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November 10, 2016 @ 2:53 pm

November 2016 Zazenkai Talk (Namaste India)

To Commence Jundo's month-long travels & pilgrimage to India, this talk is on Satsangs the Bhagavad-gītā (and various Zen Teachings on India).

Further reading and discussion for this talk are available on the Treeleaf forum:
November 4th-5th, 2016 - OUR MONTHLY 4-hour ZAZENKAI! NAMASTE INDIA! »

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October 26, 2016 @ 6:45 pm

October 2016 Zazenkai Talk (Cases from the Book of Serenity for Ango & Jukai)

Koans for this talk are from The Book of Serenity: CASE 67 - THE FLOWER GARLAND SUTRA’S WISDOM, and CASE 68 - KYUHO’S HEAD AND TAIL.

Further reading and discussion for this talk are available on the Treeleaf forum:
October 7th-8th, 2016 - OUR MONTHLY 4-hour ZAZENKAI! »

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September 26, 2016 @ 9:17 am

September 2016 SIT-A-LONG with Jundo: When I Feel So Bad

When I began Zazen this morning, I felt so bad ... and then I didn't. The problems remained, but now filled with clarity, light, peace, compassion, equanimity, allowing ... No "I" and no "problem" remained ... even as the problems of life remained. What did I do? Better said, it's what "I" didn't need to do or not do.

Further reading and discussion for this talk are available on the Treeleaf forum:
SIT-A-LONG with JUNDO: When I Feel So Bad »

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September 23, 2016 @ 12:44 pm

September 2016 Zazenkai Talk (Cases from the Book of Serenity for Ango & Jukai)

Koans for this talk are from The Book of Serenity: CASE 62 - Biko's No Enlightenment, CASE 63 - Joshu Asks About [Great] Death, CASE 64 - Shisho's Transmission, and CASE 65 - Shuzan's New Bride.

Further reading and discussion for this talk are available on the Treeleaf forum:
Sept 9th-10th, 2016 - OUR MONTHLY 4-hour ZAZENKAI - COMMENCING this ANGO & JUKAI! »

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August 19, 2016 @ 4:58 pm

August 2016 Zazenkai Talk (Cases from the Book of Serenity - Part 2)

Koans for this talk are from The Book of Serenity: CASE 58 - The Diamond Sutra's Reviling, CASE 59 - Seirin's Deadly Snake, CASE 60 - Ryutetsuma's Old Cow, and CASE 61 - Kempo's One Stroke.

Further reading and discussion for this talk are available on the Treeleaf forum:
August 12th-13th, 2016 - OUR MONTHLY 4-hour ZAZENKAI! »

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August 4, 2016 @ 12:03 pm

SIT-A-LONG with JUNDO: ENGAGED ENERGY

We continue a series of talks on the Buddhist "Paramitas" (Virtues) which aid in our engaged and charitable work in the world. Today ... Verve, Vigor, Energy! ...

In Sanscrit, this is called the Virya Paramita ... which comes from the same root as vim and virile! And that energy is not only of use for all our social and political efforts to fix this world, clean up our country or town ... it is energy for whatever we need to "get er done" in life. And like all the "Perfections", it recognizes that we are only human, not perfect. Even superman needs to get his rest sometime.

Further reading and discussion for this talk are available on the Treeleaf forum:
SIT-A-LONG with JUNDO: ENGAGED ENERGY »

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July 28, 2016 @ 2:26 pm

July 2016 SIT-A-LONG with Jundo: Who Is a Priest?

Who is a Zen Priest ... and how to nurture their Training? And who perhaps is not? These are difficult questions, especially in our little Sangha.

Further reading and discussion for this talk are available on the Treeleaf forum:
SIT-A-LONG with JUNDO: Who Is a Priest ... »

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July 28, 2016 @ 2:05 pm

July 2016 Zazenkai Talk (Cases from the Book of Serenity)

Koans for this talk are from The Book of Serenity: CASE 54 - Ungans Great Compassionate One, CASE 55 - Seppo the Rice Cook, CASE 56 - Mishi's White Rabbit, and CASE 57 - Genyo's One Thing.

