Recordings of Bright Way Zen Talks
Dharma Talks are given by transmitted Zen or Buddhist teachers; Guest and Sangha Member Talks are given by senior students. Talks listed here are Dharma Talks unless otherwise noted. Please let us know if you have any problems viewing the video or listening to our audio! Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Not Knowing is Most Intimate – Domyo (2023-11-26)
As human beings we navigate reality through telling ourselves stories about our world. However, no matter what story we tell ourselves about the current Israel/Palestine conflict, there seems to be no resolution. How does Zen Practice offer us a way to face ambiguity without getting overwhelmed? (Audio here)
Practice is How You Live Each and Every Moment – Domyo (2023-11-12)
If you find that adhering perfectly to the formal aspects of Zen practice is daunting, you’re not alone. The good news is, while forms are meant to support us — the most important aspect is how you live each and every moment. (Audio here)
Thoughts Are NOT the Enemy – Domyo (2023-11-5)
Despite clear zazen instructions from a long lineage of Chan and Zen ancestors, we’re still inclined to think thoughts are the enemy during meditation. After all, we’re not spending our time and energy on zazen just to sit there caught up in the dream of thought just like the rest of the time!
The path to satisfying zazen is not to suppress, cut off, avoid, or even “let go” of thoughts. All of this puts us in opposition to our thoughts, and therefore to part of our present experience.
Instead, satisfying zazen comes from integrating our thoughts – welcoming, embracing, including, and owning them and the concerns and impulses behind them. In doing so, we become bigger than the content of our thoughts. Thoughts are not a problem, and we are not caught up in a dream of thought. (Audio here)
The Value of Ritual – Domyo (2023-10-29)
Rituals take many forms: Our elaborate Sejiki Festival, our zazen, a baseball pitcher’s use of a lucky glove, or our morning coffee with our cat on our lap. In this talk we explore the value of ritual – both as we use it in Zen, and also some of the modern research that shows ritual can help us regulate our emotions and improve the way we function. (Audio here)
Reflections on Busshō: Dōgen’s Essay on Buddha-Nature – Domyo (2023-10-22)
One of Dōgen’s most famous essays points us toward awakening to reality with a capital “R”. Busshō, or Buddha-nature, is one way of describing this Reality. It is an important and very difficult teaching to grasp, and it is possible for each of us to awaken to it. It celebrates the existence of all beings and things without which there would be no awakening. (Audio here)
In Zazen, We Stop Imposing Ourselves On the World and Meet It Instead – Domyo (2023-10-15)
To describe the Soto Zen meditation practice of “Just Sitting”, or Shikantaza, presents a challenge because it is an activity unlike any other. The religious act of not-doing simply evades description. So, what are we doing when we are sitting Zazen? (Audio here)
Responding to the Suffering in the World – Domyo (2023-10-08)
In light of the escalating conflict in Israel and Palestine, how do we respond to the world’s suffering compassionately, responsibly, and authentically? How do we remain aware and concerned without succumbing to anger, overwhelm, anxiety, or depression? What does Buddhism have to offer us in this regard? (Audio here)
Denkoroku: Mahākāśyapa’s Smile – Domyo (2023-10-01)
Continuing her close read of the Denkoroku, Domyo selects from the second chapter of Denkoroku: The Transmission of the Light by Keizan Zenji. The second Koan, or “case”, is about Mahākāśyapa, a remarkable disciple who simply smiled in response to the Buddha’s action of raising a flower. What can this smile mean? (Audio here)
Zen and Creativity – Leah Jay (2023-09-24)
In this talk, Leah explores some similarities between Zen Buddhist practice and creative practices, particularly in the fields of artistic endeavors. How do our creative and spiritual paths intersect? (Audio Here)
Stories of My Teachers – Domyo (2023-09-17)
Our honorary temple founder, Rev. Kyogen Carlson, was a beloved teacher who passed away much too soon (in 2014, at the age of 65). He had unshakeable faith in the Dharma but was down-to-earth, utterly unpretentious, and- at times- gleefully goofy. Kyogen was a radical promoter of full lay empowerment in Soto Zen, encouraging people to “be ordained into their lives.” He was a masterful leader, skillfully taking conversations that would otherwise devolve into pointless debate and gently guiding people toward constructive perspective shifting. (Audio here)
Buddhist Teachings About Environmental Responsibility, Part 1 – Domyo (2023-09-10)
As Buddhists, we can recognize ideas of interdependence, non-separation from all life, non-separation from all manifestations of being, recognition of all things as Buddha-nature, spiritual fulfillment through Bodhisattva practice to all beings, and seeing oneself as in the same boat as all beings. These are central to our practice. Seeing more deeply into the teachings can lead us to call upon the earth to bear witness as the Buddha did. A thoughtful conversation with Sangha follows. (Audio here)
What is the Relationship of Humor and Pleasure to our Practice? – Domyo (2023-09-03)
The Buddha was pretty clear. If you wanted to experience complete liberation, it was best to leave all worldly things behind: Family, sex, alcohol, fancy food, music, entertainment, frivolity, etc. If you happened to attain enlightenment even in the midst of those things, upon liberation you would lose your taste for them.
Why did the Buddha recommend this? Why do fully ordained Buddhist monks and nuns still live this way?
If I could prove to you that complete renunciation would result in your awakening – and that you would live in complete peace and simple, sublime joy for the rest of your days – would you give up your pleasures? Probably not. I haven’t. So where does that leave us in terms of practice? (Audio here)
Zen Under Capitalism – Coral West (2023-08-27)
Capitalism is the economic system in the United States and has been normalized globally. The essential feature of capitalism is the motive to make a profit. As one examines the precepts and other foundational teachings in Zen, contradictions between participating in capitalism and practicing Zen begin to bubble up to the surface. But we can’t simply walk away from participating in capitalism. Everyone depends on it, in one way or another, to survive. Let us examine the paradoxes between capitalism and Zen and have an open discussion about living in this contradictory world. (Audio here)
Zen and the Sandwich of Family Caregiving – Ellen Tea (2023-08-13)
The “sandwich years.” That’s the term for the period of time when we’re caring for our older parents as well as our children. With a recent diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease, my mom needs my help increasingly. How can I directly apply my Zen practice to my caregiving, while anticipating that the hardest parts are yet to come? What principles have I internalized that will be most helpful? (Audio here)
The Art of Doing Nothing: Effort and Non-Effort in Practice – James Gregg (2023-08-06)
“Do nothing you say? Are you crazy? I’ve got to do SOMETHING!”
Whether we recognize it consciously or not, this is how most of us stumble through our lives, and consequently, keep the engine of samsara chugging along. But why? And what can we do to stop it – or at least pause it for a moment? In this talk, James gives his thoughts on Right Effort along the path, referencing an essay in Kyogen Carlson’s book “You Are Still Here.” (Audio here)
Everything is Optional – Domyo (2023-07-30)
Okay, whether something is optional depends entirely on how you look at it.
Which is, of course, exactly the point.
This Sunday, Domyo explores the value of approaching every thing we do as optional – and, of course, what we really mean when we say something is not optional. At a spiritual (as opposed to a purely practical) level, it has to do with how self-identified we are with a particular activity, result, or state of affairs. (Audio here)
Denkoroku: Shakyamuni’s Eye and All Beings – Domyo (2023-07-23)
In this Dharma talk, Domyo reads from the first chapter of Denkoroku: The Transmission of the Light by Keizan Zenji. “Shakyamuni Buddha, The Awakened One” is the first of this collection of Koans, written in the 13th century. It invites us to openly explore and challenge the ways in which we think about Enlightenment, self, and time – and to ultimately allow it to transform us. (Audio here)
Getting the Self Out Of the Way – Domyo (2023-07-16)
Ever feel frozen to the spot when asked to speak in front of a crowd? When we do things that will be witnessed or measured, such as perform a musical piece, read a poem aloud, play in a tennis match, dance, or give a speech…even areas within our competency can seem challenging. There are ways we can circumvent the discriminating mind, with our practice to guide us. (Audio here)
I, Me, and My-Making – Domyo (2023-07-09)
The Buddha described how we create much of our own misery through our “I, Me, and My-Making.” On top of reality we layer narratives about “I” (the one who perceives, thinks, and acts ), “me” (the one who receives the effects of actions or events outside of ourselves), or “mine” (everything we identify as being part of ourselves, or belonging to us). In this talk, Domyo explores what happens in our minds when we engage in I, Me, and My-Making, and what it means to function in the world without doing so (or, at least, doing much less of it). (Audio here)
Zazen as a Religious Act – Domyo (2023-07-02)
Zazen is central to Zen Buddhist practice. We can use Zazen and other meditation practices for various reasons, but it’s a mistake to think of Zazen only as a means to something else, or as a discipline to be mastered, or as a habit we maintain for our health. It is a profound religious act, that is our deepest most sincere and heartfelt response to the wonder and challenge of life. (Audio here)
Non-Reactivity vs. Healthy Self Defense – Domyo (2023-06-25)
This Sunday’s talk addresses Karma work as it pertains to interpersonal relationships. In the face of conflict, Zen seems to encourage non-reactivity, and yet self-defense or setting boundaries can be appropriate. These two stances seem at odds, but are they? Working on our own reactivity, and responding with clarity, skill, and wisdom, can be tricky. How does our practice guide us to meet these challenges? The topic is explored in further conversation. (Audio here)
Reflections on Dōgen’s Mountains and Waters Sutra – Domyo (2023-06-18)
Thirteenth-century Zen master Dōgen’s prolific writings include the Mountains and Waters Sutra, or “Sansuikyo”. This beloved Zen text is one of the many essays included in the Shōbōgenzō, and can be challenging to understand in translation. What does he mean by “mountains walking”? How can we engage with these passages in an imaginative, playful, curious and respectful way? A thoughtful discussion follows. (Audio here)
The Dharma of Self-Improvement – Domyo (2023-06-11)
Shunryu Suzuki Roshi famously said (approximate paraphrase), “You are all perfect just as you are. And you could use a little improvement.” There is tension between the practice of radical acceptance and our efforts to keep the precepts, deepen our insight, see through our delusions, and manifest compassion. Or is there? (Audio here)
The Ten Oxherding Pictures as Inspiration for Practice – Domyo (2023-05-28)
The Ten Ox-Herding pictures and associated poems are a Zen teaching dating back to at least the 12th century. They depict “stages” of Zen practice. A teaching about “stages” is inherently tricky – it can easily confuse or discourage us, or cause us to strive or compare ourselves to others (or to our own ideals). We may find such a teaching off-putting and compelling. Domyo talks about how to allow this teaching to inspire your practice and explore your own deepest aspirations – without getting stuck in dualism. (Audio here)
Seijo’s Two Souls: The Dharma of Hard Choices – James Gregg (2023-05-21)
Master Goso said “it’s told that Seijo and her soul were separated. Tell me, which was the REAL Seijo?” In this Chinese ghost story, Seijo was faced with a hard choice, and her decision had repercussions far beyond the immediate outcome. How can we use the practice to help us make hard choices? How can the teachings help us land on the “right” choice? In this discussion James uses Seijo’s legend as a parable for those times when life seems to be pulling us in different directions. (Audio here)
Cultivating the Habit of Profound Attention – Domyo (2023-05-14)
Domyo addresses a question: What is the meaning of “cultivating the habit of profound thought”?
