Kanzeon is found in hell.

He must always be prayed to…we need to ask.  This may be obvious, but so often our self-image requires that we “handle it ourselves” or that we choose to ignore our pain or…

The second aspect I’d like to explore today is listening – truly hearing.  “Listen” comes from the Old English word that means “pay attention to”.

To cultivate the willingness to listen deeply to sorrow wherever we meet it is to take the first step on the journey of compassion. Our capacity to listen follows on the heels of this willingness. We may make heroic efforts in our lives to shield ourselves from the anguish that can surround us and live within us, but in truth a life of avoidance and defense is one of anxiety and painful separation.

This is mindfully witnessing the suffering of others (and our own).  It is the willingness to patiently accompany another in their time of suffering with care and awareness—while realizing it is not one’s own, despite feeling empathic distress—may be the necessary means for discovering how we can best help that person. (Fleet Maull,“From Empathy to Compassion”

Another form of this is the willingness to Stay on it:     The 17 year old girl who kept filming the death of George Floyd.  She focused all her attention on this horrific event with the consequent outpouring of Achalanatha’s form of compassion.

A corollary of that is Show up – be fully present – “…you weep in all the sorrows of the world.  Rejoice in all its joys…”

And yet another form of this is the mantra of we say at the close of the Scripture of Great Wisdom:  Going, going, going on beyond…always becoming Buddha…

Because of this our thoughts must dwell upon Him.  Our practice asks us to be constantly mindful of compassion.

One line from this Scripture that I hold onto is this:  let us never cherish thoughts of doubt about great Kanzeon who is all pure and holy and a refuge true, protecting in all grief, in trouble, death, disaster…

No matter how hard we try, we can’t make ourselves feel compassionate. But we can incline our hearts toward compassion. In one of the stories in the early Buddhist literature, the ascetic Sumedha reflects on the vast inner journey required to discover unshakeable wisdom and compassion. He describes compassion as a tapestry woven of many threads: generosity, virtue, renunciation, wisdom, energy, patience, truthfulness, determination, loving-kindness, and equanimity. When we embody all of these in our lives, we develop the kind of compassion that has the power to heal suffering.

A few years ago, an elderly monk arrived in India after fleeing from prison in Tibet. Meeting with the Dalai Lama, he recounted the years he had been imprisoned, the hardship and beatings he had endured, the hunger and loneliness he had lived with, and the torture he had faced.

At one point the Dalai Lama asked him, “Was there ever a time you felt your life was truly in danger?”

The old monk answered, “In truth, the only time I truly felt at risk was when I felt in danger of losing compassion for my jailers.”

Shantideva, a deeply compassionate master who taught in India in the eighth century, said, “Whatever you are doing, be aware of the state of your mind. Accomplish good; this is the path of compassion.” 

May I suggest you find a mantra, perhaps Shantideva’s quote or perhaps directly from the Scripture of Avalokiteshwara, perhaps one of your own making.  I will post ththe full scripture on the etree and on our Sangha Resources page.  It is also available in the Book of Ceremonies.

I’ll close with the Offertory from the Great Compassion Vigil

Wholeheartedly do we recite these Scriptures. 
We offer the merits thereof,
candles, flowers and fruit
to Avalokiteshwara, the Great Bodhisattva,
of Universal Compasssion, Who is our example. 
Whenever these Scriptures are recited 
Great Compassion is with us
and we are searching for It within ourselves. 
We pray for peace in all the world;
we pray that suffering may be overcome by compassion and benevolence;
we pray for peace and healing in our country, 
and for the cessation of all disaster.
We pray that all beings be free from suffering 
and that all the peoples of this world realize
the heart of Great Compassion. 


June 13, 2020 – Saturday
Ultimately, work on self is inseparable from work in the world. Each mirrors the other; each is a vehicle for the other. When we change ourselves, our values and actions change as well.  Charles Eisenstein

…from Dogen’s Continuous Practice:
Zhaozhou became abbot after receiving dharma transmission in his eighties. This was correct transmission of the true dharma. People called him Old Buddha. Those who have not yet received true transmission of the dharma are lightweights compared with Zhaozhou. Those of you who are younger than eighty may be more active than Zhaozhou. But how can you younger lightweights be equal to him even in his old age? Keeping this in mind, you should strive in the path of continuous practice.
During the forty years Zhaozhou taught, he did not store worldly property. There was not a grain of rice in the monastery. So the monks would pick up chestnuts and acorns for food, and they would adjust the meal time to fit the situation. Indeed this was the spirit of the dragons and elephants of the past. You should long for such practice.


How can you adjust your practice according to the situation of your life? Embodying the spirit of dragons and elephants is a place of practice. 

June 12, 2020 – Friday
Rev. Helen offered reflections on Bodhidharma’s Four Practices as part of a retreat given to the Bear River Meditation Group in 2015. These teachings have great resonance five years later:

Suffering Injustice 

Adapting to Conditions 

Seeking Nothing 

Practicing the Dharma 

June 11, 2020 – Thursday
It is said that “…At another time Mahakāshyapa looked exhausted because of his ascetic practices and the monks looked down on him. Then the Tathāgata graciously called Mahakāshyapa up to him and offered him half of his seat. Thus Mahākashyapa sat on the Tathāgata’s seat. You should know that Mahākāshyapa was the most senior monk in the assembly of the Buddha. It is impossible to list all the practices of his lifetime.”
How can you share your space and be shoulder to shoulder with those who are weary? Think creatively: zooming, skype, facetime, telephone.
Feeling helpless without falling into helplessness is a place of practice

In our recent Dharma Discussion we referenced Rev. Master Daizui McPhillamy’s Dharma Talk Radical Sobriety.  He gave it at Shasta Abbey on New Years Day 2000.  (https://shastaabbey.org/audio/dmradical.mp3)

June 10, 2020 – Wednesday
Practicing mindful awareness of…our conditioning and habits of the mind helps us to know what we are up against within ourselves as we seek to make change in the world.    Rhonda Magee Making the Invisible Visible
Rhonda Magee also is the author of The Inner Work of Racial Justice.

Does Race Matter in the Meditation Hall – Fall, 2004 https://tricycle.org/magazine/does-race-matter-meditation-hall/


June 9, 2020 – Tuesday

The Invocation for the Removal of Disasters

Adoration to all the Buddhas. 
Adoration to the limitless Teaching. 
Peace! Speak! Blaze! Up! Open! 
To the glorious, peaceful One,
For whom there is no disaster,  
Hail!, Hail! 

June 8 , 2020 – Monday
Honor the space between no longer and not yet.
NANCY LEVIN

A Room Jane Hirshfield
A room does not turn its back on grief.
Anger does not excite it.
Before desire, it neither responds
nor draws back in fear.

Without changing expression,
it takes
and gives back;
not a tuft in the mattress alters.

Windowsills evenly welcome
both heat and cold.
Radiators speak or fall silent as they must.

Doors are not equivocal,
floorboards do not hesitate or startle.
Impatience does not stir the curtains,
a bed is neither irritable nor rapacious.

Whatever disquiet we sense in a room
we have brought there.

And so I instruct my ribs each morning,
pointing to hinge and plaster and wood –

You are matter, as they are.
See how perfectly it can be done.
Hold, one day more, what is asked.


June 7 , 2020 – Sunday
We read Dogen’s Rules For Meditation as part of our Ceremony today. The Dharma Talk was on The Magnanimous Mind:   

The protests continue.  We’re still social distancing.  We’re facing the onslaught of fear-based messages and divisive communications – spoken and unspoken. May I suggest today we explore what Great Master Dogen calls “the magnanimous mind”.

Magnanimous is derived from the Latin magnus – great and animus – soul.  We can see a parallel with the Japanese daishin  dai – great and shin – heart/mind.  It has several meanings:  very generous or forgiving, especially toward a rival or someone less powerful than oneself, as well as generous, charitable, benevolent, beneficent, big-hearted, handsome, princely, altruistic, philanthropic, unselfish, noble.

So how do we understand “The Magnanimous Mind”?  In his Tenzo Kyokun – Instructions for the Chief Cook,  Dogen describes it this way: 

So-called great mind is, in its spirit, like a great mountain or a great sea: 
it has no partiality and no factionalism. 
Lifting an ounce, it does not consider it light’
hefting a stone, it does not consider it heavy…
It views pennyweights and ounces of silver within the context of a single system of measurement. As an emblem of this sameness, we can write the character “great.” 

The Japanese character for “great” should not be understood as comparatively bigger than something else; that would limit its scope. If your mind is related to something outside itself, it is small mind. Instead we should understand “great” as that which contains all things; it is the “mind that exhausts all of the world in the ten directions.” 

We root ourselves in this mind when we let go of our thoughts, and return to the simple awareness of ourselves. When we let go of our thoughts and discriminations, when we stop thinking in terms of big and small, right and wrong, good and evil, heaven and hell, and so on, we are left with the fundamental interconnectedness of all things—we are left with our true self or great mind.

In his Instructions to the Chief Cook, Dogen says “Having a magnanimous mind means being unprejudiced and refusing to take sides.” In the Rules for Meditation we read this morning, Dogen says that meditation is a dropping off body and mind or letting go of the opposites. So for Dogen, meditation is magnanimous mind.  This is worth repeating.  Meditation is magnanimous mind. 

When we experience big mind or meditation, we are able to live our lives to the fullest by accepting everything that is, without limitations of any kind. There is no superior or inferior, good circumstance or bad. Thus, we are able to handle whatever comes our way with a deep sense of equanimity. 

This is very important. If we find ourselves in Hell, we don’t dream of getting out and going to heaven—we just meet whatever we encounter with wholehearted mind and body, without any partiality or prejudice. We just accept what is, whatever is, as the expression of the life force of the universe. To judge it one way or another is to add something extra. Our practice is not to add anything. When we sit, we just sit. When we cook, we just cook. 

Dogen says that the Tenzo often receives a lots of complaints about the food—the ingredients may be to plain or the portions may be too small or too large—but if he has big mind, he is able to accept it wholeheartedly. Suzuki Roshi once said that the Tenzo must accept all the complaints he or she receives with a smile. But, after pausing for a moment, he added that you must not smile too much or the monks might get even more angry. Because big mind is the full embodiment of human nature, it understands every aspect of our psyches. 

In magnanimous mind, we see the entire universe in ourselves. 

We see eternity in each moment and experience heaven and earth in each breath. 

In “YobutsuYuibutsu – Only a Buddha and Buddha” from the Shobogenzo, Dogen says “The practice of Buddha takes place in the company of the entire great earth and all sentient beings. Practice that does not exhaust all is not that of Buddha.” 

This is what our practice invites us to.  This is the intention if “Right Intention”.  This is the vow we make when we take the Precepts.  In this way we live our lives in accordance with the entire earth and all beings. 

Yes.  We are perfect just as we are AND we can use a little improvement. As it says in the Kyojukaimon “…the Wheel of the Dharma lacks for nothing, and needs something…”

So let me say it again:  Meditation is magnanimous mind. 

And what implications does this have for us in this time of protest and civil unrest?   

How will this understanding help us as we face the massive systemic change these days call forth?

And what does this mean as we face the expectations and pressures that are rife in Redding in June, 2020?

Let’s go back to the Rules for Meditation

“…all you have to do is…”

and I’d suggest that all you have to do is remember that you don’t stop meditating when you get off your cushion.  

You ARE meditating when you see your anger and choose to offer merit.

You ARE meditating when you feel the overwhelming Great Grief visible, yes, and almost tangible, in these difficult days. 

And you ARE meditating in the moments of kindness that are there even in the worst of the violence – the kindness that Rev. Master Jiyu calls the little moments that make one dance.  They ARE there.

“…if you do these things for some time, you will become as herein described, and then the Treasure House will open naturally and you will enjoy it fully.”

June 6 , 2020 – Saturday
Thanks to all twelve of you who participated in the Priory Board Meeting on Saturday, June 6.  We reviewed the Priory’s operations and finances since our last Board Meeting on March 8.  Though the Priory building is not open, the life of the Priory continues in many and rich ways.  Thanks to all who support this work with financial donations (yes, PayPal works!), donations of supplies and odd treats, and donations of time in creating and maintaining the Priory gardens and yards, as well as the technical support provided and help with the Priory car.  Most of all, though, many thanks go to all of you who are maintaining and deepening your practice – sitting more regularly, finding more space for kindness in your life, and keeping the precepts in more nuanced ways.

We had a good discussion of the hows and whens of reopening the Priory.  Two working groups were created. One will explore more specifically what is needed before we reopen the Priory building and when it would be good to open. I look forward to seeing the groups’ recommendations in the next while and will share them when I do.

I’m very grateful that we continue to train together in the midst of so many changes. With gratitude, Rev. Helen 

June 5 , 2020 – Friday
You and Art 
William Stafford 

Your exact errors make a music
that nobody hears.
Your straying feet find the great dance, 
walking alone.
And you live on a world where stumbling 
always leads home. 

Year after year fits over your face – 
when there was youth, your talent 
was youth;
later, you find your way by touch 
where moss redeems the stone; 

and you discover where music begins 
before it makes any sound, 
far in the mountains where canyons go
still as the always-falling, ever-new flakes of snow 

Roshi Joan Halifax of the Upaya Zen Center offers this perspective on Wise Hope in the Time of the Pandemic:

Hope always bothered me. It just did not seem very Buddhist to hope. And, for many today, being hopeful seems worse than futile, as we find ourselves in the midst of a global pandemic, where thousands are dying, world economies are crashing, the medical system is facing unprecedented challenges, clinicians are confronted with moral dilemmas that are heart breaking, and the climate catastrophe continues to unfold. Zen master Shunryu Suzuki Roshi once said that life is “like stepping onto a boat which is about to sail out to sea and sink.” Indeed we seem to be sinking. And having this sinking feeling coloring my world, I could not utter the word “hope” without feeling like I was betraying reality.

But last year, oddly enough, I became hopeful, and decided I wanted to look at hope more closely. I began my exploration with looking at what hope is not. It became clear to me that hope is not the belief that everything will turn out well. People die. Populations die out. Civilizations die. Planets die. Stars die. Recalling the words of Suzuki Roshi, the boat is going to sink! If we look, we see the evidence of suffering, of injustice, of futility, of desolation, of harm, of ending all around us, and even within us. This virus, for example, is a strong case in point. Who knew? Certainly not most of us………
But we have to understand that hope is not a story based on optimism, that everything will be ok. Optimists imagine that everything will turn out positively. I have come to consider this point of view dangerous; being an optimist means one doesn’t have to bother; one doesn’t have to act. Also, if things don’t turn out well, cynicism or futility often follow. Hope of course is also opposed to the narrative that everything is getting worse, the position that pessimists take. Pessimists take refuge in depressive apathy or apathy driven by cynicism. And, as we might expect, both optimists and pessimists are excused from engagement.

So, what is it to be hopeful and not optimistic? The American novelist Barbara Kingsolver explains it this way: “I have been thinking a lot lately about the difference between being optimistic and being hopeful. I would say that I’m a hopeful person, although not necessarily optimistic. Here’s how I would describe it. The pessimist would say, ‘It’s going to be a terrible winter; we’re all going to die.’ The optimist would say, ‘Oh, it’ll be all right; I don’t think it’ll be that bad. The hopeful person would say, ‘Maybe someone will still be alive in February, so I’m going to put some potatoes in the root cellar just in case.’ … Hope is ….a mode of resistance…. a gift I can try to cultivate.”

If we look at hope through the lens of Buddhism, we discover that wise hope is born of radical uncertainty, rooted in the unknown and the unknowable. And we are sure in the vise of a radically uncertain time. But really, how could we ever know what is going to happen? Yes, experts are modeling the future, but they are not making the future. And these models can lead us astray.

Potatoes in the cellar, I thought…. that is a hope as a manifestation of wisdom and caring, and it is also an expression of resistance to futility and sappy positivity. This kind

of hope, what I call “wise hope” requires that we open ourselves to what we do not know, what we cannot know; that we open ourselves to being surprised, perpetually surprised. And I think that wise hope emerges from deep inside the preconscious only through the spaciousness of radical uncertainty, of surprise.

It’s when we discern courageously, and at the same time realize we don’t know what will happen that wise hope comes alive. In the midst of improbability and possibility is where the imperative to act rises up. Wise hope is not seeing things unrealistically but rather seeing things as they are, including the truth of impermanence…. as well as the truth of suffering—both its existence and the possibility of its transformation, for better or for worse.

Wise hope also reflects the understanding that what we do matters, even though how and when it may matter, who and what it may impact, are not things we can really know beforehand. Ultimately, we cannot know what will unfold from our actions now or in the future; yet we can trust that things will change; they always do. But our vows, our actions, how we live, what we care about, what we care for, and how we care really do matter all the same.

Yet often we become paralyzed by the belief that there is nothing to hope for—that our patient’s diagnosis is a one-way street with no exit, that our political situation is beyond repair, that our medical system is brokem, that there is no way out of our climate crisis, or the global crisis we are facing as the wave of this virus captures more and more in its tow. We might feel that nothing makes sense anymore, or that we have no power and there’s no reason to act.

I often say that there should be just two words over the door of our Zen temple in Santa Fe: Show up! One might ask why would I want these words over the door of our temple, when despair, defeatism, cynicism, skepticism, and the apathy of forgetting are fed by the corroding effect of conventional hopelessness. Yes, suffering is present. We cannot deny it. As I am writing this, another five thousand people have died of the covid-19. Who were they? Who loved these recently deceased? Who might have been infected by them? How will they be remembered?

Wise hope doesn’t mean denying the realities that we are confronted with today. It means facing them, addressing them, and remembering what else is present, like the powerful shifts in our values that recognize and move us to address suffering right now. Seven hundred years ago, in Japan, Zen Master Keizan wrote: “Do not find fault with the present.”. He invites us to see it, not flee it!

This gift of life that I have called “wise hope” is rooted in our vows and is what Zen Master Dogen means when he admonishes us to “give life to life,” even if it’s just one dying person at a time, one caregiver at a time, one child at a time, one life at a time.

As Buddhists, we share a common aspiration to awaken from our own confusion, from greed, and from anger in order to free others from suffering. For many of us, this aspiration is not a “small self” improvement program. The Bodhisattva Vows at the heart of the Mahayana tradition are, if nothing else, a powerful expression of radical and wise hope and hope against all odds. This kind of hope is free of desire, free from any attachment to outcome; it is a species of hope that is victorious over fear. What else could be the case as we chant: Creations are numberless, I vow to free them. Delusions are inexhaustible, I vow to transform them. Reality is boundless, I vow to perceive it. The awakened way is unsurpassable, I vow to embody it.Indeed, may we embody it……….. accompanied by wise hope.

June 4 , 2020 – Thursday
Leo Tolstoy, the noted Russian writer and philosopher who lived from 1828 to 1910, said this: I sit on a man’s back, choking him and making him carry me, and yet assure myself and others that I am very sorry for him and wish to ease his lot by all possible means — except by getting off his back. 