Further reading and discussion for this talk are available on the Treeleaf forum:
July 1st-2nd, 2016 - OUR MONTHLY 4-hour ZAZENKAI! »

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June 12, 2016 @ 6:23 pm

June 2016 Zazenkai Talk (Cases from the Book of Serenity)

Koans for this talk are from The Book of Serenity:

  • CASE 51: Hogen's "By Boat or Land"
  • CASE 52: Sozan's Dharmakaya
  • CASE 53: Obaku's Dregs
  • CASE 54: Ungans Great Compassionate One

Further reading and discussion for this talk are available on the Treeleaf forum:
June 3rd-4th, 2016 - OUR MONTHLY 4-hour ZAZENKAI! »

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May 28, 2016 @ 10:53 pm

May 2016 SIT-A-LONG with Jundo: Engaged Patience

We continue a series of talks on the Buddhist "Paramitas" (Virtues) which aid in our engaged and charitable work in the world. Today ... PATIENCE ...

We can be diligent and energetic in our efforts, seeking a good outcome ... yet not be attached to the desired outcome.
We can do what can be done, trying for good results ... yet filled with patience at the slow progress.
We can try for success ... yet also know equanimity with regard to success or failure.

Further reading and discussion for this talk are available on the Treeleaf forum:
SIT-A-LONG with JUNDO: ENGAGED PATIENCE »

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May 8, 2016 @ 11:04 am

April 2016 Zazenkai Talk (TREELEAF’S 10th ANNIVERSARY!)

TODAY'S SITTING MARKS OUR CELEBRATION OF TREELEAF'S 10th ANNIVERSARY!

Shōbōgenzō Ikka-no-myōju by Master Dogen
One Bright Pearl

In [this] sahā world, in the great kingdom of Song [China, there lived] Great Master [Gensha]. One day [while still a young monk, a student of Master Seppo], in order to explore widely the surrounding districts, he leaves the mountain, carrying a [traveling] bag. But as he does so, he stubs his toe on a stone. Bleeding and in great pain, [Gensha] all at once seriously reflects as follows: “[They say] this body is not real existence. Where does the pain come from?” He thereupon returns to Seppō. Seppō asks him, “What is it, [tough guy]?” Gensha says, “In the end I just cannot be deceived by others.” Seppō, loving these words very much, says, “Is there anyone who does not have these words [inside them]? [But] is there anyone who can speak these words?” Seppō asks further, “Why do you not go exploring?” [Gensha] says, “Bodhidharma did not come to the Eastern Lands [of China]; the Second Patriarch did not go to the Western Heavens [of India].” Seppō praised this very much.

Further reading and discussion for this talk are available on the Treeleaf forum:
April 1st-2nd, 2016 - OUR MONTHLY 4-hour ZAZENKAI for TREELEAF'S 10th ANNIVERSARY! »

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May 8, 2016 @ 7:43 am

May 2016 Zazenkai Talk (Heshang Moheyan (和尚摩訶衍))

Today's Talk is dedicated to a fellow who historically got a bad rap. It is also shows how much our Shikantaza Zazen ways resonate with the Teachings of the ancient Masters in the earliest days of Zen ...

Heshang Moheyan (和尚摩訶衍)) was a late 8th century Chan monk (Chan is the Chinese name for Zen). He became famous for representing Chan in the so called "Council of Lhasa," a debate held in Tibet between adherents of the Indian teachings of "gradual enlightenment" and the Chinese teachings of "sudden enlightenment," which according to tradition was won by the "gradual teachings", causing Moheyan and all Chan Teachings to be expelled from Tibet. However, recent research has disclosed that the story is not so simple, and may represent a rewriting of history and what actually happened by those later advocating the esoteric teachings we now know as Tibetan Buddhism. It is now known that Moheyan and Chan Teachings were very influential and widely accepted in long ago Tibet for a long time before they were purged.

Further reading and discussion for this talk are available on the Treeleaf forum:
May 6th-7th, 2016 - OUR MONTHLY 4-hour ZAZENKAI! »

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March 28, 2016 @ 9:57 am

March 2016 SIT-A-LONG with Jundo: Engaged Ethics (& Zenathon for Treeleaf’s 10th Anniversary)

First, I would like to point everyone to our upcoming ZENATHON, for 10 days starting April 1st (March 31 in some places) through April 10th, marking the 10th Anniversary of Treeleaf Sangha. Sangha members and friends will be sitting somewhere in the world, in all time zones, to mark the event. We are also very fortunate to be able to celebrate together with the traditional day marking Buddha's Birthday in Japan, April 8th (details on that soon). In our Community, we have people sitting all over, in all times, dropping away all thought of "here and there". If you are available to sit with us, here is information on how you can note your times to sit (or if your schedule requires, you can also just pull up a Zafu when you can).