Dogen said: “Learn to take the backward step that turns the light and shines it inward.” Domyo re-phrases this idea in order to clarify it further – as cultivating the habit of paying attention as if everything is profound, which comes through deeper self-study and inquiry. A conversation follows with those attending. (Audio here)
Participation, Vow, and Commitment – Domyo (2023-05-07)
In this Dharma talk, Domyo continues to address Dharma questions from Sangha members. In answering the question “What about Sangha members who don’t become Bright Way Zen members or Buddhists?” she clarifies the open, accessible, and entirely voluntary ways to connect at Bright Way Zen. Topics of participation, membership, becoming a Buddhist, and receiving the precepts/Jukai are discussed with the group. (Audio here)
Responding to Dharma Questions – Domyo (2023-04-30)
A couple of Sundays ago, Domyo asked Sangha members to submit questions that had come up for them, and answered a few on that day. Today, she continues addressing these questions and opens the floor to further questions and discussion. What is Mondo? What is Mondo in the context of our ongoing Zen practice? What does Mondo look like during a one-day retreat? What is Shikantaza? How does Shikantaza differ from directed effort practices such as following the breath, sitting with koans, and other deliberate meditation techniques? (Audio here)
A Brief History of the Buddha and How We Might Relate to His Journey – Thomas Bruner (2023-04-23)
Thomas Bruner, a Dharma Brother to Domyo, is a Senior Lay Disciple at Dharma Rain Zen Center. This is his 6th presentation at Bright Way Zen Center. In this interesting and encouraging talk, Thomas speaks about the historical Shakyamuni Buddha, Siddhartha Gautama. The story of the founder of Buddhism, from youth to his seat under the Bodhi tree is well-known. His human journey, whether taken literally or symbolically, can be explored in relationship to our own lives and spiritual paths. (Audio here)
Dharma Q & A – Domyo (2023-04-16)
Domyo set aside several minutes at the beginning of this Sunday’s Dharma talk to ask for questions from the Sangha. Those in the Cloud Zendo were encouraged to submit questions in the chat, while Dirt Zendo participants handed in theirs on note paper. She was able to answer a few about the nature of Zen and compassion, and how to talk about Zen Buddhism in your family, who may have differing religious practices. The conversation remained open with many Sangha members giving input. Remaining questions will be addressed in upcoming talks, or inspire future topics. (Audio here)
Eco Anxiety – Domyo (2023-04-09)
Most people have started to notice something is happening to destabilize Earth’s systems. Whether it be having to end our sesshin early due to wildly unseasonable winter weather, watching the heat-stressed trees and crops wither, hearing about record-breaking extreme weather events on the news, to experiencing them and suffering from them personally… it has become increasingly difficult to ignore these changes. How do we find the middle way between denial and despair? How do we respond to the climate and ecological emergency as Zen Buddhists? Domyo invites us to begin by bearing witness. A short discussion follows. (Audio here)
One Reality, Many Descriptions Part III: Buddha-nature – Domyo (2023-04-02)
Domyo continues her three part series with a discussion on Buddha-nature. Why do we end up feeling so alienated from our true nature? Waking up to reality with a capital “R” means understanding this treasure. Buddha-nature, like the precious jewel sewn into the cloak, is already there for us to find. (Audio here)
Sangha and Learning to Belong – Domyo (2023-03-26)
Inspired by experience, Domyo underscores the enduring treasure of Sangha in our practice. In working with and manifesting our insights within the context of our relationships, they can be an expression of the Dharma. Domyo continues by describing how we can find acceptance and belonging in this connection to community. (Audio here)
Forms and Sangha – Domyo (2023-03-19)
This morning, Jinryu, a new Shuso, was installed at Bright Way Zen. The Shuso assists the teacher in managing the zendo and serves as the model of practice for other students, particularly with regard to form: the established ways that we enact practice with our bodies. Domyo talks more about forms in a broader Soto Zen sense as well as at Bright Way Zen: the ways we move, sit, how we place our shoes, bow, use traditional names and enact rituals. (Audio here)
Who Are You When You Lose Your Mind – Domyo (2023-03-12)
When our loved ones or ourselves lose brain function to stroke, dementia, mental illness, or traumatic brain injury, how do we face this frightening, challenging reality? Inspired by a couple of questions posed online, Domyo talks about how Buddhism describes self and Buddha-nature, and how through a deeper understanding we can meet these challenges with peace and wisdom. A short discussion follows. (Audio here)
Awakening Requires a Strong Sense of Self – Domyo (2023-03-05)
In one of the Dalai Lama’s public talks, he mentioned: “You need a strong sense of self to practice Buddhism.” However, if Buddhism carries forward themes of dismantling the self, how can these two ideas coexist? Domyo engages with the big topic of self, referencing passages from the book “Trust, Realization, and the Self in Sōtō Zen Practice” (by Daijaku Kinst) which illustrate the elements necessary to the development of a coherent sense of self from a psychoanalytic perspective. What does a human being need in order to develop and establish this sense of inner stablity and worth? How does the state of our self-structure affect our ability to engage with and benefit from spiritual practice? This wide ranging topic opened the gates to further conversation. (Audio here)
Dealing with Terrible Things – Domyo (2023-02-26)
What does Buddhist practice have to offer us when it comes to dealing with terrible things? What are we supposed to do when we’re facing challenges in our own life, or witnessing the intense suffering of others?
Today, Domyo presents some Buddhist teachings on finding equanimity and strength while still keeping our minds and hearts open. (Audio here)
One Reality Many Descriptions Pt II – Domyo (2023-02-19)
Domyo on January 8th presented a talk on the reality of emptiness. Today she presents how Buddhism is all about waking up to reality, not about working ourselves into a special state, getting into a different transcendental realm. It is comforting to her that the Buddha taught all things are impermanent. We don’t want them to be thus, so our resistance to this reality causes our suffering. Domyo continues by describing reality recognizing any description is ultimately inadequate. Yet we do the best we can. The descriptions are always a pointing toward aspects of reality. Domyo discusses the many ways we describe those pointers to reality. A heartfelt discussion followed. (Audio here)
Questions and Answers – Domyo (2023-02-12)
Someone asked these questions on the Brightway Website, and Domyo discusses them today:
What does the phrase “Arrows meeting in mid-air” really mean?
What are the differences between Ordinary Thinking (with Our Discriminating Mind), Not Thinking, (the Absence of Thoughts) and Non-Thinking, which is neither Ordinary Thinking nor Not Thinking? A thoughtful discussion follows. (Audio here)
Dharma Friendships – Domyo (2023-02-05)
Famously, the Buddha admonished his disciple Ananda, who asked the Buddha to confirm that “admirable friendship, admirable companionship, admirable camaraderie” was “half of the holy life.”
The Buddha responded:
“Don’t say that, Ananda. Don’t say that. Admirable friendship, admirable companionship, admirable camaraderie is actually the whole of the holy life.”
This Sunday, Domyo talked about what Dharma friendship means, why it’s so valuable, and how to find and form Dharma friendships. (Audio here)
Coming Up With Spiritual Questions and Why They Matter – Domyo – (2023-01-29)
Domyo introduces this very rich topic today, which grows out of the questions about questions she receives from the members of the Sangha in Dharma Interviews. She addresses why spiritual questions arise and why they matter to our practice, even if you are witholding them within. She begins with the “Edge of Your Practice”, defining and explaining it. Continuing through the types of questions that arise, she describes the qualities of our Practice and how they affect the questions and the answers. An engaging Talk which she might well expand into a full-blown Podcast series of episodes. A short discussion follows. (Audio here)
“Dissatisfaction” from You Are Still Here, The Zen Teachings of Kyogen Carlson – Jinryu – (2023-01-22)
Guest teacher Jinryu, delves into this chapter explaining and illustrating the meanings in Kyogen’s teachings. An intriguing Talk with discussion follows. (Audio here)
“Small Self” and the Many Ways It Can Hijack Your Practice – Domyo – (2023-01-15)
This Sunday, Domyo discuss what we mean by “small self,” and then describes the many ways this phenomenon can hijack or obstruct our spiritual practice. It’s important to recognize when self-centered agendas creep into our practice and inspire things like spiritual materialism, ambition, self-criticism, resignation, and limiting narratives. (Audio here)
Buddhism’s Fundamental Point: One Reality, Many Descriptions – Part 1 – Domyo (2023-01-08)
Do Buddhist teachings ever seem repetitive? It’s because they are! Fundamentally, Buddhism and Zen point us toward waking up to Reality. When we see Reality clearly and live our lives in accord with it, we are liberated from fear, suffering, and existential dissatisfaction. We can function freely as bodhisattvas, motivated by compassion and generosity.
The trouble is, we have constructed a mental map of the world which ends up obscuring our vision and entangling us in harmful delusions. In their efforts to snap us out of our self-centered dream and let us see the Reality we are part of, our Dharma ancestors have offered many words, including Emptiness (shunyata), Buddha-Nature (buddhata), Suchness (tathata), and Mind (not the discriminating mind).
In this, Part 1 of a series on these concepts, Domyo discusses Emptiness. While these teachings can be challenging, she will always make an effort to connect them to our personal experience and everyday practice. (Audio here)
Vows for Deepening Your Practice in 2023 – Domyo (2022-12-18)
You may or may not get into making new year’s resolutions, but vow plays a central role in Buddhism. Vow is simply an intention you clarify and state, whether you keep it to yourself or share it with others. Vow gives direction and shape to our life, which otherwise may not develop as we hope in our heart of hearts.
Domyo talks about vows you might want to make for 2023 in order to deepen your practice and manifest your own deepest aspirations. (Audio here)
Sympathetic Joy – Thomas Brunner (2022-12-11)
Thomas Brunner, a Dharma Brother to Domyo, is a Senior Lay Deciple at Dharma Rain Zen Center. This is his 5th presentation at Brightway Zen Center. Thomas’ teacher told him long ago “Buddhism is a relentlessly optimistic religion.” His heart leapt to hear this since he had long been intrigued with and drawn to and fascinated by the concept of “Joy” in Buddhism. Thomas then quoted The Buddha’s statement “I teach Suffering and an end to Suffering”. The teaching on the end to Suffering has kept Thomas going on the Buddhist path when his practice has waxed and waned over the years. He explains and a lively discussion follows. (Audio here)
Four Questions – Domyo (2022-12-04)
This morning, Domyo started off asking four questions, asking everyone to write down their responses:
1. What is one ‘edge’ of your practice?
2. What challenges to your practice come with the holidays and the next few months?
3. What things in the teachings do you just don’t get, but feel you should?
4. Are you satisfied with your practice? If you have aspirations not yet fulfilled, what are they?
Of those present, a number volunteered to tell us their answers, and Domyo commented and discussed each one. A wide ranging discussion and learning was experienced by all. (Audio here)
Integrating Insights Domyo (2022-11-27)
On the meditation seat of off, we may experience significant insights – realizations that shift our perceptions of ourselves and world and help relieve suffering. Insights may be sudden or gradual, major or minor, but we naturally want to be able to hold on them instead of forgetting them and going back to our previous way of thinking or being. Yet sometimes these insights seem to slip away, or fade with time. Our efforts to hold on to them sometimes causes them to recede even further. This Sunday we discussed how to relate to insights, and how to integrate them into our lives and practice. (Audio here)
Why Aren’t We Born Enlightened and Then Stay That Way? Domyo (2022-11-13)
This Sunday, Domyo responds to another Dharma question submitted to her. She approaches the question from a few directions and expands it into a wider frame. She hastens to note that in Buddhism, this question and others of its kind are viewed as not leading to edification (instruction leading to a person’s improvement in morality or intellectually). We don’t need to know the answer to every question in our minds to start practicing Zen. There are questions which lead to edification and other questions which lead to confusion and distortion. We will die before we get all of our questions answered. Don’t get distracted by the questions, she advises. She explains how the answers don’t even matter. In Zen we don’t cut anything off, and we naturally have curiosity about things. She continues with this wide ranging and engaging talk, answering further questions throughout. (Audio here)
Intimacy Domyo (2022-11-06)
On Tuesdays we’ve been studying Dogen’s Genjokoan. In several places in this text Dogen uses words that can be translated as “intimately,” including したしい (SHITASHIKU, closely, directly, intimately, at first-hand) and 密 (MITSU, secrecy, minuteness, carefulness, private).
