Today, the Monastery Store takes a big step in increasing its offerings of sangha-made items. For several years we’ve featured bird house gourds, incense holders, beeswax candles and of course honey from our own hives. All of these products and more have celebrated age-old traditions of handcraft using resources cultivated and harvested from our own grounds. As you’ll see and read below, a number of these endeavors have been fermenting and evolving behind the scenes and we’re very excited to now share them with the wider world. (For now, most of these items will only be available at our in-person store, but we’ll expand to offering them online as quantities become available.) Read more
By Robyn Ikyo Love
On April 8, 2018, Shugen Roshi completed the process of dharma transmission for Vanessa Zuisei Goddard. Zuisei first came into residency in 1995, fresh out of university. She spent 14 years as a monastic and returned to lay life in 2014, continuing to work full time for the Monastery in various capacities. She became a dharma holder in 2015, enabling her to begin leading retreats and training as a teacher both at the Monastery, at the Zen Center of NYC, and with our affiliate groups. Read more
Posted by Danica Shoan Ankele
Among the present blessings of my monastic life, I count the chance to be part of a newly formed collaboration between members of the Temple’s People of Color Tea Group and the Monastery’s Beyond Fear of Differences Planning Group. Together, nineteen of us (about half of us identify as people of color and half as white) are working on creating a more inclusive and diverse community within the MRO. We’ve been referring to our joint group simply as POC/BFOD. Read more
by Geoffrey Shugen Arnold, Roshi
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Book of Serenity Case 14
Attendant Huo Passes Tea
Probing pole in hand, shadowing grass around him, sometimes he wraps a ball of silk in iron, sometimes he wraps a special stone with silk. To determine the soft by means of the hard is of course right; what about the matter of being weak when meeting strength?
Attendant Huo asked Deshan, “Where have all the sages since antiquity gone?” Read more
Deshan said, “What? How’s that?”
Huo said, “The order was for a ‘flying dragon’ horse but a ‘lame tortoise’ shows up.” Deshan let it rest.
The next day when Deshan came out of the bath, Huo passed him some tea.
Deshan patted Huo on the back. Huo said, “This old fellow has finally gotten a glimpse.” Again Deshan let the matter rest
Editorial: by Suzanne Taikyo Gilman
How do you experience gratitude? Gratefulness, as David Steindl-Rast writes, happens when the heart flows over and must be expressed. Gratefulness arises like the surf or a fresh breath, natural and in accord—a basic, personal awareness that something good has happened. When we look at our lives for these moments, we find them filled with gifts: a sudden smile; caring and being cared for; meeting a teacher of the Dharma; finding our way through the twisted tangles of our greed, anger and ignorance; and, being in the company of good friends and guides. Read more
by Jan Chozen Bays, Roshi
It is ironic that in countries where food is abundant, disharmony with food and eating is most common. Americans appear to have a particularly unbalanced and often negative relationship with food. In the 1990s, a research team led by an American psychologist and a French sociologist teamed up to do a study of cross-cultural attitudes toward food. They surveyed people in the United States, France, Flemish Belgium, and Japan. They found that Americans associated food with health the most and pleasure the least. For example, when Americans were asked what comes to mind when they hear the words “chocolate cake,” they were more likely to say “guilt,” while the French said “celebration.” The words “heavy cream” elicited “unhealthy” from Americans and “whipped” from the French. The researchers found that Americans worry more about food and derive less pleasure than people in any other nation they surveyed. Read more
Poem by Yusef Komunyakaa
Thanks for the tree Read more
between me & a sniper’s bullet.
I don’t know what made the grass
sway seconds before the Viet Cong
raised his soundless rifle.
Some voice always followed,
telling me which foot
to put down first.
by Thanissaro Bhikkhu
These two people are hard to find in the world. Which two? The one who is first to do a kindness, and the one who is grateful and thankful for a kindness done.”
In saying that kind and grateful people are rare, the Buddha isn’t simply stating a harsh truth about the human race. He’s advising you to treasure these people when you find them, and—more importantly—showing how you can become a rare person yourself.
Kindness and gratitude are virtues you can cultivate, but they have to be cultivated together. Each needs the other to be genuine —a point that becomes obvious when you think about the three things most likely to make gratitude heartfelt: Read more
by Sayadaw U Pandita
Meditation can be seen as a war between wholesome and unwholesome mental states. On the unwholesome side are the forces of the kilesas, also known as “The Ten Armies of Mara.” In Pali, Mara means “killer.” He is the personification of the force that kills virtue and also kills existence. His armies are poised to attack all yogis; they even tried to overcome the Buddha on the night of his enlightenment.
Here are the lines the Buddha addressed to Mara, as recorded in the Sutta Nipata:
Sensual pleasures are your first army, Read more
Discontent your second is called.
Your third is hunger and thirst,
The fourth is called craving.
Sloth and torpor are your fifth,
The sixth is called fear,
Your seventh is doubt,
Conceit and ingratitude are your eighth,
Gain, renown, honor, and whatever fame
is falsely received (are the ninth),
And whoever both extols himself and disparages others (has fallen victim to the tenth).
That is your army, Namuci [Mara],
the striking force of darkness.
One who is not a hero cannot conquer it,
but having conquered it, one obtains happiness.
by Brother David Steindl-Rast
A rainbow always comes as a surprise. Not that it cannot be predicted. Surprising sometimes means unpredictable, but it often means more. Surprising in the full sense means somehow gratuitous. Even the predictable turns into surprise the moment we stop taking it for granted. If we knew enough, everything would be predictable, and yet everything would remain gratuitous. If we knew how the whole universe worked, we would still be surprised that there was a universe at all. Predictable it may be, yet all the more surprising. Read more