Treeleaf Zendo Podcasts


Sit-A-Longs Archive

February 22, 2017 @ 10:08 pm

February 2017 SIT-A-LONG with JUNDO: Sit Down & Speak Up

How does our Zen Practice blend with taking a stand? Do we stay "beyond the fray" or speak out for what is right? I have been wrestling with this lately, like many folks. I have advocated leaving "politics" outside the door of our Treeleaf Sangha. In principle. I still believe so, and that we should speak civilly and gently to each other in the Sangha, agreeing to disagree, leaving most political debate outside.

Further reading and discussion for this talk are available on the Treeleaf forum:
SIT-A-LONG with JUNDO: Sit Down & Speak Up »


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January 2, 2017 @ 12:34 pm

December 2016 Sit-a-Long with Jundo: My Uplifting, Inspiring, Hopeful, Optimistic New Years Message

The past year has seen its ups and downs ... a lot of downs it seems. Next year will likely be so too. (And the year after that!) This is the roller coaster of life.

Do you know the still and quiet center at the heart of all ups and downs?
Do you know that the world has always been so?
Do you know that things are probably not as down (or as up) as you might think?

Further reading and discussion for this talk are available on the Treeleaf forum:
Sit-a-Long with Jundo: My Uplifting, Inspiring, Hopeful, Optimistic New Years Message »


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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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August 4, 2016 @ 12:03 pm


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:


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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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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:


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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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February 15, 2016 @ 5:59 pm


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:


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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:


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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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August 30, 2013 @ 10:45 pm

SIT-A-LONG with Jundo: gratitude & Great Gratitude

This "Buddha quote", however nice it sounds, is not something the Buddha likely said at all (turns out to be from the cheery 70's writer on love, Leo Buscaglia). Oh, the Buddha certainly taught us to be grateful for this precious life, but also to be Grateful (Big "G") in a way that puts down the balance sheet and any need even to hunt for the "silver lining". 

What is the difference between gratitude and Great Gratitude seen in a Buddha's Eye? 

Daido Loori once recommended this elegant, simple practice on daily gratitude. I will second the recommendation:

Expressing gratitude is transformative, just as transformative as expressing complaint. Imagine an experiment involving two people. One is asked to spend ten minutes each morning and evening expressing gratitude (there is always something to be grateful for), while the other is asked to spend the same amount of time practicing complaining (there is, after all, always something to complain about). One of the subjects is saying things like, "I hate my job. I can't stand this apartment. Why can't I make enough money? My spouse doesn't get along with me. That dog next door never stops barking and I just can't stand this neighborhood." The other is saying things like, "I'm really grateful for the opportunity to work; there are so many people these days who can't even find a job. And I'm sure grateful for my health. What a gorgeous day; I really like this fall breeze." They do this experiment for a year. Guaranteed, at the end of that year the person practicing complaining will have deeply reaffirmed all his negative "stuff" rather than having let it go, while the one practicing gratitude will be a very grateful person. . . Expressing gratitude can, indeed, change our way of seeing ourselves and the world.

This is a lovely, transformative practice. Yet, Daido would also remind us, there is a greater, transcendent, boundless Gratitude in the Buddha's Teachings that does not even need the subtle "see the bright side" "find the positive to counter the negative" or "personal pay-off of what's ultimately nice for 'me'" in the above sense of ordinary gratitude. Rather, there's an even Greater "Non-Pay-off" than that! A Jewel so precious, it shines as both earthly jewels and life's thrown bricks and stones in our shoe.

Ordinary human gratitude is what we are encouraged to feel in the above exercise, and it is fine. In fact, it is wise, healthy and important. Yet there is a "Buddha's Gratitude" which is not dependent on what we "like" that momentarily pleases the selfish-self, that is not based simply on "looking out for the good side" or experiencing the "gorgeous" day. This Emptiness that is all Fullness -is- both the glass "half full" and "half empty!"

