Teachings

The Great Bodhisattva Vows

· Dharma Discourses, Teachings

In the Lotus Sutra the Buddha said:  At all times, for all beings I teach the Dharma equally, never growing weary or disheartened.  To those in low positions, in high positions, to those of great wealth, to those in poverty, to those who have many blessings in their life, to those who live within great adversity, to those who follow the Precepts and live good lives, to those who don’t.  I cause the Dharma to rain on all of them equally.

This is the essence of the heart of the bodhisattva—to endeavor to be committed to bringing all that is good into this world, to alleviate all the harm—and in order to do that we have to study the mind. The Great Bodhisattva Vows describe  how one engages ‘mind study’. These Great Vows are one of the first things that a Dharma student encounters, perhaps hearing them for the first time.  Each of these Great Vows point to both samsara and nirvana, to delusion and enlightenment, to suffering and liberation from suffering.  They are great because they encompass the whole of reality, the whole of us, as one undivided, complete, all-encompassing body and mind. Dharmadhatu, one reality.  

The Great Bodhisattva Vows

Sentient beings are numberless, I vow to save them.

Desires are inexhaustible, I vow to put an end to them.

The Dharmas are boundless, I vow to master them.

The Buddha Way is unattainable, I vow to attain it.

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Remembrance and Atonement on Thanksgiving Day

· Beyond Fear of Differences, Earth Initiative, Teachings

We share with you this liturgy and dedication for Thanksgiving Day. Developed by Hojin Sensei and Shugen Roshi, this liturgy is offered at Zen Mountain Monastery on Thanksgiving to honor our ancestors, the original inhabitants of this land, and all beings of the great earth that support our lives.

Call and response:

LITURGIST : The Sangha has gathered on this day to witness and transform the karma of this land. May we do so with a mind of reverence and solemnity.

SANGHA: On this day of remembrance

LITURGIST: May we know that these sacred lands belonged to indigenous people for thousands of years

On this day of remembrance

May we honor the people of the tribes Munsee, Lenape, Mohican and others who lived and flourished here

On this day of remembrance

May we know that they revered and lived in intimate contact with all the many creatures of these mountains and rivers

On this day of atonement

May we atone for the violence, deceptions and destruction that was brought upon these peoples

On this day of atonement

May we atone for the ways this was concealed, ignored and diminished in the histories we have learned

On this day of atonement

May we atone for any harms that our presence on these lands has caused and take responsibility for understanding and addressing them, and honor and mourn the lives lost

On this day of gratitude

May we express our appreciation for this land’s ancestors and all they contributed to this nation

On this day of gratitude

May we demonstrate our appreciation by living in peace and harmony with the land and all beings

On this day of gratitude

In offering flowers, candlelight and incense, may the bountiful harvest of these mountains and rivers we are about to receive nourish our wisdom and compassion on this earth.

Sutra of Great Compassion
Kanzeon! At one with the Buddha.
Related to all Buddhas in cause and effect
And to Buddha, Dharma, and Sangha.
Joyful, pure, eternal being!
Morning mind is Kanzeon
Evening mind is Kanzeon
This very moment arises from Mind
This very moment is not separate from Mind.

LITURGIST: When we carefully observe the true nature of things, all are the marvelous manifestation of the Tathagata’s truth. Atom by atom, instant by instant, all are none other than self-nature’s mysterious radiance. Because of this, our virtuous ancestors extended loving care and reverence toward even such beings as birds and beasts.

Let us then be truly grateful for the food, drink and clothing that nourishes and protects us throughout the day, these being in essence, the warm skin and flesh of the great masters, the incarnate compassion of the Buddha. Let us reflect on all that we receive which supports our lives and the Buddha, Dharma and Sangha, and offer gratitude with our body, speech and mind.

As we awaken this deep, pure faith, offering humble words and taking sincere refuge in the Buddha, then with every thought there will bloom a lotus flower. May we extend this mind throughout the universe so that we and all sentient beings may equally bring to fruition the seeds of wisdom and compassion.

All Buddhas, throughout space and time

All Bodhisattva Mahasattvas, Maha Prajna Paramita

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Uppalavanna’s Courage

· Beyond Fear of Differences, Mountains & RIvers: Zen Dharma and Practice journal, Sangha News, Teachings

This dharma discourse by Geoffrey Shugen Arnold is excerpted from Mountains & Rivers: Zen Dharma and Practice, 2020 available here.

The bhikkhuni Uppalavanna said to Mara the Evil One: Though a hundred thousand rogues just like you might come here, I stir not a hair, I feel no terror; Even alone, Mara, I don’t fear you. I can make myself disappear. Or I can enter inside your belly. I can stand between your eyebrows, yet you won’t catch a glimpse of me. I am the master of my own mind, the bases of power are well developed; I am freed from every kind of bondage, therefore, I don’t fear you, friend.