June 3 , 2020 – Wednesday
Five Thoughts Revisited
Below is a portion of a blog post from five years ago. I’d previously  published it in an altered form in the Journal of the Orderof Buddhist Contemplatives.    Current thoughts I’ve added in this color.
Before every meal I say the “Five Thoughts”, a portion of the formal mealtime ceremony in Soto Zen. I say the 5 Thoughts to put my life into perspective. It is one of several ritual observances that I find helpful and comforting on a daily basis.
Before I begin eating, I arrange my food so that it is tidily in front of me. If utensils are required I put the main one on the opposite side of the food plate from me, with the handle pointing away from me. This is to indicate that I am willing to share my food with others.
I then recite:We must think deeply of the ways and means by which this food has come.We must consider our merit when accepting it.We must protect ourselves from error by excluding greed from our minds.We will eat lest we become lean and die. We accept this food so that we may become enlightened.“We must think deeply of the ways and means by which this food has come.”   This first thought has to do with truly looking at the food we are having, seeing it for what it is, where it came from and how it got here. It also invites us to look at the forms of life that have to die in order for us to have sustenance. It asks that we pay attention to this food in front of us as if it is our last meal, and to honor the life that was taken/given to provide us with the where-with-all to continue our own life.
I may also reflect on the plates and chairs and tables and the people I’m eating with. How they got here? How I got here?
One can indeed go very deep with this first thought about food.We are not asked to think of all of these things each and every time we eat but we are asked to recognize the reminder that there is more going on than “fueling the machine”. There are of course times when we do indeed ponder deeply this idea of our actual lives in reference to other lives. Those that are eaten and those that do the eating.
We are asked to see interdependence as the only way that we can live, grow, survive, learn and be aware of what it takes to be alive.This is the way to compassion for all living things.
Without their offering, we just wouldn’t be. Here.  Furthermore, it enjoins us to not be wasteful with these lives that have been offered .
   It is also a good starting point for practicing this view in relation to all of the things that come into our lives. Just substitute anything for “food”. People, places, things, the phenomena of our world; of our minds, our bodies and how they change; sometimes, just as we thought we’ve learned the “truth”of the matter. It is always good to reflect that we can learn the truth of the matter, much more thoroughly if we see the change as an inherent part of all existence. Change is a major component of the truth. A component not all of it.
2nd of Five Thoughts…The main aspect of “Merit” is that it is boundless and in that way an active component of Compassion (Love), which is the gathering and expanding (breathing) aspect of the whole Universe. I think of Merit as a “mass”, which is being acted upon by Compassion a “gravity”, a universal force which we can see and feel the effects of.  Yes, science can describe, measure, and in a small way, manipulate the forces of “gravity”, but can’t explain the what, why and how it actually works. The same can be said of Compassion. The only thing we can say for sure is it’s a good thing that seems to help keep everything together and moving in the right direction.
”We must consider our merit when accepting it.”This speaks to our awareness of ourselves in relation to our food and to the type of life we are living; our way in the world. How are we in it? The concept of “merit” in Buddhism touches on a lot of things.
It can mean the good karma that can result when we are careful in how we treat others and ourselves.  It can mean the merit of having been born in a human body.  It can mean the merit of once having heard the teaching, to undertake to learn it and apply it.  It can mean the merit of having a comfortable life with people and other beings we love that are in it.  It can mean the merit of recognizing ourselves as humans who make mistakes, but want to do better.
Perhaps this “thought” can be a way of asking ourselves a question such as;  “All in all, as I see my life today; I’m extremely fortunate to be in this situation. My life is good and I want to be sure and live it adhering to principles that are based on kindness and compassion. Am I doing my best in this regard?”  In other words, am I worthy of consuming other living things so that I may continue to live?Kind of harsh.Still. A good question.
As we consider our merit we want to be alert and not judge ourselves, to look at ourselves calmly and dispassionately.If we don’t like what we see, we may want to change some things, or at least be willing to.
Since we say these verses several times a day it is not possibleor even good, to dwell too much on the questions that arise.For me, it’s better to have them nearer, rather than further from my awareness.This “merit”, which is boundless and I’m the benefactor of, is something that I can also make alive by consciously offering it to others or myself; to situations, to states of mind, or just to help any confusion or misunderstanding. This offering of merit is akin to the proper use of prayer (as I understand it), in the Abrahamic traditions. We are asking for unspecified help that will be useful on a spiritual level. We often don’t sense when we are getting the help because it arrives at the heart level.
3rd of Five Thoughts…The excluding greed part may initially just consist of cutting back a little on our greeds and indulgences. We are trying to change in accordance with Right View and Right Understanding and Right Effort. This means being practical and not harsh or extreme in our efforts to change. I like to formulate it as refraining from doing something and then using restraint and then after some effort the activity or greed is naturally excluded.
“We must protect ourselves from error by excluding greed from our minds”This third thought, at its most basic level addresses our attitude towards that food and eating in general.Wanting too much. Wanting only “good” food. Wanting food we like. Wasting food when we have put too much on our plate. To make eating a central part of our daily existence, etc;Lots of mistakes come from being greedy about food and drink.This thought also questions our other desires; i.e. wanting approval, sex, relationships, money, status and the myriad other natural inclinations that can tip into greed or overindulgence.Many mistakes come from being greedy in those areas.So, greed is a problem; but also our trying to exclude greed from our minds can be problematic.Some examples are the alcoholic, the over eater, the sexual compulsive, and those other categories where we overly and overtly indulge, often to our detriment. Ask anyone with those issues how easy they are to control, even when they are aware of them.In Buddhist practice the way we can approach these “greed” aspects of ourselves, is to be willing to look at and try to change the behavior, without being harsh and judgmental to ourselves, by attempting to actively refrain from indulging in them.
When we make these efforts over a period of time we often find some relief. Willingness seems to be the key. There are other greed’s that can be very tricky because they seem to be good greed’s.Spiritual greed. Do-gooder/helper greed. Greed for justice and fairness, etc;  We have lots of historical examples of those greed’s getting out of hand.
In the Five Thoughts, we are looking at greed’s that cause personal difficulties. Those greed’s that come between us and a healthier body, a healthier mind, better relations with other people and with our families.  The greed’s that come between us and The Eternal, or our higher sense of purpose.
Like the previous two “thoughts” there is a whole range of meaning and fruitful endeavor to be considered in the activities of our lives.These “Thought” questions bring up feelings of insurmountability at times, but in the greater context of “Today I undertake to train myself to refrain from…..”, they are logical challenges to be faced and they become part of the woof and warp of daily life; just like getting gas for the car, tending to plumbing problems, brushing my teeth and generally “getting on with it”.  Within all of these daily efforts moments of pure joy can just arise.
Through these mundane small endeavors a sense of sufficiency, adequacy and contentment can appear, and those three results are a more stable base from which to approach daily life rather than seeking mere circumstantial happiness.
4th of Five Thoughts…Although this 4th Thought is aimed at the practice of depriving oneself of good health through extreme physical practices, it is also an invitation to take a good look at our relationship that we have with our physical self. Meditation is primarily a method of using our minds (Our six senses; taste, smell, hearing, seeing, feeling and consciousness (the latter being a Huffington Post-like aggregator of the other “news” that the body sends to the mind), to become aware of how we relate to ourselves, to others and to the world we exist in. What are getting from our food? How are we using food?
” We will eat lest we become lean and die”The Buddha during his early years followed many aesthetic practices to his physical detriment. One of his realizations concerning the Middle Way was that it also applied to nourishment and being aware of the physical body. That to deprive or hurt the body did nothing to bring one closer to the truth; it is not necessary to be uncomfortable in order to make progress in the spiritual life. There’s plenty of discomfort (mental) coming up as one delves deeper anyway.This thought reminds us that we must nourish ourselves properly and to take good care of ourselves, We must not be too greedy (#3) nor must we be too abstemious in our food intake. The middle path is the way.
In some Buddhist traditions, like the Theravaden schools, they do not eat after the noon hour. In our tradition we practice the “medicine meal” which is a light optional repast in the evening so that one doesn’t go to bed hungry.  The main idea is not to drift into either extreme. This hold true in all things. The Buddhist trainee tries to adhere to the middle in all things. For most of us it’s probably a good idea to…Eat! (Not too much).Enjoy! (Not too much).Be Content! (as much as possible).
The activity of practicing of adequacy, sufficiency, and contentment are always good boundary guides in the development of Right View, which is the first step on the Eight-fold Path.We need to have a sense of where, and why, we are going before we set out on a journey. What is Adequacy? What is Sufficiency? What is Contentment?
5th of the Five ThoughtsThis last of the Five Thoughts sort of roll together all of them and the key word is acceptance.
“We accept this food so that we may become enlightened.”I think the basic premise in this thought is to remind ourselves as to our real purpose in life. What could be more important than to become aware of our True selves, our actual purpose for life; to really come to know a peace and depth that we did not know was possible.
We accept this food so that we may stay healthy and continue our training and practice to become as the Buddhas and Ancestors, for they were once as we are now, and we will become as they are now.
We accept this food so that we may become more than the small roles we have assigned (or resigned), ourselves to.  The Truth is never far away, it just seems that way because we can’t imagine it.
We accept this food because we intuitively know that the whole of life is contained in our attitude towards sustaining all of life and seeing the inevitable end to that condition. If we can accept this we can get at the root of our own suffering.
We accept this food because there is more and we want to see …It is good to remember that these Thoughts are just helpful pointers to keep in mind during our daily activities. I have tried to substitute these Thoughts when engaging in a variety of human activities, and they have the same use as before a meal.Stop and look!Stop and see!
Accepting this food and linking it to “becoming” enlightened is the big hint towards the Truth that we already are Enlightened, we just may not be aware of it because we are hampered in our awareness by how we act.
These Five Thoughts can be the beginning on how we act, interact, look at, see, treat and allow the various conditions in our lives to be our teachers. They can be the beginning because we have a consistent opportunity to practice and look at them every time we eat.
Accepting is accomplished with hands and heart open, and trying to see that everything in our lives is a gift.
Accepting is not receiving, getting, or acquiring something.It is acknowledging a gift with small smile and a slightly bowed head or sometimes, with a full prostration and an aching heart; and all the various possibilities between the slightly bowed head and the full prostration(with or without aching heart); depending on the situation or circumstance. 
Acceptance and Gratitude….Horse and Carriage.e have with our physical self. Meditation is primarily a method of using our minds (Our six senses; taste, smell, hearing, seeing, feeling and consciousness (the latter being a Huffington Post-like aggregator of the other “news” that the body sends to the mind), to become aware of how we relate to ourselves, to others and to the world we exist in. What are getting from our food? How are we using food?
” We will eat lest we become lean and die”The Buddha during his early years followed many aesthetic practices to his physical detriment. One of his realizations concerning the Middle Way was that it also applied to nourishment and being aware of the physical body. That to deprive or hurt the body did nothing to bring one closer to the truth; it is not necessary to be uncomfortable in order to make progress in the spiritual life. There’s plenty of discomfort (mental) coming up as one delves deeper anyway.This thought reminds us that we must nourish ourselves properly and to take good care of ourselves, We must not be too greedy (#3) nor must we be too abstemious in our food intake. The middle path is the way.
In some Buddhist traditions, like the Theravaden schools, they do not eat after the noon hour. In our tradition we practice the “medicine meal” which is a light optional repast in the evening so that one doesn’t go to bed hungry.  The main idea is not to drift into either extreme. This hold true in all things. The Buddhist trainee tries to adhere to the middle in all things. For most of us it’s probably a good idea to…Eat! (Not too much).Enjoy! (Not too much).Be Content! (as much as possible).
The activity of practicing of adequacy, sufficiency, and contentment are always good boundary guides in the development of Right View, which is the first step on the Eight-fold Path.We need to have a sense of where, and why, we are going before we set out on a journey. What is Adequacy? What is Sufficiency? What is Contentment?
5th of the Five ThoughtsThis last of the Five Thoughts sort of roll together all of them and the key word is acceptance.
“We accept this food so that we may become enlightened.”I think the basic premise in this thought is to remind ourselves as to our real purpose in life. What could be more important than to become aware of our True selves, our actual purpose for life; to really come to know a peace and depth that we did not know was possible.
We accept this food so that we may stay healthy and continue our training and practice to become as the Buddhas and Ancestors, for they were once as we are now, and we will become as they are now.
We accept this food so that we may become more than the small roles we have assigned (or resigned), ourselves to.  The Truth is never far away, it just seems that way because we can’t imagine it.
We accept this food because we intuitively know that the whole of life is contained in our attitude towards sustaining all of life and seeing the inevitable end to that condition. If we can accept this we can get at the root of our own suffering.
We accept this food because there is more and we want to see …It is good to remember that these Thoughts are just helpful pointers to keep in mind during our daily activities. I have tried to substitute these Thoughts when engaging in a variety of human activities, and they have the same use as before a meal.Stop and look!Stop and see!
Accepting this food and linking it to “becoming” enlightened is the big hint towards the Truth that we already are Enlightened, we just may not be aware of it because we are hampered in our awareness by how we act.
These Five Thoughts can be the beginning on how we act, interact, look at, see, treat and allow the various conditions in our lives to be our teachers. They can be the beginning because we have a consistent opportunity to practice and look at them every time we eat.
Accepting is accomplished with hands and heart open, and trying to see that everything in our lives is a gift.
Accepting is not receiving, getting, or acquiring something.It is acknowledging a gift with small smile and a slightly bowed head or sometimes, with a full prostration and an aching heart; and all the various possibilities between the slightly bowed head and the full prostration(with or without aching heart); depending on the situation or circumstance. 
Acceptance and Gratitude….Horse and Carriage.

June 2 , 2020 – Tuesday
Understanding the Noble Truth of the Cessation of Suffering
What is the cessation of suffering? It is the remainderless fading away and ceasing, the giving up, relinquishing, letting go, and rejecting of craving. (MN 9). When one knows and sees material form as it actually is, then one is not attached to material form. When one abides unattached, one is not infatuated, and one’s craving is abandoned. One’s bodily and mental troubles are abandoned, and one experiences bodily and mental well-being. (MN 149)

We live in a material world, and contact with material things makes up a great deal of our experience. This is not necessarily a bad thing. The issue is whether we allow ourselves to become infatuated with these things, or if instead we are able to “abide unattached” as we make use of them.

Knowing ultimately that material objects are impermanent and will change frees us from the suffering attachment to them can bring. Notice that you suffer in direct proportion to the amount of attachment you have to a material object. If something you care little about gets damaged, it is no big deal, right? But if something precious to you breaks, it can be the cause of great distress. Practice reminding yourself of everything you touch, This is fragile; it cannot last; it will pass away eventually. That sounds depressing, but it can be liberating.

June 1, 2020 – Monday. My Sunday Dharma Talk focused on The Buddha’s Six Principles of Cordiality

May 31, 2020 – Sunday We offered a Blessing of the Nation Ceremony and chanted the Vandana and the Ti-Sarana. May we take True Refuge in this difficult time.

Vandana and Ti-Sarana as sung by the monks at Throssel Hole Buddhist Abbey. The Pali words and their translation are below.

Vandana (Namo Tassa) and Ti-Sarana (3 Refuges)
Namô Tassa Bhagavatô Arahatô Sammâ-Sambuddhassa (three times) 
(Translation:  Homage to the Blessed One, the Exalted One, the Fully 
                      Enlightened One.)

Buddham Saranam Gacchâmi. 
Dhammam Saranam Gacchâmi. 
Sangham Saranam Gacchâmi. 

Dutiyampi Buddham Saranam Gacchâmi. 
Dutiyampi Dhammam Saranam Gacchâmi. 
Dutiyampi Sangham Saranam Gacchâmi. 

Tatiyampi Buddham Saranarn Gacchâmi. 
Tatiyampi Dhammam Saranam Gacchâmi. 
Tatiyampi Sangham Saranam Gacchâmi. 
(Translation: 
I go to the Buddha as my refuge. 
I go to the Dhamma – The Teachings, as my Refuge. 
I go to the Sangha – The Community, as my Refuge. 
For the second time I go to the Buddha as my Refuge. 
For the second time I go to the Dhamma – The Teachings, as my Refuge. 
For the second time I go to the Sangha – The Community, as my Refuge. 
For the third time I go to the Buddha as my Refuge. 
For the third time I go to the Dhamma – The Teachings, as my Refuge. 
For the third time I go to the Sangha – The Community, as my Refuge.) 

May 30, 2020 – Saturday
Being Compassionate Towards…
Helmut Schatz

One of the nice things about the current Situation is that people are out and about being actually nicer to each other and waving, smiling, allowing, even slightly bowing and generally being more courteous. This is how compassion is made real.

Compassion is mostly seen as being a good ‘feeling’ that one generates and then sends towards others, which in and of itself is a good thing, but my observation is that real compassion is an activity of how one ‘is’ towards others; and most importantly how one ‘is’ towards ones Self.

The word compassion basically means to ‘be at one with one’s passions’, which is also a workable baseline description of meditation as an activity and a reasonable way of approaching daily life.

So, for me to be compassionate to myself is to look at and investigate, while being still; the whence, wherefore and the why of the passions as they arise, and where do they go when I don’t act on them.

This is time well spent. Promotes being a productive member of society and everything that may  entail.

Bored, looking for something to do, I
Investigate myself quietly and hope to
See what is in it for me to know and be.

May 29, 2020 – Friday
Broken But Blooming – Eric Alan
This virus has not only brought an illness; it has brought to light other illnesses of society and spirit.

Everything is spinning these days. What seemed like solid societal ground is no longer underfoot, as a virus too small to see becomes too vast to deny. Here in the rural Oregon territories, its direct effects aren’t as focused as in the urban hotspots (so far). Yet the rural safety nets were already far thinner than most in the cities see. There are few doctors out here; the one remaining rural hospital is endangered. Other social services are also vanishing, and many already struggled to keep a roof overhead. Another common name for “essential” work is “poorly paid,” and much work is suddenly gone, most of it essential to someone.  The lilacs are as beautiful as ever, however—no matter that last year’s extreme storms broke their spines. The one I successfully propped up with metal supports is radiant in vibrant purple. The other, whose supports failed to hold, is horizontal and grounded. Yet it’s sending out new vertical shoots through each segment of every broken branch, finding life in new conditions without pause or complaint.

Beyond the essential nature of doing, though, is also the essential nature of being. To become better within and with each other is equally essential now.

The lilacs help me notice another aspect of essential work, as I feel my own spine tested by the recent pressures of living. Yes, I too celebrate the essential work of doctors, nurses, caregivers, grocery store clerks, on down the line. Beyond the essential nature of doing, though, is also the essential nature of being. To become better within and with each other is equally essential now. This virus has not only brought an illness; it has brought to light other illnesses of society and spirit. More than ever, healing will be a multi-faceted pursuit: not just physical, but emotional, spiritual, relational, environmental and systemic.

How to bloom now, and how to better support each other in blooming? It’s a pressing personal and collective question. For me, the intense stress of recent times—including guiding my mother’s dying process during lockdown—has challenged my strength in all I am and give to others. Others’ stresses have affected what they’ve given and been as well. Apologies and healings, new strategies of kindness and compassion and growth, are vital for all of us.

With parts of the world on pause, there is more room for inner voices to be heard. I know I’ll find my essential work’s direction in the stillness of being before doing begins. So I sit on the porch at dawn, listening to the strange mix of songbirds and chainsaws, marveling that clearcuts but not haircuts have been deemed essential here. Between the songs of tanagers and loggers, I listen carefully to the silence of the lilacs.

Caregiving is an act of celebration, which nurtures each other’s best traits while healing our worst.

I hear again that we’re all caregivers, for ourselves and each other. We’re all essential workers, in that way. Caregiving is an act of celebration, which nurtures each other’s best traits while healing our worst. It’s a remembrance that others’ shortcomings may mirror our own. It’s knowing that communication is more listening than speaking. It’s giving and receiving cleaner, clearer expressions of love in its limitless forms. Caregiving is long peace work. It is not a fight. It’s a practice, never over. It is not political. It is not a protest. It transcends skin color, nationality, wealth, gender, age. Caregiving does not destroy. Discarding the flawed would mean discarding all of us. Caring often means doing less, but being more.

Wildlife’s reemergence has frequently been noted, in this time when city dwellers are cloistered. I notice that our better inner nature is wildlife too, also free to come back out if we let it. “Normal” has had its own spine broken; but normal was gravely ill anyway. If together we birth a more loving normal, its life will become that of another essential caregiver to celebrate.

I admire the lilacs’ grace in striving to be beautiful without need for acknowledgement. I rise from the porch seeking to be the same. We’re all broken but blooming. The lilacs are another brilliant mirror of who we can grow to be, and already are.

May 28, 2020 – Thursday
Listening to Dharma talks is different from listening to talk-radio or a TED talk. Rev. Master Meian Elbert gives her insights on How to Listen to a Dharma Talk that you might find helpful.

May 27, 2020 – Wednesday
In her Dharma Talk See Buddha’s Light in Every Hour of Your Day, Rev. Master Leandra Robertshaw describes how Buddhists take morality and ethics seriously and we do our best not to cause harm. As we continue to live a preceptual life we begin to realise the depths of the Precepts, the subtlety of what they call forth.  When good and bad are in balance then Dharma’s nature is not good or bad. We need to find our own stability – our own still point.  Not doing evil is hearing the Buddha’s true dharma. Then one moves from the aspiration of not doing evil to the practice of not doing evil.  Past, present and future are present in this moment, yet each moment must have the freedom to express its individual flavour. Thus we are not trapped by past unskillful behaviour.

May 26, 2020 – Tuesday
Rev. Master Serena Seidner offers her insightful teaching on The Middle Way, a Dharma Talk she gave at Shasta Abbey in 2017.

Cultivating Equanimity
Whatever you intend, whatever you plan, and whatever you have a tendency toward will become the basis upon which your mind is established. (SN 12.40) Develop meditation on equanimity, for when you develop meditation on equanimity, all aversion is abandoned. (MN 62)

The function of equanimity is to see equality in beings. (Vm 9.93) Having heard a sound with the ear, one is neither glad-minded nor sad-minded but abides with equanimity, mindful and fully aware. (AN 6.1)

Equanimity is the active ingredient in mindfulness practice. Here we see it as the fourth of the brahma-viharas. Equanimity means an evenly balanced mind, like a plate on a stick that inclines neither toward nor away from an object of experience. It is the middle point between greed (attraction) and hatred (aversion), and is therefore a state in which the mind can be free from the influence of both.

Nicholas and Nadia in balance


May 25, 2020 – Monday
Right Action
The classical teachings list three modes of action (body, speech, and mind), not four. Social action is not a category in the ancient texts, but it is an important aspect of our modern world, and the Buddha had plenty to say about how to act among others. The same principles apply: Reflect carefully on how you interact with others and learn to behave in ways that are healthy and bring about healthy relationships.

However the seed is planted, in that way the fruit is gathered. Good things come from doing good deeds, bad things come from doing bad deeds. (SN 11.10)

What is the purpose of a mirror? For the purpose of reflection. So too social action is to be done with repeated reflection. (MN 61)

One reflects thus: “A person who acts in hurtful ways is displeasing and disagreeable to me. If I were to act in hurtful ways, I  would be displeasing and disagreeable to others. Therefore, I will undertake a commitment to not act in hurtful ways.” (MN 15)

One of the best things we can learn from others is how not to act. Whenever we see something in others that is disagreeable to us, we can take the opportunity to refrain from acting the same way ourselves. Instead of blaming others or feeling insulted by them, or putting our energy into rebuking them or trying to change them, none of which is useful or likely to be successful, let’s learn instead what not to do ourselves.

May 24, 2020 – Sunday
Today as part of our Memorial Day Ceremony we sang General Simha’s Questions. The text tells the story of the Buddha’s encounter with a respected military leader of his time.


(Music:  Finlandia – Jean Sibelius  Text:  Rev. Helen Cummings)

1.  The General came and bowed before the Buddha.
Then asked of warfare, struggle, and of strife.
What is the karma of this conquering spirit?
What is the burden of defending might? 
What is the karma of this grasping spirit?
What is the burden of defending mind?

2.  The Buddha, once the warrior prince Gautama,
Well trained in arts of military might,
Answered in words that spoke of self surrender;
Answered in verse that showed a gentler way:
 Answered in words that spoke of true surrender;
Answered in verse that showed The Nobler Way.

3.  Who goes to battle, even though ‘tis righteous,
Must be prepared for karmic destiny.
So free your mind from holds of fierce delusion.
So yield your fears to great compassion pure.
So free your heart from cru’lty and illusion.
So yield revenge to gratitude, and peace.

4.  Go then courageously and fight the battle,
Living each day the Noble Eightfold Way.
Victory is won in bowing to anicca.
Victory is conquering all the greeds of self.
Victory is won in patiently enduring.
Victory is conquering all the fears of self.


Sunday Dharma Talk : The Noble Eightfold Path
Tomorrow we celebrate Memorial Day – a holiday that honors the men and women, and the animals, who died while serving in the U.S. military. We sang General Simha’s Questions in our ceremony.  The last verse starts
      Go then courageously and fight the battle
      Living each day the Noble Eightfold Way.
The Noble Eightfold Path had relevance to General Simha.  And it has relevance for us today, especially as we’re seeing things opening up in stages.

Inherent in the teaching of the Eightfold Path is the core teaching of the Four Noble Truths:
1.  Suffering – dukkha – exists, and the range of suffering.  “Suffering” encompasses the range from extraordinary trauma to un-nameable dissatisfaction
2.  Suffering has a cause.  It is not something that is something unchanging and irrevocable.  Because it has a cause, it has an end
3.  Suffering’s cause is grasping, attachment, holding on, not seeing clearly.  It is what happens when we don’t see clearly, when we insist on ignoring the Three Characteristics:  dukkha, anicca, anatta
4.  The way to lessen our hold on things is the Noble Eightfold Path – 
the Middle Way

Let me repeat this fundamental definition:  The Noble Eightfold Path is the way to lessen our hold onto our fears, hatreds, judgments, expectations – and to lessen our hold on that highest of delusions, the self.
Our practice is the practice of “…going, going, going on…” so it is not a surprise that the initial description of Buddhist practice was The Middle Way or The Path.

Why “noble”?   The Pali term ariyo aṭṭhaṅgiko maggo is typically translated in English as “Noble Eightfold Path”. The phrase does not mean the path is noble, rather that the path is of the noble people (Paliarya meaning ‘enlightened, noble, precious people’).  

“Noble” is like our monastic names.  It is both that which defines who we are AND how we are constantly practicing to bring the Buddha’s Teaching to life.  We ARE the Buddha Nature, or as Rev. Master Jiyu would say, “…we are not God, and there is nothing in us that is not of God.”  And as we keep the Precepts “…we vow to try to restrain ourselves from…”.  Or to put it another way, “…you are fine just as you are and you could always improve…”

 
When we come to the actual list of the eight elements of the Path, they all begin with the word sammā (Pāli) which means “right, proper, as it ought to be, best”.

