Dharma Discourses

Photo by Carlos Andres Reyes

Body of Truth

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by Geoffrey Shugen Arnold, Sensei

Xiangyan’s “Person Up a Tree”
True Dharma Eye, Case 243
Listen to this talk

Main Case
Master Xiangyan said to the sangha, “What if you are hanging by your teeth from a tree on a thousand foot cliff, with no place for your hands to hold or your feet to step on? All of a sudden someone asks you, from below, the meaning of the Ancestor’s coming from India. If you respond, you will lose your life. If you don’t respond, you don’t do justice to the question. At just such a moment, what would you do?”

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Born in a Moment

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by Geoffrey Shugen Arnold, Sensei

Hui Ch’ao Asks About Buddha
Blue Cliff Record, Case 7

Pointer
The thousand sages have not transmitted the single word before sound; if you have never seen it personally, it is as if it were worlds away. Even if you discern it before sound and cut off the tongues of everyone in the world, you’re still not a sharp person. Therefore it is said, “The sky can’t cover it; the earth can’t support it; empty space can’t contain it; sun and moon can’t illumine it.” Where there is no Buddha and you alone are called the Honored One, for the first time you’ve amounted to something. Otherwise, if you are not yet this way, penetrate through on the tip of a hair and release the great shining illumination; then in all directions you will be independent and free in the midst of phenomena; what- ever you pick up, there is nothing that’s not it. But tell me, what is attained that is so extraordinary?

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The Stone Lion

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by John Daido Loori, Roshi

Koans of the Way of Reality, Case 103

The Prolouge
Confined in a cage, up against a wall, pressed against barriers—if you linger in thought, holding back your potential, you will remain mired in fear and frozen in inaction. If, on the other hand, you advance fearlessly and without hesitation, you manifest your power as a competent adept of the Way. Passing through entanglements and barriers without hindrance, the time and season of great peace is attained. How do you advance fearlessly and without hesitation? Listen to the following.

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The Gift of Monasticism

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Gatha on Shaving the Head

In this drifting, wandering world,
it is very difficult to cut off our human ties.
Now I cast them away, and enter true activity.
It is in this way that I express my gratitude.
As I shave my head, I vow to live a life of
simplicity, service, stability, selflessness
and to accomplish the Buddha’s Way.
May I manifest my life with wisdom and compassion
and realize the Tathagata’s true teaching.

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Really Put Yourself Into It

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Opening Remarks to the Zen Training Weekend

Welcome to Zen Mountain Monastery. This weekend in the Zen training workshop we’ll be looking at the basis of Zen training. We’ll be discussing the philosophy, the underlying theories. There will be plenty of opportunity for questions and answers, but by far the most critical thing that will be happening is the experiential aspect of the training. Each part of the day is scheduled and everything that you experience this weekend will be poin ing to the same place. The whole point of Zen training, all of the eighty-four thousand subtle gestures that we do, have one point and one point only, and that is the realization of the self.

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Transformation at the Heart Level

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by Konrad Ryushin Marchaj, Sensei

Dhritaka
Transmission of the Light, Case 6

Main Case
The fifth ancestor, Dhritaka, said, “Because one who makes his home departure is a selfless Self, is selfless and possesses nothing, and because the Mind neither arises nor ceases, this is the eternal Way. All Buddhas are also eternal. The mind has no form and its essence is the same.” Upagupta said,“You must become thoroughly awakened and realize it with your own mind.” Dhritaka was greatly awakened.

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Your Mountain Form Finds its Seat

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by Geoffrey Shugen Arnold, Sensei

from Master Dogen’s Fukanzazengi

The way is originally perfect and all pervading. How could it be contingent upon practice and realization? The true vehicle is selfsufficient. What need is there for special effort? Indeed, the whole body is free from dust. Who could believe in a means to brush it clean? It is never apart from this very place; what is the use of traveling around to practice? And yet, if there is a hairsbreadth deviation, it is like the gap between heaven and earth. If the least like or dislike arises, the mind is lost in confusion.

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Natural, Vivid, Alive

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by Geoffrey Shugen Arnold, Sensei

Ordinary Mind is Tao
Gateless Gate, Case 19

Main Case
Chao-chou once asked Nanchuan, “What is Tao?” Nanchuan answered, “Ordinary mind is Tao.” “Then should we direct ourselves toward it or not?” asked Chao-chou. “If you try to direct yourself toward it, you go away from it,” answered Nanchuan. Chao-chou continued, “If we do not try, how can we know that it is Tao?” Nanchuan replied, “Tao does not belong to knowing or not-knowing. Knowing is illusion; not-knowing is blankness. If you really attain to Tao of no-doubt, it is like the great void, so vast and boundless. How, then, can there be right and wrong in the Tao?” At these words Chao-chou was suddenly enlightened.

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The Unexpected Rears Its Head

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by Konrad Ryushin Marchaj, Sensei

Yangshan’s Declaration
Book of Serenity, Case 90

Introduction
‘I alone am sober’—this is drunkenness indeed. Yangshan speaks of a dream just like when awake. But say, as I say this and you hear it, tell me, is this wakefulness or is this a dream?

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Transmigrating, For Now

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by Konrad Ryushin Marchaj, Sensei

Ruiyan’s “Constant Principle”
Book of Serenity, Case 75

Introduction
Even as you call it ‘thus,’ it’s already changed. Where knowledge doesn’t reach, avoid speaking of it. Here, is there any investigating or not? 

Case
Ruiyan asked Yantou, “What is the fundamental constant principle?”
Yantou said, “Moving.”
Ruiyan said, “When moving, what then?”
Yantou said, “You don’t see the fundamental constant principle.”
Ruiyan stood there thinking.
Yantou said, “If you agree, you are not yet free of sense and matter: if you don’t agree, you’ll be forever sunk in birth and death.” 

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