A Buddha's Gratitude is Vast and Unlimited ... a Gratitude both for that which we love and that which we may not, a Treasure beyond yet holding mere "silver linings" "brass rings" and "lumps of coal". It is a Peace and Wholeness which transcends "pro vs. con", a Beauty which sees even the ugly times as "gorgeous day". We are grateful for life, for death, for health, for sickness .. each and all as Sacred. It is a Gratitude in the face of a cancer diagnosis, Gratitude that dances all disappointments, a Gratitude which comfortably holds even the tragedy of Syria or any other bloody field (a Gratitude that is Grateful, even as we seek to stop such tragedies in the world). 

This last point is vital too, for while such is a Gratitude ever Grateful for this world of both peace and war, health and disease, nonetheless we may seek for peace, fight the disease. While Grateful for this garden of both flowers and weeds, each a Jewel in Indra's Net, we may seek to water the flowers and pluck the weeds we can. 

Yes, it is a lovely Practice to not complain, and to learn to see the "bright side" of life's ups and downs. But I also recommend to sit Zazen, sit as Gratitude sitting, sit as this Light which holds light and dark and all shades in between.

Yes, please practice daily the expressing of gratitude, and complain less and see the "negatives" less. Simultaneously, please let us work to make this world nicer, more peaceful, to end the wars, feed the hungry, nurse the sick. Yet let us also Sit a Buddha's Gratitude for ALL OF IT. 

Please visit the forum thread here!

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August 8, 2013 @ 11:10 pm

SIT-A-LONG with Jundo - TO ALL SOLO PRACTITIONERS: Don’t Be A Selfish Pratyeka-buddha

Many times I hear folks say that they want to practice on their own, and not join in a Buddhist Community, because doing so gets in the way of their own practicing and sitting. They say that other people or having a teacher are a distraction, take up "my" precious time, are not a benefit to "me".

Well, I say: Don't be a selfish sitter, a Pratyeka-buddha. 

There is an obligation, a face of the Bodhisattva Vow and taking refuge in Sangha, to support the Practice of others and not to be a Pratyeka-buddha. Ours is a Path beyond one's personal needs and wants. It is not a matter simply about what "I" want, what "I" need to do or learn, staring into my own navel. 


In Buddhism, one who attains enlightenment through his own efforts rather than by listening to the teachings of a buddha. The way of the self-enlightened buddha was criticized in Mahayana Buddhism, which rejects the path of self-enlightenment as too limiting and embraces the ideal of the Bodhisattva, who postpones final enlightenment to work for the rescue of others.
It is much like family and children, who we tend to and spend time with ... whether we selfishly always want to or not, and whether or not we would rather run away. Community activity is vital. Sure, there is a place for "time alone" (whether in my "man cave" in the house or my "Bodhidharma cave" in the mountains), but in the end we have a duty to the community ... and to ourself ... to help and be together. 

Self and other are 'not two', and the community leaves us all stronger.


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June 22, 2013 @ 1:10 am



     ... WHOLENESS

... so whole that even saying "wholeness" is wholly unnecessary.


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May 5, 2013 @ 10:22 pm

Original face, Dogen ’s words

in spring, the cherry blossoms

in summer, the cuckoo 's song,

in autumn, the moon shining,

in winter, the frozen snow:

how pure and clear are the seasons!

Please visit the forum thread here!


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March 30, 2013 @ 3:30 am

True color, mokuran

What is your true colors? How can you show your true color?

As the needle goes through the field of mokuran birds songs traffic sounds even the distant train even your sweet face clouded with suffering

all of them all are sewn into mokuran

true color


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February 27, 2013 @ 7:14 am

The Dharma is utterly useless

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February 17, 2013 @ 1:16 am

SIT-A-LONG with Jundo: Beautiful-Ugly-Buddha Eye

Sitting with the beautiful AND the ugly in this world ... finding that which simultaneously transcends and holds, breathes in and breathes out, "beautiful vs. ugly" ... is our Practice.

