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July 4, 2017 @ 9:50 pm

July 2017 Zazenkai Talk (”Practice-Enlightenment” for Practical People)

Buddhist meditation has commonly been considered an instrumental technique aimed at obtaining a heightened mental or spiritual state, or even as a method for inducing some dramatic "enlightenment" experience. But in some branches of the Zen tradition, Zazen (Zen seated meditation) has been seen not as a means to attaining some result, but as a ritual enactment and expression of awakened awareness. This alternate, historically significant approach to Zen meditation and practice has been as a ceremonial, ritual expression whose transformative quality is not based on stages of attainment or meditative prowess.

Further reading and discussion for this talk are available on the Treeleaf forum:
June 31st-July 1st, 2017 - OUR MONTHLY 4-hour ZAZENKAI! »

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June 7, 2017 @ 8:03 pm

June 2017 Zazenkai Talk (Dogen’s Instructions to the Ino)

Our Talk this Month is "What I Know about the Ino" (the Supervisor of Monks) ... a monastic office, but not that far from our own lives, jobs and family duties ... It is from Master Dogen's "Pure Standards for the Temple Administrators (Chiji Shingi)" for Eiheiji Monastery (translated by Taigen Leighton and Shohaku Okumura)

Further reading and discussion for this talk are available on the Treeleaf forum:
June 2nd-3rd, 2017 - OUR MONTHLY 4-hour ZAZENKAI! »

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May 7, 2017 @ 7:58 pm

May 2017 Zazenkai Talk (May 5th-6th, 2017 - OUR MONTHLY 4-hour ZAZENKAI!)

Our Talk this month digests the Chants for Formal Meals ... not bread alone, these Chants guide us for all our Practice and Life ... The talk covers the Formal Meal Verses (Gyôhatsu nenju 行鉢念誦):

  • Verse upon Hearing the Meal Signal (Montsui no ge 聞槌之偈)
  • Verse for Setting Out Bowls (Tenpatsu no ge 展鉢之偈))
  • Verse of Buddha Names (Butsumyô 十仏名)
  • Food Offering Verses (Sejiki ge 施食偈)
  • Verse of Five Contemplations (Gokan no ge 五観之偈)
  • Verse of Food Offering (Saba ge 生飯偈)
  • Bowl Raising Verse (Keihatsu no ge 擎鉢之偈)
  • Meal End (Sessui no ge 折水之偈)
  • Verse of Purity While Abiding in the World (shose kaibon no ge 処世界梵之偈)

Further reading and discussion for this talk are available on the Treeleaf forum:
May 5th-6th, 2017 - OUR MONTHLY 4-hour ZAZENKAI! »

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May 2, 2017 @ 10:10 pm

April 2017 Guest Zazenkai Talk (David Loy and A New Buddhist Path)

A special Zazenkay and talk by guest speaker David Loy. David Robert Loy is a professor, writer, and Zen teacher in the Sanbo Kyodan tradition of Japanese Zen Buddhism. He is a prolific author, whose essays and books have been translated into many languages. His articles appear regularly in the pages of major journals such as Tikkun and Buddhist magazines including Tricycle, Turning Wheel, Shambhala Sun and Buddhadharma, as well as in a variety of scholarly journals. David lectures nationally and internationally on various topics, focusing primarily on the encounter between Buddhism and modernity: what each can learn from the other. He is especially concerned about social and ecological issues. ... David Loy is one of the founding members of the new Rocky Mountain Ecodharma Retreat Center, near Boulder, Colorado.

Further reading and discussion for this talk are available on the Treeleaf forum:
ATTENTION: Special Zazenkai SUNDAY April 30th with DAVID LOY »

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April 2, 2017 @ 9:21 pm

April 2017 Zazenkai Talk (The Heart of the Heart of the Heart Sutra)

The Talk this time will look at the Heart of the Heart of the Heart Sutra, form and emptiness in a nutshell ...

We will reflect on the wording of the Heart Sutra as we chant for Zazenkai in English most weeks. However, I will touch briefly on the somewhat longer version used by Tibetan Practitioners and some others, with adds a little more at the startless start and endless end.

