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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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