We are free of aversion and attraction even as we have our ordinary human aversions and attractions, pulling the weeds we can and watering the flowers ... even as we embrace each as just what they are. One finds Wholeness, Light, Beauty that is unconcerned by small human judgments of beauty and ugliness.

We observe the terrible battle fields for what they are, even as we seek to make peace. We sit serenely in the sick room, even as we try to cure the disease. We transcend yet fully embrace a world of beauty and ugliness, even as we do what we can to mend the ugly and make it beautiful.

Is it not the same when we find a certain ugliness amid the beautiful in Buddhism too? A naive student who demands ONLY beauty and goodness in the world ... even the Buddhist world ... one sidedly rejecting the sometimes distasteful or even criminal, may miss the Real Treasure that shines through all of it. That is so even as, in our Wisdom and Equanimity, we keep pulling the weeds we can and nurture the flowers, praise the good and punish the wrongdoer. All at Once, the Eye of Buddha holding all.

Master Dogen quoted his Master's poem in Baike, On Plum Blossoms ... which flower on gnarled twisted branches in our garden each cold February ...

The thorn-like, spike-branched Old Plum Tree

Suddenly bursts forth, first with one or two blossoms,

Then with three, four, five, and finally blossoms beyond count.

... So Beautiful, So Beautiful

Please visit the forum thread here!


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February 3, 2013 @ 5:11 pm

Sit-A-Long with Taigu: Unmasking

After Jundo s eloquent post and video, my humble take on the subject.

Much like the beautiful dancing Dorothy on the yellow bricks road, OUR JOB IS TO UNMASK THE WIZARD, in other words to dispell the illusion of the ego and turn the three poisons, the three little companions of Dorothy into compassion, wisdom and action.

Please visit the forum thread here!


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January 29, 2013 @ 10:39 am

SIT-A-LONG with Jundo: Even Buddhas Get the Blues

Taigu, our other Teacher here at Treeleaf, posted this week that he was going through some HARD TIMES at home and work, feeling stress and the blues from his job. Taigu recounted a story about the great Tibetan Teacher Chogyam Trungpa who, according to detailed accounts by his wife, suffered from frequent bouts of depression so severe that Trungpa was sometimes pushed to the point of considering suicide. (page 27 to 29 here) Taigu was talking about a little blues in his own case, not anything like Trungpa. Even so, some folks contacted me privately this week expressing surprise, believing that Buddhist Teachers should be beyond the blues and all stresses of life, perpetually in a realm of all encompassing bliss and tranquility. After all, isn't that the point of ENLIGHTENMENT?

Well, what may startle some folks is that Enlightenment does allow one to be totally beyond the blues and all stresses of life, free of loss and longing and sickness and aging and death ... even right in, as and amid days of sadness, times of stress, loss and longing, sickness and aging and death. BOTH VIEWS AND THE VIEWLESS, AT ONCE AS ONE. Oh, one should not be a prisoner of extremes ... falling into anger and violence, excess longing and greed, life halting depression and thoughts of suicide, destructive panic, uncontrolled regret and other harmful extremes of thought and emotions. However, the full range of moderate, healthy emotions ... life's normal ups and downs ... are what life is about and are not to be fled. Heck, any human being can even suffer depression or some other human weakness for a period. At the same time, right in the ups and downs, this Buddhist Way allows us to simultaneously taste a way of being thoroughly transcending up and down ... all at once. Strange as it may sound, one may sing and feel the blues ... and be beyond the blues ... at once.

Perhaps the very concept of "Enlightenment", and the point of this Buddhist enterprise, has evolved over the centuries ... into something far more subtle and powerful than even the early interpretations of long ago. You see, originally, the goal of early Buddhism might actually be best described as total escape from this world which is seen as a realm of suffering. Family, home and ordinary life were to be left behind on a path of cooling and abandoning human emotions and human ties. This life, the possibility of rebirth, was not looked upon as something positive to be lived, but as something to be fled. The goal was halting the endless chain of birth and death and rebirth.