... And on to today's topic:

As part of our focus on Treeleaf's Engaged and Charitable Projects Center, I have been looking at how the traditional Virtues (Paramitas) of a Bodhisattva aid and guide us in our volunteer, charitable and socially engaged activities in the world. This time, we look at how ethics and the Precepts are a vital foundation for our activities.

Truly, they open the heart. An appreciation of the importance of life, of not taking what has not been given, of not using others, of honesty and like virtues all help us along.

Further reading and discussion for this talk are available on the Treeleaf forum:
SIT-A-LONG with JUNDO: Engaged Ethics (& Zenathon for Treeleaf's 10th Anniversary) »

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March 27, 2016 @ 12:30 pm

March 2016 Zazenkai Talk (Shobogenzo - Kokū (Space - 虚空))

Because “this place is where something ineffable exists,” it is through the realization of these words that Buddhist patriarchs are caused to be. And because the realization of these words of Buddhist patriarchs passes naturally from rightful successor to rightful successor, the skin, flesh, bones, and marrow, realized as “a whole body,” are “hanging in space.” This space is beyond such categories as the twenty kinds of space [such as inside, outside, over, below, etc.]. In general, how could space be limited to only twenty kinds of space. There are eighty-four thousand kinds of space, and there may be countless more besides.

Further reading and discussion for this talk are available on the Treeleaf forum:
March 4th-5th, 2016 - OUR MONTHLY 4-hour ZAZENKAI! »

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February 15, 2016 @ 5:59 pm

February 2016 SIT-A-LONG with Jundo: GIVING, GENEROSITY and ENGAGEMENT

As one of a series of talks putting the spotlight on Treeleaf's ENGAGED & CHARITABLE PROJECTS CENTER, I would like to speak of the traditional Buddhist Paramita (Virtue) of Dana ... Generosity, Charity, Giving.

To give and be charitable takes us out of our selfish concerns for our own well-being alone. There are hungry mouths to feed in this world, and we can all do something. There are none of us so impoverished or wanting that we cannot give something to someone in need ... money, food, kindness, comfort, encouragement, teachings of wisdom ... especially for so many of us in relatively wealthy Western society.

However, there is also something special about giving from a Zen Buddhist point of view ... namely, that even as we give, there is nothing in need of giving or lacking ... there is truly no giver, receiver or gift ... nothing in need of giving, no giver or hungry mouths to feed ... yet we give nonetheless, for there are hungry mouths to feed! All True At Once, As One.

Perhaps we might say that, transcending giver-receiver-gift, only the naked generosity remains which holds and sweeps in all of us in the world's embrace. As you breathe every breath of air, bite a sweet apple and drink the refreshing water that the earth provides, as the sunlight shines down, know all this as just the world's generosity. We must pay it back.

Further reading and discussion for this talk are available on the Treeleaf forum:
SIT-A-LONG with Jundo: GIVING, GENEROSITY and ENGAGEMENT »

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February 11, 2016 @ 10:27 pm

February 2016 Zazenkai Talk (SPECIAL “NEHAN-E” 4-hour ZAZENKAI!)

WELCOME to our Memorial & Celebration of NEHAN-E, (Pari-Nirvana) the traditional day to mark the historical Buddha's death and passing from this visible world. This is also a day for each of us to remember in our homes those family and friends who have gone before. As well, we particularly mark the passing of Nishijima Gudo Wafu and Rempo Niwa Zenji ...

Further reading and discussion for this talk are available on the Treeleaf forum:
February 6th, 2016 - SPECIAL "NEHAN-E" 4-hour ZAZENKAI! »

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January 23, 2016 @ 2:22 pm

January 2016 SIT-A-LONG with Jundo: TOTALLY ENGAGED

As this is just the New Year, it is a good time to stir the pot at Treeleaf's ENGAGED & CHARITABLE PROJECTS CENTER ...

We want to activate the place, and believe that it should be front and center in our Practice right with Zazen ... in fact, charity and volunteer activities --are-- Zazen "off the cushion."

Every couple of weeks or so, we will be presenting projects that anybody can ... should ... dig into, and we would like to make this a Community Team Effort! There will be many options available, something for anybody, even folks who have mobility or other health issues. There are always ways to reach out wherever you find yourself, always someone who you can help a bit no matter how much you are struggling in your own life (maybe just pick up a phone or computer and reach out to someone else who is also housebound, for example).