The Buddha himself spoke of the importance of the Noble Eightfold Path.  He says in the Nagara Sutta:
…I followed that path. 
Following it, I came to direct knowledge of aging & death, 
direct knowledge of the origination of aging & death, 
direct knowledge of the cessation of aging & death, 
direct knowledge of the path leading to the cessation of aging & death. 
I followed that path. 
Following it, I came to direct knowledge of birth… of becoming… of clinging… 
of craving… of feeling… of contact… of the six sense media… of name-&-form… 
of consciousness, of direct knowledge of the origination of consciousness, 
of direct knowledge of the cessation of consciousness, of direct knowledge of the path leading to the cessation of consciousness. I followed that path.   
— The Buddha, Nagara Sutta, Samyutta Nikaya ii.124


And how did he come to know through direct knowledge?  By living, by walking, the Eightfold Path, built as it is on the Three Foundations.  These foundations are the basics of Buddhist practice into which the Noble 8-fold Path is divided – and they remind us that wepractice in ALL conditions, whether easy, gentle, traumatic, non-traumatic.

The Three Foundations include SamadhiSilaPrajna
Prajna
 –Wisdom and our expression of “Right Dharma”
Right View                                       
Right Resolve (Right Intention)                
Samadhi – Meditation and how we express the “Right Mind of Meditation” Right Effort                             
Right Mindfulness
Right Concentration
Sila –the Precepts, ethics and our expression of “Right Living”
Right Speech
Right Action 
Right Livelihood

The Eightfold Path is our roadmap through this human realm, the realm of samsara.  You can get in I-5 anywhere in Washington, Oregon and California and get to your destination.  You can get on the Eightfold Path at any of “the Rights”.  But there is a certain logic or flow to them.

The steps that are rooted in ethics, morality and the Precepts (sīlainclude       Right Speech, Right Action and Right Livelihood.  The word śīla translated by English writers as “morals or ethics”, states Bhikkhu Bodhi, is in ancient Buddhist commentaries closer to the concept of “discipline and disposition” that “leads to harmony at several levels – social, psychological, karmic and contemplative”. Such harmony creates an environment to pursue the meditative steps in the Noble Eightfold Path by reducing social disorder, preventing inner conflict that result from transgressions, favoring future karma-triggered movement through better rebirths, and purifying the mind. 

The meditation group (samadhi) of the path progresses from moral restraints to training the mind. This group includes Right Effort, Right Mindfulness, and
Right Concentration. The goal in this group of the Noble Eightfold Path is to develop clarity and insight into the nature of reality – dukkhaanicca and anatta, discard negative states and dispel greed, ultimately attaining nirvana

The wisdom group (prajna) is presented as the culmination of the path, AND as its end point.  This group includes Right View and Right Resolve (Right Intention) The path starts with correct knowledge or insight, which is needed to understand why this path should be followed in the first place. 

To choose to follow the Eightfold Path is an expression of Buddha Nature, whether we know it or not, whether we trust it or not.  Following the Eightfold Path is being in “right relationship” with it.  Indeed, our practice is about Right Relationship.  

In Buddhist symbolism, the Noble Eightfold Path is often represented by means of the dharma wheel (dharmachakra), in which its eight spokes represent the eight elements of the path.  May we turn the Wheel of the Dharma in our every thought, word, and deed.

May 23, 2020 – Saturday
You may find the Faith Community Guidelines for faith communities in Shasta County that have been issued recently by Shasta county officials of interest.  Dr. Stephan Campbell reminds us that:
1. We are still in stage 2
2. We don’t know when we will be moving into stage 3
3. These guidelines are to help you begin to prepare for when we can move into stage 3.
4. Stage 3 will start with lower group number recommendations and involve a stepped increase process.

You may also find the Visitation Guidelines from Shasta Regional Medical Center of interest as well.

May 22, 2020 – Friday
We were delighted to have Professor Daniel Veidlinger join us on Thursday evening in a conversation about the spread of Buddhism From Indra’s Net to the Internet.  Professor Veidlinger is on the faculty of Chico State’s Department of Comparative Religions and Humanities.  He has written numerous books on the spread of the Buddha Dharma in all the ways it has spread – throughout the world and over time. Here is a link to his conversation with Nancy Weigman on Nancy’s Bookshelf on NSPR on May 13, 2020: https://www.mynspr.org/post/nancys-bookshelf-daniel-m-veidlinger

May 21, 2020 – Thursday
We were delighted to have ProMay 20, 2020 -Wednesday
Below is the Invocation for the Shasta County Board of Supervisors Meeting I offered on Tuesday, May 19, 2020. I was grateful for the opportunity to offer this blessing for those in a leadership position in our County.

A traditional Zen blessing asks:  May every living being, our minds as one and radiant with light, Share the fruits of peace, with hearts of goodness, luminous and bright.  If people hear and see how hands and hearts can find, in giving, unity, May their minds awake to great compassion, wisdom, and to joy. May kindness find reward.  May all who sorrow leave their grief and pain.  May this boundless light break the darkness of their endless night. Because our hearts are one, this world of pain turns into paradise.  May all become compassionate and wise.  May all become compassionate and wise.

May each of us, as we come together today to guide Shasta County in these challenging times, be guided by far-reaching compassion and practical wisdom.  May we skillfully seek the good and welfare of all who live in, visit, and travel through Shasta County.  

May those infected with the coronavirus, as well as those caring for them, be in our hearts as we make decisions rooted in deepening patience.  May those facing economic difficulties be in our minds as we seek to make decisions based on wise discernment.

May we see clearly and do what needs to be done.
May all beings be at ease, peaceful, and free from suffering.
May all become compassionate and wise.  

May 20, 2020 – Wednesday
I WorriedMary Oliver
I worried a lot. Will the garden grow, will the rivers
flow in the right direction, will the earth turn
as it was taught, and if not how shall
I correct it?

Was I right, was I wrong, will I be forgiven,
can I do better?

Will I ever be able to sing, even the sparrows
can do it and I am, well,
hopeless.

Is my eyesight fading or am I just imagining it,
am I going to get rheumatism,
lockjaw, dementia?

Finally I saw that worrying had come to nothing.
And gave it up. And took my old body
and went out into the morning,
and sang.

Rev. Master Chosei was a Senior Disciple of Rev. Master Jiyu-Kennett. He was ordained a monk in 1974 and was transmitted by Rev. Master Jiyu in 1976. He died on October 29, 2018, following an illness of many years. Here is his Dharma Talk on Change.

May 19, 2020 – Tuesday
Dan Harris, practicing Buddhist, TV journalist and author of 10 Percent Happier, was interviewed on NPR’s Fresh Air program on Tuesday, May 19.  You may find it of interest:   Anxious? Meditation Can Help You ‘Relax Into The Uncertainty’ Of The Pandemic 

May 18, 2020 – Monday
Rev. Master Berwyn, vice Abbot at Throssel Hole Buddhist Abbey, offers his very helpful and relevant reflections Life and Death are Nothing More than Nirvana https://throssel.org.uk/dharma-talks/life-and-death-are-no-more-than-nirvana-by-rev-berwyn-watson/
— 

May 17, 2020 – Sunday.
Sunday Dharma Talk – Living Harmoniously in a difficult time
The Buddha described Two Kinds of Assemblies:  the divided assembly and the harmonious assembly.

He asked:  What is the divided assembly? Here, the assembly in which we take to arguing and quarreling and fall into disputes, stabbing each other with piercing words, is called the divided assembly. 

What is the harmonious assembly? Here, the assembly in which we dwell in concord, harmoniously, without disputes, blending like milk and water, viewing each other with eyes of affection, is called the harmonious assembly. 

When we dwell in concord, harmoniously, without disputes, blending like milk and water, viewing each other with eyes of affection, on that occasion they generate much merit.  (…which is while I bring this up in a Transfer of Merit Ceremony…)  On that occasion the we dwell in a divine abode, that is, in the liberation of mind through altruistic joy. When one is joyful, rapture arises. For one with a rapturous mind, the body becomes tranquil. One tranquil in body feels pleasure. For one feeling pleasure, the mind becomes concentrated. 

Just as, when it is raining and the rain pours down in thick droplets on a mountain top, the water flows down along the slope and fills the cleft, gullies, and creeks; these, becoming full, fill up the pools; these, becoming full, fill up the lakes; these, becoming full, fill up the streams; these, becoming full, fill up the rivers; and these, becoming full, fill up the ocean; so too, when we dwell in concord, harmoniously, without disputes, blending like milk and water, viewing each other with eyes of affection, on that occasion they generate much merit. 

On that occasion we dwell in a divine abode, that is, in the liberation of mind through altruistic joy. When one is joyful, rapture arises. For one with a rapturous mind, the body becomes tranquil. One tranquil in body feels pleasure. For one feeling pleasure, the mind becomes concentrated… 

It bears repeating:  living in harmony is a means of generating and offering merit.

And in the spirit of joy that comes out of living harmoniously, I wanted to briefly review the Four Divine Abodes – the Brahma Viharas – the Four Immeasureables. When we are at home – or at least have a time-share – in them contribute to harmonious living. Gill Fronsdal called them the Four Faces of Love. This image of a four-faced heart is borrowed from the Buddhist myth of the god Brahma, who had four faces, one for each of the four kinds of unselfish love championed in Buddhism. In the language of the Buddha, these are metta, karunamudita, and upekkha. In English they are commonly known as loving-kindness, compassion, appreciative joy, and equanimity. Because the god Brahma is said to dwell (vihara) in these four forms of love, they are known as Brahmaviharas, translated in English as “divine abidings.”

We all have the potential to abide in loving-kindness, compassion, appreciative joy, and equanimity. 

In their simplest forms the Brahmaviharas are attitudes experienced in ordinary, everyday life. Seeing a small kitty can evoke loving-kindness: a feeling of appreciation, goodwill, and friendliness. If the kitty gets hurt we may feel compassion: a sense of kindness, caring, and a sincere wish for the kitty not to suffer. If the kitty is frolicking around, we may feel appreciative joy: delighting in the happiness the kitty feels. And when the kitty is overeager to run after a bird and then deflated when it can’t catch it, we can feel the Brahmavihara of equanimity: we can clearly love the kitty with a stability that keeps us from becoming elated or distressed by its ups and downs.

We talked about the Near Enemy and Far Enemy of equanimity at our Dharma Conversation this past Thursday.  It’s worth reviewing them here for all Four of the Divine Abodes – compassion, loving kindness, empathetic joy, and equanimity.  A quick review:  Far Enemies are the obvious direct opposite of each of these.  Near Enemies are those deceptive substitutes which we can settle for or confuse with the real thing. They can separate us from the true feeling, rather than connecting us to it, so we need mindfulness to avoid it.  The Near and Far enemies are listed below:

Compassion
Far Enemy: Cruelty. Near Enemy:  Pity, grief
Loving kingness
Far Enemy:  Hatred, ill-will. Near Enemy:  attachment, greed
Empathetic Joy
Far Enemy:  Envy, jealousy. Near Enemy:  Joy tinged with insincerity or personal identification; schadenfreude, exuberance
Equanimity
Far Enemy:  Anxiety, restlessness, resentment,  Near Enemy:  indifference

So, on reflection, as we seek to Live Harmoniously in a difficult time, may I offer the following, with apologies to St. Francis:

Each day may we offer the Dharma to those we encounter in our daily life.

Where there is cruelty, let me offer compassion
Where there is hatred, loving-kindness
Where there is jealousy, joy
Where there is anxiety, equanimity
Where there is darkness, light
Where there is doubt, faith
Where there is despair, acceptance

May the Buddhas and Ancestors point the way
So that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console
To be accepted as to accept
To be secure as to let go
To be understood as to understand
To be loved as to love
For it is in letting go that we see the truth of the Noble Eightfold PathAnd know an end to suffering.

May 16, 2020 – Saturday
A Painter’s Thoughts – John Yau

I want to paint in a way that the “I” disappears into the sky and trees
The idea of a slowed down, slowly unfolding image held my attention

Variations on a theme are of no interest. A bowl and cup are not ideas.
I want my painting to be what it contains: it should speak, not me

The idea of a slowed down, slowly unfolding image held my attention
I paint things made of clay, just as the pigments I use come from the earth

I want my painting to be what it contains: it should speak, not me
Brown and ochre stoneware bowls beside a white porcelain pitcher

I paint things made of clay, just as the pigments I use come from the earth
I place the pale eggs on a dark, unadorned tabletop and let them roll into place

Brown and ochre stoneware bowls beside a white porcelain pitcher
The dusky red wall is not meant to symbolize anything but itself

I place the pale eggs on a dark unadorned tabletop and let them roll into place
I want to paint in a way that the “I” disappears into the sky and trees

The dusky red wall is not meant to symbolize anything but itself
Variations on a theme are of no interest. A bowl and cup are not ideas.


May 15, 2020 – Friday
We talked about Near Enemies and Far Enemies of the Brahma Viharas in our Dharma Conversation Thursday evening, May 13.   Far Enemies are the obvious direct opposite of the Four Immeasurables – compassion, loving kindness, empathetic joy, and equanimity.  Near Enemies are the deceptive substitutes which we can settle for or confuse with the real thing. This can separate us from the true feeling, rather than connecting us to it, so we need mindfulness to avoid it.  The Near and Far Enemies of the Four Immeasurables are listed below:

Compassion
Far Enemy: Cruelty
Near Enemy:  Pity, grief

Loving kingness
Far Enemy:  Hatred, ill-will
Near Enemy:  attachment, greed

Empathetic Joy
Far Enemy:  Envy, jealousy
Near Enemy:  Joy tinged with insincerity or personal identification; schadenfreude, exuberance

Equanimity
Far Enemy:  Anxiety, restlessness, resentment
Near Enemy:  indifference


May 14, 2020 – Thursday
Whatever you intend, whatever you plan, and whatever you have a tendency toward, that will become the basis upon which your mind is established. (SN 12.40) Develop meditation on equanimity, for when you develop meditation on equanimity, all aversion is abandoned. (MN 62) 

Equanimity fails when it produces the ordinary indifference of the uninformed. (Vm 9.96) Having thought a mental object with the mind, one is neither glad-minded nor sad-minded but abides with equanimity, mindful and fully aware. (AN 6.1)
Equanimity is often confounded with indifference or detachment, but this is far from accurate. These two are mild forms of aversion in which a person chooses to push their interest away from an object or deliberately remove awareness from attending to what is present. Equanimity is the opposite of these, engaging the object with heightened awareness but without being pulled by attraction or pushed away by aversion. 
See if you can cultivate the attitude of equanimity, so important to the practice of mindfulness, as a refined state of mind. Equanimity is not a lack of interest but a state of heightened curiosity. It does not mean that you don’t care about something but that your caring about it is not driven by likes and dislikes. As you regard the thoughts flowing through your mind, abide with equanimity, mindful and fully aware.


May 13, 2020 – Wednesday
Blessings
John O’Donohue
from Beauty – The Invisible Embrace
May the beauty of your life become more visible to you, that you may glimpse your wild divinity.
May the wonders of the earth call you forth from all your small, secret prisons and set your feet free in the pastures of possibilities.
May the light of dawn anoint your eyes that you may behold what a miracle a day is.
May the liturgy of twilight shelter all your fears and darkness within the circle of ease. May the angel of memory surprise you in bleak times with new gifts from the harvest of your vanished days.
May you allow no dark hand to quench the candle of hope in your heart.
May you discover a new generosity towards yourself, and encourage yourself to engage your life as a great adventure.
May the outside voices of fear and despair find no echo in you.
May you always trust the urgency and wisdom of your own spirit.
May the shelter and nourishment of all the good you have done, the love you have shown, the suffering you have carried, awaken around you to bless your life a thousand times.
And when love finds the path to your door may you open like the earth to the dawn, and trust your every hidden color towards its nourishment of light.
May you find enough stillness and silence to savor the kiss of God on your soul and delight in the eternity that shaped you, that holds you and calls you.
And may you know that despite confusion, anxiety and emptiness, your name is written in Heaven.
And may you come to see your life as a quiet sacrament of service, which awakens around you a rhythm where doubt gives way to the grace of wonder, where what is awkward and strained can find elegance, and where crippled hope can find wings, and torment enter at last unto the grace of serenity.
May Divine Beauty bless you.

****************
VI – The Stare’s Nest By My Window
W.B. Yeats

The bees build in the crevices
Of loosening masonry, and there
The mother birds bring grubs and flies.
My wall is loosening, honey bees
Come build in the empty house of the stare.We are closed in, and the key is turned
On our uncertainty; somewhere
A man is killed, or a house burned,
Yet no clear fact to be discerned:
Come build in the empty house of the stareA barricade of stone or of wood;
Some fourteen days of civil war;
Last night they trundled down the road
That dead young soldier in his blood:
Come build in the empty house of the stare.We had fed the heart on fantasies,
The heart’s grown brutal from the fare,
More substance in our enmities
Than in our love; oh, honey-bees
Come build in the empty house of the stare.


May 12, 2020 – Tuesday
Rev. Master Berwyn, vice Abbot at Throssel Hole Buddhist Abbey, offers his very helpful and relevant reflections Life and Death are Nothing More than Nirvana 

May 11, 2020 – Monday
Dogen’s Kyojukaimon 
and Commentary by Rev. Master Jiyu-Kennett 

“The Great Precepts of the Buddhas are kept carefully by the Buddhas; Buddhas give them to Buddhas, Ancestors give them to Ancestors. The Transmission of the Precepts is beyond the three existences of past, present and future; enlightenment ranges from time eternal and is even now. Shakyamuni Buddha, our Lord, Transmitted the Precepts to Makakashyo and he Transmitted them to Ananda…thus the Precepts have been Transmitted to us.  This is the meaning of the Transmission of the Living Wisdom of the Buddhas 

 “Now, by the guidance of the Buddhas and Ancestors, we can discard and purify all our karma of body, mouth and will and obtain great immaculacy; this is by the power of confession. 

“You should now be converted to Buddha, Dharma and Sangha. In the Three Treasures there are three merits; the first is the true source of the Three Treasures;”—there is an Unborn, Uncreated, Unformed, Undying, Indestructible, the Lord of the House, That which speaks in silence and in stillness, the ‘still, small voice.’ 

“The second merit is the presence in the past of Shakyamuni Buddha”— all Those Who have truly transmitted Buddhism throughout eternity. 

“The third is His presence at the present time,”—all Those Who transmit the Truth, Who live by the Precepts and make them Their blood and bones, the Sangha, the embodiment of the Preceptual Truth of the Buddhas. 

“The highest Truth is called the Buddha Treasure,”—the knowledge of That Which Is, the knowledge of the Unformed, Uncreated, Unborn, Undying, Indestructible; the certainty, without doubt, of Its existence, the knowledge of It within oneself, the Buddha living within oneself, the Lord of the House Who directs all things. If you study true Buddhism you will become as the water wherein the Dragon dwells; it is necessary to know the true Dragon; it is necessary to ask the Dragon, the Lord of the House, at all times to help and to teach. Only if you give all that is required of the price that the Dragon asks will He show you the jewel; you must accept the jewel from the Dragon without doubting its value or querying the price. 

“Immaculacy is called the Dharma Treasure,”—one must live with the roots of karma cut away. To do this we must indeed know the housebuilder of this house of ego, know all his tools, know all his building materials; there is no other way that we can know immaculacy. The housebuilder of the house of ego must be known absolutely, recognised at all times. It is not enough to have a kensho; one must go back to the source of the karmic stream; one must re- turn to that source to find out what set it going. Kensho shows the slate is clean; to find the source of karma cuts its roots and, with constant training, keeps evil karma at a minimum but, since there is nothing from the first, there is nothing clean and nothing that is unclean—we cannot know this, however, until we have first tried to clean it. ‘Most houses can do with a thorough sweeping but even a million sweepings will not clear away the dust completely.’ Thus man remains in his body and accepts it, knowing that nothing matters, that he is immaculate, always was and always will be. This is the immaculacy of the Dharma Treasure; this makes the immaculacy and harmony of the Sangha Treasure possible. It is the knowledge of the True Kesa, that which is immaculate above all dust and dirt, the knowledge that the dust and dirt are indeed a figment of one’s own ego’s imagination as a result of past, accrued karma, that makes possible the Transmission of the Light from the far past to the now and the far future without words. The Scriptures show up blank pages; there is a Transmission that lies beyond them. 

“Harmony is the Sangha Treasure”—this is brought about by the knowledge that, no matter what a member of the Sangha may do, he is immaculate from the very beginning; there is nothing from the first. ‘Thus shall ye think of all this fleeting world, a star at dawn, a bubble in a stream, a child’s laugh, a phantasm, a dream.’ Although this is true the members of the Sangha, the Zen Masters, all beings are bound by the law of karma; they will pay the price of what they do. Thus is the mind of the Sangha Treasure. 

“The person who has realised the Truth really is called the Buddha Treasure;”—he is the embodiment of the Truth, he is Nirvana, he is the Embodiment of Enlightenment, he is the Treasure of the Buddha for, in him, can be seen fully-digested, Preceptual Truth. 

“The Truth that is realised by Buddha is called the Dharma Treasure,”—that is the knowledge of the Unborn, Uncreated, Un- formed, Undying, Indestructible; the living with this knowledge without doubt, the trusting eternally of the Lord of the House, the certainty of the Treasure House within oneself at the gate of which sits the True Dragon Who is indeed the Lord of the House. 

“The people who study that which lies within the Treasure House are called the Treasure of the Sangha,”—the Dharma and the Sangha are one and the same thing, being the embodiment each of the other, if fully-digested, Preceptual Truth is their rule of life. If you ask, ‘What is a monk?’ you know that it is his Kesa. 

“He who teaches devas and humans is called the Buddha Treasure,”—he who gives true teaching, being beyond praise and blame, the holy and the unholy, right and wrong, without fear or favor, he who becomes ‘good’ for others. 

“That which appears in the world in the Scriptures and is ‘good’ for others is called the Dharma Treasure,”—anything may teach. However infinitesimally small, however large, no matter what, all things may teach the Dharma when they live by fully-digested, Preceptual Truth, when they have cut away the roots of karma, when they know the housebuilder of the house of ego and are constantly keeping him from rebuilding again as a result of practising fully-digested Preceptual Truth. 

“He who is released from all suffering and is beyond the world is called the Sangha Treasure;”—he for whom no longer desires burn, wherein wants and cravings no longer exist; he who gets up in the morning and goes to sleep at night, eats when he is hungry, sleeps when he is tired, is satisfied with that which he is given and does not ask for more than he can absolutely use in the immediate now. When someone is converted to the Three Treasures thus, he can have the Precepts of the Buddhas absolutely. 

In this manner you should make the True Buddha your teacher and not follow wrong ways. The True Buddha that is your Teacher is indeed the Lord of the House, the True Dragon. Do not hold on to your tiny kensho; trust the Lord of the House, hold fast by Him no matter what state you may be in, whether you are well or sick, brightly alive or dying, hold fast by the Lord of the House. 

The Three Pure Precepts 

“Cease from evil. 

This is the house of all the laws of Buddha; this is the source of all the laws of Buddha.” The law of karma is one of the five laws of the universe; it is absolute, it is inescapable. All are bound by the law of karma once it is set in motion. By accident someone made the course of karma; it is not intentionally set in motion; what happens, or happened, or will happen to you or to anyone else is caused by karma; by accident the wheel rolled the wrong way. Do not continue the rolling of the wheel in the wrong direction by dwelling on the past or fearing the future; live now without evil. Stop the wheel now by cutting the roots of karma, by knowing the housebuilder of the house of ego; if you do not, karma will go on endlessly. The only difference between you and another being is that you have the opportunity of knowing the Lord of the House right now, having heard the teachings of the Buddha. Others may have less opportunity than you but, when they hear it, who knows which will be first at the gate of the Trea- sure House? ‘Cease from evil’ is absolute, in thought, in word, in deed, in body, in spirit. All are bound by the law of karma; do not doubt this. You will pay for everything you do if you do not cut the roots now and live by fully-digested, Preceptual Truth. Do not worry about the karma of others; each man his karma makes. 