Next, a concept of "Buddhahood" developed in which a Buddha or other Enlightened Master might be beyond all human attachments, sadness, fear, regret, longing, and all the rest even in this life. This is still perhaps the most widely held image of "the point of Buddhist Practice" that most Buddhist folks are to aim for. Old Buddhist Sutras, myths and hagiographic histories, painting exaggerated portraits of our long dead heroes, contribute to the image by stripping such saints and supermen of every human weakness or failing, thus building an idealized legend.

But with the passing centuries, a much more subtle viewless view of "Enlightenment" developed, and this is perhaps the most powerful of all. For in this "Enlightenment", one could live fully this up and down life, with family and household responsibilities and work and all the pains of normal life, the rainy days and sunny ... feeling it all ... yet simultaneously, thoroughly free of it all. Amid sadness, feeling sadness yet simultaneously embodying that Joy that sweeps in both small human happiness and sadness. Knowing birth and death, the travails of aging and passing time ... yet simultaneously free of birth and death and time. Oh sure, one still needed to avoid the extremes and perils of harmful emotions such as excess greed, anger and all the other chains of the runaway mind ... but in so doing, the result is a kind of "Buddha cake and eat it too" view of an enlightened life amid Samsara. Yes, the Buddha DOES TOTALLY ESCAPE from the world and the prison of Samsara ... right here amid the prison of Samara, right at the heart of the sometimes hard and stressful times of human life. There is a Peace, Beauty and Wholeness that holds all the broken pieces, both the beautiful and oh so ugly, the simple pleasures and unavoidable pains, of this complex world.

If you ask me, that is the most powerful view of Enlightenment, allowing Peace and Joy right amid a full, rich and balanced life, freedom from birth and death while born and growing old and someday dying. I would not trade it for any other Enlightenment even if all the Buddhas and Ancestors were to appear before me and point elsewhere. Anyway, in my heart, I do not believe they would.

Please visit the forum thread here!


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January 18, 2013 @ 11:41 pm


THIS IS THE MOST IMPORTANT ZEN TALK YOU WILL EVER HEAR. It will save Zen Students endless tail chasing and dead-ends, disappointments and wasted days. It will allow every Sitting to be Magnificent ... both the Sittings which are magnificent and those which are not. One will never be let down by one's Zen's Practice again ... nor by one's life, family and friends, nor this whole world ... both when fulfilling your every dream and when falling far short.

In an old Koan from the Book of Serenity (Ganto's Bow and Shout) a Zen student of too little experience but too much self conceit (as is true of so many modern Zen Students) shows up at the doorway of a Sangha. He demands, full of opinions, "Is this place sacred or just common? Is it what I think I want from the Zen I picture? Is it 'real Zen' or just fake Zen, and are the Teachers enlightened as I want 'enlightened' to look and seem?"

The Teacher in the Koan then demonstrates Dharma with a KATZU! Shout ... perhaps a GREAT Wordless Teaching or perhaps just a hackneyed cliche clunker. The student, moved, may decide to stay. Or, judgmental and dreaming, filled with golden expectations, the same Zen Student may feel disappointed with the Teachings offered (compared to how he thinks they "should" sound ... even if he is not quite sure how that is.). He leaves ... either right away or after some time ... thinking "there is no True Dharma here." He may judge based on having read too many Zen story books, where all the characters of the past have been cleaned up and dipped in gold (Although please read some of the old books such as the Vinaya, and you will find what a frustrating mess, with folks bumping noses, was Sangha even in the Buddha's day ). In either case, the foolish student fails to hear the TRUE SHOUT! ... the Great Wordless Teaching found both in the inspiring moment and the hack and cliche'd klunk.

The student fails to realize that the Best Zen Sangha may be that which is sometimes inspiring and sometimes discouraging, and the Best Buddhist Teachers and Friends those who are frequently uplifting and sometimes frustrating and mostly in between ... the ones who sometimes meet your ideals, but sometimes don't.