Further reading and discussion for this talk are available on the Treeleaf forum:
SIT-A-LONG with Jundo: TOTALLY ENGAGED »

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January 19, 2016 @ 10:36 pm

January 2016 Zazenkai Talk (Welcome to the New Year)

To open this New Year, our reading will be the prologue to Master Dogen's Bendowa (On the Endeavor of the Way, Kaz Tanahashi Translation), written in 1231, one of the first pieces on Zen Practice written by Master Dogen following his return to Japan from China:
www.lionsroar.com/just-wholeheartedly-sit

Further reading and discussion for this talk are available on the Treeleaf forum:
January 1st-2nd, 2016 - OUR MONTHLY 4-hour ZAZENKAI! WELCOME THE NEW YEAR! »

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December 2, 2015 @ 10:01 pm

SIT-A-LONG with JUNDO: Rohatsu, Retreat and Family

This week we celebrate ROHATSU, remembering the Enlightenment of the Buddha who sat under the Bodhi Tree, realizing the end of his long search as he saw the light of the Morning Star. If you cannot travel to a Rohatsu Retreat, we invite you to sit in "retreat" just where you are, with our Treeleaf Sangha Annual 'ALWAYS AT HOME' Two Day 'ALL ONLINE' ROHATSU RETREAT, to be live netcast this coming Saturday and Sunday (or available for sitting any later time when you can arrange).

The two days will include Zazen sitting, Kinhin, Chanting, Zazen sitting, Oryoki, Zazen sitting, Bowing, Talks, 'Samu' Work Practice, and More Zazen Sitting, as in any Soto Zen Retreat, all in celebration of the Buddha's days of Zazen and Enlightenment. Folks will be sitting with us from places as far and wide as Sweden, Mexico, the US, UK, Australia, Canada, Japan, Indonesia, the Ukraine and other places ... all together as a Community, forgetting distance. The retreat is designed to be sat in any time zone around the world through a combination of 'live-live' and 'live though recorded' segments, and one may still join the Retreat and sit-a-long at ANY AND ALL TIME after, by the real time recorded version (no different from the original!). For further details, please have a look here.

Further reading and discussion for this talk are available on the Treeleaf forum:
SIT-A-LONG with JUNDO: Rohatsu, Retreat and Family »

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November 11, 2015 @ 7:31 pm

November 2015 Zazenkai Talk (The Verse of Atonement, The Four Vows & Others)

For this talk, we will reflect on some of the Verses, Vows and Dedications we are heard to Chant around here for each Zazenkai and at other times.  For further reading on these and other Chants, I highly recommend "Living by Vow: A Practical Introduction to Eight Essential Zen Chants and Texts, by Shohaku Okumura, Wisdom Publications, 2012."

Further reading and discussion for this talk are available on the Treeleaf forum:
November 6th-7th, 2015 - OUR MONTHLY 4-hour ZAZENKAI! »

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October 3, 2015 @ 1:58 pm

October 2015 Zazenkai Dharma Talk (Wild Ways of the Precepts in Japan)

Reading: "Wild Ways of the Precepts in Japan"

It is not known if the precepts in sixteen articles resulted from Dogen’s own innovation or if he borrowed this group from another source. [Dogen, in a writing describing the ordination ceremony for his priests] states that the ordination ceremony described therein is exactly the same as the one conducted by [Dogen's Teacher in China] Ju-ching in 1225 when he administered the precepts to Dogen. The reliability of that assertion, however, seems doubtful. [from "Dogen and the Precepts" by Prof. Steven Heine]

Further reading and discussion for this talk are available on the Treeleaf forum:
October 2nd-3rd, 2015 - OUR MONTHLY 4-hour ZAZENKAI! »

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September 30, 2015 @ 5:34 pm

September 2015 Talk - Make Room for the Misfits!

When SweepingZen asked for a talk on International Blasphemy Rights Day (September 30th), I joked that I do that with most of my posts!

A nice thing about Buddhists is that we rarely kill, burn at the stake or imprison our critics, dissenters, heretics and the doctrinally different (although we have our scattered extremists too, the same as any religion). We are pretty non-violent, but even we aren’t totally immune from forbidding and punishing blasphemy and unwelcome voices.

Keep room in Zen Buddhism for the misfits, square pegs, tradition breakers and “original non-thinkers” on the edges. Learn to distinguish the con artists, shysters, abusers and predators from those who have simply walked their own path, attended the “monastery of hard knocks”, are doing something good even if not how you would do it. Having “set standards” and “required training paths” is useful and generally necessary for helping to assure substance, experience, dedication and ethics in our teachers. Someone can do a lot of harm when falling down in those things, like an untrained doctor or a drunken lawyer. However, keep room for exceptions and “special cases” too. Look at who the priest has become, not so much only how she or he got there.