In Keizan Zenji’s Denkoroku, it is said that ancestor Ryozan Enkan was awakened when he asked his teacher, “What is the business beneath the [monk’s] patched robe?” (Or, what is this practice all about?) The teacher replied, “Intimacy.” Upon his awakening, Ryozan Enkan’s robe was wet with tears of gratitude.
Intimacy in Zen is not about romance or even experiences of emotional closeness with others. It is not unrelated to those things, but it is not dependent on them, either. This Sunday Domyo discussed the meaning of intimacy in Zen and how we open up to it. (Audio Here)
Compassionate Response to Our Hungry Ghosts. Domyo (2022-10-30)
On this Sunday we celebrated our annual Sejiki ceremony, or festival of the hungry ghosts. In a sense, we all have “hungry ghosts” within us – part of ourselves which are unable to heal or be at peace, and which are unable to see or accept the truth and thereby find their freedom. Domyo talked about the teaching of the Sejiki ceremony as it relates to acknowledging our “hungry ghosts,” opening ourselves to them, wishing them well, giving them whatever positive things they can accept, and then keeping our eyes open to their mischief. (Audio Here)
“Dedicating the Merit of Our Practice:” What Does It Mean? Domyo (2022-10-23)
At the end of our chanting services, talks, and classes, we “dedicate the merit” generated by our practice to others, including to Dharma teachers, people in difficulty, and “those in the transition of death.”
Does this mean Buddhists believe in some kind of supernatural cause-and-effect, which allows us to influence the world by sending our “thoughts and prayers?” No. And yes. It’s tricky.
This Sunday, Domyo talks about how to relate to “dedication of merit” even if you don’t believe in the supernatural, and why this is a useful and beautiful practice even in a non-theistic tradition. (Audio Here)
You Need to Calm Down (?) – Jeanna Annen Moyer – (2022-10-16)
Equanimity appears on many lists in Buddhism – a perfection, a factor of enlightenment, and a divine abode, among others. But how do we cultivate something like equanimity? Doesn’t feeling like we “should” be calm only lead to agitation? Is there such a thing as too much equanimity? Annen considers these and other questions in this week’s guest talk.
Annen has practiced at Dharma Rain Zen Center since 2003, and is a lay disciple of Sallie Jiko Tisdale. Her roles in the sangha have included workshop leader, class instructor, jisha, chief junior, and laundry master, among many others. (Audio Here)
Confronting the Buddha’s Sexist Discourse – Domyo – (2022-10-09)
Is this Buddhism’s dirty little secret? The Buddha is quoted saying to allow women to ordain (become monks) would be the degeneration of Buddhism, so it wouldn’t last very long. His closest advisors counseled him to allow women to ordain. In this Talk, Domyo relates the full story, and the result. (Audio Here)
Do We Have a Buddhist Bible? – Domyo – (2022-10-02)
Unlike Judaism, Islam, and Christianity, Buddhism is not centered on a single holy book, or even a set of scriptures that are viewed as the final authority. Instead, Buddhism has a rich literary tradition that includes a canon of original teachings around 50 times the length of the Christian Bible, and then sutras and scriptures assembled over the course of 2,500 years.
Where does a student of Buddhism or Zen begin? What’s most important? Is textual study necessary? Domyo discusses the breadth and variety of Buddhist scriptures and how to relate to them. (Audio Here)
The Role of Repentance in Buddhism – Domyo – 2022-09-25
We have a “karma verse” we recite regularly:
All harmful karma ever committed by me since of old,
On account of my beginningless greed, anger, and ignorance,
Born of my body, mouth, and thought,
Now I atone for it all.
What is the role of repentance in Buddhism? Domyo discusses how we can’t begin practice “unless we admit we have a problem,” but how we learn to be “at one” with our karma without getting caught in blame or shame. (Audio Here)
Being the Only Buddhist in Your Family – Domyo – 2022-09-18
This Sunday, Domyo addresses a recent question submitted for the Dharma Q&A:
Hi Domyo, I wonder what advice you have for people who are the only Zen practitioners in their family. Have you noticed practice taking a toll on marriages between Zen Buddhists and (very-supportive) non-Buddhists or family matters taking a toll on practice? (Audio Here)
Zen and Work: Why No One Wants to Work Anymore – Domyo – 2022-09-11
In this Talk, Domyo answers a member’s question: “How can one’s practice enhance and support the lay person as they persue their vocation. A high percentage of peiople experience work stress and burnout, particularaly when their vocation is in service to hard economic choices not particularly life affirming”. Domyo prefaces her answer with Dogen’s advice: “Zen Buddhist Practice is the same regardless of your life circumstances, or economic class. The practice is the same”. We need to ask What choices to I have to: -relieve suffering? – Increase wisdom and compassion? – What actions of body, speech and mind will be beneficial, what can I learn? She offers the five ways to make work our practice. A good discussion follows. (Audio here)
We Will Die Soon: Using Impermanence to Motivate Practice – Domyo – 2022-09-04
After a night of backpacking in the Cascades mountains, overlooking a wonderful high mountain lake, Domyo experiences a wistfulness imagining of how it might be seeing her life draw to a close. The inevitable way of things, so ephemeral. No matter when, our perception of time will make the event of our approaching death feel too soon. She speaks with passion about the impermanence of life and the age old Buddhist admonition “Do Not Squander Your Life”. We experienced a heartfelt discussion among those assembled in both the Dirt Zendo and the Cloud Zendo. (Audio here)
How Are You Supposed to “Do” Zazen, Anyway? – Domyo 2022-08-28
Our Soto Zen style of meditation has been called “the method of no method.” Dogen Zenji even said “zazen is not meditation practice.” While zazen is profoundly simple, a sense that we’re doing it “correctly” is elusive. This Sunday Domyo describes our zazen practice in detail, and then takes questions! (Audio here)
All About Altars – Domyo – 2022-08-21
What is a Soto Zen Buddhist Altar? What are the parts to be included? Why are they present in some Altars, and not others? Domyo answers these and many more questions for both the person new to Zen Altars and those with years of experience. A very informative and interesting presentation this Sunday. (Audio here)
The Small Self doesn’t have an Agenda, the Small Self is our Agenda – Domyo – 2022-08-14
What is self? There are many different answers to this. Our conventional self is a collection of stuff that belongs to us in some sense, including our body, sensations, perceptions, thoughts, motivations, personality, and relationships. Our true self, our buddhanature, is aliveness itself.
The self we’re usually most concerned about, though, is what we often call the “small self” – it’s a strong sense of self, of an executive “I” which is the one who decides, acts, and the one who experiences. “I” as small self, have various agendas in the world.
Today, Domyo talks about how the small self doesn’t have agendas – the small self is nothing other than our agendas. (Audio here)
Silent Retreat Time and Space for the Great Matter – Domyo – 2022-08-07
A Silent Zen retreat can be a life-changing experience. At a retreat we pay mindful attention throughout the day to our meditation, our breath, chanting, silent work, and a silent meal. We slow down, but in the midst of discipline, our minds and bodies have a chance to catch up with each other. Domyo gives us a glimpse into the details of the retreat, how it works and what to expect when you attend either a one-day or a five day retreat. (Audio here)
Sangha Member Talk: Modern Physics and Buddhism – Drew – 2022-07-31
Today Drew explores the relationship of a few counterintuitive concepts in modern physics to similar ideas in Buddhism. In particular, he examines the relationship between physics and the Buddhist notion of emptiness. He also discusses the role of science in spirituality and vice versa. (Audio here)
Sangha Member Talk: Does it help? Zen and Mental Health A Way-Seeking Mind Talk – Ellen Tea – 2022-07-24
When a family friend, familiar with Ellen’s lifelong experience of clinical depression and fairly recent diagnosis of breast cancer, heard she had formally become a Buddhist, she asked a question: “Does it help?” Ellen was taken aback, as she had not considered her practice to be a self-centered health strategy, but more of a vow-driven ethical framework, leading her to acknowledge and ease the suffering of all beings. Upon closer reflection and consideration of the centrality of The Three Refuges in her daily life, Ellen has been able to see more clearly the profound positive effect her practice has had on her own mental health which, in turn, has compelled her to study and share contemplative practices with those experiencing physical, emotional, spiritual, and psychological distress. In doing so, she has become especially interested in the intersection between them. (Audio here)
Sangha Member Talk: The Long and Winding Path to the Door of Bright Way– A Way-Seeking Mind Talk – Bob Kempter 2022-07-17
In this Mind Seeking Talk, Bob describes some waypoints on his spiritual Path to Soto Zen and Brightway. Like the trail we take to a mountain top, this one has a few turns and switch-backs along the way. (Audio here).
Sangha Member Talk: The Skillful Means of “Giving Up” – A Way-Seeking Mind Talk – James Gregg – 2022-07-10
Normally when we hear the term “giving up,” we think of it as a bad thing, believing that if we “abandon” or “surrender to” something, we’ve taken the easy way out and avoided our responsibilities. What if the exact opposite is true? What if “giving up” can be upaya, the most skillful way we can respond? In this “Way Seeking Mind” talk, I’ll talk about the conditions that brought me to the practice, and how the practice of “giving up” has sustained and transformed my life. (Audio here)
The Wisdom of Play – Domyo – 2022-07-03
As we head into the summer months, our minds, hearts, and practice often take on a lighter feeling. Fortunately, there is great wisdom in play. Zen master Hongzhi wrote:
“People with the bottom of the bucket fallen out immediately find total trust. So we are told simply to realize mutual response and explore mutual response, then turn around and enter the world. Roam and play in samadhi. Every detail clearly appears before you. Sound and form, echo and shadow, happen instantly without leaving traces. The outside and myself do not dominate each other, only because no perceiving [of objects] comes between us.”
To explore play as practice, it’s important for us to realize it is not about laziness, carelessness, or inattention. Instead, it’s about full engagement, intimacy, and letting go of our self-centered agendas. (Audio here)
Back to Basics: The Four Noble Truths Sunday Guest Talk – Thomas Bruner – 2022-06-26
Today’s talk is by Thomas Bruner, Dharma brother of Domyo and long-time lay practitioner. Thomas is a senior lay disciple at Dharma Rain Zen Center. Thomas says:
“The longer I practice the clearer (for me) it becomes: Buddha’s core teachings are enough, and provide lifetimes of opportunity for practice. My attempts to add on, embellish, and complicate those core teachings have been intellectually stimulating – but ultimately fruitless. We explore a ‘back to basics’ approach to practice.” (Audio here)
Juneteenth And Our Need for One Another – Domyo – 2022-06-19
For this holiday, long awaited, Domyo explains the history and significance of the events that it commemorates, and why we should be paying attention. A significant musical selection is included, with a heartfelt discussion following. (Audio here)
Dharma Questions and Answers – Domyo – 2022-06-12
In this Dharma Talk Question and Answer meeting, Domyo first reflects on the question “What Practices do Zen Practitioners have that can counter negative emotions in these trying times?” She also considers “Can we give up attachment to our expectation the world will be a certain way?” Last, she asks us to reflect on “What is our best state of mind and heart regardless what we are facing?” (Audio here)
Dirt Zendo, Cloud Zendo, One Sangha – Domyo – 2022-05-29
Thanks to COVID-19, Bright Way Zen now offers the treasure of Sangha both in-the-flesh and online.
