by Geoffrey Shugen Arnold, Sensei
The Zen tradition places a special emphasis on beginner’s mind because the mind of a beginner has qualities that are so important for dharma study. The beginner’s mind can be quite open and have a certain kind of innocence within the dharma. There can be a sense of eagerness to set out on a journey into unknown territory. And there’s no history with regards to practice and training, which means there’s not much accumulation, not much prejudice to cloud our view.
by Suzanne Taikyo Gilman
This life of mine is perfect and complete Buddha nature; the teachings state this directly. So this should be easy—just live as an enlightened being. But what is that, really? We come to practice to be completely liberated from suffering, but the old habits of solving problems, finding adjustments or applying ‘the fix’ aren’t the same as taking up the bodhisattva vows. The Buddha and his early followers wandered and practiced together, seeking the true path of awakening, and that’s where we all begin. This Buddha nature is innate, and it has to be verified personally, with one’s very own evolving experience.
by Jody Hojin Kimmel
Master Dogen taught in his fascicle Henzan—Encountering Everywhere, that whole-hearted practice of the Way is to take up the study of one thing and to understand it deeply. He encouraged us to “study each dharma exhaustively and then to study it still further.”
In Spring of 2000 during one of our three-month training intensives, called ango, we were presented with an art practice assignment: to choose one thing, one object, and be in its presence for next 90 days with full attention. Daido Roshi charged us to enter into the continuously changing nature of our experience, and bring our understanding into a form of creative expression.
By Ron Hogen Green, Sensei, MRO
Gateless Gate Case 9
Daitsu Chisho Buddha
Once, a monk earnestly asked priest Jo of Koyo, “Daitsu Chisho Buddha sat in the meditation hall for ten kalpas, but the Dharma of the Buddha did not manifest itself, and he could not attain Buddhahood. Why was this?” Priest Jo replied, “Your question is reasonable indeed.” The monk again said he sat in zazen in the meditation hall; why did he not attain Buddhahood? Priest Jo replied “Because he is a non-attained Buddha.”
By Vanessa Zuisei Goddard
At the beginning of our spiritual journey, most of us have a sense that the path we’ve traveled until now is not, by itself, the path that will lead us to liberation. We know, vaguely or with certainty, that there must be another way, but we’re not yet able to discern what that is. And even though there is no way of knowing where we’ll end up, built into the journey itself there are certain guideposts which can help set our course. When it comes to the Noble Eightfold Path of Buddhism, the first of these markers is right view.
The National Buddhist Prison Sangha (NBPS) is a branch of the MRO dedicated to supporting incarcerated women and men dedicated to the study of Zen Buddhism through a daily practice of zazen, Dharma study, and the moral and ethical teachings of Zen Buddhism. These contributions reflect the lives and sincere practice of many current NBPS members serving time as well as some who have been released.
Beginning Years at Zen Mountain Monastery
Attending a Buddhist festival in 1974 for me had many blessings. My two year old son was being cared for by dear friends, the drive to Boston with my husband John was sunny and pleasant, and the free admission to an education center was exciting. After participating in a meditation and lecture with Eido Roshi all morning, I was ready for a nap. The Japanese Tea Ceremony demonstration was at 2 pm so when I arrived early, I sat in the middle of the first row, closed my eyes and drifted off.
The Buddha’s Teachings on Social and Communal Harmony
Edited and introduced by Bhikkhu Bodhi
As we are often reminded, we do not get to pick the conditions of the time and place we were born into. I ask myself how can I use the conditions rather than let them use me? As the Buddha states in the Five Remembrances, “I am the owner of my actions, heir to my actions, actions are the womb, actions are my relations, actions are my protection.
by Geoffrey Shugen Arnold, Sensei
Book of Serenity, Case 79: Changsha Advancing a Step
Listen to this talk
The bodhisattva appearing as a maiden on the banks of golden sand was a special spirit. Stuffing pastries in a crystal jar, who would dare to roll it? Without going into the frightening waves, it’s hard to find a suitable fish. How about one expression of walking relaxed with big strides?
by Suzanne Taikyo Gilman, Mountain Record Editor
Not a story I like to tell, but years ago I got into a fight on the subway. A big-shouldered, well-groomed man in his 40s was tearing down a safe sex poster which showed some playfully kissing teenagers, straight and gay. I questioned him angrily as he tore up the poster, and he stopped. That’s where I could have left it. I had stepped forward without fear or self-consciousness, and I had been effective. But now I was livid with self-righteous anger and so was he. Having created a second problem, I was missing a vital element of skillfulness—to find my ground and learn to speak up differently.