For what the Zen Student must find is Such which is Common-Holy, Specially Unspecial, fulfilling all desires ... both with what is wanted and what is not. The student most find freedom from the small human self ... filled with aversions and attractions, dreams and feelings of incompleteness and lack (the "I" in "I'm disappointed"). Can one know the Real that sweeps in and sweeps through 'real' or 'fake'? Can the Great Teaching be heard that shouts at the Unbreakable Heart of both the sparkling talks or thrilling moments and the dull or dumb, the Timeless both in the 'time well spent' and so-called 'waste of time'? Can one experience the Wholly Holy Whole, which fills all the high mountains climbed and barren holes one falls in. Can one find that True Way from which there is no way to "go away"? Even the frauds and fake Teachers, even the Teachers with weaknesses and failings, even the the greatest abusers and predators are Teaching to those with a Buddha's Eye to see.

Is this a clarion call to complacency and mediocrity, acceptance of the ugly without attempt at repair? FAR FROM IT! Yet there are two kinds of Sangha or Teacher that, I feel, do a disservice to students. One is a place or person that is too lax, too careless, which fails to provide beneficial opportunities for Practice, or (in some fortunately very VERY few cases) where real abuse and other bad acts occur. But, counter-intuitive as it may seem, a Sangha or Teacher which meets all the student's expectations, golden dreams, ideals and desires too would be a disservice (not to mention unlikely to ever truly appear, at least for the long haul when the rose colored honeymoon is done. It would be as misleading as the world of 'Gods' in the Six Realms, where all is given that is desired). Why? Because as with all of this life, all this world, one must come to see through personal judgments of both "sacred" and "ordinary", good and bad, flashy or dull, entertaining or painful, satisfying and disatisfying, true vs. fake ... thus to find a Truth beyond selfish expectations, disappointments, dreams, ideals and failings to meet a mark, thus to find the Mark Always Met. The best Teacher or Community, as strange as it sounds, may be one that ... like the universe ... sometimes inspires and sometimes frustrates, sometimes energizes and sometimes bores, sometimes astounds and sometimes leaves cold ... all so that one might find Astounding Energetic Inspiration even right at the heart of the frustratingly dull or unbearably cold.

This is not a call for complacency, resignation or merely "putting up with" ... but a call to PIERCE RIGHT THROUGH!

Our Treeleaf Sangha is a wonderfully imperfect place, often beautiful and often filled with small frictions. Our Teachers here are well-meaning but mediocre clods and fools. Yet This Place, This Dharma, This Buddha, sits beyond all human weighing and rating.

Here is a talk by me, the Best Zen Talk You Will Ever Hear, yet just middling and unspecial. Is it worth the time? Is it a waste of time?

........................... 'Tis Timeless whether worth or waste.

Please visit the forum thread here!


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January 10, 2013 @ 12:54 am


My Dharma Bro. BRAD WARNER has written (HERE) that we are not Zen "Clergy" ... or at least, he is not "Clergy". He writes ...

Zen has to be just a little bit dangerous. If it’s not, it ceases to be Zen. The reason that Zen can go as deeply as it does into the question of what it means to be truly human comes in a large part because it’s not entirely safe. The safer, more rule-bound, more structured and organized it becomes, the shallower and less valuable it gets. Nobody gets hurt (supposedly) but nobody learns much of anything either.

I completely agree, except that I don't. In fact, I totally disagree, except that Brad is totally right. Anyway, what one does is more important than some artificial name or category. Beyond names and mental categories.

Our Teacher, GUDO WAFU NISHIJIMA, was a Traditionalist (as seen in the picture over there with the funny hat and fly swatter), except when he wasn't at all. Sometimes he taught us to follow "Old Timeless Traditions", but often he told us to make "New Timeless Traditions" fitting for our culture and times. Sometimes he told us that his way was to be "his way or the highway", except when he let us go our own way. Sometimes he stuck closely to every word and rule of Dogen, except when he didn't.

So, are we artisans? clergy? artists? wandering musicians? ministers? comedians? priests? rabbis? bakers or candle stick makers?

Please visit the forum thread here!


