Zen Training

Photo By Onj

Finding Our Way

· Dharma Discourses, Teachings, Zen Training · , , , ,

by Geoffrey Shugen Arnold, Roshi

Listen to this Talk

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.

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Photo By Keith Chastain

Arousing the Aspiration for Enlightenment

· Teachings, Zen Training · , , , ,

By Dogen Zenji

Kashvapa Bodhisattva extolled Shakyamuni Buddha with a verse:

Although beginner’s mind and ultimate mind are indistinguishable, the beginner’s mind is more difficult. I bow to the beginner’s mind that lets others awaken first. Already a teacher of humans and devas, the beginner’s mind excels the mind of a shravaka or of a pratyeka-buddha. Such aspiration is outstanding in the three realms, so it is called unsurpassable.

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Spring 2017 Jukai

· Sangha News, Zen Training

On Sunday, April 23, Shugen Sensei officiated over a jukai ceremony for six students who have been practicing and studying the Bodhisattva precepts for several years.

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2017 Spring Ango Gets Underway

· Sangha News, Zen Training

On Sunday March 5, the Monastery marked the beginning of the Spring training period with an Ango Opening Ceremony. This brief yet meaningful service brings the sangha together and reminds us of both our personal commitment and the shared experience of intensifying our practice.

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Spring Ango 2017

· Sangha News, Zen Training ·

Shuso Letter

Dear Sangha Family,

I am sincerely honored and humbled by the opportunity to serve as Chief Disciple for the Spring Ango. When Shugen Sensei requested that I step into this service position, I felt both the gulp! of nervousness, anticipating the exposure and responsibility of this role, as well as a surprising readiness to step forward into the unknown, offer myself to the sangha, and learn as much as I can from this experience.

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Fierceness, Gentleness & Faith

· Sangha News, Zen Training

Sesshin with the Buffalo Zen Dharma Community

post by Shea Ikusei Settimi, MRO

The train ride from Rhinecliff to Buffalo took about six hours, with snow along the way whiting-out the view. Gwen Kimu Coe, MRO, was waiting for Zuisei and I at the Amtrak station. We made a brief stop at her house, where her husband Ray Eigen Ball, MRO, was finishing up assigning service positions to the roster of attendees for the Buffalo Zen Dharma Community’s (BZDC) annual sesshin, February 16-19, 2017.

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Shuso Hossen Ceremony Concludes Fall Ango

· Retreats, Sangha News, Zen Training

Gikon Meets the Sangha in Dharma Encounter

photos by Joel Sansho Benton, MRO

On Sunday, November 20th, at the conclusion of a full and steady Shuso Hossen Sesshin, Chief Disciple Prabu Gikon Vasan offered his first talk and met the sangha in dharma encounter. After several sunny days that barely felt like autumn, Sunday dawned cold and snowy. Shoan, as head liturgist, declared it a most auspicious forecast for the Shuso Hossen Ceremony.

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Fall Ango 2016

· Retreats, Sangha News, Zen Training

Shuso Letter

Dear Friends,

The blaze and burn of summer begins to cool, and we turn our attention to the Fall Ango. Shugen Sensei has asked me to be Chief Disciple for the training period, and I find myself feeling at once excited and scared and grateful—excited to offer myself up completely, scared that it won’t be enough, and grateful for a practice that can hold all of that.

For this ango we will take up Dogen’s Genjokoan, sometimes translated as “The Question of Everyday Life” or “Actualizing the Fundamental Point.” Dogen reminds us that regardless of clarity or attainment “flowers fall amidst our longing, and weeds spring up despite our aversion”. For me this means that what I love will leave no matter how much I love it, and what comes my way will come no matter how much I want to avoid it. How poignant to encounter this teaching at the onset of autumn, amid the falling leaves and darkening sky, as the geese and warblers fill the air with song—briefly—and depart.

Let’s enter ango with open hands, not grasping any part of this practice or rejecting any part of our lives. Let’s make our training commitments—assessing work and time and energy and obligations—in the faith that our fundamental questions and our everyday lives are not in conflict. Let’s look for the fundamental on the front page, and discover genjokoan in the daily grind.

Thank you for your practice, patience and guidance.SUM16_2nd Gikon portrait
SUM16_2nd_Gikon

Gikon

Prabu Gikon Vasan began Zen practice at ZCNYC in 1999, became a formal student in 2001, and received jukai in 2008. He has worked as a clinical social worker in New York City for fifteen years, and currently helps mental health clinics to implement best practices in areas like suicide prevention. He lives with his wife, Hosui, in Brooklyn and will be in residency at Fire Lotus Temple for the fall.

Ango Practice

The Mountains and Rivers Order training schedule cycles through periods of intensification and relaxation, mirroring seasonal changes and giving us varied opportunities to study and practice. The spring and fall quarters are ango (“peaseful dwelling”), nintety-day intensives that continue an ancient tradition dating back to the time of the “Buddha, when the sangha gathered in forest groves during monsoon season to support each other in their practice and receive teachings from the Buddha and his senior disciples.

Each ango has a theme drawn from the Buddhist teachings. This Fall 2016 Ango, the sangha will be taking on the teachings of “Genjokoan,” a fascicle by Dogen from his Shobogenzo: Treasury of the True Dharma Eye. Dogen’s teachings in this fascile ask us to see every aspect of life as the raw material of practice and realization. We will engage this together during the ango’s Buddhist study sessions and the Ango Intensive retreat.

The training and practice of the chief disciple is another important facet of ango training. When a junior student is ready to make the transition to being a senior student, the teacher will ask him or her to serve as chief disciple for the training period, leading the ango and offering their sincere and wholehearted practice as a model for the sangha. The ango culminates with a special right of passage for the whole community: Shuso Hossen.

For more information about this Fall Ango and the various activities both at the Monastery and the Temple, please check out the Monastery’s website.

 

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Born as the Earth: Spring Ango Intensive 2016

Born as the Earth: Spring Ango Intensive 2016

· Earth Initiative, Retreats, Sangha News, Zen Training

post by Chris Tyler, MRO

From April 7th through the 10th, more than 60 sangha members gathered to sit, study, practice, and support each other in exploring the theme of this spring ango intensive, Being Born as the Earth. True to Shugen Sensei’s words from the opening sesshin, “the Earth is our chief disciple.”

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Opening Spring 2016 Ango: Born as the Earth

Opening Spring 2016 Ango: Born as the Earth

· Earth Initiative, Retreats, Sangha News, Zen Training

by Karen Spicher, MRO

On Sunday, February 28, we began Spring Ango, a period of intensified practice during the months of March, April, and May. An Ango Opening Sesshin extended from Friday evening through Sunday morning, when sangha members and visitors filled the zendo for the Sunday program. Hojin Osho officiated service, followed by a period of zazen and the Ango Entering Ceremony. Shoan served as liturgist, voicing formal ango participants’ commitment to practice for this training period and request for guidance in our training. As Kyosho sounded the densho, Shoan read the name of each Ango participant, while those present offered incense and entered the zendo with clear intention.

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