Photo by Hilary Halliwell

Freedom to Move

· Teachings · ,

by Geoffrey Shugen Arnold, Roshi

Book of Serenity, Case 79: Changsha Advancing a Step
Listen to this talk

The Pointer

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?

Read more

This is My Stop

· Editorial, Essays · ,

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.

Read more
Photo by Pj Nelson

Love and Compassion in Meditation and Action

· Teachings · ,

by Ven. Bhikkhu Bodhi

The classical Buddhist commentaries hold that before one can meditate on compassion, one first has to master the meditation on loving-kindness. However, I consider this position too stern. I have found that when you are able to stabilize a warm feeling of sincere loving-kindness for sentient beings, you can begin to cultivate the meditation on compassion.

Read more
Photo by Gateway Technical College

Where Does It Hurt?

· Beyond Fear of Differences · ,

Ruby Sales interviewed by Krista Tippet

 “Where does it hurt?” That’s a question the civil rights legend Ruby Sales learned to ask during the days of that movement—a question she found to have a power to drive to the heart of the matter. It’s a question we scarcely know how to ask in public life now. But it gets at human dynamics we will be living and reckoning with.

Read more
Photo by Ian Livesey

Vowing Peace in a Time of War

· Beyond Fear of Differences · ,

by Hozan Alan Senauke, Roshi

San Quentin Prison sits on a bare spit of land on San Francisco Bay. This is where the State of California puts prisoners to death. The gas chamber is still there, but for the last five years executions have been done by lethal injection in a mock-clinical setting that cruelly imitates a hospital room. Five hundred seventeen men and ten women wait on California’s death row, often for 15 or 20 years. The voting public generally supports this state-sanctioned violence.

Read more
Photo by Thomas Leuthard

The Conscience of Words

· Beyond Fear of Differences · ,

by Susan Sontag

We fret about words, we writers. Words mean. Words point. They are arrows. Arrows stuck in the rough hide of reality. And the more portentous, more general the word, the more they also resemble rooms or tunnels. They can expand, or cave in. They can come to be filled with a bad smell. They will often remind us of other rooms, where we’d rather dwell or where we think we are already living.

Read more

How to Take a Stand Without Taking Sides

· Beyond Fear of Differences, Earth Initiative, Reviews · ,

An Annotated List of Digital Resources for Informed Community Action, Resistance, and Renewal

I have never been one to get involved in politics. As a journalist I definitively steer clear of anything that could be construed as activism or partisanship. In Buddhism, taking action in the face of injustice can pose a similar question: how to do this in keeping with one’s bodhisattva vows of non-harming, yet without being partisan?

“When we engage with worldly politics, we try not to take sides,” Phap Dung, a Thich Nhat Hanh disciple, said in a recent interview. “It’s easy to choose a side, but as Buddhist practitioners we try to have more inclusiveness.”

Read more
Photo by Margaret Taberna

Sangha Reflections

· Reflections · ,

Stepping Forward

The first time I heard about the Women’s March, I felt strongly moved to go. Still months away, I signed my name on the list. As the date drew nearer, I found myself feeling more and more trepidation. Why was I going? Couldn’t it be dangerous to be in Washington the day after such a contentious inauguration? Living at the monastery with little contact with the larger world, I felt cloistered and removed, distant from the myriad people directly affected by the climate of hate and violence brought forth with the emergence of the then president elect. And that is precisely why I had to go. I had to find a way to diminish what felt like a looming gap between me and “them”—the US citizens and non-citizens who suffer on the giving and/or receiving end of this nationally systemic culture of power and fear, intolerance and ignorance—that is, all of us.

Read more

Dharma Action Updates

· Beyond Fear of Differences, Earth Initiative · ,

Beyond Fear of Differences (BFoD)

Social justice has long been a focal point for the Mountains & Rivers Order. While Shugen Sensei was based at the Brooklyn Temple, the Beyond Fear of Differences Initiative was formed, initially holding retreats and study groups for the sangha. Since May 2016, a planning committee of nine MRO practitioners have been meeting to help build the newest iteration of the Initiative: a monastery-based program to study oppression and privilege as it manifests both in the sangha and the world at large.

Read more

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.

Read more