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Shuso’s Letter Fall Ango 2018

· Sangha News, Zen Training · , , , ,

Dear Sangha,

As Autumn is swiftly approaching and we experience the impermanence of those lovely summer days, we can be reminded of and reflect on the limited time we have in our own life to manifest what we came here to do.

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photo by Chizen Brown, MRO

With Nothing to Call My Own

· Teachings · , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

by Geoffrey Shugen Arnold, Roshi

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Book of Serenity Case 14

Attendant Huo Passes Tea

The Pointer

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?

Main Case

Attendant Huo asked Deshan, “Where have all the sages since antiquity gone?”
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

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Receiving Kindness

· Editorial · , , ,

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.

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photo by Andrew Xu

Cultivating Gratitude

· Essays, Teachings · , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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.

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photo by Ponjalishussness, MRO

Thanks

· Creative Expression · , , , ,

Poem by Yusef Komunyakaa


 

Thanks for the tree
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.

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photo by William Carpenter

The Lessons of Gratitude

· Essays, Teachings · , , , , , ,

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.”

AN 2.118

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:

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photo by Trocaire

Surprise and Gratefulness

· Essays · , , , , ,

by Brother David Steindl-Rast


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.

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Dusting

· Creative Expression, Poetry · , , , ,

Poem by Marilyn Nelson


Thank you for these tiny
particles of ocean salt,
pearl-necklace viruses,
winged protozoans:
for the infinite,
intricate shapes
of submicroscopic
living things.

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photo by Phil Dolby

Gratitude Toward Everyone

· Essays · , , , , , ,

by Dzigar Kongtrul, Rinpoche


When things go wrong in our lives, we tend to place all the blame on something outside ourselves, which only compounds our root problem of self-importance. “Realize all faults spring from one source” is the antidote to that confused and unhelpful mentality. “Meditate upon gratitude toward all” works with another distorted way of looking at things. This slogan and the problem it addresses are the mirror image of the previous one.

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photo By Kando Johnston, MRO

Intimacy With All Things

· Essays · , , , , ,

by Jack Kornfield


Our capacity for intimacy is built on deep respect, a presence that allows what is true to express itself, to be discovered. Intimacy can arise in any moment; it is an act of surrender, a gift that excludes nothing. In Buddhist marriage ceremonies, I speak about this quality of intimacy and how it grows as we learn to stay connected with ourselves and respectful of those around us. I teach new couples the mantra of intimacy.

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