Instead of saying in-the-flesh folks are “in the Zendo” while others are watching online, or calling Sangha members who live at a distance “nonlocal” or “online only,” we use the following terms:
The Dirt Zendo is our physical Zendo space. The word “dirt” speaks to the gritty and tangible reality of being together in-the-flesh. It’s also humble; “Earth Zendo” is too grand and suggests a totality rather than an alternative.
The Cloud Zendo is our virtual Zendo space. Cloud are beautiful, and the word speaks to the expansive, permeable, and ethereal nature of the virtual space.
We have two Zendos but one Sangha. Naturally, the experience of Sangha is different if you participate only/primarily in one of the Zendos, but all Sanghas include various spaces, activities, and subgroups.
This Sunday, Domyo talks about the benefits of the Dirt Zendo and the Cloud Zendo independently, and about how they relate to and complement each other. (Audio here)
The Fourfold Bodhisattva Vow: Dharma Gates and The Buddha Way – Domyo – 2022-05-22
Finishing the three part series, again it’s impossible to fulfill this vow completely or perfectly, but we use it to give direction to our life and practice. This Sunday we first talked about what Dharma Gates are, how we go about ending them, and how we avoid getting caught in either perfectionism or indifference with respect to our delusions. We then talked about the Buddha Way. (Audio here)
The Fourfold Bodhisattva Vow Part 2: Ending Inexhaustible Delusions – Domyo – 2022-05-15
As Mahayana Buddhists, we’re encouraged (although not required) to take the Fourfold Bodhisattva Vow:
Beings are numberless, I vow to free them [all]
Delusions are inexhaustible, I vow to end them [all]
Dharma gates are boundless, I vow to enter them [all]
The Buddha Way is unsurpassable, I vow to embody it.
It’s impossible to fulfill this vow completely or perfectly, but we use it to give direction to our life and practice. This Sunday we talked about what delusions are, how we go about ending them, and how we avoid getting caught in either perfectionism or indifference with respect to our delusions. (Audio here)
The Fourfold Bodhisattva Vow – Domyo – 2022-05-08 As Mahayana Buddhists, we’re encouraged (although not required) to take the Fourfold Bodhisattva Vow:
Beings are numberless, I vow to free them [all]
Delusions are inexhaustible, I vow to end them [all]
Dharma gates are boundless, I vow to enter them [all]
The Buddha Way is unsurpassable, I vow to embody it.
It’s impossible to fulfill this vow completely or perfectly, but we use it to give direction to our life and practice. Sometimes we think only of the first vow about freeing or saving beings; what kind of vows are we making about delusions, dharma gates, and the Buddha Way? Domyo discusses this in today’s Talk. (Audio here)
Reflections on Earth Day – Domyo – 2022-05-01
Today Domyo reflects on the state of the Earth’s climate and if any progress is being made to remedy the many problems we and all life on the planet confront now, and will confront in the near future. A lively discussion follows. (Audio here)
How Everything is OK and Definitely Not OK at the Same Time – Domyo – 2022-04-24
Religions in part are intended to provide us with at least a portion of support and solace. If they didn’t what would they be good for? Many religions provide their solace by promising you an afterlife that will be blissful and peaceful and permanent. Zen is different saying all the solace you need is available right here, right now. That if you are caught in distress and unable to feel ease or joy or gratitude, its because you have a fundamental misunderstanding about the nature of reality, and awakening to the nature of reality gives you ease, joy and gratitude that are unconditional – that you can access regardless of your circumstances. Domyo goes on to explain. (Audio here)
The Ancestors of Our Lineage – Domyo – 2022-04-17
Throughout the history of Buddhism there have been a number of famous teachers known for their insight and teaching abilities. We honor them when we chant their names on Sunday mornings. A few of them stand out as Great Teachers, and today Domyo starts at the beginning of these and gives a brief outline of what makes each of them special still, after all these centuries. (Audio here)
“These Are a Few of My Favorite Things” – Member Dharma Talk by James Gregg – 2022-04-10
In “The Sound of Music,” Julie Andrews probably wasn’t implying that “brown paper packages tied up with string” can also be our buddha-nature, our own enlightened heart-mind waiting to be opened like a holiday gift. But sometimes, Zen wisdom can be found even in Broadway lyrics!
In this talk, James shares some of his “my favorite things” – not showtunes, but passages from Zen texts that, when he first read them, “blew his mind” so to speak, and have become foundational elements of his practice. He reads out the passages and briefly talks about what they opened up for him. He left plenty of time for sangha members to share their own “favorite things”. (Audio here)
Enlightenments and Options or How I Found What I Was Looking For – Domyo – 2022-04-03
Domyo’s Talk today is the next chapter in her Spiritual Journey series. In this part she talks about “Enlightenments and Options”. She begins with a brief overview of the importance of Enlightenments, of awakening, of insights, in Zen and Buddhism, sharing some of the Enlightenments along the way. And if she found what she was looking for. (Audio here)
How Do I Know if My Practice Is Languishing? – Domyo – 2022-03-27
In this Talk, Domyo answers this question by going through the meaning of “Languishing” in many of its aspects, then describes the many ways our practice can be understood or misunderstood to be “Languishing”. A lively discussion of this followed. (Audio here)
Buddha Nature – Dharma Talk – Domyo – 2022-03-20
Domyo introduces Buddha Nature and touches on the main points of a subject central to Buddhism. This is a fresh and engaging quick look at answering the questions “What is it?, Who has it? Who can get it? Does anybody want it?” A short discussion with the sangha is at the end. (Audio here)
The Surprising Joys of Renunciation – Dharma Talk – Domyo – 2022-03-13
For some, Renunciation as a spiritual path is a troubling notion. In today’s Talk, Domyo dispels delusion with her personal experiences and explanations. Renunciation is central to our practice, but not in all aspects. She initially clarifies with the examples of the “Monk of Body” and the “Monk of Mind”, then continues further. (Audio here)
The Radical Practice of “Being With” – Dharma Talk – Domyo – 2022-02-27
In this week’s presentation, Domyo introduces The Radical Practice of “Being With”, which is the practice of being with painful or troubling experiences whether the source is coming from the outside or from within our own body and mind. How in Zen practice we are able to cope with difficult emotions and thoughts experiences but also how we avoid simply suppressing or avoiding them, or by spiritually bypassing them which means using spiritual tools to make ourselves feel better in the short term but then not actually facing what’s really going on or processing or dealing with the problems we actually need to deal with. Often times something happens and we will say we are going to just sit with it or just be with it. Today, Domyo talks about what that really means followed by a discussion with those attending. (Audio here)
Discomfort in Zazen – Part 5 – Dharma Talk – Domyo – 2022-02-20
Challenges in zazen are experiences that make you less likely to want to sit. Domyo presents the issues and offers some ways to deal with them. This Sunday we finish our discussion of this topic with:
->Makyo (the relatively uncommon phenomenon of unusual or mildly hallucinatory sensations or perceptions, energetic disturbances, or involuntary physical movements).
->The “Blender Effect” (The rapid, more or less random succession of thoughts, agitating not because of the content but because the thought process seems so out of your control).
->Boredom (Losing a sense of focus, purpose, willingness, motivation).
->Frustration with your meditation, whether you blame yourself, the method, or both.
Discomfort in Zazen – Part 4 – Dharma Talk – Domyo – 2022-02-13
Depersonalization is a disconcerting experience of dissociation from your conventional sense of self – your thoughts, feelings, body, memory, circumstances, etc. In rare circumstances – made more likely due to past trauma – experiences of depersonalization can become frequent and disruptive, and you should seek the support of a mental health professional if this happens. Short of repeated experiences that interfere with your daily functioning, though, how should we deal with depersonalization in zazen?
Even if you don’t experience notable or unnerving depersonalization in zazen, you’ll find this Sunday’s discussion interesting because it brings up the whole question of how such experiences relate to the “emptiness” of self. We explore how the goal of our practice is to transcend the small self, not dismantle or destroy it (because we need it in order to function). (Audio here)
Discomfort in Zazen – Part 3 – Dharma Talk – Domyo – 2022-02-06
Domyo continues with her third segment on how to reduce the physical and psychological discomfort we feel in Zazen practice. After a short Q & A session she continues with further descriptions of the kinds of discomfort we may encounter, and ways for us to mitigate their effects on our Zazen experiences. (Audio here)
Discomfort in Zazen – Part 2 – Dharma Talk – Domyo – 2022-01-30
Domyo continues her teaching on how to reduce the physical and psychological discomfort we feel in Zazen practice. She opens with a Q & A session then continues with more descriptions of the kinds of discomfort and ways for us to mitigate their effects on our Zazen experiences. (Audio here)
Discomfort in Zazen – Dharma Talk – Domyo – 2022-01-23
Zazen is a central activity in Soto Zen practice. The ancient masters have written extensively on the physical aspect of the practice. Western practitioners often struggle with the physical positions which are often quite foreign to our minds and bodies. Domyo talks about the ways we can best become accustomed to the new positions and the feelings we experience. She even includes descriptions of the optional postures available to us in Zazen. This is a thorough and inspiring talk for us all. (Audio here)
Right Confidence – Dharma Talk – Domyo – 2022-01-16
Domyo discusses the connections between the Dependent Dimension, the Independent Dimension, the Transactional World, and the Zen concept of “Not Two”. She presents the concept that the question “Do we have what it takes?” is not the right question. Insightful discussion follows. (Audio here)
Formal Buddhist Vows in our Soto Zen Lineage – Dharma Talk – Domyo – 2022-01-09
Domyo continues her question and answer series addressing the questions around formal Buddhist Vows in our Soto Zen lineage. She begins by answering: What Kind? Why do we take them on? What Vows are we expected to take on? Domyo shares her deep understanding surrounding both Lay and Monastic vows. She explains both the inward and external manifestations of taking on Vows in our Lineage. A period of extended discussion follows. (Audio here)
Dread, Hope and the Middle Way in the New Year – Dharma Talk – Domyo – 2022-01-02
The arrival of 2022 for many people does not exactly spark a joyous “Oh boy, what will the New Year bring!?”. There is a lot of potential dread going on, even if your personal life is going well. Domyo asks the question “What Attitude should we take toward the future as Zen practitioners?” She answers by describing both ends and then focusing how the the Middle Way is the best path. (Audio here)
The Ebb and Flow of Practice – Dharma Talk – Thomas Bruner – 2021-12-12
From great enthusiasm and energy, to boredom and tedium, longtime practitioners often experience ebbs and flows in their practice. Guest speaker Thomas Bruner discusses the common twists and turns experienced over the course of long term practice. Bruner is a senior lay student at Dharma Rain Zen Center. (Audio here)
Dharma Questions and Answers – Dharma Talk – Domyo – 2021-12-05
In this Sunday’s Talk, Domyo took on questions submitted earlier by members of the Sangha. Of the many questions submitted, she addressed two today. The first one asked about the Soto Zen perspectives on consciousness and what happens after we die. The second asked “If we and all things are empty of inherent self-nature, why isn’t life meaningless?” While she gave a complete an answer to each, Domyo admitted each question would be worthy of at least a full Dharma Talk on their own as there is so much more detail to cover. As she said, “These are really “Juicy” questions!”. (Audio here)
The Eight Worldly Winds – Dharma Talk – Domyo – 2021-11-28