“Do only good. 

The Dharma of Shakyamuni Buddha’s Enlightenment is the Dharma of all existence.” Do not do anything unless it is ‘good;’ do not do anything unless you have first asked the Lord of the House if it is good for you to do it. Do nothing whatsoever in a hurry; do nothing whatsoever on the spur of the moment unless you know the certainty giv- en by the Lord of the House; know that you must take the consequences of what you do if it is not a fully-digested act for you know What lies beyond good and evil, right and wrong; you know That which lies beyond morality; you know the Lord of the House. Ask the Lord of the House at all times before you do anything whatsoever. ‘Is it good? Is it Your will?’ If you do not ask the Lord of the House, the housebuilder of the house of ego will again pick up his tools and, before you know it, there will be a great structure from which you must again escape. If a thing is ‘good’ in this way it may be done; if it is not ‘good’ in this way it should not be done; I am not speak- ing here of good and evil; I am speaking of ‘good’ in the sense of if it is right; this is beyond right and wrong; if it is good is beyond good and evil. This teaching is indeed the teaching of Shakyamuni Buddha’s enlightenment for there was not one of His acts that was not the result of fully-digested, Preceptual Truth. If you live thus, doing that only which is ‘good’ after you have asked the Lord of the House, after you know the true Lord of the House, then you can know the teaching of Shakyamuni Buddha’s enlightenment and know that His enlightenment and yours are identically the same; but this is only if you know who the Lord of the House is and do not suffer from the idea that you are the Lord of the House. Always you must ask the Lord of the House; always you must be humble in His presence. ‘Please teach me that which it is good for me to do this day. Please show me that which it is good for me to teach this day. Please give me the certainty that I teach the Truth and know, indeed, that when the still, small voice within my mind and heart says “Yes,” I must obey that teaching. When it says “No,” I must not disobey that teaching.’ When the Lord speaks, spring up joyfully to answer; then, indeed, it is good to do anything what- soever He asks; know that the Lord will never break the Precepts.1 

“Do good for others. 

Be beyond both the holy and the unholy. Let us rescue our- selves and others.” Do not set up a chain of causation that will cause others to do wrong; do not do that which will cause another to grieve; do not do that which will result in your creating karma for another being; do not acciden- tally set the wheel of karma in motion. Do not let yourself hear the words, ‘What demon allowed you to become a priest? From what demon did you learn Buddhism?’ To be beyond both the holy and the unholy, to be beyond praise and blame, to act only from what the Lord of the House teaches without worrying whatsoever what the world may think is indeed to have understood the Three Pure Pre- cepts. Before any act is performed you must ask yourself, ‘Am I ceasing from evil in doing this act? Is it good in the sight of the Lord of the House? Shall I cause another being to do harm either to himself or to others? I can- not stop him doing harm, for each man his karma makes and must carry for himself, but I can do that about my- self which will prevent me from accidentally starting the course of karma. I must think carefully of my every act. I may not cause another to make a mistake in Buddhism.’ By so doing we rescue both ourselves and others for, in cutting the roots of karma for ourselves, we help to cut the roots of karma for others also. 

“These three are called the Three Pure Precepts.” Without them one cannot live the Buddhist life. 

The Ten Great Precepts 

“Do not kill. 

No life can be cut off for the Life of Buddha is increas- ing. Continue the Life of Buddha and do not kill Buddha.” Above all, do not turn your face away from Buddha, the Lord of the House, for this is indeed to commit spiritual suicide; to kill Buddha is to turn away from Buddha. ‘Man stands in his own shadow and wonders why it is dark and only he can turn round.’ To turn away from Buddha is to say, ‘My ego is greater than the Lord of the House; my opinions are more right; my wishes are more important.’ It is you whom you kill. If you do not listen to the Lord of the House in this life, in what life will you listen to the Lord of the House? Will you for eternity attempt to commit real suicide? If you always face the Buddha you will always know Buddha; if you always listen to the Lord of the House there is no possibility of your ever killing anything. 

“Do not steal. 

The mind and its object are one. The gateway to en- lightenment stands open wide.” There is nothing whatso- ever that can be stolen. ‘Preserve well for you now have,’ says the Scripture; each of us possesses the Treasure House. All we have to do is ask the Dragon for permis- sion to enter, ask the Dragon if we may see the jewel and it will be given to us. He who tries to rob himself, he who tries to steal from the Treasure House can never have the Treasure; erudition is as this; taking drugs is as this. All you have to do is ask the Lord of the House and you may know and possess all things. The gateway to enlighten- ment does indeed stand open wide for the true mind of the Buddha and the jewel are one and the same; ask the Lord of the House at all times. Remember that ‘he who counts another’s treasure can never have his own;’ he who steals can only ever rob himself. 

“Do not covet. 

The doer, the doing and that which has the doing done to it are immaculate therefore there is no desire. It is the same doing as that of the Buddhas.” Thus there is nothing to be coveted and no one that covets. ‘Preserve well for you now have,’ says the Scripture. Since there is nothing from the first, how can there be anything to preserve well? ‘The white snow falls upon the silver plate; the snowy heron in the bright moon hides; resembles each the other yet these two are not the same.’ Thus we think there is a difference; thus we think there is an ability to covet and something to covet; thus man makes mistakes. Indeed there is nothing from the first. 

“Do not say that which is not true. 

The Wheel of the Dharma rolls constantly and lacks for nothing yet needs something.” The Dharma is Truth itself but it needs expression. He who lies does not allow the Dharma to show itself, he does not allow the Dharma to be expressed, he does not allow the world to see the Dharma Wheel in action. And still the sweet dew covers the whole world, including those who lie, and within that dew lies the Truth. 

“Do not sell the wine of delusion. 

There is nothing to be deluded about. If we realise this we are enlightenment itself.” ‘Thus shall ye think of all this fleeting world, a star at dawn, a bubble in a stream, a child’s laugh, a phantasm, a dream.’ If you hold on to nothing whatsoever there can be no delusion nor can there be enlightenment; then there are no opposites. Thus, in- deed, we are enlightenment itself—yet always we will have the form and figure of old monks. 

“Do not speak against others.” 

Do not speak against the Lord of the House. Every per- son, every being is the Temple of the Lord wherein the Lord dwells, the still water wherein the Dragon lives. If you speak against others you speak against the Lord of the House. Do not try to divide the Lord of the House; do not try to cause war within the Lord; do not try to make the Lord make war upon Himself. “In Buddhism, the Truth and everything are the same; the same law, the same en- lightenment and the same behaviour. Do not allow any one to speak of another’s faults.” Do not find fault with the Lord of the House. “Do not allow any one to make a mistake in Buddhism.” To speak against the Lord of the House is the gravest mistake of which I know. 

“Do not be proud of yourself and devalue others.” 

It is enough for me to know the Lord of the House, to know that He dwells within all things. How can there be devaluation of others if they are the Temple of the Lord? How can there be pride if all possess equally within the Lord? “Every Buddha and every Ancestor realises that he is the same as the limitless sky and as great as the universe. When they realise their true body there is nothing within or without; when they realise their true body they are no- where more upon the earth.” There is nothing to be proud of and nothing to be devalued. 

“Do not be mean in giving either Dharma or wealth.” 

Since all possess the Lord, there is nothing to be given and nothing to be taken away, and still all things must be given, all things offered at all times and in all places. “One phrase, one verse, the hundred grasses,”—all con- tain the Lord, all express the Lord—each in its own way and each perfectly. “One Dharma, one enlightenment, every Buddha, every Ancestor.” No difference, nothing greater, nothing smaller; nothing truer, nothing less true. When all is within the Lord, all stand straight together, a million Buddhas stand in one straight line. Out of grati- tude to the Buddhas and Ancestors we give Dharma, we give wealth, we give life itself—strength, youth, beauty, wealth, everything that we have and, even then, we cannot give thanks enough for one second of their true training; we can never repay their kindness to us. Only by our own true training is this possible and then, again, there is no repayment; it is just the work of a Buddha. 

“Do not be angry. 

There is no retiring, no going, no Truth, no lie; there is a brilliant sea of clouds, there is a dignified sea of clouds.” Just there is that going on which causes us to see unclearly; but if we truly look, if we look with care, we will see that the true and beautiful sky is shining behind the clouds; we may see the Lord of the House. No matter how angry the person is who is with us, we may see in him, too, the Lord if we are truly looking, if our own ego is out of the way and, in seeing the Lord in him, he can see the Lord in us. The depth of the ocean is still even when there is a great storm upon its surface; thus should we be when there is anger, knowing that nothing whatsoever can touch the Truth. 

“Do not defame the Three Treasures. 

To do something by ourselves, without copying others, is to become an example to the world and the merit of doing such a thing becomes the source of all wisdom. Do not criticise but accept everything.” The Lord of the House does not always do things in the normally accepted ways, nor do the Buddhas and Ancestors; they are not individual and they are not the same as each other. Each expresses the Truth in his own way as do all things; they do that which they do in their way and express the Lord within it. Do not criticise the way of another, do not call it into question; look within it and see the Lord. Look with the mind of a Buddha and you will see the heart of a Buddha. To criticise is to defame the Lord of the House. Love the Lord of the House at all times—know Him, talk to Him; never let a day go by when you do not consult with Him even on the slightest matter. Then you will never, as long as you live, defame the Three Treasures. 

“These sixteen Precepts are thus.
Be obedient to the teaching and its giving; accept it with bows.” 


May 10, 2020 – Sunday
Mother’s Day:  Equanimity, Gratitudeand the Precepts 
May 10, 2020
For hundreds of years, Buddhists have been meditating on the thought “every single being has been my mother.” 

In the Tibetan tradition it is one of the six causes that lead to the development of Bodhicitta – the wish to attain enlightenment.  They include 
a. Recognition of all sentient beings as one’s mother 
b. Remembering the kindness of all mother sentient beings 
c. Repaying this kindness 
d. The development of affectionate love 
e. The development of great compassion 
f. The cultivation of the superior intention

These six realization lead to the development of the awakening mind of bodhicitta, the mind of going, going, going on beyond.  As Nagyaarajuna says  The universality of change, the arising and disappearing when completely understood, is the seeing into the heart of all things, and the Mind that thus understands is the Mind that truly seeks the Way.

Equanimity is important here. When our mind is unsettled and biased – instead of looking at all beings equally with the eye of compassion – we feel very partial towards some and very distant from, or even hostile towards, others. In such an unbalanced state it is very difficult to recognize all beings as our mothers.  We must first try to remove our prejudices by cultivating an attitude of equanimity. 

The Loving Kindness (Metta) meditation is one way to develop equanimity.

Once we have developed an unbiased outlook towards all beings we are ready to view them all equally as having been our mother. 

And this is where the Precepts come in.  They are the firm foundation out of which the mind that seeks the way (the mind of bodhicitta) and the mind of the bodhisattva unfold.

The fundamental breakage of the Precepts is separation.  The Precepts point the ways that we separate ourselves in thought, in speech, in action.  

When we see ourselves as separate, we diminish our equanimity.  And when we see ourselves as separate, we are ungrateful.

Dogen tells us that everything teaches – so gratitude is an essential part of our practice.  How can we not give thanks…

In Pali, the word for gratitude—kataññu—literally means to have a sense of what was done. So gratitude requires mindfulness, in the Buddha’s original sense of the word as keeping something in mind. In fact, the connection between these two qualities extends to language itself.  In Samyutta Nikaya 48:10, the Buddha defines mindfulness as “remembering & able to call to mind even things that were done & said long ago.” 

Gratitude also gives practice in developing qualities needed in meditation. As the Buddha noted in the Dhammapada,

All that we are is the result of what we have thought: it is founded on our thoughts, it is made up of our thoughts. If a man speaks or acts with an evil thought, pain follows him, as the wheel follows the foot of the ox that draws the wagon.

All that we are is the result of what we have thought: it is founded on our thoughts, it is made up of our thoughts. If a man speaks or acts with a pure thought, happiness follows him, like a shadow that never leaves him.

‘He abused me, he beat me, he defeated me, he robbed me,’—in those who harbor such thoughts hatred will never cease.

‘He abused me, he beat me, he defeated me, he robbed me,’—in those who do not harbor such thoughts hatred will cease.

For never does hatred cease by hatred here in this world: hatred ceases by love; this is an eternal law. 

Training in gratitude reinforces this, for gratitude requires developing a particular set of perceptions about life and the world. If you perceive help as demeaning, then gratitude itself feels demeaning; but if you perceive help as an expression of trust—the other person wouldn’t want to help you unless he or she felt you would use the help well—then gratitude feels ennobling, an aid to self-esteem. Similarly, if you perceive life as a competition, it’s hard to trust the motives of those who help you, and you resent the need to repay their help as a gratuitous burden. If, however, you perceive that the goodness in life is the result of cooperation, then the give and take of kindness and gratitude become a much more pleasant exchange.

Gratitude is not just about being thankful for the good things in your life, but it is about being thankful for everything in your life. There are things in your life which might initially seem bad, but upon further reflection actually give you an opportunity to learn and grow. Part of gratitude is recognizing these blessings in all things. 

Gratitude is more than saying “thank you” though it is that is part of it.  Dogen speaks to that in The Shushogi – a compilation of Dogen’s teaching in five chapters that was compiled in the 1880’s in a resurgence of appreciation of Dogen.  Chapter 5 is Putting the Training into Practice and Showing Gratitude:
The Buddha Nature should be thus simply awakened in all living things within this world for their desire to be born herein has been fulfilled: as this is so, why should they not be grateful to Shakyamuni Buddha? 

If the Truth had not spread throughout the entire world it would have been impossible for us to have found it, even should we have been willing to give our very lives for it: we should think deeply upon this: how fortunate have we been to be born now when it is possible to see the Truth. Remember the Buddha’s words, “When you meet a Zen Master who teaches the Truth do not consider his caste, his appearance, shortcomings or behaviour. Bow before him out of respect for his great wisdom and do nothing whatsoever to worry him.”

Because of consideration for others on the part of the Buddhas and Ancestors, we are enabled to see the Buddha even now and hear His teachings: had the Buddhas and Ancestors not truly Transmitted the Truth it could never have been heard at this particular time: even only so much as a short phrase or section of the teaching should be deeply appreciated. What alternative have we but to be utterly grateful for the great compassion exhibited in this highest of all teachings which is the very eye and treasury of the Truth? The sick sparrow never forgot the kindness shown to it, rewarding it with the ring belonging to the three great ministers, and the unfortunate tortoise remembered too, showing its gratitude with the seal of Yofu: if animals can show gratitude surely man can do the same?

You need no further teachings than the above in order to show gratitude, and you must show it truly, in the only real way, in your daily life; our daily life should be spent constantly in selfless activity with no waste of time whatsoever. Time flies quicker than an arrow and life passes with greater transience than dewHowever skillful you may be, how can you ever recall a single day of the past? 

Should you live for a hundred years just wasting your time, every day and month will be filled with sorrow; should you drift as the slave of your senses for a hundred years and yet live truly for only so much as a single day, you will, in that one day, not only live a hundred years of life but also save a hundred years of your future life.  

The life of this one day, to-day, is absolutely vital life; your body is deeply significant. Both your life and your body deserve love and respect for it is by their agency that Truth is practiced and the Buddha’s power exhibited: the seed of all Buddhist activity, and of all Buddhahood, is the true practice of Preceptual Truth.

All the Buddhas are within the one Buddha Shakyamuni and all the Buddhas of past, present and future become Shakyamuni Buddha when they reach Buddhahood. 

This Buddha Nature is itself the Buddha and, should you awaken to a complete understanding thereof, your gratitude to the Buddhas will know no bounds.

So, happy Mother’s Day – may we offer this wish to ALL our mothers, with equanimity and gratitude, as we keep the Precepts and do what needs to be done.  


May 9, 2020 – Saturday
Carl Rogers, the great humanistic psychologist, said:
Before every session, I take a moment to remember my humanity. 
There is no experience that this man has that I cannot share with him, 
no fear that I cannot understand, 
no suffering that I cannot care about, 
because I too am human.

No matter how deep his wound, 
he does not need to be ashamed in front of me. 
I too am vulnerable. 
And because of this, I am enough. 
Whatever his story, he no longer needs to be alone with it. 
This is what will allow his healing to begin.

Frank Ostaseski, the author of The Five Invitations, said
There is no Dharma apart from the heart.

When we can’t touch others,
Just put your hand on your heart
And say to yourself
Or out loud
“I choose love
“.

To be open-hearted requires vulnerability.  It is an invitation to feel everything fully.

Courage is the heart’s answer when fear speaks.  Bodhisattva are beings who had the willingness to stand with suffering even while they were afraid.

May 8, 2020 – Friday
Rev. Master Meian Elbert continues her reflections on the Paramitas with this recent talk on The Precepts.

Rev. Master Leandra continues her reflections on The Heart Sutra – Fourth Talk.

Barbara Holmes of the Center for Action and Contemplation offers this reflection on The Beloved Community:

A contemplative person is someone who knows that they don’t know everything and trusts that they are being held by something much larger, wiser, and more loving than themselves. It is these very qualities that enable them to act on behalf of others and communities in need. CAC faculty member Barbara Holmes offers some insights as to how and why this is true, particularly in moments of crisis:

The world is the cloister of the contemplative. There is no escape. Always the quest for justice draws one deeply into the heart of God. In this sacred interiority, contemplation becomes the language of prayer and the impetus for prophetic proclamation and action.

Contemplation plugs the supplicant into the catalytic center of God’s Spirit, into the divine power that permeates every aspect of life. In this space, there are no false dichotomies, no divisions between the sacred and the secular. . . . Through acts of contemplation, individuals and congregations enter the liminal space where the impossible becomes possible.

A community is not always an intentional gathering . . . sometimes communities form because unpredictable events and circumstances draw people into shared life intersections. . . . Communities form when ego-focused concerns recede in favor of shared agendas and a more universal identity. These relationships need only hold together briefly before transitioning into other forms; however, while they are intact, all concerned are aware of the linkages of interior resolve that are at work.

As with all great social justice movements, there came a time [in the Civil Rights Movement] when worship practices and communal resolve coalesced, and an interfaith, interdenominational, interracial community formed. The commonality for this dissenting community was the willingness to resist the power of apartheid in the Americas with their bodies.

The formation of community during the Civil Rights Movement was the quintessential coming-of-age story for Africana people. During a particular time in history, nonviolent initiatives seeded with contemplative worship practices became acts of public theology and activism. Activism and contemplation are not functional opposites. Rather, contemplation is at its heart a reflective activity that is always seeking the spiritual balance between individual piety and communal justice-seeking.

Who could have predicted that America’s apartheid would fall as decisively as the walls of Jericho, when the people marched around the bastions of power carrying little more than their faith and resolve? How audacious it is to take what is given—the remnants of a chattel community, the vague memories of mother Africa, and a desperate need to be free—and translate those wisps into a multicultural, multivalent liberative vision of community. The idea of a beloved community emerged from the deeply contemplative activities of a besieged people.

In the midst of the social distancing necessitated by this pandemic, people have nevertheless come together in creative and loving ways. Some have called this virus a massive “trigger event” with the potential to change everything. As individuals and communities, we can respond with justice and compassion, or we can double down on the pursuit of accumulation and power, with no more than a return to business as usual.



May 7 2020 – Thursday
Allow for Space
From Solid Ground by Sylvia Boorstein, Norman Fischer, and Tsoknyi Rinpoche, © 2011. Reprinted with permission of Parallax Press.

The difficulty most of us face is that we’re afraid of our humanity. We don’t know how to give our humanity space. We don’t know how to give it love. We don’t know how to offer our appreciation. We seize upon whatever difficult emotions or painful thoughts arise—in large part because we’ve been taught from a very young age that life is a serious business. We’re taught that we have to accomplish so many things and excel at so many things because we have to compete for a limited amount of resources. We develop such high expectations for ourselves and others, and we develop high expectations of life. Such a competitive, goal-oriented approach to life makes us very speedy inside. We become so tight physically, mentally, and emotionally as we rush through each day, each moment, that many of us forget—often quite literally—to breathe.

When we allow space into our meditation practice, however, something quite wonderful begins to happen. That solidity, that seriousness begins to break down. We begin to relax a bit more and experience some of the fluidity we enjoyed as very young children. We begin to dance with our experience: “Haaa … I’m so upset … I’m so good … I’m happy … I’m a human being … I might be upset, but I’m alive … If I were dead, I might not have emotion … but, wow, I’m alive.”

We also gradually cut through the habit of identifying with each emotional wave that passes through our awareness. We can be angry, jealous, or scared without having to act on those emotions or let them take over our lives. We can experience joy or love without becoming attached to the object that we think is the cause of our joy.

All too often, the emotions we experience, along with the thoughts and behaviors that accompany them, become part of our internal and social story lines. Anger, anxiety, jealousy, fear, and other emotions become part of who we believe we are, creating what I would call a “greasy” residue, like the oily stuff left on a plate after eating greasy food. If that residue is left on the plate, eventually everything served on that plate starts to taste alike; bits of food start to accumulate too, stuck to layers and layers of greasy residue. All in all, a very unhealthy situation!

When we allow space into our practice, though, we begin to see the impermanent nature of the thoughts and feelings that arise within our experience—as well as of the conditions, over many of which we have no control. That greasy residue doesn’t build up, because there’s no “plate” for it to cling to. If we can allow some space within our awareness and rest there, we can respect our troubling thoughts and emotions, allow them to come, and let them go. Our lives may be complicated on the outside, but we remain simple, easy, and open on the inside.



May 6, 2020 – Wednesday
Two thoughts from Rumi

The Guest House
This being human is a guest house.
Every morning a new arrival.
A joy, a depression, a meanness, 
some momentary awareness comes 
as an unexpected visitor.
Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they’re a crowd of sorrows,
who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture,
still, treat each guest honorably.
He may be clearing you out
for some new delight.
The dark thought, the shame, the malice,
meet them at the door laughing,
and invite them in.
Be grateful for whoever comes,
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.
***********
I have lived 
on the lip of insanity, 
wanting to know reasons,
knocking on a door. 
It opens,
I’ve been knocking from the inside.

May 5, 2020 – Tuesday
More on Achalanatha, the Bodhisattva who sits immoveable in all conditions.
Rev. Master Chosei Swann: Achalanatha
Rev. Master Kodo Kay: Achalanatha the Immoveable One
Rev. Master Meian Elbert: Achalanatha in the Midst of Conditions

May 4, 2020 – Monday
Rudyard Kipling
Buddha at Kamakura (1892)
‘And there is a Japanese idol at Kamakura.’

O ye who tread the Narrow Way 
By Tophet-flare to Judgment Day, 
Be gentle when ‘the heathen’ pray 
To Buddha at Kamakura!

To Him the Way, the Law, apart, 
Whom Maya held beneath her heart, 
Ananda’s Lord, the Bodhisat, 
The Buddha of Kamakura.