Further reading and discussion for this talk are available on the Treeleaf forum:
INTERNATIONAL BLASPHEMY DAY: Make Room for the Misfits! »

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September 8, 2015 @ 8:40 pm

September 2015 Zazenkai Dharma Talk (Ango Season Begins)

What is Ango in our day and time, for householders in the modern West? Is it Ango as the Buddha, Dogen and all the Ancestors Practiced?

The meaning of the Japanese word Ango [安居] (Skt : varsha or varshika; Pali: vassa ) is “tranquil dwelling”. The origin is the “rainy-season retreat” , the period when Buddhist monks in India stopped their travels and outdoor activities for the duration of the rainy season and gathered at some sheltered location to devote themselves to Practice, study and discipline. One practical reason was because the heavy rainfall made traveling and outdoor activities impractical. But it was also a time when the individual monks in Buddha’s time, spending most of the year scattered here and there in small groups or individually, could gather and unite as a community and Practice together. During the rainy season in India, monks traditionally dwelt in a cave or a monastery for three months—from the sixteenth day of the fourth month to the fifteenth day of the seventh month. During this period the monks learned the Buddha's teachings, engaged in meditation and other practices, and repented their harmful behavior and weaknesses. The tradition is said to have begun during the time of Shakyamuni, was brought to China, and in Japan the three-month retreat was first observed in 683. Now it comes to us.

Further reading and discussion for this talk are available on the Treeleaf forum:

September 4th-5th, 2015 - OUR MONTHLY 4-hour ZAZENKAI! ANGO SEASON BEGINS! »

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September 1, 2015 @ 7:27 pm

August 2015 Talk - Why Zen Folks Fail - Part 6

We continue with Why Zen Students Fail!

One reason is because they trust the Zen Teachers too much sometimes.

Another reason is because they trust their Teacher not enough sometimes.

Sometimes they are blind to a Teacher's flaws, victims of excess devotion, faith and obedience (yes, it sometimes happens, as described HERE)

Sometimes students expect a Zen Teacher to be flawless, saintly and superhuman, and run away at the first sign of humanity.

Students should realize that the teachers are really just mentors, "friends on the way", folks who have been around the block, guides who have walked the path and can help point out the generally good directions and the dangers and quicksand. Learn from the voice of experience and the wise advice, but in the end, each student must do their own walking.

In all cases, the student should learn to see through the Teacher to the Teaching, seeing this messy world and the Pure Land as One.

Further reading and discussion for this talk are available on the Treeleaf forum:

SIT-A-LONG with Jundo: Why Zen Folks FAIL!! (6) - Trusting the Teacher »

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August 11, 2015 @ 10:27 am

August 2015 Zazenkai Dharma Talk

Today's Talk:

Theory of Zazen for Three Personality Types
Sankon-Zazen-Setsu by Keizan Zenji
(translation by YASUDA & ANZAN, with some adjustments from Masunaga and Kennett)

In traditional Buddhist descriptions, there the three levels of capacity that Buddhist practitioners exhibit (sankon 三根; Sk. trīṇi indriyāṇi): dull (donkon 鈍根), middling (chūkon 中根; Sk. madhya indriya), and sharp (rikon 利根; Sk. tīskṣṇa indriya) capacities. These are three different capacities that Buddhist practitioners exhibit.

Dogenologist & Historian Carl Bielefeldt comments (Dogen’s Manuals of Zen Meditation, footnote 33 on p.152): Here [in the “Theory of Zazen for Three Personality Types”] Keizan distinguishes three levels in the understanding of zazen (corresponding to the traditional Buddhist disciplines): the lowest emphasizes the ethical character of the practice; the middling, the psychological character; the highest, the philosophical. The second, he describes as ―abandoning the myriad affairs and halting the various involvements, ‖ making unflagging effort to concentrate on breathing or consider a koan, until one has gotten clear about the truth. (In the highest zazen, of course, this truth is already quite clear.) In his influential Zazen yojinki as well – though [Keizan] repeats the Fukan zazen gi passage on nonthinking—Keizan recommends the practice of kanna [Koan phrase centered Zazen] as an antidote to mental agitation in zazen (ibid. 497b).

Further reading for this talk is available in the Zazenkai forum thread:

August 2015 Zazenkai Forum Thread »

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