Domyo brings us in today’s Talk the Foundational Buddhist Teaching of “The Eight Worldly Winds”. The gist is that without Practice, we are blown about by these winds. This is teaching from the “Locavipatti Suta” translated from the original Pali Canon. She explains the four sets of two attributes, one negative and the other positive, and goes on to describe how they work today, within our own lives. (Audio here)
Practicing When Your Country is Broken – Dharma Talk – Domyo – 2021-11-21
In this Sunday’s Talk, Domyo observes we are experiencing a new degree of brokenness in our country. She comments further, however, that we must not give up and that it is the responsibility of Zen teachers to offer something helpfull in these difficult times, but a rosy vision of worldly progress of increasing peace and democracy is not something Buddhism offers. Buddhism’s reflections on the state of the world are and always have been “What did you expect?” Domyo explains how this can provide a helpful approach to these troubling times. (Audio here)
From the Lotus Sutra: The Buddha Predicts Future Buddhahood for Mahakashapa – Dharma Talk – Domyo – 2021-11-14
This Sunday Domyo presented her fifth Talk on the Lotus Sutra, the Story of when the Buddha Predicts Future Buddhahood for Mahakashapa, and what happened after. Her previous Talks covered Devotion, The Parable of the Burning House, The Parable of the Lost Son, and the Parable of the Plants. These are all stories that are intended to teach us about Buddhism in a very approachable way. Questions and answers followed for a short time. (Note, much improved audio and video) (Audio here)
The Speaker of the House – Changing Habits Slowly but Surely – Dharma Talk – Domyo – 2021-11-07
We all strive to make changes in our lives and how we deal with life’s challenges. Sometimes the way we act seems out of our control. Domyo teaches in today’s Talk that our conscious Self is not directly in control. Changing habits, why we change habits, why they are so hard to change and how do we go about doing this? Domyo references Kyogen Carlson’s book You Are Still Here, Chapter 2 “Vow” and Robert Wright’s book Why Buddhism is True, as she explains. (Audio here)
The Sejiki Festival – Dharma Talk – Domyo – 2021-10-31
This Sunday we celebrated the Sejiki Festival. This is the Festival where we invite in the Hungry Ghosts to teach them some of the Dharma. Domyo explains this event in light of modern society and offers her personal experiences with how it works in her life. Comments and reflections by Sangha members present followed. (Audio here)
15 Ways to Enliven Your Zazen – Dharma Talk – Domyo – 2021-10-24
When we sit zazen, it can be difficult to remain wholehearted and attentive. Because of the momentum of habit energy, we get wrapped up in thoughts about the past and future, or we fall asleep, fantasize, or brood in worry or negative judgements. Our meditative practice (zazen) gives us nothing to concentrate on, nothing to do, so how can we enliven our zazen? Domyo suggests 15 ways to do this without introducing duality and struggle into your meditative practice. (Audio here)
Reflections on a Koan and Personal Practice – Dharma Talk – Sangha Member James – 2021-10-17
Sangha Member James presents his reflections on a Koan which from the beginning resonated with his life experiences. His entertaining and skillful presentation reveals how Koans work, and how we can work with them in our practice. (Audio here)
Motivation for Practice – What Do You Love Most Deeply? – Dharma Talk – Domyo – 2021-10-03
Themeless sitting (zazen) in particular can sometimes lack energy or focus, but our practice is not a matter of willpower, it’s a matter of willingness. One way to revitalize, energize, inspire, and focus your practice is to cultivate willingness by practicing for what you love most deeply – such as your children or grandchildren, nature, justice, truth, knowledge, beauty. Domyo talks about identifying and connecting with your deepest love, and how to sit in service to that love. (Audio here)
“Weaving an Ethical Life” – Dharma Talk – Rev. Ryushin Hart – 2021-09-26
This week, guest teacher Ryushin Hart offers reflections on the Buddhist guidelines for ethical living, also known as the precepts. We explore different lenses for conceptualizing the precepts, and consider how to embody the precepts more fully into our lives. Ryushin, a Soto Zen priest who spent many years at Great Vow Zen monastery, now lives in Corvallis, Oregon. (Audio here)
What I Learned from Kyogen Carlson – Dharma Talk – Domyo – 2021-09-19
On this Founder’s Day, Domyo explains the Founder’s Day Ceremony, the importance of Lineage, and why it matters. She goes into some of the things she learned from Kyogen, including the Manifestation of the Treasure of Sangha, and also traces our lineage back through the Shasta Monastery and Roshi Kennett to the Sojiji Temple in Japan. (Audio here)
How You Manifest Bodhicitta in Your Life – Dharma Talk – Domyo – 2021-09-12
Domyo’s Talk today is inspired by the first chapter of Kyogen Carlson’s new book “You Are Still Here”. She explains what Bodhicitta is, how you know if you have it, and in what ways it reveals, shows, or exhibits itself to us in our lives. (Audio here)
Shifting the Self-Narrative of Inadequacy to a Self-Narrative of Abundance – Dharma Talk – Domyo – 2021-08-29
As human beings we have a self-narrative, and for most – if not all – of us, this narrative includes a sense of inadequacy. When we conceive of ourselves as a “small self against the world” we will always feel inadequate, and consequently our generosity is inhibited. Fortunately, we can rewrite our self-narrative to include our buddha-nature, because the “boundless self with the world” is a conduit for abundance. The world needs and wants what you have to offer. (Audio here)
Declaring War on Global Heating and What That Means to a Buddhist – Dharma Talk – Domyo – 2021-08-22
Domyo suggests we “declare war” on global heating and ecological destruction. This is the best way we humans know of to bring about a radical shift in our hearts and minds – a shift we could take together that could help us make sense of what’s going on, find strength in one another, and summon great determination and energy to do whatever we can. Domyo explains how imagery of war and battle is compatible with Buddhism. (Audio here)
Bearing Witness: The Dharma of Staying Calm – Dharma Talk – Domyo – 2021-08-15
When we can’t – or don’t want to – avoid facing suffering (ours or that of others), what does the Dharma offer us in terms of preventing anxiety, fear, overwhelm, burnout, depression, or despair? Domyo talks about what it really means to stay calm, the value of staying calm, and some practices that can help us do this. (Audio here)
How to Safely Take the Medicine of Emptiness for Strength and Vitality – Dharma Talk – Domyo – 2021-08-08
When facing great difficulty – such as our climate and ecological emergency – it is easy to become overwhelmed, fearful, or depressed. Fortunately, at any given moment we can take refuge in the aspects of our existence which are independent of conditions. Domyo discusses how to do this without falling into the trap of dualism (pitting the independent/absolute against the dependent/relative). (Audio here)
Facing the Truth of the Climate and Ecological Emergency as a Sangha – Dharma Talk – Domyo – 2021-08-01
During her July sabbatical, Domyo had some time and space to step back and reflect. Despite several years of climate activism, she came to a new level of awareness and acceptance of the severity of the climate and ecological emergency we are all facing, made frighteningly real to those of us in the Pacific Northwest when Portland recently hit 116 degrees Fahrenheit in June. Domyo discusses how our Zen practice is about facing the truth, and right now the most salient truth of all is the total breakdown of earth’s natural life support systems. She talks about how we can do this together as a Sangha. (Audio Here)
“My Koan of Authentic Effort” – Sangha Member Talk – Mark Williams – 2021-07-25
An old koan reads like so:
Yaoshan asked novice Gao, “I hear the capital city is really bustling.”
The novice said, “My province is peaceful.”
Yaoshan said joyfully, “Did you realize this from reading scripture, or from making inquiries?”
The novice said, “I didn’t get it from reading scriptures or from making inquiries.”
Yaoshan said, “Lots of people don’t read scripture and don’t make inquiries – why don’t they get it?”
The novice said, “I wouldn’t say they don’t get it – it’s just that they don’t agree to take it up.”
Mark’s sangha member talk recounts the journey that began when he asked himself, in all earnestness, “What is agreeing to take it up?” (Audio Here)
What the Dharma Teaches about the Loss and Grief in our Time – Ryushin Hart -2021-07-11
Guest Teacher Ryushin Hart returns to us with the teaching beginning with two kinds of loss, Ambigious Loss and Cumulative Loss. He explains them and goes on to relate them to the times we are living in. He continues with explaining how we shift or defer or temporize our response to loss. He quotes other teachers, one of whom wrote: “Grief is praise for those we have lost”. Through the talk he connects all back to Dharma teachings. (Audio here)
Is Buddhism Really for Me? – Domyo – 2021-06-29
It’s easy to pick up the idea that you have to meet certain expectations in order to “be a Buddhist” or even just to see Buddhism as an important part of your life – that there are certain things you need to do, believe, or feel in order to be a legitimate member of the Buddhist “club.” Nothing can be further from the truth! What are the minimum requirements for belonging to the Buddhist Sangha? Domyo explains and the Sangha discusses. (Audio here)
Dogen’s Kajo, Part Two – Domyo – 2021-06-20
Domyo returns to her exploration of Dogen’s Kajo, or translated as “Everyday Activity”. She mentions Dogen’s writings are so dense and full of metaphores they require careful reading with each paragraph. Today, she examines another two paragraphs. She includes an explanation of the relationship of Heart and Mind as Dogen understood it. She further includes an explanation of Dogen’s use of metaphores relating to the Dharma. (Audio here)
Guest Talk: The Role of Anger in Our Practice – Thomas Bruner – 2021-06-13
Thomas Bruner, a longtime friend and supporter of Brightway, is a senior deciple at Dharma Rain Center in nearby Portland, Oregon. His talk synchronizes with our study of the Precepts by taking a deep look at the Precept of Do Not Indulge Anger. He opens with describing anger, its precursors, and its appearance in our lives. He goes on to talk about the interconnections of anger with the other Precepts, and the effects of the toxicity of anger. (Audio here)
The Profound and Difficult Practice of Putting Everything Down – Domyo – 2021-06-06
Today Domyo discusses her struggles with her own practice. We all struggle to put everything aside when we practice Zazen. Domyo discussed the causes and suggests some approaches to this difficult task. (Audio here)
Ennobling Our Lives by Engaging all Problems as Koans – Domyo – 2021-05-30
How do we see our lives, frame our lives, live our lives in a way that is greater than just good enough to avoid criticism, but rather worthy of honor and respect? Domyo explains that to enoble means to lend our lives greater dignity or nobility of character. Noble meaning having fine, high personal qualities or ideals, of excellent or superior quality. Dignity being that state or quality of being worthy of honor or respect. She recalls her teacher, Gyokoko Carlson, often saying that “Our True Nature is Eternal, Joyous, Selfless and Pure”. When we have a problem, conflict, anxiety, etc., something is getting in the way of our True Nature being expressed. She goes on to explain the connection to Soto Zen Koans and how they can help us express our True Nature in the world. (Audio here)
Does Buddhism Encourage Us to Improve the World, and Does It Matter? – Domyo – 2021-05-23
Does Buddhism have support for social action? Some of us who come to Buddhism with a set of hopes, expectations, or concerns, look to find in Buddhimsm support for them. Perhaps Buddhism does support many of our values and hopes, but not all of them. For many of us, equality is important, regardless of race, gender, or nation of origin origin, this overall a sense of equity, is important. For many of us, love of family, commitments to our family, family connections are all core to us, but Buddhism, rooted in a monastic tradition does not explicitly discuss or support these values all that much if at all. Many of these things are culturaly supplied values, modern-day, lay values, but most of them are not emphasized at all. Some are actually discouraged, in a monastic setting. Do we get all we need from Buddhism, or do we need to? Either way, what do we do about it? Domyo tells us of the options she sees. (Audio here).