For though He neither burns nor sees, 
Nor hears ye thank your Deities, 
Ye have not sinned with such as these, 
His children at Kamakura,

Yet spare us still the Western joke 
When joss-sticks turn to scented smoke 
The little sins of little folk 
That worship at Kamakura—

The grey-robed, gay-sashed butterflies 
That flit beneath the Master’s eyes. 
He is beyond the Mysteries 
But loves them at Kamakura.

And whoso will, from Pride released, 
Contemning neither creed nor priest, 
May feel the Soul of all the East 
About him at Kamakura.

Yea, every tale Ananda heard, 
Of birth as fish or beast or bird, 
While yet in lives the Master stirred, 
The warm wind brings Kamakura.

Till drowsy eyelids seem to see 
A-flower ’neath her golden htee 
The Shwe-Dagon flare easterly 
From Burma to Kamakura,

And down the loaded air there comes 
The thunder of Thibetan drums, 
And droned—‘Om mane padme hum’s’
A world’s-width from Kamakura.

Yet Brahmans rule Benares still, 
Buddh-Gaya’s ruins pit the hill, 
And beef-fed zealots threaten ill 
To Buddha and Kamakura.

A tourist-show, a legend told, 
A rusting bulk of bronze and gold, 
So much, and scarce so much, ye hold 
The meaning of Kamakura?

But when the morning prayer is prayed, 
Think, ere ye pass to strife and trade, 
Is God in human image made 
No nearer than Kamakura?


Kipling travelled in Japan in 1889 and 1892, and his writing of the country is collected in Kipling’s Japan, edited and with copious notes by Hugh Cortazzi and George Webb (London: Athlone, 1988). ‘Buddha at Kamakura’ first appeared appended to a prose ‘Letter’ published in the New York Sun and the Lahore Civil & Military News in July 1892. Three of its verses are used as chapter headings in Kim (1901), and it appears in its entirety in The Five Nations (1903). For the full text of the ‘Letter’ to which the poem was originally appended and knowledgable notes about the poem itself, see Cortazzi and Webb, pp. 195-209.

The best selling of several in-print editions of Kipling’s verse in the UK is The Collected Poems of Rudyard Kipling, available here, and in the US Rudyard Kipling: Complete Verse, available hereKipling’s Japan remains in print and is available here and here.

May 3, 2020 – Sunday
We celebrated the Festival of Achalanatha today with the following chant texts and Dharma Talk:

Invocation of Achalanatha
Hail to the Mandala!  Let us so be engulfed within its praises evermore that, by our own wills and vigilance, may we our fetters cut away.  May we within the temple of our own hearts dwell amidst the myriad mountains.  Hail! Hail! Hail! 

Peace, Peace, Appeaser of Enemies
Peace, peace, appeaser of enemies, Conquer of Mara!
You who wear the garland of skulls, you resplendent One.
You who look around, are pure, immaculate, and remove all
      stains,
You who look everywhere and who bind all evil and are 
      yourself free.
Free from the fetters of Mara, you who are wholly pure,
Let all the devilish impediments vanish.


In Praise of Achalanatha (text by Rev. Master Seikai Luebke)
Achalanatha, the Bodhisattva of great diligence and unshakeable 
      determination,
The Firmly-planted One of the blue body and a fierce 
      expression;

Is known as the immutable Lord, Destroyer of Evil, standing 
       surrounded by a halo of flames 
which consume greed, hatred and delusion giving rise to the 
       compassion of Vairochana Buddha.  

He has planted himself firmly on a rock which is his sitting 
       place,
As a constant reminder of his vow never to abandon his work of 
       purification.

Thus his effort of will is ever steadfast and his wakefulness does 
      not falter;
He clearly displays the method of endless training, showing that 
      mindfulness should never be neglected.

Achalanatha carries an erect sword in his right hand with which 
       to sever the bonds of delusion;
Which have been created by clinging to name and form, a self 
       identity, the five skandhas and the six senses and the eight 
       great distractions.

He cuts through the tenacious attachments of body and mind 
       helping people to recognize all their subtle forms of 
       ignorance and suffering;
Thus clearing the path of liberation skillfully using fire to burn 
       up and consume all human passions.

In his left hand he holds a rope tied with a lasso with which to 
       bind all evil forces;
Restraining and converting all manner of intoxicating desires 
       and angry intentions as well as warding off disasters.

He is unafraid to enter into foul smelling places, ripe with 
      defilement;
There to do all that needs to be done to cleanse away filth and 
      corruption.

If any human being is prone to entertaining despair, wallowing 
      in hopelessness,
That person should meditate on the ever-vigilant one and thus 
      learn to stay rooted in the present moment.

The Eternal Present is the realm of Achalanatha Bodhisattva;
He severs entanglements with the past and the future, leading  
       beings to realize the joy of sitting still within body and 
       mind.

Achalanatha the Foremost Guardian of the Vajra rank is the 
      conqueror of demons;
With diamond hard resolve to persevere in the face of daunting 
      situations, he overcomes all obstructions.

The Immovable One does not shrink away from the endless task 
      of purifying evil karma;
Regarding all spiritual work as the work of a Buddha which will 
      continue endlessly into the future.

When followers of the Way invoke the name and help of the 
      Great Fierce One seeking his assistance,
He responds by showing them the path of vigilance by which 
      they may climb Mount Sumeru bringing to an end evil 
      afflictions always becoming Buddha.

We bow in gratitude to the pure-hearted, ever vigilant One of 
     steadfast willingness and strength;
and pray that we may be able to emulate Achalanatha 
     Bodhisattva.

Sunday Dharma Talk    
Achalanatha – Sitting Firmly In All Conditions 
or Quarantined on our Sitting Place
May 3, 2020
“Achalanatha” – or in Japanese, Fudo – means “The Immovable One.”   We might update that meaning to “The Quarantined One”.

Achalanatha is usually represented with a fierce demeanor, reflecting the will and vigilance needed to subdue and convert our ignorance and our passions. 

This is reflected in the rope of the Precepts he holds in his left hand to “lasso” our passions and delusions, which he cuts at the roots with the sword of Wisdom in his right hand.  To begin with this may seem like it constricts us, but when we look at it more closely we see that it liberates us.  Is this not true of our current experience of self-isolation and quarantine?

Achalanatha is usually portrayed in the midst of flames of the passions or of our feelings of our “need”.  Perhaps more relevantly, those flames represent the conditions in which we live – the COVUD19, the economic upheavals, the uncertainty.

Achalanatha is not driven away from his place of meditation by them, however much they seem to burn. flame, representing the need–and ability–to train even in the midst of the physical, mental and emotional fires of this world.  We can hear the resonances of Dogen telling us to “…training as if our hair is on fire…”

Interestingly Achalanatha is one of the Bodhisattvas of Compassion.  Bodhisattvas are expressions of the life of the Buddha.  They are personalizations of wise ways of living. Achalanatha is the representation of commitment to,  and determination to deepen our practice.

Dogen describes our practice as a practice of mountain still sitting.  Can we think of ourselves as “a mountain”.  A mountain is living, changing, affecting those around it, supporting life and growth.  Think of Mount Shasta or Mount Lassen.

Immovable doesn’t mean inflexible.  It doesn’t mean unaware.  It doesn’t mean stagnating.  Dogen further tells us:   “Without stagnating in good deeds of the present, continue practicing your whole lifetime.”

In the spirit of Dogen, Achalanatha invites us to ask ourselves these questions:

*The stone and the flames:  
          Can we know our sitting place? And be comfortable in it?
          Can we sit in our sitting place in ALL conditions?
          How are we in relation to “immovable sitting”?

*The rope or the lasso:
          What hold do we have on the Precepts?  
          How do we grasp the Precepts?  
           – in both senses of that word?  Hold on to?  Understand?

*The sword – in two senses – to cut away and to open:
          Do we use it to “cut away our fetters”?  
           Indeed, do we know what are our fetters?
          – see our illusions for what they are?  And do something about them?
          – see our judgments for what they are? And do something about them?
         – see our expectations for what they are? And do something about them?

   – see our illusions for what they are?  And do something about them?

   – see our judgments for what they are? And do something about them?

   – see our expectations for what they are? And do something about them?

This – meditating, keeping the Precepts, showing wisdom and compassion and loving kindness – being willing to see clearly, without expectation or judgments – this is Immovable Sitting.  This is Quarantine Sitting.

April 29, 2020 – Wednesday
Cultivating Compassion
Whatever you intend, whatever you plan, and whatever you have a tendency toward, that will become the basis upon which your mind is established. (SN 12.40) Develop meditation on compassion, for when you develop meditation on compassion, any cruelty will be abandoned. (MN 62)Compassion succeeds when it makes cruelty subside. (Vm 9.94)

When lovingkindness comes in contact with witnessing the suffering of others, it transforms into compassion. Compassion and cruelty are considered opposite mental states and cannot coexist in the same mind moment: when one is present, the other is absent. This is why it is so important to cultivate compassion as an intentional act, both to make it grow in its own right and to block out all cruelty.

Allow yourself to be open to the fact that people are suffering. Cultivate the emotion of compassion and allow it to grow. You are training your mind to develop in a particular direction, much like guiding the growth of a plant or a vine. As the process unfolds, the tendency toward compassion will get stronger. As your character gradually evolves in this healthy direction, the tendency—even the ability—to feel cruelty will disappear.

From Dhamma Wheel

April 28, 2020 – Tuesday
A Time To Talk
When a friend calls to me from the road
And slows his horse to a meaning walk,
I don’t stand still and look around
On all the hills I haven’t hoed,
And shout from where I am, “What is it?”
No, not as there is a time to talk.
I thrust my hoe in the mellow ground,
Blade-end up and five feet tall,
And plod: I go up to the stone wall
For a friendly visit.
Robert Frost

The Summer Day
Who made the world?
Who made the swan, and the black bear?
Who made the grasshopper?
This grasshopper, I mean–
the one who has flung herself out of the grass,
the one who is eating sugar our of my hand,
who is moving her jaws back and forth instead of up and down —
who is gazing around with her enormous and complicated eyes.
Now she lifts her pale forearms and thoroughly washes her face.
Now she snaps her wings open, and floats away.
I don’t know exactly what a prayer is.
I do know how to pay attention, how to fall down
into the grass, how to kneel down in the grass,
how to be idle and blessed, how to stroll through the fields,
which is what I have been doing all day.
Tell me, what else should I have done?
Doesn’t everything die at last, and too soon?
Tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life?
~Mary Oliver



April 27, 2020 – Monday
Sunday’s Dharma Talk at Redding Zen
At This Time of Shortage and Confinement:  The Four Immeasurables
April 26, 2020

What are the Four Immeasurables?  
The Four Boundless Qualities?   
The Four Limitless Ones?  
The Four Sublime States?  
The Four Brahma Viharas?   
The Four Divine Abodes?  
The Four Divine Dwelling Places?  

These four qualities, which literally have “no measure” (apramana), are equanimity (upekkha), love (metta), compassion (karuna), and joy (mudita). 
By dissolving the boundaries that constrain us, these four qualities expand our capacity for experience and deepen our experience of practice.  They are called immeasurable because their capacity to purify the heart and generate positive energy is beyond measure.  

These immeasurable qualities of love are also called abodes (vihara) because they should become the constant dwelling places of the heart and mind; where we feel at home. They should not remain merely places of rare and short visits, soon forgotten. In other words, our minds should become thoroughly saturated by these qualities of love. They should become our inseparable companions, and we should be mindful of them in all our daily activities. The Buddha tells us: “Cherish all living beings with a boundless heart, radiating kindness over the entire world.” He suggests we remain in this loving state of being at all times. This he calls the “sublime abiding” (divine abode). 

And at this time of empty shelves, hoarded toilet paper, the limitations of fear and the tightly grasped hands of thought, our reflection on the Four Brahma Viharas may be helpful.  Imagine:  what would it be like to be quarantined in the Four Divine Abodes?

Let’s look at them, and see if you are familiar with the “addresses”.

The Buddha taught the following to his son Rahula:   Rahula, practice loving kindness to overcome anger. Loving kindness has the capacity to bring happiness to others without demanding anything in return.  Practice compassion to overcome cruelty. Compassion has the capacity to remove the suffering of others without expecting anything in return.  Practice sympathetic joy to overcome hatred. Sympathetic joy arises when one rejoices over the happiness of others and wishes others well-being and success. Practice non-attachment to overcome prejudice. Non-attachment is the way of looking at all things openly and equally. This is because that is. Myself and others are not separate. Do not reject one thing only to chase after another. I call these the four immeasurables. Practice them and you will become a refreshing source of vitality and happiness for others.”

Equanimity 
Equanimity is the attitude of regarding all beings as equals, regardless of their relationship to oneself. This sounds simple, but it’s probably the hardest to cultivate. It involves trying to view all things as equal, not being attached to our circumstances or to our desires. Letting things just be as they are. Equanimity counters clinging and aversion.

Equanimity means to have a clear-minded tranquil state of mind – not being overpowered by delusions, mental dullness or agitation. For example, with equanimity we do not distinguish between friend, enemy or stranger, but regard every sentient being as equal. 

Equanimity is the basis for unconditional, altruistic love, compassion and joy for other’s happiness and Bodhicitta.  When we discriminate between friends and enemies, how can we ever want to help all sentient beings? 

May I be free from preference and prejudice.
May I know things just as they are.
May I experience the world knowing me just as I am. 
May I see into whatever arises. 

Loving kindness 
Loving-kindness is the wish that others be happy. That sounds easy, but it is supposed to include everyone, not just our friends and people we know, but everyone. When we cultivate loving-kindness, we are trying to extend it, first to all the people we love, then to the people we feel neutral about, then to the people we dislike/hate. Only when we can really cultivate this can it be said to reach the Immeasurable level. Loving-kindness counters ill will.

The definition of love in Buddhism is: wanting others to be happy. This love is unconditional and it requires a lot of courage and acceptance (including self-acceptance). 

This definition means that ‘love’ in Buddhism refers to something quite different from the ordinary term of love which is usually about attachment, more or less successful relationships and sex; all of which are rarely without self-interest. Instead, in Buddhism it refers to detachment and the unselfish interest in others’ welfare.

May I be happy, well, and at peace.
May I open to things just as they are.
May I experience the world opening to me just as I am. 
May I welcome whatever arises. 

Compassion 
Compassion is similar.  It is the wish for others to be free from suffering. Again, we want to cultivate compassion and try to extend to include all beings, not just the ones who we love, or who we think ‘deserve’ it. Wishing suffering upon others or turning a blind eye to it is not helpful to us. It can plant negative seeds in our minds. Compassion counters cruelty.

The definition is: wanting others to be free from suffering. This compassion happens when one feels sorry with someone, and one feels an urge to help. 

Compassion thus refers to an unselfish, detached emotion which gives one a sense of urgency in wanting to help others. From a Buddhist perspective, helping others to reduce their physical or mental suffering is very good, but the ultimate goal is to extinguish all suffering by stopping the process of rebirth and the suffering that automatically comes with living by reaching enlightenment. 

The attitude of a so-called Bodhisattva is Bodhicitta: this is the ultimate compassionate motivation: the wish to liberate all sentient beings from the sufferings of cyclic existence and to become a fully enlightened Buddha oneself in order to act as the perfect guide for them. Actually, this could well be the most honorable and idealistic motivation possible

May I be free of suffering, harm, and disturbance. 
May I accept things just as they are.
May I experience the world accepting me just as I am. 
May I serve whatever arises. 

Joy 
Joy is the attitude of rejoicing at the happiness and virtues of other sentient beings. Again, we want to cultivate joy and try to extend it to all beings. When others are happy, we want to take joy in this. This is the counter to jealousy.

The definition is: being happy with someone’s fortune/happiness. Sympathetic joy here refers to the potential of bliss and happiness of all sentient beings, as they can all become Buddhas. It is a great antidote to depression for oneself as well, but this should not be the main goal.   By rejoicing in others’ progress on the spiritual path, one can actually share in their positive karma. 

Sympathetic joy is an unselfish, very positive mental attitude which is beneficial for oneself and others. In this case, it also refers specifically to rejoicing in the high rebirth and enlightenment of others.

May I enjoy the activities of life itself.
May I enjoy things just as they are.
May I experience the world taking joy in all that I do. 
May I know what to do whatever arises. 

Consider setting up house in one of the Four Divine Abodes.  There’s plenty of room.

Perhaps you could even go so far as to create a time-share for yourself in the Abodes:  equanimity, loving kindness, compassion, and empathetic joy.

April 25, 2020 – Saturday
Enough. These few words are enough.
If not these words, this breath.
If not this breath, this sitting here.

This opening to life
we have refused
again and again
until now.

Until now.

David Whyte from
Where Many Rivers Meet

April 24, 2020 – Friday.
We had a vibrant conversation with Rev. Vivian Gruenenfelder Thursday evening, April 23.  Rev. Vivian is the monk in residence at the Still Flowing Water Hermitage currently based in the Meadow Vista (CA) with the Bear River Meditation Group.  She spoke about this importance of trust during this time and  addressed questions that dealt with the anxiety, stress and uncertainty that we are all feeling these days.   

She offered a teaching from Ven. Thich Nhat Hanh for us to consider as we try to navigate our way through the coronavirus:   When the crowded Vietnamese refugee boats met with storms or pirates, if everyone panicked all would be lost. But if even one person on the boat remained calm and centered, it was enough. It showed the way for everyone to survive.  She invited us to make the choice – today – to be that one person on the boat who chose to trust that all is unfolding for the good.  

The Fine Art of Distance
Rev. Mugo offered this daily teaching on the Throssel Hole Buddhist Abbey website.  It is from Sue Gittins who lives close to the monastery in Northern England.

The weather is “perfect”. You know that day when the sky is deep sheer blue, and itʼs warm and windy and delicious and youʼd be a fool not to be out there in it?

My COVID-19 lockdown walk takes me past houses on one side of the road, along quite narrow pavements, then along a country path. Both these locations require all of us whose paths cross to practice the fine art of communication: we need to create safe distance, establish mutual consent, wait and watch to cue each other in, maintain civility. Itʼs pretty complex. And weʼve only been doing it for a short while. And nobody taught us how to do it.

Youʼd think one or two of these little encounters would go wrong. Youʼd think it might get awkward. But today youʼd be wrong. Everybody I meet, and must keep at a safe distance, smiles warmly. Either of us waits for the other to pass within two metres, each of us smiles and greets the other. One woman walks her dog down the middle of the road to allow me enough space. I thank her, and she says” Youʼre welcome”. I shuffle into a driveway to allow a man coming the other way to pass, and we exchange reassuring smiles. The young woman and her small child smile, and give me room to pass by.

So much smiling. So much unforced courtesy. Limitless co-operation. Youʼd think humans were designed to be generous of spirit, to co-operate, to consider and help each other. Maybe we were. Homage to the Sangha.

April 23, 2020 – Thursday.
I offer the following poem in honor of Rosemary Dyke who died peacefully yesterday. She truly lived her DASH in her kindness to all she encountered who were in need of kindness.  She was gentle to the feral cats, consistent in vacuuming the Buddhist Supplies Shop at the Abbey, and a dear and good friend.  May she be in her own True Home in peace.

The Dash
Linda Ellis

I read of a man who stood to speak
At the funeral of a friend
He referred to the dates on the tombstone
From the beginning…to the end

He noted that first came the date of birth
And spoke the following date with tears, 
But he said what mattered most of all
Was the dash between those years

For that dash represents all the time
That they spent alive on earth.
And now only those who loved them
Know what that little line is worth

For it matters not, how much we own, 
The cars…the house…the cash.
What matters is how we live and love
And how we spend our dash.

So, think about this long and hard.
Are there things you’d like to change?
For you never know how much time is left
That can still be rearranged.

If we could just slow down enough
To consider what’s true and real
And always try to understand
The way other people feel.

And be less quick to anger
And show appreciation more
And love the people in our lives
Like we’ve never loved before.

If we treat each other with respect
And more often wear a smile,
Remembering this special dash
Might only last a little while

So, when your eulogy is being read
With your life’s actions to rehash…
Would you be proud of the things they say
About how you spent YOUR dash?

April 22, 2020 – Wednesday. His Holiness the Dalai Lama spoke recently about the coronavirus:

Sometimes friends ask me to help with some problem in the world, using some “magical powers.” I always tell them that the Dalai Lama has no magical powers. If I did, I would not feel pain in my legs or a sore throat. We are all the same as human beings, and we experience the same fears, the same hopes, the same uncertainties.

From the Buddhist perspective, every sentient being is acquainted with suffering and the truths of sickness, old age and death. But as human beings, we have the capacity to use our minds to conquer anger and panic and greed. In recent years I have been stressing “emotional disarmament”: to try to see things realistically and clearly, without the confusion of fear or rage. If a problem has a solution, we must work to find it; if it does not, we need not waste time thinking about it.

We Buddhists believe that the entire world is interdependent. That is why I often speak about universal responsibility. The outbreak of this terrible coronavirus has shown that what happens to one person can soon affect every other being. But it also reminds us that a compassionate or constructive act—whether working in hospitals or just observing social distancing—has the potential to help many.

Ever since news emerged about the coronavirus in Wuhan, I have been praying for my brothers and sisters in China and everywhere else. Now we can see that nobody is immune to this virus. We are all worried about loved ones and the future, of both the global economy and our own individual homes. But prayer is not enough.

This crisis shows that we must all take responsibility where we can. We must combine the courage doctors and nurses are showing with empirical science to begin to turn this situation around and protect our future from more such threats.

In this time of great fear, it is important that we think of the long-term challenges—and possibilities—of the entire globe. Photographs of our world from space clearly show that there are no real boundaries on our blue planet. Therefore, all of us must take care of it and work to prevent climate change and other destructive forces. This pandemic serves as a warning that only by coming together with a coordinated, global response will we meet the unprecedented magnitude of the challenges we face.

We must also remember that nobody is free of suffering, and extend our hands to others who lack homes, resources or family to protect them. This crisis shows us that we are not separate from one another—even when we are living apart. Therefore, we all have a responsibility to exercise compassion and help.

As a Buddhist, I believe in the principle of impermanence. Eventually, this virus will pass, as I have seen wars and other terrible threats pass in my lifetime, and we will have the opportunity to rebuild our global community as we have done many times before. I sincerely hope that everyone can stay safe and stay calm. At this time of uncertainty, it is important that we do not lose hope and confidence in the constructive efforts so many are making.

April 21, 2020 – Tuesday
This morning I did a Memorial Ceremony for Sherry Morgado’s 15-year old cat, Cloud.

Cloud’s picture was on the altar along with her favorite chicken treats. I offered the Scripture of Great Wisdom and the Dedication of Merit, and then read this beautiful poem selected by Sherry:

Death is nothing at all. 
It does not count. 
I have only slipped away into the next room. 
Nothing has happened. 

Everything remains exactly as it was. 
I am I, and you are you, 

and the old life that we lived so fondly together is untouched, unchanged. 
Whatever we were to each other, that we are still. 

Call me by the old familiar name. 
Speak of me in the easy way which you always used. 
Put no difference into your tone. 
Wear no forced air of solemnity or sorrow. 

