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Finding Our Way

· Dharma Discourses, Teachings, Zen Training · ,

by Geoffrey Shugen Arnold, Roshi

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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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This Should Be Easy

· Editorial · ,

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.

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The Seven Branches

· Teachings · ,

The Avatamsaka Sutra

To all the buddhas, the lions of the human race,
In all directions of the universe,
through past and present and future: To every single one of you,
I bow in homage; Devotion fills my body, speech and mind.

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One Thing

· Creative Expression, Teachings · ,

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.

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Learning To See

· Essays · ,

By Robin Wall Kimmerer

We poor myopic humans, with neither the raptors gift of long distance acuity, nor the talents of a housefly for panoramic vision. However, with our big brains, we are at least aware of the limits of our vision. With a degree of humility rare in our species, we acknowledge there is much that we can’t see, and so contrive remarkable ways to observe the world. Infrared satellite imagery, optical telescopes, and the Hubbell space telescope bring vastness within our visual sphere.

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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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Going Within

· Essays · ,

By Joseph Goldstein

Our first experience of faith or devotion may be in or to someone or something outside of ourselves. One of the oldest recitations of faith in Buddhism is taking refuge in what is called the Triple Gem: the Buddha himself, that person who awakened under the Bodhi Tree twenty-five hundred years ago; the Dharma, the truth, the law, and the body of teachings; and the Sangha, which means, in particular, the order of monks and nuns and, more generally, the community of wise beings. “I take refuge in the Buddha, I take refuge in the Dharma, I take refuge in the Sangha.”

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By Marla Showfer

My Body Benefits in Solitude

· Essays · ,

By Deborah Hay

We are dying. We think we are not. This is a good argument for giving up thinking.

Spend one night a week in candlelight.

I lie on the floor in the corpse pose, called Shavasana in yoga.

Wherever I am the dance is. Instead of dancing wherever I am, I choose the time and space to play dance. This is equilibrium, and motion. Several minutes pass before I remember even to notice that my thoughts are going yacketta, yacketta, yack—even after three thousand corpse poses. 

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After All I Still Don’t Know

· Dharma Discourses, Teachings · ,

By Ron Hogen Green, Sensei, MRO

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Gateless Gate Case 9
Daitsu Chisho Buddha

Main Case

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.”

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Beginner’s Disease

· Dharma Discourses, Teachings · ,

by Zen Master Ta Hui

Buddha preached all doctrines to save all minds; I have no mind at all, so what’s the use of any doctrines? Basically there is nothing in any doctrine, and no mind in mind. The emptiness of mind and things both is their real character. But these days students of the Path often fear falling into emptiness. Those holding such views misapprehend expedient means and take the disease for the medicine: they are to be pitied deeply. Therefore Layman Pang said, “Don’t be averse to falling into emptiness—falling into emptiness isn’t bad.”

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