The Nature of Practice – Dealing With Intrusive Thoughts and Feelings – Domyo – 2021-05-16
“Intrusive” thoughts and emotions arise repeatedly with enough intensity for them to be disturbing or distracting, even though they aren’t objectively relevant or helpful as they’re arising. Today, Domyo reflects on the many Dharma interview discussions she has had concerning Practice, centering this time on intrusive thoughts and feelings. She reviews the Four Requirements for Effective Practice, then goes on to explain what practice means to us, what it is composed of, and the effects it can have on our lives. (Further depth is available in her Podcast Episode # 70 (Dharma Talk Audio here)
What Does it Mean to Waste Time? – Domyo – 2021-05-09
Domyo’s talk this Sunday is inspired by her own working with the stresses of dealing with time. What does it mean to waste time as we remain engaged with the world? She introduces our lineage’s concept of “The Monk of Body and the Monk of Mind”. “The Monk of Body” is one who renounces everyday life. Domyo reassures us we can achieve “The Way” without becoming “The Monk of Body”. She continues by gathering examples from those present of when they felt they were wasting time. (Audio here)
Dogen’s Kajo, Everyday Activity (Part One: Is This It?) – Domyo – 2021-05-02
Domyo introduces Dogen’s Kajo and explains how Dogen speaks on many levels at once, that we need to be open to the many levels of meaning. It is more a workout for our mind rather than acheiving some goal or attainment. Kajo means “Everyday Life”. Domyo discusses how “Everyday Life” includes “Drinking Tea and Eating Rice”, a phrase which Dogen uses to indicate the dharma. (Audio here)
Practicing with Our Mistakes – Domyo – 2021-04-18
Mistakes- in our practice and in our lives, what are mistakes, and how do we practice with them. Practice means things we consciously choose to do with our body, speech or mind to decrease suffering and increase wisdom and compassion. How do we practice with mistakes, how should we relate to them, work with them, correct or minimise them … or should we? How do we sit-up straight in the presence of the Buddha despite our mistakes? Domyo illustrates with examples from her own life, and continues, explaining what mistakes are, how they affect us, and what to do about them, now and in the future. (Audio Here)
Silent Illumination Meditation – Guo Gu – 2021-04-11
Our natural awakening—or buddha-nature—is inherent within all of us and waiting to be realized. Buddha-nature has the qualities of both silence and illumination, and by working with silent illumination meditation you can find your own awakening. In his book Silent Illumination, Chan Buddhist teacher Guo Gu introduces you to the significance and methods of this practice through in-depth explanations and guided instructions. To help establish a foundation for realizing silent illumination, he has translated twenty-five teachings from the influential master Hongzhi Zhengjue into English, accompanied by his personal commentary. This book will be an indispensable resource for meditators interested in beginning or deepening their silent illumination practice.
Guo Gu is a Chan teacher and founder of the Tallahassee Chan Center. Professor of Buddhist studies at the Florida State University and author of multiple books and articles, he is also one of the late Master Sheng Yen’s senior disciples, having assisted him in leading activities at the Chan Meditation Center, Dharma Drum Retreat Center, and Dharma Drum Mountain in Taiwan, and other locations in Europe and Asia.
Learn more about Silent Illumination: https://www.shambhala.com/silent-illumination.html
(Note: Due to technical difficulties, this is a partial recording only.) (Audio Here).
The Ceremony of Wesak – Domyo – 2021-04-04
This Sunday we celebrate our Ceremony of Wesak, the celebration of the birth of Siddhartha Gautama, The Buddha. Domyo explains the ceremony and describes how it would look if we were able to attend in person. Domyo also discusses our need for myth and ceremonies, and what Wesak means to us today. (Audio Here)
The Buddhist Moral Precepts as a Practice for Studying the Buddha Way – Domyo 2021-03-21
Domyo introduces the 16 Boddhisatva Precepts, how they were developed and then over time evolved as needed. She includes references to her podcasts which flesh out each precept in detail. She goes on to discuss how we might practice with the Precepts in our daily lives, particularly how to use them as tool for studying the self and thereby transcending the self and being actualized by the myriad things. (Audio Here)
Gratitude as a Dharma Gate – Domyo – 2021-03-14
In this Talk, Domyo tells us how she has been working with gratitude lately. She describes how she wants to be grateful for every moment every day and not be caught up in her projects so much that she misses her life, that she misses the miracle of being alive. She goes on to describe her exploration of how Buddhism views gratitude. (Audio Here)
The Lotus Sutra Parable of the Plants – Superior – Middling – or Inferior Beings and the Dharma – Domyo – 2021-03-07
This fourth part of Domyo’s presentations on the Lotus Sutra brings us “The Parable of the Plants: Superior, Middling, or Inferior Beings and the Dharma”. Domyo talks about how the Lotus Sutra has teachings for today that are so very relevant to how we view ourselves, our self-esteem and the way we view our relationship to practice and our capacity for practice … and more. (Audio Here)
Buddhist Teachings – Safe Spaces and Cancel Culture – Domyo – 2021-02-28
In this Dharma Talk, Domyo discusses two seemingly opposed elements of the society we live in these days. She describes and discusses what the Buddhist teachings have for us in our troubled times. (Audio Here)
Am I A Good Buddhist? – Domyo – 2021-02-21
Most of us or many of us at least sometimes have the thought cross our mind “Am I A Good Buddhist?”. Not many of us expect to be perfect, just good, just decent Buddhists. Domyo and the assembled Sangha brainstorm on what a good Buddhist is to our selves, as well as what our friends, family, and others think a good Buddhist is. (Audio Here)
On the Parinirvana Ceremony – Domyo – 2021-02-07
Domyo explains this important ceremony which is central to all Buddhist schools. She describes the basic ceremony as we practice it and how it has been modified since coming to the West. (Audio here)
We Are Not Alone – Active Listening in Zazen – Domyo – 2021-01-17
We all need to revitalize our zazen from time to time. Even though Shikantaza is the main practice of Soto Zen, it can be hard to get your mind and will around it sometimes. Domyo suggests we use the 4 S’s (Sit Upright, Still, Silent and Simply Be) and then adds a fifth element to revitalize our practice. (Audio Here)
The Forgotten Virtue of Decorum – Domyo – 2021-01-10
Domyo talks about how it can be helpful to examine our negative responses to the actions of others and identify what’s underneath our anger, outrage or fear. We may find it is a thirst for respect. (Audio here)
Bodhicitta: The Critical Importance of Dissatisfaction – Domyo – 2021-01-03
Dissatisfaction can lead to Bodhicitta. Bodhicitta is a Buddhist term literally meaning “awakened mind” that can translated as “the mind that seeks the way.” It’s the part of us which aspires to free ourselves and others from suffering – arising, ironically, from dissatisfaction. We think, “There must be a better way,” or, “There must be more to life than this.” Then we arouse the determination to find out, and this propels us down the path of practice. Therefore, it is critically important for you be dissatisfied with your life. (Audio here)
Ebb and Flow in Practice – Domyo – 2020-12-20
In everyone’s life there are times of low energy towards our practice. Domyo describes this ebb and flow of energy and enthusiasm toward our practice. External circumstances, personal health issue, the Holidays, national turmoil and many others, all can challenge our practice dicipline. She describes ways to deal with those times of ebb. (Audio here)
What are Your Unique Bodhisattva Capacities or Gifts? Part 2 – Domyo – 2020-12-06
Last time, (Nov 22nd) Domyo introduced us to the Avatamsaka Sutra focusing on Book 39 “Entry Into the Realm of Reality”. With an excercise and discussion she asked us to consider the many capabilities we all have to devote to the good of the world. Continuing this examination, this time she asks us to reflect on our gifts and how they manifest in our lives. She looks to the Avatamsaka Sutra for examples of Bodhisattva gifts to give us inspiration finding those gifts within ourselves and others around us. She includes how the gifts manifest in our lives, in our character, and much more. (Audio here)
How We Relate to the Intensity that Bubbles Up in Practice. – Kakumyo – 2020-11-29
Kakumyo Lowe-Charde, Abbot at Dharma Rain Zen Center and Dharma Brother of Brightway’s Domyo Burk has been practicing at Dharma Rain since 1998, was ordained in 2002 by Gyokuko, and completed transmission in 2012. He has been heavily involved in the operations side of temple function and in residence for most of this time; practice and work at the temple is his full-time occupation and avocation. Kakumyo has served Dharma Rain as the Kanin (Director of Operations and Development) since 2012. He was installed as co-abbot in August 2017 and became Abbot upon Gyokuko’s retirement on January 6, 2019.