Laugh as we always laughed at the little jokes that we enjoyed together.
Play, smile, think of me, pray for me. 
Let my name be ever the household word that it always was. 
Let it be spoken without an effort, without the ghost of a shadow upon it. 


Life means all that it ever meant. 
It is the same as it ever was. 
There is absolute and unbroken continuity. 
What is this death but a negligible accident? 

Why should I be out of mind because I am out of sight? 
I am but waiting for you, for an interval, 
somewhere very near, 
just round the corner. 

All is well. 
Nothing is hurt; nothing is lost. 
One brief moment and all will be as it was before. 
How we shall laugh at the trouble of parting when we meet again!


Death Is Nothing At All
By Henry Scott-Holland 

April 20, 2020 – Monday
Rev. Master Leandra, Abbot of Throssel Hole Buddhist Abbey, gives her third lecture on The Heart Sutra.

Rev. Master Serena’s Dharma Talk Fear of Death was offered on Sunday, April 19 at Shasta Abbey, and Rev. Master Daishin Yalon offered timely teaching in his recent Dharma Talk on The Paramita of Never Giving Up 


April 19, 2020 – Sunday Dharma Talk Opening the Hand of Thought 
In the 1300s in Japan Great Master Keizan in his Instructions on How to Do Pure Meditation says:  Pure meditation opens us so that we may directly realize the Foundation of our minds and dwell content within our own Buddha Nature. 

Directly realize.  
Go beyond the speculation and controversies.   Dwell content.  Be at ease, equanimous, as things unfold – keep the precepts and do what needs to be done.  Isn’t this what we’re missing in the fog of fear and the thickets of agitation we’re caught up in these days?

In the last century Kosho Uchiyama Roshi spoke of the importance of “opening the hand of thought”.  (Uchiyama was ordained a priest in 1941 by his teacher Sawaki Kodo. Sawaki Kodo was the priest to who Koho Zenji sent Rev. Master Jiyu to affirm her kensho.  Uchiyama became abbot of Antai-ji following Sawaki Kodo’s death in 1965. Antai-ji was unusual in that both Sawaki Kodo and Uchiyama Roshi simply sat. Uchiyama felt that it was most important to just practice without any expectation of reward.  Those that needed certification as temple priest would be sent to other temples.  Those who came just sat.)  The book by this title offers an extraordinary insight into the heart of meditation: the effort of an individual to realize – make real –  “their universal self” in living a truly full life.  

This is what makes our meditation practice so relevant in this time of quarantine.  This is the moment we have to see and accept – to make real – our true self.  We come to know what the Sandokai points to – all is one and all is different.  AND they are in harmony. 
Opening the hand of thought is the very act of meditation.  This is what we do in meditation:  we are opening the hand of thought.  

In opening the hand of thought we are loosening our grip on our judgements, expectations, fears, anxieties, joys, even ecstasies.  

In opening the hand of thought we are embracing the truth of impermanence (anicca).  We can’t control the flow of change no matter how had we hold on.  

In opening the hand of thought we have the rare opportunity to recognize the reality of ANATTA – we have a chance to see “the self” for what it really is. AND to see the many ways we are “connected”.

In opening the hand of thought we have the rare opportunity – as Keizan says – to directly realize the Foundation of our minds and see the ways our fears and judgements and expectations shape our experience of the world.  Or, in other words, to see what our minds are doing.   In doing so – if we are paying attention – we see the truth of DUKKHA – and how we create our own suffering by closing our “hands of thought” in vain efforts to make it otherwise.

When we see what our mind is doing, we begin to see that it might be time to explore in depth this thing we call the self.

Dogen in the Genjo Koan (Actualizing the Fundamental Point) gave some simple instructions on how to do that:  

To study the Buddha Way is to study the self; to study the self is to forget the self; to forget the self is to be enlightened by all things. To be enlightened by all things is to let body and mind drop off.  No trace of enlightenment remains, and this no-trace continues endlessly.

To study the self is to forget the self.  

Opening
 the hand of thought is doing just that.  It is the fundamental Buddhist practice of not grasping and clinging.  And life in time of corona virus, interestingly, invites us to do just that.  

What about our expectations:  about not getting COVID-19?  About having one’s loved ones come through this safely?  About not dying, or not having those we love die?

What about our judgements:  that things should be THIS way?  About “my self” as something permanent and unchanging?

In Gakudo Yojinshu  (Aspects of Zazen) Dogen says:  Forget the selfish self for a little and allow the mind to remain natural for this is very close to the Mind that seeks the way.

Forget the selfish self for a little and allow the mind to remain natural.  
Allowing the mind to remain natural, I suggest, is that same as opening the hand of thought.

Dogen continues:    Self is the basis for the sixty-two private opinions so, when you are beginning to become full of your own opinions, just sit quietly and watch how they arise.

And he asks (and answers) – as he usually does – some compelling questions:  On what are they based, both within you and outside of you? Your body, hair and skin come from your parents: the seeds that came from your parents, however, are empty, both from the beginning of time and until the end of it. 

Within this there is no ego, the mind that is fettered by discrimination, knowledge and dualism of thought blinds us. After all, in the end, what is it that inhales and exhales? 


These two are not the self and there is no self to which to cling. They who live in delusion cling to all things whilst they who are enlightened are free of clinging and things: and still we measure the unreal self and grasp at worldly appearances, thus ignoring true Buddhist practice; by failing to sever the ties of the world, we are turning our backs upon the True teachings and chasing after false ones…

“The world” is our preoccupations – our distractions, our fears, the things that cloud our minds.  When we don’t sever our ties with these, we’re turning our backs upon the True teachings and chasing after false ones…

Opening the hand of thought AND recognizing the importance of “holding on loosely “ to this thing we call “the self” – in life and in practice.  

I’m reminded of the chorus of song by the 70s band Kansas – Hold On:   
Just hold on loosely 
But don’t let go 
If you cling too tightly 
You’re gonna lose control

I might adapt it to our purposes to read:
Just hold on loosely 
What’s to know? 
If you cling too tightly 
It’s harder to let go.



April 18, 2020 – Saturday
Recently parallels have been drawn between the global pandemic and the climate crisis. It seems early to say, but we can sense that the two problems are more related than we think, as they are both challenges that we all must face together.  No voice has been as clear or as compelling as Joanna Macy’s in the intersection that lies between Buddhist practice and ecological movements. Despite the fear, panic, and pain that rages on in our world, Joanna Macy says that she’s lucky to be alive in this moment—because when everything starts to unravel, we have an opportunity to rediscover our deep belonging with the Earth.  Tricycle’s Editor James Shaheen talks to Joanna about how she believes we can move forward in a time of great despair—and how we can transform our despair into action 

Rev. Master Jiyu’s Teaching on Care for Environment
as an Expression of Buddhist Practice
Rev. Master Oswin Hollenbeck, currently the Executive Secretary of the Order of Buddhist Contemplatives, and formerly the Prior of Eugene Buddhist Priory, is the author of Conserve, Preserve, Respect & Revere: Rev. Master Jiyu’s Teachings on Care for the Environment as an Expression of Buddhist Practice which was originally published in the Spring 2015 Environmental Issue of the Journal of the Order of Buddhist Contemplatives. 

April 17, 2020 – Friday
Sangha member Dr. Elizabeth Colleran gives an update on Cats and Covid19 that may be of interest to you. 

Rev. Master Daizui McPhillamy was ordained by Rev. Master Jiyu-Kennett in 1973 and served as her chief assistant and one of her primary caregivers until her death in November of 1996. Following her death Rev. Master Daizui was elected as the second Head of the Order of Buddhist Contemplatives. He served in this capacity until his death from lymphatic cancer in April of 2003 at the age of 57.  He is the author of Buddhism from Within:   An Intuitive Introduction to Buddhism

After 9/11 Rev. Master Daizui McPhillamy commented on his sadness at the events of 9/11 in the USA and then offers his reflections on Spiritual Simplicity (download the PDF).   His words resonate with the events we see unfolding today:

And yet within this sadness, this self-questioning and introspection, there are some positive things which many people have pointed to: a new perspective on what is important. A perspective on, not only what is well not to do, but what is well to do. Such things as being, simply being with one’s loved ones and friends. Not doing anything in particular, just being. Such things as doing small acts of enlightenment, bringing charity, tenderness, benevolence and sympathy into life in little ways. Truthfulness, whether it be within oneself or to one’s fellow people; and the tolerance that comes from forgiving ourselves, and others, our mutual humanity; a wish to care for one another and for the world.
All of these things strike me as being very simple, very basic, and somehow, together (and this is where I am not quite fathoming or able to bring together what I sense), these things paint a picture that is larger than the things themselves. A picture of what I will call, for lack of any other term, “spiritual simplicity.” While I cannot define that for you or even for myself, it’s something that seems to have been recognized and spoken of in various ways down the ages in the Zen tradition. I will try to share with you some observations about it, perhaps in the way in which one sees a moth circle around the flame. Even if I cannot point directly to it, perhaps we can fly around it a little together.


And here are two more excellent talks by Rev. Master Daizui
What It Means to be a Buddhist   Link to talk: Listen / Download  Date of talk: 2001    Length of talk: 50 min/15 MB 
and
Radical Sobriety  Link to talk: Listen / Download 
Date of talk: 2001    Length of talk: 45 min/16 MB

April 16, 2020 – Thursday
The Buddha said:  However the seed is planted, in that way the fruit is gathered. Good things come from doing good deeds, bad things come from doing bad deeds. (SN 11.10) 

What is the purpose of a mirror? For the purpose of reflection. So too social action is to be done with repeated reflection. (MN 61)

One reflects thus: “Others may speak in unhealthy ways; I shall refrain from speaking in unhealthy ways.” (MN 8)

One lives with companions in concord, with mutual appreciation, without disputing, blending like milk and water, viewing each other with kindly eyes. One practices thus: “I maintain verbal acts of lovingkindness toward my companions both openly and privately.” (MN 31)

How we speak to one another has a big impact on how well we get along with one another. We evoke from others the same emotions we express to them. If you say something with annoyance, you will provoke annoyance. If you say something kind, you will bring out the kindness of others. This is how human interactions work: however the seed is planted, the fruit is gathered. The same is true about how we speak about others.

One important way of practicing in daily life is bringing as much lovingkindness as possible to everything you do, especially in the realm of verbal action. Make a point today of speaking kindly to the people you interact with, as well as those you speak about. 

You’ll find it comes easily if you can manage to view the other person “with kindly eyes.” 

Find something good in other people to focus upon and allow your speech to flow from the emotion of friendliness.

adapted from The Dhamma Wheel

Thus shall you think of all this fleeting world:
A star at dawn, a bubble in a stream;
A flash of lightening in a summer cloud,
A flickering lamp, a phantom, and a dream
The Diamond Sutra


How do we respond to life appropriately with compassion and skillfulness?  This is our challenge as human beings.  The Bodhisattva practices says Zen teacher Reb Anderson, gives a roadmap. 


April 15, 2020 – Wednesday
Today, When I Could Do Nothing – Jane Hirschfield
Today, when I could do nothing,
I saved an ant.

It must have come in with the morning paper,
still being delivered
to those who shelter in place.

A morning paper is still an essential service.

I am not an essential service.

I have coffee and books,
time,
a garden,
silence enough to fill cisterns.

It must have first walked
the morning paper, as if loosened ink
taking the shape of an ant.

Then across the laptop computer — warm —
then onto the back of a cushion.

Small black ant, alone,
crossing a navy cushion,
moving steadily because that is what it could do.

Set outside in the sun,
it could not have found again its nest.
What then did I save?

It did not move as if it was frightened,
even while walking my hand,
which moved it through swiftness and air.

Ant, alone, without companions,
whose ant-heart I could not fathom—
how is your life, I wanted to ask.

I lifted it, took it outside.

This first day when I could do nothing,
contribute nothing
beyond staying distant from my own kind,
I did this.

April 14, 2020 – Tuesday
Rev. Master Jiyu spoke of The Delusion of Illness and Death in a series of 4 talks in 1978. They are profoundly relevant to us in 2020 as well.


When Giving Is All We Have. Alberto Rios

                                              One river gives
                                              Its journey to the next.

We give because someone gave to us.
We give because nobody gave to us.

We give because giving has changed us.
We give because giving could have changed us.

We have been better for it,
We have been wounded by it—

Giving has many faces: It is loud and quiet,
Big, though small, diamond in wood-nails.

Its story is old, the plot worn and the pages too,
But we read this book, anyway, over and again:

Giving is, first and every time, hand to hand,
Mine to yours, yours to mine.

You gave me blue and I gave you yellow.
Together we are simple green. You gave me

What you did not have, and I gave you
What I had to give—together, we made

Something greater from the difference.


April 13, 2020 – Monday
In her Dharma Talk on Sunday, April 12, Rev. Meian Elbert offered her insights on The Six Paramitas: Generosity



Koshin Paley Ellison of the New York Zen Center for Contemplative Care offered this teaching recently: One of the most common ways we avoid living by our values is the old “I’ll do it later” excuse— the moment isn’t right, or it’s too hard, or all the right conditions are not present. Maybe the person you’re dealing with is just too obnoxious for you to extend respect and love to them. Maybe the emotions you’re feeling are just too much to bear for you to accept them. Maybe the mistake you made was just too long ago to rectify.
You may ask yourself:  What are you waiting for?
Not making excuses is a place of practice.

We feel like separate water droplets but we are also ocean. Jane Hirschfeld

April 12, 2020 – Sunday
Rev. Master Leandra gives the second lecture on The Heart Sutra, incorporating comments and questions from correspondents who are following the series.

Doug Carnine, PhD, is a member of the Eugene (OR) Buddhist Priory and a Lay Minister in the Order of Buddhist Contemplatives.  He coordinates the Spreading Kindness Campaign and says:  Being self quarantined, I came up with the idea of connecting with friends, so I would feel not so isolated. My excuse for reaching out is to send my guest newspaper editorial in about caring for our mental health during the COVID-19 pandemic. Several friends have found it useful and sending it out makes me feel that I am (hopefully) doing something useful. The Eugene Register-Guard’s Guest View: Kindness in the face of COVID-19 is reprinted here:

In these times of extraordinary stress, kindness to those close to us and members of our community is essential. The March 22 editorial (Our View, “We can all help our most vulnerable neighbors”) documents how this extends to the most needy in our community.

Kindness lets people know they are not alone. There are people who care about them. Our kindness to strangers goes unseen when we “stay home, save lives.” If we have to go out, strangers see our kindness with our social distance. We stand at least six feet away.

Being kind to others also helps the giver.

Caring about others reduces our stress and fear by increasing our feeling of belonging, not being isolated. For example, some Rotary clubs are reducing isolation by holding virtual meetings with ZOOM, which is especially important given that the members value Rotary first for its service and second for its fellowship.

Consider not only how you might help people, but also how to connect, make them feel appreciated and included. Remember the power of caring for others is also a strong motivator to take better care of ourselves. For example, doctors were more likely to clean their hands when the focus was on keeping their patients from catching diseases than when the focus was on them not catching diseases. We cannot control the stressors caused by the pandemic, but we can dampen the stress. Here are some ideas for how to keep your kindness activated, beginning with self-kindness.

Ways to be kind to yourself: Reflect on why you need more kindness. Stressed? Pray, meditate, practice mindfulness, yoga, or tai chi. Isolated and bored? Reach out to friends, do tasks you have been putting off, and work toward new goals. Depressed? Take Yale’s course on happiness for free, the most popular course in its 300 year history.

Anxious? Spend less time thinking, talking and reading about the virus. Instead, spend more time thinking, talking and writing about what you are grateful for.

Engaging with your partner: Ask about your partner’s interests and concerns, joke, get up to date on activities. Do one of your partner’s tasks. Ask how to be of use, encourage and support your partner in doing things they enjoy and that you do together.

Be affectionate, compliment efforts and accomplishments.

Ways to be kind to children: Be calm and reassuring, and describe what you are doing to make sure you and your partner will stay healthy. Let them know you love them. Find fun, constructive ways to spend time together. Make yourself available for their questions and fears, answer honestly. Monitor social media and TV so that they do not take in too much negative and highly upsetting news or other anxiety-inducing content.

Ways to be kind (virtually when possible) to friends and fellow employees: Find out how COVID-19 is complicating the lives of a friend or co-worker and ask if there are ways you or a manager might be able to help. Reconnect with good friends. Drop off food to a friend or take something from work to an employee working remotely. Watch to make sure no identifiable group is excluded or even blamed because of their nationality, ethnicity, gender, religion or other differentiating factors.

Go out of your way to express gratitude to those who are making the best of it in this time of heightened stress, especially those who are connecting, helping and including.

Helping others reduces our stress; we know it from our experience and from science. So as our stress from COVID-19 grows, let’s respond by growing our kindness, including for ourselves



April 11, 2020 – Saturday
Rev. Master Daishin Morgan’s article Loneliness starts out In recent years I have spent much of my time in solitude and would like to offer some thoughts on loneliness, especially now when many of us are having to live in isolation.  You may find this short article directly relevant particularly the following poem:
Space is a poor analogy for emptiness,
It is the lightness of things being free.
Being in a room is the same 
If the door opens easily or I am locked in 
But so completely different.
Remorseless positivity is only pretending;
The cries must be heard, you must enter the room.
The lightness is not the condition of the door.


 as well as thus observation about distraction: Finally, a word about distraction. I have come to appreciate the role of distraction in keeping some equilibrium. When on your own it is usually not a good idea to spend many hours in zazen as you might do on an intense retreat or sesshin. We can rely on conditions for the intensity. Enjoyment is important. I once had a dog who would chase his tail, distracting him with a biscuit would usually help.

The community of Throssel Hole Abbey recently held a Transfer of Merit ceremony partly intended as an offering of merit for all those suffering because of coronavirus.  The video is quite beautiful and the chanting, particularly the chanting of the Dedication of Merit is quite meaningful.  
Rev. Mugo gave an insightful talk on Offering Merit at Throssel Hole Buddhist Abbey this past Sunday.  We will offer an adapted Transfer of Merit Ceremony here at Redding Zen this coming Sunday.
 

April 10, 2020 – Friday
Many thanks to Rev. Leon, Prior at the Portland Buddhist Priory, who joined in our Thursday Evening Dharma Conversation last night.  27 of us had a good discussion on aspects of our practice during this time, particularly the importance of “looking up”.  Last night one of you mentioned the ER Doctor Who Advocates Meditation. You may find the full Tricycle article of interest.

Scott Johnson very kindly made a guided video tour of the goings on at Meditation Valley at his home in Cottonwood (CA). You might find it an interesting “walk”.

The roses are coming out at the Priory, and the azaleas, too.  May kindness continue to blossom in the world, and compassion, too. As Ryokan says In the scenery of spring, nothing is better, nothing worse; The flowering branches are of themselves, some short, some long.

April 9, 2020 – Thursday
When we feel limited and constrained, consider this from Etty Hillesum, who died in Auschwitz at the age of 29.  Her diary – well worth reading – is An Interrupted Life.Through me course wide rivers and in me rise tall mountains.  And beyond the thickets of my agitation and confusion there stretch the wide plains of my peace and surrender.  All landscapes are within me.  And there is room for eveything…

Ajahn Sumedho is a senior monk of the Thai forest tradition and was abbot of Amaravati Buddhist Monastery, UK, from its consecration in 1984 until his retirement in 2010. The following is taken from his 1995 Article “Noticing Space” – adapted for Tricycle from his book The Mind and the Way.
 
The spacious mind has room for everything. It is like the space in a room, which is never harmed by what goes in and out of it. In fact, we say “the space in this room,” but actually, the room is in the space, the whole building is in the space. When the building has gone, the space will still be there. The space surrounds the building, and right now we are containing space in a room. With this view we can develop a new perspective. We can see that there are walls creating the shape of the room, and there is the space. Looking at it one way, the walls limit the space in the room. But looking at it another way, we see that space is limitless…

April 7, 2020 – Tuesday
What are we risking when we withhold, when we meet with resistance and pull away? We’re risking not living a life of conviction, integrity, and authenticity. The Buddha himself faced adversity. Becoming a great spiritual leader created anger and jealousy in his cousin, so much so that he tried to kill the Buddha out of jealousy and envy. The Buddha could have shut it down right then and packed it all in: “All right, my family is trying to murder me. This is too much.” But he didn’t. And all of us who benefit from his teachings now are thankful for that. Working with adversity is a place of practice. Koshin Paley Ellison

April 6, 2020 – Monday
Here are three rich resources available from Throssel Hole Buddhist Abbey that you may find helpful in your training this week:
1.  Rev. Master Leandra, Throssel Hole’s abbot, gives the first of four planned lectures on The Heart Sutra, partly inspired by Shohaku Okumura’s book Living by Vow. 
2.  The Throssel Community has videoed their Renewing the Precepts Ceremony.  Similar to the ceremony we do here, it is held there twice a month when the community gathers for a reading of the sixteen Bodhisattva Precepts. 
3.  Rev. Olwen Crookall-Greening offers  Guided Meditation and Reflections: Just Sitting, given in January this year during a meditation period.  This 23-minute reflection offers insights on our practice of serene reflection meditation.

Gesshin Claire Greenwood is a Zen teacher and author of Bow First, Ask Questions Later.  She invites us to practice releasing the thought that “things should not be this way”:

Buddhist wisdom points to the reality that suffering is an enduring and continual part of being alive. . . We are often sheltered in our own kind of psychological palace where we are shielded from things like illness. Yet this kind of suffering can ultimately not be avoided. We will all, everyone one of us, face old age, sickness, and death. . . . 

Personally, one of the most distressing things to me about the COVID-19 outbreak has been a feeling that “things should not be this way.” In reality, though, things are and always have been this way. . . . The suffering caused by illness and death is nothing new. 

According to [a Buddhist] legend, there once was a woman who sought out the Buddha after losing her baby to illness. Crazy with grief, she asked him for medicine to bring her son back from the dead. He replied that he would give her this medicine if she brought him back a white mustard seed from the house of a family that had never experienced death. The woman went door to door, searching for a family untouched by the loss of a loved one. Of course, she could never find such a family. She realized that death touches everyone. And in realizing the universality of grief and death, her suffering lessened. 

This story shows us that the feeling of “things should not be this way” is an additional and unnecessary pain on top of our inevitable suffering. We cannot avoid old age, sickness, and death, but we can remove the unnecessary assumption that things should be otherwise, and the psychic pain this assumption causes us. 

April 5, 2020 – Sunday
Thanks to the 26 folks who attended our time together on Sunday, April 5 and shared our Dharma Talk At Home Is Our Sitting Place.  Text of that talk is attached below. We started with a short period of meditation then read together Great Master Dogen’s Rules For Meditation. Building on Dogen’s opening questions in the Rules, our Dharma Talk explored the questions we are asking during these challenging days, as well as other possible questions we might be asking.  We looked at the Three Foundations of Meditation, Precepts and Wisdom that make up our “home”. Finally we looked at ways we might remain more at ease “at home”.  The talk was followed by an insightful discussion.  Thanks to all who participated


Nadia is a good example for us. She’s making the most of this time at home appreciating forest songbirds.  We can breathe more easily and explore the songs of our own heart (or the songbirds outside!)