Then Mara the Evil One, realizing, “The bhikkhuni Uppalavanna knows me,” sad and disappointed, disappeared right there.

Of all the many things we might imagine, as we begin practicing the dharma, we might not think of courage as being something we will need to draw upon, and yet it’s there in the teachings, from the beginning.

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Conversation: A New Journal from the MRO

· Mountains & RIvers: Zen Dharma and Practice journal, Sangha News, Teachings

Print is in some ways an outmoded format, lacking the speed of digital or the ease of consuming audio/video content, so it was with some degree of soul-searching that the Monastery staff decided to collect a years’ worth of teachings and practice in the new annual journal Mountains & Rivers: Zen Dharma and Practice.

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From Mountains & Rivers: Zen Dharma and Practice

· Beyond Fear of Differences, Dharma Discourses, Mountains & RIvers: Zen Dharma and Practice journal, Sangha News, Teachings

This excerpt, Manifesting Buddha by Geoffrey Shugen Arnold, is from the new journal Mountains & Rivers: Zen Dharma and Practice and explores how Buddhist practice manifests in our daily lives as illustrated by the Ten Guiding Values of the Beyond Fear of Differences. The journal features original contributions of dharma teachings and more from MRO dharma teachers, sangha artists and practitioners.

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All the Ancestors Are Like This

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by Geoffrey Shugen Arnold, Roshi

The True Dharma Eye, Case 101

Nanyue’s “Its Not Like Something”

Main Case

Zen master of Nanyue went to study with the Sixth Ancestor, Huineng. The Sixth Ancestor said: “Where are you from?” Nanyue said, “I came from National Teacher Huian.”

The Sixth Ancestor said, “What is it that has come like this?” Nanyue could not answer.

He attended on the master for eight years and worked on this question. One day he said to the Huineng, “Now I understand it. When I first came to study with you, you asked me, ‘What is it that has come like this?’ The Sixth Ancestor said, “How do you understand it?” Nanyue said, “To say it’s like something misses it.” Huineng said, “Does it depend upon practice and enlightenment?”

Nanyue said, “It’s not that there is no practice and enlightenment. It’s just that we should not be defiled by them.”

The Sixth Ancestor said, “Just this non-defilement is what buddhas have maintained and transmitted. You are like this. I am like this. All the ancestors in India were like this.”

Verse

Blue sky, bright sun

there is no distinguishing east from west.

Yet acting in accord with the imperative

still requires dispensing medicine when the sickness appears.

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Serving the Spirit

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Mondo by John Daido Loori, Roshi
originally printed in Mountain Record in the issue Spiritual Calling (2008)

In the Zen Buddhist tradition there are several ways of engaging with a teacher and one of them is mondo, an informal question and answer session on some aspect of the Dharma. This mondo was held with John Daido Loori, Roshi, the founder of the Mountains and Rivers Order, at Zen Mountain Monastery in 2008.

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The Immovable Spot

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by Jody Hojin Kimmel
Originally published in Mountain Record journal: Zazen (2013)

Just resting is like the great ocean accepting hundreds of streams all absorbed in one flavor. A practitioner of the way follows movement and responds to changes in total harmony. Moreover, haven’t you yourself established the mind that thinks up all the illusory conditions? This insight must be perfectly incorporated. Discontinue leaks and do not act on them.

— Master Hongzhi

Cultivating the Empty Field

How do we leak the vital energy we need for spiritual awakening? What do we have to do to, “discontinue the leaks and not act on them,” as Master Hongzhi teaches? 

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The Unspoken Thing

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by Bonnie Myotai Treace, Sensei
Originally published in Mountain Record journal: “Practicing the Edge” (2001)

In the space between desire and despair, between holding and letting go; between clinging and release, in this space is the unspoken thing. The thing that lives.

—Lives of the Monster Dogs

I’ve been working over the last few weeks with family members as they make a memorial visit to Ground Zero. The trips begin at the Family Assistance Center on Dock 94, where death certificates are being issued and other support services can be arranged. The Center is very big and very busy. From there we get on a ferry that goes down river to the World Trade Center site. On the water there are gunboats everywhere you look, and on board there is significant security. The wind blows brisk and the river incongruously glistens, and on the way the clergy and mental health workers make what connections they can with the families, offering support or space as needed.

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Photo by Blue Eyes 94

Practice and Resilience

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by Geoffrey Shugen Arnold, Roshi


LISTEN TO THIS TALK>

FROM THE RECORD OF MASTER YANGSHAN

Ho-shang Mi of Ching-chao sent a monastic to ask Yangshan: “Right in this very moment are you dependent on enlightenment?”

Yangshan said “There is no absence of enlightenment. Why fall into the secondary?”

Ho-shang Mi was a peer of Master Yangshan, a very important Chinese master in our lineage. Here he asks, right in this moment are you dependent upon enlightenment?

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