In this Talk, he talks about the intensity that bubbles up in practice with sudden depth, sudden vulerability and meaning and then how we respond to that intensity. (Audio here)
What are Your Unique Bodhisattva Capacities? – Domyo – 2020-11-22
Domyo introduces us to the Avatamsaka Sutra focusing on Book 39 “Entry Into the Realm of Reality”. With an excercise and discussion she asks us to consider the many capabilities we all have to devote to the good of the world. (Audio here)
Loving Our Opponents – Domyo – 2020-11-08
Joe Biden in a recent speech said “We must stop treating our opponents as our enemies”. Beneath it all we are all human beings. We all have much more in common than we have dividing us. We all love and hope and fear. We all want to be happy. Domyo explores how we can come to terms with this concept. (Audio here)
Emptiness of Self and Why It Matters – Domyo – 2020-10-25
Knowing the true nature of ourself is exactly what liberates us from fear and suffering. Domyo begins with a brief overview of the Buddhist teachings on the empiness of self. She continues by exploring what they mean in our daily lives and practice, including why they are helpfull and meaningful. (Audio here)
This Means You: The Lotus Sutra Parable of the Lost Son – Domyo – 2020-10-18 Domyo retells the “Parable of the Lost Son” in language and setting accessable to modern western peoples, retaining the essence and teaching value. So goes on to explain what it all means to us today, in our Practice on the Boddisattva Path. (Audio here)
Bearing Witness Without Burning Out – Domyo – 2020-10-11
Bearing Witness to the suffering of the world caused by greed, hate and delusion is part of Domyo’s Recipie for a Generous Life. Domyo discusses how it is that we burn out when we are witnessing this either in person, or by the news/information services. (Audio here)
Singing the Praises of Zazen as a Practice of Wholeness – Domyo – 2020-10-04
With everything that is going on in the world right now, and also in our personal lives, Domyo tells us how we can divide our practice into three parts or three ingredients all of which are essential, but as we “cook” our life, the proportions might need to change depending on what is going on for us. She names the ingredients “Bearing Witness”, “Taking Care”, and “Taking Action”. (Audio here)
Refusing to be Defeated: Ksanti – The Buddhist Perfection of Endurance – Domyo – 2020-09-27
There is so much going on in the world right now that can cause us stress, anxiety, fear, depression, sadness, grief, mental or emotional pain. Domyo talks about the Buddhist Perfection of Ksanti – endurance, or forebearance, which acknowledges that no matter what we do, how dilligent we are in our spiritual pracice, at times life is going to be uncomfortable, painful and/or tinged with suffering. She explains how Ksanti can help us get through troubling and troubled times. (Audio here)
Using the Teachings of the 6 Realms to Understand People’s Actions – Domyo – 2020-09-20
According to the traditional Buddist Cosmology, we are reborn after we die and our previous actions of body, speech and mind determine which realm we end up in. This is a natural law, there is no one sitting in judgement. This is known as Karmic law. Yet the goal or attraction of our study and practice is to get un-stuck from this cycle of birth, death and rebirth. Domyo explains how to use these teachings to help us understand people’s actions. (Audio here)
Metta Practice as a Way to Free Ourselves from Fear and Anxiety – Domyo – 2020-09-13
Domyo talks about Metta Practice and how it can help us face reality while centered in our true nature. She defines, describes and gives examples of Metta Practice. With excercises she gives us a taste of Metta Practice in the context of our current lives in fire, smoke, evacuations and loss. (Audio here)
How Do You Live a Good Life in a Crazy World? – Domyo – 2020-09-06
Not merely a “Good” life, but also Compassionate, Moral, Just and Generous. And not just how do we maintain, how do we manage, how do we get through, but how do we go above and beyond, even to extend beyond our own concerns, manifesting that life in any way that we particularly aspire to do? Domyo goes on to suggest a recipe for life. (Audio here)
Respect Even for Terrible People – What Does it Mean? – Domyo – 2020-08-30
Most people who are doing harm don’t think that they are doing anything wrong. Most people think of themselves as a good person or at least trying their best at being a good person. If we look at those few people who rarely think beyond their own safety comfort and profit, who think nothing of hurting others for their own advantage or amusement; people with greedy or ambitious agendas who feel justified in whatever destruction it takes to keep their grip on power; people who sow division and stoke fears, what does it mean that we are asked to respect such people? With stories from the Christian Bible and from the Buddhist Sutras, Domyo explores this important concept for our time. (Audio here)
Sangha Member Talk: The Way Seeking Mind – Mark – 2020-08-23
All of us are on a spiritual journey, we’ve all learned stuff, we’ve all had experiences and we’ve learned things that are interesting and valuable. Therefore we have things to teach. Mark takes the teaching seat to describe his path and the insights and understandings he has gained along the way. (Audio here)
No Matter What Happens to You, Practice Means You Have Choice – Domyo – 2020-08-16
Buddhism teaches us that no matter what’s going on you always have a degree of choice about how you respond and what you do next. Practice is taking advantage of our moments of choice which arises countless times throughout the day and night and never loosing faith that those little choices matter. Domyo illustrates this with an ancient story from the Pali cannon. (Audio here)
Save Yourself! The Lotus Sutra Parable of the Burning House – Domyo – 2020-08-09 The Lotus Sutra is a very ancient record of the Buddha’s teachings. Domyo goes over its origins and how it is contains a number of parables. Then she focuses on the “Parable of the Burning House”, what it means and how our lives or society may well be like a burning house. An ancient parable that speaks to the difficult times we are living in. (Audio here)
The Experience of Enlightenment – Domyo – 2020-08-02
Domyo uses traditional and modern Zen stories to illustrate the experiences leading up to, and Enlightenment itself. She goes on to describe the variety of ways this works from sudden awakening to “getting wet in a mist”. (Audio here)
Many Kinds of Giving – Jyoshin Clay – 2020-07-26
It seems like this has been a hard year. For everyone. Pandemic, social unrest, economic instability – how does a Zen Buddhist negotiate this visceral, changing landscape of unease and unpredictability? One approach is to turn towards benevolence. This Sunday, Jyoshin talks about the benefits of generosity and making offerings as a path towards spiritual stability and resiliency. Jyoshin Clay is from Dharma Rain Zen Center. Jyoshin is a “Dharma Sister” of both Domyo and Shintai, and has co-led our annual sesshin in collaboration with Wy’East Zen Center. (Audio here)
Bringing Darkness to Conscious – Ryushin Hart Osho – 2020-07-19
Ryushin Hart Osho is a Zen priest and social worker. Ryushin lived and trained for nine years at Great Vow Zen Monastery with Chozen and Hogen Bays Roshi. He was ordained in 2005. Ryushin completed Dharma Transmission in 2019 with Tenku Ruff Osho in the Harada Daiun Sogaku Roshi lineage. Ryushin completed his social work education through Boston University, and provides mental health, addiction, and trauma counseling in Corvallis, Oregon. Ryushin is passionate about Buddhism, social justice, shame resilience, and nurturing all life to grow to its greatest potential. He talks about how studying the Buddha way is to study the self, and as Americans part of our self is the culture we are swimming in, which we inherit from our ancestors. And that includes our family and our society and the slogans we learn. We live in a country that is designed to benefit people with lighter skin and harm at the disadvantage of people with darker skin. Ryushin discuses how the Dharma relates to this. (Audio here)
Giving our Lives Direction, Shape and Meaning – The Practice of Vow – Domyo – 2020-07-12
Vow is central in Buddhism, it gives shape, direction and meaning to our lives. Vows are about optional things. They are a choice we make. Vows are there because we might break them. This is the time of year for our Jukai ceremony where we make and renew our vows. Vows are there to hold our feet to the fire when things get difficult. (Audio here)
Tapping Into Our Deepest Desires instead of Struggling with Self-Control – Domyo – 2020-07-05
A central part of Buddhism is arousing our aspirations – not just our aspirations for a little stress relief, or a little more peace in our human relationships – those things are great. Buddahood is possible for each of us. Domyo talks about how each of us can achieve this. (Audio here)
There is No You There – Domyo – 2020-06-28
When there’s just the perceived in the perceived there is no “you” there, but what we usually do is add our stories (and therefore create a “you”). We naturally attempt to make sense out of the world around us. When new perceptions are experienced, in our mind arise narratives based on past experiences or future fears. Domyo discusses. (Audio here)
Creating a Strong and Sustainable Practice – Domyo – 2020-06-21
Most of us find that our Buddhist practice helps us stay sane, resilient, grateful, compassionate, and more. Generally speaking our practice makes our whole life better, especially during challenging times. But at the same time, it can be very difficult, just like many other healthy habits, to find the time, energy, discipline, motivation, enthusiasm, and all to practice the way we think we should or even just the way we really want to. Domyo talks about the various ways we can give form and structure to our practice. (Audio here)
Suchness – Awakening to the Preciousness of Things As It Is – Domyo – 2020-06-14 All religions and spiritual practices have the purposes of relieving our suffering and to give us hope. Buddhism teaches that all we have to do is awaken to reality, just as it is, to achieve them both. Domyo explains how this can be. (Audio, here)
Buddhist Images of Fierceness – Domyo – 2020-06-07
Domyo explores the place of Fierceness and even anger in Buddhism. Primarily she does this throungh imagry. She shows us high quality images of Kuan Yin / Kanzeon, Avalokiteshvara, Manjushri and others. She explains the cultural context where Buddhism arose and thus it incorporated the images known and understood by the people at the time. The clarity and determination of a warrior is represented by the image of Fudo Myoo. Domyo then asks “How can we summon that kind of fierce, determined clear energy but keep it focused on ignorance and delusion and not on living beings?” (Audio, here)
Sustainable Bhodisattva Practice: Bearing Witness, Taking Care, Taking Action. – Domyo 2020-05-31
Being a Bhodisattva in a world of immense suffering, how do we stay true to our vows and our aspirations but in a way that doesn’t overwhelm us, burn us out, or lead to despair? Faced with all of this madness, all of this suffering, all of these tricky situations what does it mean to be a Bhodisattva? Domyo gives us her guidance. (Audio, here)
What Zen Acceptance is and Why it Matters – Domyo – 2020-05-24
Zen Acceptance is letting go of that desire for things to be other than how they are. “Acceptance” has a number of meanings in our society. Domyo discusses how Zen practioners use Zen Acceptance to improve our daily lives. (Audio, here)
Cultivating Metta – for the Sake of Self and Other – Domyo – 2020-05-17
Cultivating Metta – Goodwill, Loving-Kindness, Friendliness, or Love – for the Sake of Self and Other. An attitude of goodwill toward any and all beings is incompatible with self-centered cherishing and resentment. Therefore, we cultivate metta not just for the sake of others (sometimes they’re not very “deserving” of it), but for the sake of our own practice and spiritual well-being. Of course, for each of us, cultivating metta for certain people or groups of people can be extremely difficult at times. On Sunday, we discussed not only why it’s worth practicing metta for those we resent, but also how to go about it in a creative way that’s compassionate to ourselves as well. (Audio, here)
Skillful Discipline is Balanced with Gentleness – Domyo – 2020-05-10
If we think of our practice as not just meditation and study but also as living deliberately moment by moment, paying attention and being mindful of our choices, then what does your practice look like throughout the day? Domyo discusses and explains Skillful Self Discipline and its balance with Gentleness, in our daily lives. (Audio, here)
This is No Different a Time – Rinzan Pechovnik, Soho – 2020-05-03
We are living in a different, difficult time. With Relative Mind, everything is different. In a Deep Sense, no difference exists. Our task is to see this blossoming universe for exactly what it is. When our eyes are open, all times are strange, unique and wondrous. Rinzan is a teacher in the Rinzai Zen tradition and runs No-Rank Zendo in Portland OR (www.norankzendo.org). He gave the talk examining various chapters of the Rinzai Roku. (Audio, here)
Not Loosing Faith in Buddha – Domyo – 2020-04-26
In doing our own practice, how well do we think we are doing, at our meditation, at our insights, at our understanding of the Dharma, at our moral behavior, our compassion, our generosity? Even though we think we are doing pretty well, how do we feel when we look around in the world and see the result of all the human greed, hate and delusion? Domyo discusses the many aspects of practice in light of these questions. (Audio, here)
Bright Clarity Appears Before You – Domyo – 2020-04-19
Silence and serenity are both our practice, and the result of our practice. When we sit, for the time being we let go of trying to change anything or figure anything out – in essence, shutting up internally. It’s not that we apply a special meditative process and then silence happens, it’s that we invite ourselves to let go of our constant effort to protect ourselves – an effort that results in constant internal commentary. In this talk, Domyo delves a bit deeper into how this works. (Audio, here)
Inner Peace or Happiness, No Matter What – Domyo – 2020-04-12
Buddhism teaches us how we can have inner peace and happiness no matter what our conditions. Domyo offers her thoughts on how this is possible for us all. (Audio, here)
Prayer for Equanimity – Gyokuko – 2020-04-05
With all the uncertainty in our lives because of the new Coronavirus, the closing of schools and businesses, and social distancing, emotions can run away with us. Gyokuko offers a few thoughts about coping with our current situation. (Audio, here)
Facing Impermanence – Domyo – 2020-03-29
Facing Impermanence? Fortunately, Buddhism Is All About Life and Death. Buddhism’s central point is nothing other than impermanence, or the “Great Matter of Life-and-Death.” Our practice goes far beyond platitudes or beliefs meant to make you feel better about the whole affair. Instead, the essence of our practice is a direct and personal exploration of the experience and implications of being alive in a world where there is absolutely nothing unchanging for us to hold on to. Except, of course, that very fact, and the fact that being fully alive means we don’t hold on to anything at all. (Audio, here)
Audio Dharma Talks (no video):
Embracing or Accepting Not Knowing – Domyo – 2020-03-15
What it means, and why it helps, in this time of global crisis.
Practicing With Fear – Domyo – 2020-03-01
There are all kinds of things to be fearful of in the world right now. How do we practice with fear?
Zazen as Sacred Space – Domyo – 2020-02-23
Zazen has practical value: It helps us feel more sane, have more equanimity and compassion, etc. However, entirely apart from whatever we might gain from our meditation, zazen plays an important role in our lives because it’s about making space for the sacred. What is sacred? Something that inspires reverence in us, something Greater. In Zen, what is most sacred is the mysterious and miraculous experience of simply being alive.
The Two Golden Rules of Bodhisattva Practice – Domyo – 2020-02-16
As aspiring bodhisattvas, we encounter all kinds of challenges: Difficult people, injustice, willful ignorance, and situations that are hard to witness, let alone accept. Through it all, we should be guided by two “Golden Rules” of bodhisattva practice: 1) Always be motivated by goodwill (no matter who, no matter what), and 2) Extend your sphere of care and responsibility as far as possible. Domyo talks about how we apply these rules in a sustainable way in our daily lives.