April 4, 2020 – Saturday
The Scripture of the Buddha’s Last Teaching tells us …in making the four offerings which are your joy in awakening your heart, your reverence for the Dharma, your resolve to train and your practice, know your capacity and be content with that. Be quick to go about doing services and work but do not seek to amass tasks.

As we go into the fourth week of quarantine, and we are resetting our expectations about how long this will last and what we are – and can be – doing during this extended time, this New York Times article, Stop Trying to Be Productive, offers a compassionate and contemporary perspective on knowing our capacity and being content with that.

At home, within the temple of our own heart:
…May we within the temple of our own hearts dwell  amidst the myriad mountains.   Invocation of Achalanatha

If you can breathe in and out and walk in the spirit of “I have arrived., I am home, in the here, in the now.”
then you will notice that you are becoming more solid 
and more free immediately.
You have established yourself in the present moment,
at your true address…

Thich Nhat Hanh  Taming the Tiger Within


It is futile to travel to other dusty countries,
thus forsaking your own seat
;
if your first step is false,
you will immediately stumble.  
Already you are in possession 
of the vital attributes of a human being – 
do not waste time with this and that…

Great Master Eihei Dogen  Rules for Meditation

You do not need to leave your room. 
Remain sitting at your table and listen. 
Do not even listen, simply wait, be quiet still and solitary. 
The world will freely offer itself to you to be unmasked,
it has no choice, 
it will roll in ecstasy at your feet. 

Franz Kafka

April 3, 2020 – Friday

Ryokan – Ancient Sages Left Their Works Behind
Ancient sages left their works behind, not to let us know
About themselves, but to help us understand our own stamp.
Had we wisdom deep enough to know ourselves, single-handed,
No benefits would result from the works of ancient saints.

A wise person learns the mystery of existence in a flash
And climbs in a leap beyond the world of hollow phenomena,
Whereas a foolish person holds willfully to facts and details,
To drown in subtle differences of words and lines,
And being envious of others in their supreme achievements,
Wastes the mind night and day in efforts to exceed,
Truth, if you cleave to it as truth, turns into falsehood.
Falsehood, when you see it as such, becomes at once truth.

Truth and falsehood are the mated edges of a double sword.
None alive can separate with certainty one from the other.
Alas, too many people drift with the skiff to fathom the sea.
From time immemorial they are causes of endless deception.

On Internet Security
You may have read about intruders “zoombombing” online meetings, such as our Sangha get-togethers. You may have received e-mails from folks you’ve never heard of, or from companies that you haven’t done business with in years. You may have gotten text messages from unknown contacts. 

     Some of these may be legitimate — many companies that had lots of business a week ago have seen their customer base evaporate, and are trying to generate new leads by any means possible. Fair enough. BUT there are other folks who are simply trying to use the current emergency to sneak past our normal security awareness and get information from you. (And let’s be honest: my “normal security awareness” was never that vigilant before. Is yours?)
      Example: Zoom meetings have a meeting number and a password, but THE PASSWORD IS OPTIONAL. Opt for it. Here’s why. (And I just gave you a test! That link takes you to an article about how to set up a password for a Zoom meeting… but it could have linked you to an entirely different address. Do you inspect Web links before you click on them? You should!)
     Another example might be a text that says “Gregg! Did you hear this? Get back to me!” and gives a link to what is purportedly a song on YouTube, but isn’t. Or a notice from “your bank” warning about security problems (!!) and asking for your login and password so they can “verify your statement is secure”. Or to download a “security update” that actually installs a hacked program onto your computer or tablet. Etc. etc. etc.

      Legitimate banks, the Social Security Administration, etc. will never ask for your credentials this way. Instead, they will have you contact them by other means, securely, such as a voice phone call or a visit to their actual Web site. 

      This sort of scam is called “phishing” (‘cuz us nurds luv phunny punny spellings, but also because) the “black-hats” (scammers) are casting bait into the waters, trying to entice you to rise to it. Holy Mackerel! Don’t do that! And remember, this isn’t a 1950’s western. The bad guys don’t all wear black hats!

     It can even be done over the phone, if you get a call or a voice message — even a robo-call! — warning about online scammers and asking you to just tell them things. Computer-age scamming generally is referred to as “social engineering” (they are trying to make you into a cog in their “machine”). But this is nothing new. Crooks have been pulling the long con on marks for millenia. It’s fun to read in a Damon Runyon story. It’s another story when it happens to you.
     Some tips:

  • Zoom meeting IDs are 9 digits long, but follow a pattern so that there aren’t actually a billion possibilities. Black-hats can “war-dial”, hoping to hit an actual meeting number, and “bomb” your session (including lurking quietly in the background, collecting information as legit attendees speak… or reading the notes magnet-tacked to your refrigerator door in the background!). Zoom has now acted to prevent this, by disconnecting if you try too many bogus meeting numbers, but it’s still possible to hit one “by accident”.  If the Zoom meet has no password, they’re in right away. Being able to guess both the meeting number and its bespoke password is much, much less likely. That’s why you should always ask for a password when you originate a Zoom meeting.

    [The name of the trick comes from the 1983 movie “War Games”, where Ferris Bueller has his computer dial number after number until he hits one that answers with a modem connect tone — that warbly screechy thing you used to get when you dialed into America Online, remember? Ah, those thrilling days of yesteryear!]

  • if you get a text that seems iffy, do not reply, not even to say “wrong number” or “do not contact me”. Just getting the text will let the scammer know that this is a live address. (It may even automatically notify him that you have read the text.) But replying will (a) confirm that the address contains an actual person, not just a robot, and (b) may pass along contact information from your address book. Instead, block that caller in your address book, then delete the message without replying.

  • similarly, do not reply to a e-mail that seems fishy. [phishy??] And do not click on any links in one without inspecting them first — most e-mail reader apps will let you hover over a link and see what is the actual address it links to. [Yes, I ended that sentence with a preposition. Sue me.]

  • Things hackers would like to have (or to confirm) include your Social Security Number, your Medicare ID (which used to be your Social Security Number, and this is why they changed it!), your birthday/Mom’s maiden name/first dog/first dog’s maiden name/other reminders or personal “yeah it’s really me” facts that you might have provided earlier. A patient black-hat may try phishing in half a dozen different ways to pick up bits and pieces of information, so they can build a profile with all of them that any one of them wouldn’t have compromised.

  • If you think the contact attempt might be legitimate, follow up some other way. For instance, if an e-mail wants your bank info or Social Security Number, call the bank instead and talk to a real person. They want to catch and stomp these scammers as much as you do. Basically, the rule is “know who you are talking to” — which is not always easy. But as John Philpot Curran commented in 1790, “It is the common fate of the indolent to see their rights become a prey to the active. The condition upon which God hath given liberty to man is eternal vigilance.” [I owe ya a quarter, Rev.]

     It is generally safe to swim in the World Wide Ocean, yes. But check in with the lifeguard, watch your buddy, and be aware that there are sharks out there. (Cue ominous Jaws theme music. And don’t believe the Chamber of Commerce guy telling you the beach is OK!)
— Davidson Corry

April 2, 2020 – Thursday
Dr Elizabeth Colleran shared the latest updates on Coronavirus and our pets
Click here to listen to COVID19Update w/Dr. Colleran  


For One Who Is Exhausted, a Blessing – John O’Donohue
When the rhythm of the heart becomes hectic,
Time takes on the strain until it breaks;
Then all the unattended stress falls in
On the mind like an endless, increasing weight.

The light in the mind becomes dim.
Things you could take in your stride before
Now become laborsome events of will.

Weariness invades your spirit.
Gravity begins falling inside you,
Dragging down every bone.

The tide you never valued has gone out.
And you are marooned on unsure ground.
Something within you has closed down;
And you cannot push yourself back to life.

You have been forced to enter empty time.
The desire that drove you has relinquished.
There is nothing else to do now but rest
And patiently learn to receive the self
You have forsaken in the race of days.

At first your thinking will darken
And sadness take over like listless weather.
The flow of unwept tears will frighten you.

You have traveled too fast over false ground;
Now your soul has come to take you back.

Take refuge in your senses, open up
To all the small miracles you rushed through.

Become inclined to watch the way of rain
When it falls slow and free.

Imitate the habit of twilight,
Taking time to open the well of color
That fostered the brightness of day.

Draw alongside the silence of stone
Until its calmness can claim you.
Be excessively gentle with yourself.

Stay clear of those vexed in spirit.
Learn to linger around someone of ease
Who feels they have all the time in the world.

Gradually, you will return to yourself,
Having learned a new respect for your heart
And the joy that dwells far within slow time.

April 1, 2020 – Wednesday
Written in the 1400s by Kabir, the Indian mystic and poet, isn’t it relevant for us today?
Don’t go outside your house to see flowers.
My friend, don’t bother with that excursion.
Inside your body there are flowers.
One flower has a thousand petals.
That will do  for a place to sit.
Sitting there you will have a glimpse of beauty
inside the body and out of it,
before gardens and after gardens.
– Kabir

Twenty two of us “met” through ZOOM on Tuesday evening from 6 to 7pm to meditate briefly and then to read and discuss the Sandokai. we explored aspects of this foundational scripture in our tradition that points to the All is One and All is Different.  We discussed the questions of ideals, of the Middle Way and that striking injunction at the end of the scripture:  Do not waste time.  We will meet to continue our discussion on Tuesday, April 7.  The Scripture is included here below and the text in the Shasta Abbey Book of Daily Ceremonie  on page 10.  The chanted Sandokai is available here.

Sandokai
From west to east, unseen, flowed out the mind of India’s greatest Sage
And to the source kept true as an unsullied stream is clear. 
Although by wit and dullness the True Way is varied,
Yet it has no Patriarch of south or north.
Here born we clutch at things
And then compound delusion, later on, by following ideals;
Each sense gate and its object all together enter thus in mutual relations
And yet stand apart in a uniqueness of their own, depending and yet non-depending both.
In form and feel component things are seen to differ deeply; 
Thus are voices, in inherent isolation, soft or harsh. 
Such words as high and middle darkness match;
Light separates the murky from the pure.
The properties of the four elements together draw
Just as a child returns unto its mother. 
Lo! The heat of fire, the moving wind, the water wet, the earth all solid. Eyes to see, sounds heard and smells; upon the tongue the sour, salty taste.
And yet, in each related thing, as leaves grow from the roots, 
End and beginning here return unto the source and “high” and “low” are used respectively.
Within all light is darkness 
But explained it cannot be by darkness that one-sided is alone. 
In darkness there is light
But, here again, by light one-sided it is not explained. 
Light goes with darkness
As the sequence does of steps in walking;
All things have inherent, great potentiality,
Both function, rest, reside within. 
Lo! With the ideal comes the actual, 
Like a box all with its lid. 
Lo! With the ideal comes the actual,
Like two arrows in mid-air that meet. 
Completely understand herein
The basic Truth within these words;
Lo! Hear! Set up not your own standards. 
If, from your experience of the senses, basic Truth you do not know, 
How can you ever find the path that certain is, no matter how far distant you may walk? 
As you walk on distinctions between near and far are lost 
And, should you lost become, there will arise obstructing mountains and great rivers. 
This I offer to the seeker of great Truth, 
Do not waste time.

Here born we clutch at things
And then compound delusion, later on, by following ideals;


We have tobe aware of how we hold ideals. They can be a form of pushing away. Diana St. Ruth observed …noticing what is taking place—as opposed to what one wishes would take place, or what one fears might take place, or what one grieves over as having already taken place—is a way of life that is completely free of all self-imposed restrictions and conflicting states of mind.

March 31, 2020 – Tuesday
It was a joy to share a short meditation followed by a Dharma Talk and brief discussion on Sunday, March 29, 2020. 35 folks attended via ZOOM.  The text of my Dharma Talk follows.  Please let me know if you have any questions arrisine out of it.  With gratitude, Rev. Helen

The Great Way is Not Difficult – a Dharma Talk given on March 29, 2020
In this time of picking and choosing, in this time of fear, uncertainty, and overwhelm, may I quote John Daido Loori,   It’s perhaps the greatest single-sentence summary of Buddhist practice: “The Great Way is not difficult, simply avoid picking and choosing.” If we transcend all preferences, distinctions, and opinions, the true nature is revealed and “everything becomes clear and undisguised.” So easy—yet of course it overturns every conventional principle by which we so often lead our lives.”

We live in 2020 Coronavirus America, with institutions – government, educational, commercial – that not only invite our picking and choosing, but encourage and reinforce our doing so. 

We live in 2020 Coronavirus Northern California Redding, in a culture that not only invites our picking and choosing, but encourage and reinforce our doing so.

We live in our own 2020 Coronavirus life, with a life history that not only invites our picking and choosing, but encourage and reinforce our doing so, particularly in terms of our preferences, aversions, and habits. 

We live in our Buddhist practice, and even there we pick and choose – we sitting  or not, we select a teacher- a practice – or not, we keep the precepts or not.
 
Is it any surprise that picking and choosing is the ground of practice?  To repeat:

It’s perhaps the greatest single-sentence summary of Buddhist practice: “The Great Way is not difficult, simply avoid picking and choosing.” If we transcend all preferences, distinctions, and opinions, the true nature is revealed and “everything becomes clear and undisguised.” So easy—yet of course it overturns every conventional principle by which we so often lead our lives.

That Which is Engraved Upon the Heart that Trusts to the Eternal (or Verses on Faith Mind) points to the unity of training and enlightenment.  Our Buddha Nature and our mind are one. The “goal” of Buddhism, the direct experience of enlightenment – as we act with charity, tenderness, benevolence and sympathy – is only attained by seeing clearly that which our mind is doing.  It is being aware of our fears.  It is noticing our irritation.  It is acknowledging our uncertainty, confusion, overwhelm.  And – in our meditation – keeping an appropriate “social distance” form them.  We can simply see the fear and not engage it.  That which sees the fear isn’t afraid.

Our purpose in our practice is to realize, face, and resolve the Genjo-koan – the Koan of Daily Life by truly understanding that…training and enlightenment are one – training and enlightenment aren’t different!   It is to become fully who we are.  Can I actually live my own life – not those whose voices we have incorporated into our judgements and expectations.

When we live our own life, whatever comes is both training and enlightenment.  Our worst moments offer us both training and enlightenment.


John Cage has a famous piece of music called 4’33” in which all of the notes are silent.  While it has often been performed at the piano, the score calls for any number of people playing any number of instruments.  Musicians who present the work do nothing aside from being present for the duration specified by the title.  The content of the composition is not “four minutes and 33 seconds of silence,” as is often assumed, but rather the sounds of the environment heard by the audience during performance.   Everything else that happens ends up being the piece.  The cough, the siren coming up the street, your wondering if anything is going to happen, the air conditioner, your memory of church in your childhood, your sense of waiting for something.  

This is what Kanchi Sosan is telling us when he says …The Great Way is not difficult – simply give up picking and choosing.  When love and hate are both absent, everything is clear and undisguised.  What’s happening is the music.  
What’s happening is our training.  What’s happening is enlightenment.

This is training:  THIS very mind is Buddha.  This is enlightenment:  THIS very mind is Buddha. 


Can we accept what’s there?  Can we accept “the music” of the soundtrack of our lives.  Those of you who have been to the Abbey know that it is located along the interstate highway.  I-5 is the main north-south transit route – one 18-wheeler after another.  How many of you “didn’t expect” the constant noise and rumble? 

The things we want to push away – the fears, the judgments that we make – the irritations, the expectations – the delusions – that we have – in a word, our picking and choosing – are the doorways to deepening practice.  We don’t want to be out of work.  We don’t want to be separated from our loved ones.  We don’t want to feel like we don’t have “enough” of whatever gives us security.

Can we leave the mind in its natural undisturbed state?  Can we let go of the thoughts that say “This is problem, that is a problem!”  Without labeling difficulties as problems, leave your mind in its natural state.

John Tarrant says:  If you don’t dislike your own dislike, not picking and choosing is just present.  It’s not a discipline or a good thing that must be achieved.  

It’s …keeping the precepts and doing what need to be done.  When we can do this, we can stop seeing difficult conditions as problems, and simply do what need to be done.

How do we do this?  Kanshi Sosan says:  Within the oneness of your everyday mind, be indifferent to differences, and any sense of self will completely cease to exist.  And then there’s this particularly relevant advice during this time of respiratory difficulties:  There is no need to hunt for Truth, simply stop exhaling personal opinions…

Cease to …be limited by your opinions, wary or filled with doubts (because) the faster you hurry about, the more you slow yourself down.

AND …If you wish to advance quickly upon the One Course, you must not despise the experiences of your six senses for, with no loathing for sensory experiences, you become once again at one with the omniscient wisdom of the Buddha… If you can be as herein described, why waste your time worrying over not finishing things?  Trust and the heart are not two separate things; the “no-two” is the heart that trusts to the Eternal.  Words fail to describe It for It is beyond the past, the future or the now.

But fundamentally all of this points to trust.  The dictionary definition of trust is “to believe in the reliability, truth, ability, or strength of something or some one.”

The heart of our practice is a fundamental act of trust – in the Eternal and in ourselves.


March 30, 2020 – Monday
Just a reminder: Ultimately, there is no distinction between “sitting upright in the meditation hall” and just living.  Do not abide in time, space and dualistic views.  When you can see things in this way, you no longer need to use the word “liberation”.  How can you despise anything as ‘fettering you:?  
Daii Doshin in The Denkoroku

Rev. Meian’s talk Everything is Changing from Sunday, March 29, 2020 offers relevant insights into our life of practice during this challenging time.

For the Interim Time – John O’Donohue
When near the end of day, life has drained
Out of light, and it is too soon
For the mind of night to have darkened things,

No place looks like itself, loss of outline
Makes everything look strangely in-between,
Unsure of what has been, or what might come.

In this wan light, even trees seem groundless.
In a while it will be night, but nothing
Here seems to believe the relief of darkness.

You are in this time of the interim
Where everything seems withheld.

The path you took to get here has washed out;
The way forward is still concealed from you.

“The old is not old enough to have died away;
The new is still too young to be born.”

You cannot lay claim to anything;
In this place of dusk,
Your eyes are blurred;
And there is no mirror.

Everyone else has lost sight of your heart
And you can see nowhere to put your trust;
You know you have to make your own way through.

As far as you can, hold your confidence.
Do not allow confusion to squander
This call which is loosening
Your roots in false ground,
That you might come free
From all you have outgrown.

What is being transfigured here in your mind,
And it is difficult and slow to become new.
The more faithfully you can endure here,
The more refined your heart will become
For your arrival in the new dawn.

March 29, 2020 – Sunday
Thanks to all who shared in our Dharma talk and discussion today. It is a joy to come together, sharing experiences, insights, and on-screen smiles.

Please join us for any or all of the Tuesday, Thursday, and Sunday ZOOM conversations currently part of the Priory Schedule. You should receive an invitation through the Priory etree (thank you, Roya!), but please contact Rev. Helen at reddingzen@gmail.com if you haven’t received any.

March 28, 2020 – Saturday
The following are offerings from Throssel Hole Buddhist Abbey that you may find both interesting and helpful.

Throseel Hole Buddhist Abbey offers Short Morning Service on Youtube.

Also available is Rev. Master Daishin Morgan offering teaching  
On Meditation

Finally Rev. Master Leandra, Throssel Hole’s abbot, will be giving four lectures in April on The Heart Sutra, based on Shohaku Okumura’s book Living by Vow.  She encourages anyone who is interested in following the series to read the book in preparation. She invites questions following on from the classes, as well as in advance… For more information please see https://throssel.org.uk/throssel-blog/lectures-on-the-heart-sutra/

Thanks to those who shared the lovely and relevant reflections below.  They may be both interesting and helpful, and echo our own feelings and thoughts.  Mary Oliver speaks of her own worries (I Worried) and Kathleen O’Meara envisions how things might unfold (And people stayed home).

I Worried –  Mary Oliver
I worried a lot. Will the garden grow, will the rivers
flow in the right direction, will the earth turn
as it was taught, and if not how shall
I correct it?

Was I right, was I wrong, will I be forgiven,
can I do better?

Will I ever be able to sing, even the sparrows
can do it and I am, well,
hopeless.

Is my eyesight fading or am I just imagining it,
am I going to get rheumatism,
lockjaw, dementia?

Finally I saw that worrying had come to nothing.
And gave it up. And took my old body
and went out into the morning,
and sang.



And people stayed home – Kathleen O’Meara 
And people stayed home
and read books and listened 
and rested and exercised 
and made art and played 
and learned new ways of being 
and stopped 
and listened deeper 
someone meditated 
someone prayed 
someone danced 
someone met their shadow 
and people began to think differently 
and people healed 
and in the absence of people who lived in ignorant ways, 
dangerous, meaningless and heartless, 
even the earth began to heal 
and when the danger ended 
and people found each other 
grieved for the dead people 
and they made new choices 
and dreamed of new visions 
and created new ways of life 
and healed the earth completely 
just as they were healed themselves.

Shasta County Public Health is reaching out to our spiritual and faith community to keep you up to date on information and resources regarding the COVID-19 pandemic. 

First, thank you for all you do to support the physical, mental and spiritual health of your communities.  These are indeed hard times, made more difficult by the fact that we cannot safely be in each other’s presence.  Many of you have posted messages on your social media and webpages, and I am so encouraged that we are on the same page: encouraging our community members to stay home to stay safe.  Thank you so much!

Spread the message, not the virus!

Please continue to share messages of hope and encouragement.  Meaningful connection is essential during this time and we are all having to come up with creative ways to stay in contact.  This can be done through social media and web-based platforms.  Many businesses and organizations are using available technology to stay connected safely.  This also allows us to set an example for those we are connected to!

Reminder: Stay at Home order from Governor Newsome still in place
* Do not hold in-person services or gatherings. 

Please become familiar with the Governor’s order and encourage your members to take the situation seriously.  Reducing the risk of spreading COVID-19 means only going out for necessities, and not visiting in person with those outside your household.   

Resources
* Most reliable sources for information as the COVID-19 situation evolves:

National: 
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
State:
California Department of Public Health (CDPH) COVID-19 Website
Please see the Translate button at the top right for more languages.


Local:
COVID-19 Information for Shasta County (www.ShastaReady.org)

CDC Resources for Community- and Faith-Based Leaders
Checklist for Community and Faith Leaders
Get Your Community- and Faith-Based Organizations Ready for Coronavirus Disease 2019
Environmental Cleaning and Disinfection Recommendation

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration has helpful publications for supporting emotional health.  I have attached a document to this email you may find especially helpful, but please explore the site, particularly their resources for Faith-Based communities.
Your leadership in being calm and actively supporting requested restrictions helps our community to stay safe.  Please advocate with your community to follow this guidance.  If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me at this email. 
With gratitude,
Amy Sturgeon
Public Health Program and Policy Analyst,
Health Equity
2650 Breslauer Way,
Redding
(530) 245-6456
www.shastahhsa.net

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March 27, 2020 – Friday
There were 26 of us at our Thursday Dharma Conversation.  It was a joy to see each other as well as to hear how our practice in unfolding in these challenging days.  Thanks to all who participated.  We will “meet” again on Sunday at 11 for a Dharma Talk and Discussion – watch your mailbox for the ZOOM invitation.