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January 6, 2013 @ 3:03 am

Sit-A-Long with Taigu: No Expectations

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January 5, 2013 @ 5:06 am

SIT-A-LONG with Jundo: Safe Landings

There is a saying in the news business that "IF IT BLEEDS IT LEADS". An air crash or other tragedy captures the headlines and is endlessly examined by 24 hour news coverage, while the thousands ... hundreds of thousands ... of safe landings and uneventful flights that same day never make the news (Can you even imagine the strange headline ... "BULLETIN: PLANES MAKE NORMAL LANDINGS, NOTHING HAPPENED!!"). That leads to the unfortunate misperception that flying is dangerous, when in fact there have been record low fatalities in recent years, especially given the mushrooming number of flights and millions of passengers filling the skies. Countless folks get where they are heading, safe and sound across the world, and the most perilous part of flying is probably the mad taxi ride to the airport.

It is much the same situation in Western Zen these days, where a handful of crashed Teachers lead some to the falacious impression that there is some wide spread systemic problem in the Zen world. Critics, often foolishly shortsighted or even with an axe to grind, are quick to assert that the whole Zen adventure is dangerous or corrupt based on isolated and extreme situations. Nothing could be farther from the truth! What such doomsayers overlook is the fact of all the other teachers ... hundreds of caring, devoted, wise, compassionate, well trained, illuminating, enlightening folks ... who do not get involved in such things, who range from competent to truly gifted pilots who do not do harm to their students and, in fact, bring illumination and change lives for the better. They are out shadowed by the few (a very few) teachers who have crashed and burned.

This is not to discount the importance of shedding light on, uncovering, openly discussing and analyzing the few cases of abuse, for to do so is the only way to address the problem, help past victims and prevent future incidents in that same Sangha or others. It is much as air crash inspectors dissect every incident with an airliner, finding the cause and proposing a remedy so that like accidents will not repeat (a system that has been very effective to making flying very safe these days). We must not fail to aid even one victim of abuse, we must not turn our eyes the other way. That is why places like Sweeping Zen have done a tremendous service for all of us by reporting these incidents in all their gory detail, tearing away the cover-ups and excuses by "see no evil" types and apologists. Honest reporting is the first step to true healing and reform. Nonetheless, doing so can be misunderstood or misrepresented by some as an attack on all of Zen that focuses only on the negatives. Such is simply not the case.

In Zen flying, ultimately, there is no up or down, no place to fall or need for rescue. We passengers are each Buddha, riding on a jet that is also Buddha, with each engine and wheel, pilot and pillow just Buddha, Buddha, Buddha. It rises from 'Buddha International Airport', into skies and clouds just Buddha, over Buddhamountains, no place in need of going on the way to Buddha somewhere down the line. Buddha, flying Buddha across Buddha to get to Buddha all around. Nonetheless, one of the paradox-non-paradoxes of this Zen Way is that ... though there is no place to fall, no way to die ... fall and die we might! Thus we must be on our guard, careful in flying and maintaining the plane and diligent as the crew with lives in our hands. Thus, yes, there are things that need to be fixed about Buddhism, both in the West and back in the old countries. Some issues are quite serious (I am quite the vocal critic of many things in fact, calling for reform).

But don't let folks use scattered problems and a handful of disasters to distract from all the safe landings. The skies are clear and wide open.

Please visit the forum thread here!


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December 15, 2012 @ 11:32 pm

SIT-A-LONG with Jundo: Newtown -IS- Samsara

Samsara, this world we live in, is thus. It is a world filled with great beauty and sometime great ugliness, human beings who live in peace and those who kill. Sometimes innocent children die. Today is a day for tears.

The true evil doer is greed, anger and ignorance, mental illness. That is the disease, that is the real culprit.

Yet, the Buddha also Teaches of a View of Views, free of birth and death, beyond violence, with no separate killer or killed, no gain or loss in Wholeness ... and so no hearts which can be broken thus. We must keep the View that these little children have returned to This which is never left. May their parents and loved ones also find Peace.