Further reading and discussion for this talk are available on the Treeleaf forum:
March 31st-April 1st, 2017 - OUR MONTHLY 4-hour ZAZENKAI! (NOT APRIL FOOLS!) »

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March 5, 2017 @ 11:42 am

March 2017 Zazenkai Talk (The zen poems of Ryokan Taigu)

Our talk is about the zen poems of the Great Fool: Ryōkan Taigu (1758–1831).

This famous hermit monk lived a simple life but rich in practice and reverence for the present moment. After leaving the monastery he spent his life helping people in villages, begging, playing with kids and writing poems.

More about Ryōkan: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ry%C5%8Dkan

Further reading and discussion for this talk are available on the Treeleaf forum:
OUR MONTHLY 4-hour ZAZENKAI! The zen poems of Ryokan Taigu »

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February 11, 2017 @ 10:37 pm

February 2017 Zazenkai Talk (Our 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.

Our reading for today's Nehan-e Zazenkai is a passage that Dogen wrote late in life, showing his seemingly very traditional views on Rebirth at that time: Dogen’s Shobogenzo Doshin, "Mind of the Way" (translated by Peter Levitt & Kazuaki Tanahashi)

Further reading and discussion for this talk are available on the Treeleaf forum:
February 4-5th, 2017 - Our SPECIAL "NEHAN-E" 4-hour ZAZENKAI! »

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January 9, 2017 @ 1:25 pm

January 2017 Zazenkai Talk (Reflections on Jukai)

This talk looks at aspects of the wording and content of our upcoming Jukai "Undertaking The Precepts" Ceremony, to be held next week ...

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

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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 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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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 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 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 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 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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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 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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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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July 4, 2015 @ 10:44 pm

July 2015 Zazenkai Dharma Talk

FOR TODAY's TALK: Soto Zen Teacher Kokyo Henkel explains the "basics" of Mirror Awareness very nicely …

The true nature of mind is mirror-like awareness, always just reflecting what’s happening, whether we notice this or not. It never shuts off or stops functioning, even when we’re completely engrossed in conceptual thinking or strong emotions. A mirror just receives whatever object is placed before it, neutrally and naturally. It has no opinions about the object. The mirror doesn’t prefer red over blue, it doesn’t discriminate among these things, and yet it doesn’t block them out, reject them, or alter them in any way. It is just open receptivity, without adding any commentary. … All these qualities of the mirror are also qualities of the nature of mind, the naturally present open awareness of Buddha-Nature.

… During zazen we can open to this receptive mirror awareness. If we try to look directly at it, try to grasp the mirror, we won’t be able to; we will only get to see our ideas of it reflected in it. Therefore the practice is, rather than trying to see the mirror, simply to be the mirror. If we try to be the mirror and also try to figure out what the mirror is, then such figuring is simply reflections on the mirror. It seems quite challenging to just reflect like a mirror, since we are so accustomed to discriminating, preferring, assessing, and getting caught up in the objects placed before us. Though it is challenging, it is also very simple, almost too simple for us to accept. http://sweepingzen.com/mirror-awareness-the-true-host

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

July 2015 Zazenkai Forum Thread »

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June 7, 2015 @ 9:51 am

June 2015 Zazenkai Dharma Talk

TODAY's TALK: Jijuyu-zanmai (The Self-Fulfilliing Samadhi / The still abiding taste of the self in self-fulfillment) by Menzan Zuiho Osho

Menzan Zuihō (面山瑞方, 1683-1769) was a Japanese Sōtō Zen scholar and abbot of the Zenjo-ji and Kuin-ji temples active during the Tokugawa era. Menzan's scholarship was part of the Tokugawa movement of returning to original historical sources to revitalize Zen (復古. "fukko" - "return to the old"), especially the works of Dōgen Zenji. Before Menzan the works of Dōgen were not widely studied or put into practice, and he helped revitalize the Sōtō school by analyzing and building on Dogen's writings. Menzan used Dōgen to promote a reform of the Sōtō sect, which included reforming the monastic code and meditation practice. Due to Menzan's efforts, Dōgen studies now occupies a central position in Sōtō Zen thought.Menzan was also involved in lecturing to the public and teaching laymen and laywomen meditation practice. One of his most famous works, the Buddha Samadhi (Jijuyu Zanmai) is addressed to laypeople and focuses on the teachings of Dōgen.

The reading for this talk is available in the Zazenkai forum thread.

June 2015 Zazenkai Forum Thread »

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