These sessions remind us that we are not alone.  Maya Angelou (Alone) and Naomi Shihah-Nye (Gate 4-A) speak tenderly of that in the poems below:

Lying, thinking
Last night
How to find my soul a home
Where water is not thirsty
And bread loaf is not stone
I came up with one thing
And I don’t believe I’m wrong
That nobody,
But nobody
Can make it out here alone.

Alone, all alone
Nobody, but nobody
Can make it out here alone.

There are some millionaires
With money they can’t use
Their wives run round like banshees
Their children sing the blues
They’ve got expensive doctors
To cure their hearts of stone.
But nobody
No, nobody
Can make it out here alone.

Alone, all alone
Nobody, but nobody
Can make it out here alone.

Now if you listen closely
I’ll tell you what I know
Storm clouds are gathering
The wind is gonna blow
The race of man is suffering
And I can hear the moan,
‘Cause nobody,
But nobody
Can make it out here alone.

Alone, all alone
Nobody, but nobody
Can make it out here alone.

Maya Angelou
Alone

Gate A-4
Naomi Shihab Nye

Wandering around the Albuquerque Airport Terminal, after learning
my flight had been delayed four hours, I heard an announcement:
“If anyone in the vicinity of Gate A-4 understands any Arabic, please
come to the gate immediately.”

Well—one pauses these days. Gate A-4 was my own gate. I went there.

An older woman in full traditional Palestinian embroidered dress, just
like my grandma wore, was crumpled to the floor, wailing. “Help,”
said the flight agent. “Talk to her. What is her problem? We
told her the flight was going to be late and she did this.”

I stooped to put my arm around the woman and spoke haltingly.
“Shu-dow-a, Shu-bid-uck Habibti? Stani schway, Min fadlick, Shu-bit-
se-wee?” The minute she heard any words she knew, however poorly
used, she stopped crying. She thought the flight had been cancelled
entirely. She needed to be in El Paso for major medical treatment the
next day. I said, “No, we’re fine, you’ll get there, just later, who is
picking you up? Let’s call him.”

We called her son, I spoke with him in English. I told him I would
stay with his mother till we got on the plane and ride next to 
her. She talked to him. Then we called her other sons just 
for the fun of it. Then we called my dad and he and she spoke for a while
in Arabic and found out of course they had ten shared friends. Then I 
thought just for the heck of it why not call some Palestinian poets I know
and let them chat with her? This all took up two hours.

She was laughing a lot by then. Telling of her life, patting my knee,
answering questions. She had pulled a sack of homemade mamool
cookies—little powdered sugar crumbly mounds stuffed with dates and
nuts—from her bag—and was offering them to all the women at the gate.
To my amazement, not a single woman declined one. It was like a
sacrament. The traveler from Argentina, the mom from California, the
lovely woman from Laredo—we were all covered with the same powdered
sugar. And smiling. There is no better cookie.

And then the airline broke out free apple juice from huge coolers and two
little girls from our flight ran around serving it and they
were covered with powdered sugar, too. And I noticed my new best friend—
by now we were holding hands—had a potted plant poking out of her bag,
some medicinal thing, with green furry leaves. Such an old country tradi-
tion. Always carry a plant. Always stay rooted to somewhere.

And I looked around that gate of late and weary ones and I thought, This
is the world I want to live in. The shared world. Not a single person in that
gate—once the crying of confusion stopped—seemed apprehensive about
any other person. They took the cookies. I wanted to hug all those other women, too.

This can still happen anywhere. Not everything is lost.


Here is a Dharma Talk by Rev. Shiko Rom at Shasta Abbey on the Eight Worldly Conditions:  praise and blame, elation and sorrow, gain and loss, fame and disgrace.  It is a very timely and relevant talk that you may find of interest: https://www.youtube.com/watchv=d2gVpayg1F8&fbclid=IwAR0F9vgevi8_b3YCvmu1pzbYigsTtO5N7aG0ErRytmPW_NK64nTAW42aOQo

March 26, 2020 – Thursday
The life of the Priory continues to unfold.  In the spirit of quarantine and self-isolation, I did a House Blessing for Jeri Shattuck’s new home – The Abode of the Dawn of the Dharma – BY TELEPHONE Wednesday afternoon.  Having just got the keys for her new house, Jeri set up a lovely altar in the empty living room.  Following my opening verse and dedication here at the Priory altar, we recited the Scripture of Great Wisdom together.  We then sang the Om Kembaya invocation of protection as we “went through” the house.  Jeri walked through each room and out into a spacious back yard. On my computer, I went through the Zillow listing photos of the places she was walking.  How nice to know there are alternative ways of bringing ceremony to life!     Congratulations to Jeri! 

A minute or so before 7am each morning, I sound the clappers and recite the Kesa Verse – How great and wondrous are the clothes of Enlightenment, formless and embracing every treasure.  I wish to unfold the Buddha’s teaching, that I may help all living things.  
The first day or two of this quarantine, because no one was physically in the Meditation Hall with me – no, not even Nicholas! – i said the verse quietly to myself.  Things changed though as more of you mentioned that you were sitting with me during that meditation period.  I now say the verse clearly, with clear intent, out loud.  I invite you to do the same.  
With gratitude and appreciation, Rve. Helen
PS Interestingly, wherever he may have been from 6:30 to 7am, Nicholas comes to my seat when the clappers sound.

March 25, 2020 – Wednesday

In the Shushogi, Great Master Dogen poses, “…the most important question for all Buddhists…” Bernadette Miller in her poem From Which It All Began explores her own questions. In this time of uncertainty, what are your questions?

Great Master Dogen. Shushogi: Chapter One – The Reason for Training
The most important question for all Buddhists is how to understand birth and death completely for then, should you be able to find the Buddha within birth and death, they both vanish. All you have to do is realise that birth and death, as such, should not be avoided and they will cease to exist for then, if you can understand that birth and death are Nirvana itself, there is not only no necessity to avoid them but also nothing to search for that is called Nirvana. The understanding
of the above breaks the chains that bind one to birth and death therefore this problem, which is the greatest in all Buddhism, must be completely understood.

It is very difficult to be born as a human being and equally difficult to find Buddhism however, because of the good karma that we have accumulated, we have received the exceptional gift of a human body and are able to hear the Truths of Buddhism: we therefore have the greatest possibility of a full life within the limits of birth and death. It would be criminal to waste such an opportunity by leaving this weak life of ours exposed to impermanence through lack of faith and commitment.

Impermanence offers no permanent succour. On what weeds by the road-side will the dew of our life fall? At this very minute this body is not my own. Life, which is controlled by time, never ceases even for an instant; youth vanishes for ever once it is gone: it is impossible to bring back the past when one suddenly comes face to face with impermanence and it is impossible to look for assistance from kings, statesmen, relatives, servants, wife or children, let alone wealth and treasure. The kingdom of death must be entered by oneself alone with nothing for company but our own good and bad karma…

From Which It All Began Bernadette Miller
Tell me, what
would you do today
if you knew your life
to be a celebration
of this world?

Would you stop
to gather sunlight
dropping soundlessly
upon pines
beyond your window pane?

Would you court
dreams too wide
for the container
of consciousness?

Would you linger
in the terrible beauty
of uncertainty
as if the fullness of the world
depended upon your presence?

Would you cast your hopes
upon possibilities that abide
only in departure?

Would you become the motion
of your song,
losing itself in overtones
of delight
or despair
and returning, finally,
to the stillness
from which it all began?

Rev. Master Seikai Luebke is a Resident Teacher at Pine Mountain Buddhist Temple and Meditation Retreat.  His recent perspective might be helpful as we go through our days: Within my tiny sphere of influence I try to practice positivity, knowing that it’s probably my greatest gift to the world. Negative energy is like a tsunami at the moment, washing all over everything in its path. During a recent weekend Dharma talk at the temple, one person remarked that, given the state of the world, if you are plugged into electronic media, following the news, etc., there is almost no way you cannot be either afraid or despairing about it all. That is, unless you have a solid spiritual practice of disconnecting from the world of negativity and immersing yourself in positive energy on a daily basis. Relatively few people do this, which is why negativity is the real epidemic, far more damaging in its long term effects than something as transient as a flu virus.

Life is transient. Supposing you contracted the coronavirus and died from it, then what? When you review your life you will most likely regret the time you wasted on foolish stuff that had no lasting value and was part of an endless loop of negative energy, like being glued to CNN. People who study end of life phenomena have reported that most people, when facing death, have more regret for things undone than done, things that would have gotten them out of their comfort zone, out of their fear cocoon. In other words, fear is suffocating, and it takes an act of will to step out of it.


Here are several short verses that you mght find helpful as you go through your day. Perhaps you have other verses or mantras that you can share with the Sangha?

The Kesa Verse – said at the end of the first meditation period of the day.

How great and wondrous are the clothes of enlightenment, formless and embracing every treasure;  I wish to unfold the Buddha’s teaching that I may help all living things.

The Five Thoughts – said at the start of a meal 

We must think deeply of the ways and means by which this food has come.

We must consider our merit when accepting it.

We must protect ourselves from error by excluding greed from our minds.

We will eat lest we become lean and die.

We accept this food so that we may become enlightened.

The Universe is as the Boundless Sky – said at the end of a meal 

The universe is as the boundless sky,
As lotus blossoms above unclean water.
Pure and beyond the world is the Buddha Nature of the trainee. O Holy Buddha, we take refuge in Thee.

Lecture Verse– said at start of a formal Dharma Talk or before doing spiritual reading

The unsurpassed, penetrating and perfect Truth Is seldom met with even in a hundred thousand myriad kalpas.  Now we can see and hear it, we can remember and accept it; I vow to make the Buddha’s Truth one with myself.



March 24, 2020 – Tuesday

As I sat in meditation on this rainy morning and watched as the dark gentled into grey, I was grateful to have this opportunity to practice as we do.  I reflected that our meditation practice is the practice of “making space” – just the thing we’re being asked to give each other in our social distancing.  
May your day be rich in practice.

You may appreciate this article The Discomfort You’re Feeling is Grief and the following poem:

Small Kindnesses – Danusha Lameris
I’ve been thinking about the way, when you walk
down a crowded aisle, people pull in their legs
to let you by. Or how strangers still say “bless you”
when someone sneezes, a leftover
from the Bubonic plague. “Don’t die,” we are saying.
And sometimes, when you spill lemons
from your grocery bag, someone else will help you
pick them up. Mostly, we don’t want to harm each other.
We want to be handed our cup of coffee hot,
and to say thank you to the person handing it. To smile
at them and for them to smile back. For the waitress
to call us honey when she sets down the bowl of clam chowder,
and for the driver in the red pick-up truck to let us pass.
We have so little of each other, now. So far
from tribe and fire. Only these brief moments of exchange.
What if they are the true dwelling of the holy, these
fleeting temples we make together when we say, “Here,
have my seat,” “Go ahead—you first,” “I like your hat.”With gratitude and appreciation, Rev. Helen

March 23, 2020 – Monday

RM Koten Benson has offered a second Dharma Talk on the coronavirus and our practice – Virus 2 – well worth listening to.

Laura Kelly Fanucci, mother, author, and Director of the Communities of Calling Initiative, wrote recently:
When this is over
May we never again
Take for granted
A handshake with a stranger
Full shelves at the store
Conversations with neighbors
A crowded theatreFriday night out
The taste of communion
A routine checkup
The school rush each morning
Coffee with a friend
The stadium roaring
Each deep breath
A boring Tuesday
Life itself.
When this ends
May we find that we have become 
More like the people 
We wanted to be
Were called to be
We hoped to be
And may we stay
That way-better
For each other
Because of the worst.



March 22, 2020. Sunday Dogen, in the Shushogi says: The life of this one day, today, is absolutely vital life; your body is deeply significant. Both your life and your body deserve love and respect for it is by their agency that Truth is practiced and the Buddha’s power exhibited… Today, this one day, please take care of yourselves and those around you.

March 21, 2020 – Saturday
Information share by Lynn E. Fritz from Shasta County Public Health to faith communities in Shasta County: I want to thank everyone in Shasta County’s spiritual and faith-based community for the support you have demonstrated for all our residents here.  It has been inspiring to see so many of you respond with offers to help contribute to our efforts to decrease the spread of COVID-19 and keep everyone safe.

On Friday, March 20th,  Brandy Isola –  Public Health Branch Director for Shasta County –  spoke by phone to faith leaders of Shasta County.  This email is intended to be a follow up from that conversation and an opportunity to share that information with those who were not able to participate.  I also want to share Brandy’s remarks to the community that were made shortly after. 

First things first: A Stay at Home order has been announced by Governor Newsome: Governor Gavin Newsom Issues Stay at Home Order | California GovernorSACRAMENTO – Today, Governor Gavin Newsom issued a stay at home order to protect the health and well-being of al…

Do not hold in-person services or gatherings. 

* Please become familiar with the Governor’s order and encourage your members to take the situation seriously.

*Please come up with and share creative ways that you can encourage fellowship and emotional support while still honoring the Stay at Home Order that keeps us safe.  We understand that meaningful connection is essential to health, and many community members receive this through fellowship.  The most vulnerable to this disease are often those who already experience physical isolation.    

Resources
Shasta Ready- COVID19
CDC Resources for Community- and Faith-Based Leaders

Please see Translate button on the upper right for more languages.

Public Spaces

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration has helpful publications for supporting emotional health.  I have attached a document to this email you may find especially helpful, but please explore the site, particularly their resources for Faith-Based communities. I received a request to include in this email a copy of Dr. Ramstrom’s presentation about COVID-19.  The reason it is not included is because some of the information in the original draft is no longer current.  Current information can be found in the links listed above.

Brandy’s remarks to the community on Friday morning: “The HHSA wants to make sure everyone understands the importance of following the Governor’s Executive orders in Shasta County.  While it is true that we have only one documented case of COVID-19 in Shasta County our nation’s capacity to identify cases cannot keep up with the disease. How this disease works is that you can be spreading it while you feel bad but not bad enough to stay home. We are in a privileged position to act and prevent illness and death among our family and neighbors. Just as Governor Newsom said last night, if we are going to be criticized we want to be criticized for over-reacting and not under-reacting. We are a rural community but we are on the I-5 corridor which is part of our nation’s infrastructure of goods and services and lies between major urban centers that are experiencing widespread disease. We need to take this seriously and pull together to protect our family and neighbors, especially our most vulnerable. We need to channel the strength we showed during the Carr Fire.  We are still Shasta Strong and we can get through this together by all doing our part.

What will this look like for our day to day lives?
What is open: Gas stations, Pharmacies, banks, laundromat and laundry services, essential state and local government services including Law Enforcement and government programs.
What is closed: Dine-in restaurants, Bars and night clubs, entertainment venues, public events and gatherings, gyms and fitness studios, convention centers.”

I know this is a lot of information so please feel free to connect with me should you have any questions. Again, thank you for all you do that supports our community!

Perhaps we could talk about this tomorrow at our Zoom session at 11am:

WHAT I WISH I COULD SAY
Here’s what I’d like to be able to say to you: “Don’t worry, the situation is under control. The pandemic, tumbling stock markets, social isolation, canceled flights, surging panic, and illnesses and deaths caused by coronavirus (COVID-19) will soon be a thing of the past. Before long we’ll all be able to go back to our normal lives and tell stories about how we got through this.”

Sadly, I can’t — not because I have any special intel, but because I simply don’t know. And like you, I’m scared.
 
Zen speaks of “don’t know mind,” a kind of open, groundless awareness that doesn’t fixate on outcomes. As Rev. angel Kyodo williams explains in the forthcoming issue of Buddhadharma, practicing “don’t know mind” involves tolerating the discomfort of uncertainty. And it is a practice: “When confronted with the unknown,” says williams, “those of us who have not trained our minds enter a reactive state in which panic, aggression, or indecisiveness overtake us. In order to avoid such feelings of overwhelm, our minds seek out confirmation of our preexisting ideas rather than tolerate the discomfort of not-knowing.”
 
If you’re like me, you’re probably asking yourself, “So how do I meet this moment without adequate training or a preexisting playbook that even comes close to the reality that’s unfolding?” The answer, it seems, is one breath at a time.
 
In her article “In Times of Crisis, Draw Upon the Strength of Peace,” Kaira Jewel Lingo writes, “So much of the stress and the feeling of being overwhelmed comes from all that we are projecting onto the future, all the fear. But in this moment, right here, there is the ability to recognize fear, to be with fear, and to not be swallowed by it. There is non-fear, and we can touch that. But if we’re running, then it’s fear that’s running the show. If we can stop, we have the chance to touch into something deeper than being overwhelmed.”
 
Touching into this moment is not about denying the suffering that’s happening all around us or in us. Rather it is an act of compassion for ourselves and others that helps our innate wisdom to emerge. When attended to with gentleness and love, connecting to this moment — including whatever suffering may be present — reveals just how interconnected we are with one another and also the planet that sustains us.
 
In an interview in the May issue of Lion’s Roar magazine, Joanna Macy says, “Our pain for the world… reveals that we are far vaster than we ever imagined ourselves to be. This crumbles the walls of the little separate ego and moves naturally into seeing with new eyes… You see that you are part of everything.”
 
This pandemic and cascading crisis has shown us that we are all in this together — not in some philosophical sense, but in a very literal way. Our survival depends on each other and our willingness to self-isolate, heed warnings, help out neighbors, make sacrifices, and step up like never before. May we do so and take these hard-earned lessons of interdependence to heart, one breath at a time.

—Tynette Deveaux, editor, Buddhadharma: The Practioner’s Quarterly




March 20, 2020 – Friday
Rev. Master Leandra, Abbott of Throssel Hole Buddhist Abbey (United Kingdom), offered this recent and relevant perspective on Exploring awareness; what is the present moment?

Rev. Master Koten returned to Lions Gate Priory (Canada) earlier this week from Shasta Abbey.  Here are his  reflections on Virus that you may find helpful.

These reflections may be helpful as you go through your day:
The Peace of Wild Things
Wendell BerryWhen despair for the world grows in me
and I wake in the night at the least sound
in fear of what my life and my children’s lives may be,
I go and lie down where the wood drake
rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.
I come into the peace of wild things
who do not tax their lives with forethought
of grief. I come into the presence of still water.
And I feel above me the day-blind stars
waiting with their light. For a time
I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.



Do not be daunted by the enormity of the world’s grief. 
Do justly NOW.   Love mercy NOW.  Walk humbly NOW. 
You are not obligated to complete the work 
but neither are you free to abandon it. 
The Talmud


People are often unreasonable and self-centered. 
           Forgive them anyway. 
If you are kind, people may accuse you of ulterior motives. 
           Be kind anyway.
If you are honest, people may cheat you. 
           Be honest anyway. 
If you find happiness, people may be jealous. 
Be happy anyway. 
The good you do today may be forgotten tomorrow.
Do good anyway.
Give the world the best you have and it may never be enough. 
Give your best anyway. 
For you see, in the end, it is between you and God 
(or your own Buddha Nature, or your own heart, or…) 
It was never between you and them anyway.
Said to be an inspiration for Mother Teresa

Tricycle Magazine offers Practicing in a Pandemic: six teachings on how to find compassion and equanimity in a time of great uncertainty, that you might find helpful:


March 19, 2020 – Thursday
The Buddha said: living in harmony is a means of generating and offering merit. As we find ourselves confined at home, may I suggest we open the door to the Four Brahma Viharas – the Four Divine Abodes.  Also called the Four ImmeasurablesLoving Kindness – Metta, Compassion – Karuna, Joy – Mudita  and Equanimity – Upekkha, these are the traditional ways ofliving in harmony is a means of generating and offering merit.  And we can say the Mantras for the Four Brahma Viharas when we wish to offer merit for ourselves, those we love, the world.  We can turn to them rather than to critical or fearful thoughts.

Mantras for the Four Brahma Viharas are below.  And here’s a link to Gil Fronsdal’s The Four Faces of Love:  The Brahma Viharas.  May you find harmony in your day.  

Loving Kindness
May I be happy, well and at peace.
May I be open to things just as they are.
May I experience the world opening to me just as I am.
May I welcome whatever arises.

Compassion
May I be free from suffering, harm, and disturbance.
May I accept things just as they are.
May I experience the world accepting me just as I am.
May I serve whatever arises.

Joy
May I enjoy the activities of life itself.
May I enjoy things just as they are.
May I experience the world taking joy in all that I do.
May I know what to do, whatever may arise.

Equanimity
May I be free from preferences and prejudice.
May I know things just as they are.
May I experience the world knowing me just as I am.
May I see into whatever arises.

May I recommend Rev. Master Koten’s The Five Diamond Points. This is a
transcription of a series of Dharma Talks offered by Rev. Master Koten to the community of Lions Gate Buddhist Priory in 2017.

The first of the Five Diamond Points is the keeping of the pure and bright mind. May we find that pure and bright mind in the uncertainty, confusion, and fear we find in our current conditions.

This may be a time to polish your meditation practice. Rev. Master Jiyu-Kennett talks about The Art of Meditation (1978), and in a series of 12 talks
offers her teaching on Meditation and Soto Zen (1979):
Talk 1  Meditation and Soto Zen01
Talk 2  Meditation and Soto Zen02
Talk 3  Meditation and Soto Zen03
Talk 4  Meditation and Soto Zen04
Talk 5  Meditation and Soto Zen05
Talk 6  Meditation and Soto Zen06
Talk 7  Meditation and Soto Zen07
Talk 8  Meditation and Soto Zen08
Talk 9  Meditation and Soto Zen09
Talk 10 Meditation and Soto Zen10
Talk 11  Meditation and Soto Zen11
Talk 12  Meditation and Soto Zen12

March 18, 2020 – Wednesday
Below are links to audio recordings of our Morning Services for anyone who’d like to follow along.  The Book of Daily Ceremonies is available here.
I hope this will allow you the opportunity to explore these relvant and timely scriptures of our tradition.

I will be doing Short Morning Service daily:  https://shastaabbey.org/audio/ShortMorningService.mp3
You may also offer full Morning Service.  This includes Morning Office, consisting of SandokaiMost Excellent Mirror Samadhi, and the Ancestral Line:  https://shastaabbey.org/audio/FullMorningServicePart2%20MorningOffice.mp3
and Morning Service, consisting of The Scripture of Great Wisdom, the Litany of the Great Compassionate One, and the Adoration of the Buddha’s Relics:  https://shastaabbey.org/audio/FullMorningServicePart1%20MorningService.mp3

The following is a ceremony at Shasta Abbey in which the monks chanted Great Master Dogen’s Shushogi: https://shastaabbey.org/audio/musicTransfer11.mp3

The text of the Shushogi is on page 94 of Rev. Master Jiyu’s Zen is
Eternal Life for anyone who’d like to follow it: https://www.shastaabbey.org/pdf/bookZel.pdf

May chanting be a helpful practice to maintain and deepen equanimity and peace.

March 17, 2020 – Tuesday
For these next two weeks, I will be sitting daily at the Priory at
6:30am
12:30pm
5:30pm
Please join me at your own sitting place as your schedule allows.

You may find these recent teachings from monks of the Order of Buddhist Contemplatives of help during this time.  The first is by Rev. Median Elbert of Shasta Abbey on Working with Fear.

The second is by Rev. Berwyn Watson of Throssel Hole Buddhist Abbey
on  Our Reaction to the Coronavirus Outbreak: Dealing with Fear and Uncertainty