Even though there is This beyond violence and death, nothing to break or repair ... hand in hand, we must work hard to fix this world and make it better for the future, ending the violence, poverty, sickness.

All at once. This is our Practice.

PS -

I would suggest that the best place to make a contribution is to a charity dedicated to ending gun violence or violence in general. Here are some suggestions ...

Brady Center To Prevent Gun Violence

Futures Without Violence

Please visit the forum thread here!


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December 14, 2012 @ 11:44 pm

SIT-A-LONG with Jundo: MORE Sex Scandal Finger Wagging

Following up on a prior talk by me called Sex Scandal Finger Wagging (Link Here), I now wish to call out some other damn foolish behavior witnessed in the ongoing big hoo-hah about Sasaki Roshi at SweepingZen.Com ...

I wag my finger at those so invested in their religious or other heroes and "gurus", their idealism and romanticism about "Enlightened Roshis", that they are blind to serious failings, look the other way even when seeing the reality before their eyes, try to explain things away, try to compartmentalize the wrongdoing as somehow unconected to his otherwise "Enlightened Nature", accuse the whistle blowers for the whistle blowing and, as a final escape, characterize years of sexual harassment and abuse and other serious flaws as actually "a Great Spiritual Teaching" "Skillful Means" or the like. Baloney.

I tsk tsk those who go to the other extreme and label all Zen Teachers as frauds, hollow Robes, corrupt, use these events as an excuse to reject all Buddhist Teachers as unhelpful and even harmful, and participating in Sangha guided by a Teacher as not "real Zen". More Baloney. For 2500 years, in China, Japan and all the rest of Asia, Zen and Buddhism has been largely a Tradition bound, Teacher based path ... and the so called "Zen Iconoclasts" were pretty darn conservative actually. You have little understanding of Zen history.

I also call out (a little bit) Adam, the publisher of Sweeping Zen. SweepingZen is a valuable resource to the Zen Community, an effort to offer an alternative to the mainstream Buddhist magazines that often seem to present a certain purified and pablum view of Buddhism. SweepingZen is providing a real service to all of us by shedding light on some dark corners and serious issues which, I expect, will leave this Way stronger and better rooted in the end. Other Zen Forums have often tried to sweep such things under the rug, paint a rosy picture of Zen, silence critics and whistle blowers. Adam, as the editor of the publication, needs to develop a bit more of a thick skin to those who do no want such hard questions discussed, and wish to shoot him as the messenger for bringing the message. However, I also think that he may need to exercise a bit more editorial moderation to make sure that discussion and commenting stays civil, avoids mud slinging and falsity and rumor, as in any reputable news publication and all within the bounds of Right Speech.

I wag my finger at Kuzan Peter Schireson and his wife, Myoan Grace Schireson. Although I am big fans of both, and a friend, and support Grace's efforts at prevention and healing of situations of abuse in the Zen Community (even as I think that it is sometimes a bit extreme), I believe they both stepped over the line in making and sticking to descriptions of Brad Warner that are false, twist and wrongly malign his character. They should apologize in the clearest terms for having done so, and they have not done so. Shame on them for that.

I also wag my finger at Brad Warner (although I forgot to mention this in the video), for being so up in arms about sarcastic postings and a comments section at SweepingZen that is open and a free-for-all in which false accusations and rumors and sharp words can sometimes be left without check ... much the same editorial policy (or lack thereof) that Brad has maintained on his own blog for years. That's the pot calling the kettle black. Brad should get his nose out of a twist and support the efforts being made at SweepingZen as an alternative Zen online magazine ... the kind of place where Brad should fit right in.

I wag my finger at Buddha, Hui-Neng, Dogen and all the Ancestors for faults that we don't know about because they were likely scrubbed up in history after they were dead.

Finally, I wag my finger at myself ... for wagging my finger at everyone else, and probably pissing off more than a few of the wagees. And also, for any faults and failings of my own. May my students someday write about me honestly, for better or worse, both while I am alive and after I am dead.

Please visit the forum thread here!


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