Maintaining a Strong Practice Outside the Zen Center – Domyo – 2020-02-02
A couple of weeks ago, Domyo asked people to submit questions to be addressed during a talk. Several of those questions had to do with how to keep our practice “alive” when we’re at home/away from Sangha, including: “What is practice?” “How do I make zazen a habit (like brushing my teeth?” “How much time should I meditate each day?” Domyo spoke Sunday on these topics and then invited others to share their own challenges and answers.
Soto Zen Koans from the Denkoroku – Shakyamuni – Domyo – 2020-01-26
By popular demand, this talk will center on a koan from the Soto Zen collection called the Denkoroku, or the Record of Transmitting the Light, by Zen master Keizan: “Shakyamuni Buddha saw the morning star and was enlightened, and he said, ‘I and the great earth and beings simultaneously achieve the Way.'”
Opening to Peace – Domyo – 2020-01-12
What does it like to feel inner peace? How does it manifest for you? What tends to undermine your inner peace, and how do you try to recover or strengthen it? Domyo and Sangha have a dialogue about these questions, and about how Zen teaches us to find peace by opening up to exactly what is.
Giving Shape to Our Lives: The Buddhist Practice of Vows – Domyo – 2020-01-05 Whether or not you make vows for the new year, this time of year naturally makes us think about the near future and what we’d like to see happen. In Buddhism and Zen, we understand that vow is what gives shape to our lives. On Sunday we talked about some classic Zen stories about vow, and discuss how we choose, make, and honor vows.
“Meditation Is NOT about Stopping Thoughts” – Domyo – 2019-12-15
Non-meditators, beginners, and long-time Buddhist practitioners alike tend to believe meditation is all about stopping our thoughts. This is a serious misunderstanding, and, sadly, keeps many people from embracing the practice of meditation. Even those of who meditate anyway tend to be frustrated with, or critical of, our meditation, because we rarely ever manage – if ever – to stop our thoughts. Domyo will talk about why we long to be thought-free, and how meditation is a practice of repeatedly turning our attention to something other than thought.
The Practical Value of Awakening to the Absolute Aspect of Reality – Domyo – 2019-11-30
Next week I’ll be taking a break from my busy life and all of my projects in order sit Rohatsu sesshin, a week-long, silent Zen meditation retreat. Every sesshin ends up feeling different, but based on my experience of the past 25 years, I anticipate next week will shift my whole perspective on life in a very important way. After spending the half-a-year since my last sesshin immersed in the relative aspect of life, the absolute aspect of life will come to the fore. Consequently, I’ll regain balance and see everything in a much larger context. In this episode, I’ll talk about what that feels like, and the value of awakening to the absolute aspect of reality when what you most want is to be is an effective agent for positive change in the relative world.
Engaging the Climate Crisis as a Koan – Domyo – 2019-11-24
In Zen, a koan is a spiritual obstruction – a limit to our understanding, freedom, authenticity, or compassion. We engage koans by leaning into them with curiosity and courage, because “passage” of, or through, a koan inevitably leads to growth and liberation. Our response to a koan is something that we live through our body, heart, and mind. The climate and ecological crisis is a koan all of us are facing, whether we want to or not. How do we respond? How do we live authentically? How do we fulfill our bodhisattva vows? How do we overcome our fear and despair? If we lean into this koan together, it can give us great strength and allow us to bring our many practice tools to bear. Rather than seeing response to the climate crisis as an adjunct to our Zen practice, we can embrace the challenge we’re facing as inseparable from practice.
“Gratitude, Compassion and Resilience” – Shintai – 2019-11-17
What is the connection between gratitude, compassion and resilience? This week, Shintai offers some thoughts about cultivating a spirit of gratitude and compassion for ourselves and others. Expanding our capacity for both of these qualities nourishes and fortifies us during times of difficulty.
Building Sangha – Domyo – 2019-11-10
We come to Brightway Zen Center to fulfill our any number of various needs and wants. Domyo discusses these and how the Center is able to provide such a wide array of fulfilling services. She briefly discusses the many things that members provide in support of the Center, big things to very small things which each make a big difference in our success.
“Brightening the Mind.” – Domyo – 2019-10-27
When we’re stuck in negativity, hopelessness, despair, discouragement, or lack of confidence, our practice obliges us – and allows us – to brighten our body-mind. We need to shift the state of our body-mind to positivity, active hope, a sense of empowerment and agency, and determination. We do this by first acknowledging how we’re feeling and thinking, investigating our experience with gentle curiosity, and then availing ourselves of practice and activities that allow us to let go, and restore our bright state of body-mind.
How do we begin to open a dialogue about race, our own racial experiences and more? – Shintai – 2019-10-20
How do we begin to open a dialogue about race, our own racial experiences and ways that our spiritual practice supports us in working towards racial justice for all beings? The very topic of race and racism can feel risky and make us all feel vulnerable to misunderstandings and confusion. For this week’s Dharma talk, Shintai draws on her own experience in completing the “Awakening to Whiteness” discussion series with Bright Way sangha members and “Courageous Conversation about Race” curriculum through her work place as a starting point to begin conversations with each other and to deepen our own self reflection about racial identity and racism.
“Forms in Zen Buddhism” – Domyo – 2019-10-13
Forms are really just the established customs and traditions of the way we do things when we are together. A dictionary entry describes form as the manner or style of arranging and coordinating parts for a pleasing or effective result. Domyo discusses a few of our various forms, giving us examples and showing us the customary way they are performed. For each one she explains why and how the form came about.
“More on Meditation – Shikantaza” – Domyo – 2019-10-06
Last week Domyo talked about three different kinds of meditation: Centering (or Calming), Cultivating (certain mind states or qualities), and Insight (or Investigating). She led us through short guided meditations of each kind. This Sunday Domyo talked about how Shikantaza (the Soto Zen practice of “just sitting”) relates to these three kinds of meditation, and lead us in a short guided “Zen” meditation. We explored Shintai’s observation after last Sunday’s talk, that in trying to do Shikantaza completely, we naturally employ the other kinds of meditation!
“Four Kinds of Meditation: Calming, Cultivating, Insight, and Letting Go” – Domyo – 2019-09-29
In Zen we emphasize shikantaza, or “just sitting,” which is about letting go of every willful activity beyond physically sitting upright and still. However, there are many kinds of meditation even within Buddhism. On Sunday, Domyo talked about three other kinds, as well: meditation meant to calm the mind, meditation meant to cultivate certain states of mind or qualities, and meditation to investigate, explore, and gain insight into our experience as human beings. We talked about examples of each kind of meditation and how the different kinds relate.
“A Path to Self Respect” A Founder’s Day Talk by Rev. Gyokuko Carlson – 2019-09-22
On this year’s Founder’s Day, Gyokuko Carlson, retired Abbot of Dharma Rain Zen Center, gives a talk about “A Path to Self Respect”. She describes a path available to those who follow the Buddha’s teachings. She also describes some of the traditional methods Soto Zen uses to help us on the path. She illustrates her talk with personal reflections of her various experiences in the monastery, at the Zen Center, and with her students.
“Picking Up and Putting Down” – Shintai – 2019-09-15
In Zen, one of our primary practices is to bring our attention gently back to the present moment again and again. Whether in meditation, working, or engaged in conversation, we cultivate clarity and being whole-heartedly present for whatever we are doing. What supports this intention and what gets in our way? This week’s Dharma Talk is all about this practice of picking up what is in front of us as completely as possible and putting it down again when it is time to move on to the next thing.
“The Four Ways Bodhisattvas Embrace Loving Words” – Domyo – 2019-09-08
Domyo continues our study of 12th-century Zen master Dogen’s essay, Bodaisatta Shishobo, or what she calls the “Four Ways Bodhisattvas Embrace Living Beings.” Domyo briefly defined the bodhisattva’s four “embracing actions,” which are practicing nongreed, loving words, beneficial action, and “being in the same boat” as other beings. Sunday, Domyo covered the section of the essay on loving words, or kind speech.
“You Can’t Hold Onto Stillness” – Domyo – 2019-09-01
If we’re lucky, our practices of meditation and mindfulness give us some sense of spaciousness, stillness, and silence. What about when we get up from the meditation seat? What about when we engage in activities more complicated and demanding than potentially calming manual tasks like weeding the garden, sweeping, or washing the dishes? Especially when we need to move quickly, multitask, or interact with others, it can feel like we can easily lose our thread of practice. However, practice in the midst of activity is different than practice in the midst of relative stillness and silence. We can’t carry the stillness with us except in a deep and subtle sense. Instead of trying to maintain the stillness of meditation or silent mindfulness, Zen master Dogen teaches us a better way to practice in the midst of activity: maintaining joyful mind, nurturing mind, and magnanimous mind. These qualities have the potential to grow even stronger as we get busier.
“Turning Towards Joy” – Thomas Bruner – 2019-08-18
Senior student Thomas Bruner shares his thoughts on turning towards joy. Thomas writes, “Buddha did say, ‘I teach suffering…’ but he went on to say, ‘…and an end to suffering.’ I think Zen tends to be better with the first than the second.”
What Does Buddhism Have to Say about Mass Shootings? – Domyo – 2019-08-11
Okay, Buddhism doesn’t actually say anything about mass shootings per se. But it does offer us ways to think about and practice with tragic events that help us maintain our sanity without resorting to denial or the suppression of emotions.
On Right Speech – Shoketsu – 2019-08-04
Right Speech is a central theme and one of our Precepts. Shoketsu explains it, what this concept means to us, and the many facets it affects in our lives. Shoketsu is a senior student at Brightway Zen Center.
Why Lineage is Important – Jyoshin Clay – 2019-07-28
Jyoshin Catherine Clay explains Lineage, how it works and why it is important to our Zen traditions. Jyoshin holds a B.S. in Genetics from the University of Kansas, and is currently working on an M.Div from Maitripa College in Portland. She spent several years as a tech in a neuroscience lab at the Vollum Institute at OHSU. She has been a member of Dharma Rain Zen Center since 2001, took Jukai in 2004, and became Kyogen’s student in 2006. He ordained her into the priesthood in 2008. She spent three months at Zen Mountain Monastery in New York in the fall of 2011. She served DRZC as shuso in 2014, with Hossen in 2015. She received Denkai transmission in December 2015. She has served as tenzo, precentor, and head of the jisha-ryo. Her interests include ceremony and ritual studies, and the use of form as a training tool. She enjoys facilitating small group talks and discussions. She regularly goes to give teaching at the Wy’east Zen Center in Sandy, Oregon. She currently serves as Assistant Kanin.
“Zen Students, Zen Teachers” – Shintai – 2019-07-21
Student-teacher relationship is central to our Zen lineage tradition, but what is it about and how does it function in modern times? This week’s talk offered by Shintai is about what students do and what teachers do and how this relationship can serve to support our practice in modern times.
Koans, Shikantaza and More – Rinzan Pechovnik, Osho – 2019-07-14
Rinzan began his training with the Zen Community of Oregon in 2003, studying under Hogan and Chozen Bays. He did his first sesshin that year and received jukai from Hogan Bays in 2005. In 2008, Rinzan traveled to China where he studied Buddhist traditions and toured and sat zazen at numerous monasteries and Buddhist sites. While still a member of ZCO, Rinzan served on the board of directors and completed training as a lay Sangha leader. He led a Buddhadharma recovery dialogue group, combining the wisdom of 12-Step traditions with the foundational teachings. He also helped codify lay training principles and laid out a path of practice for lay practitioners preceding jukai. He left ZCO and began training under Genjo Marinello in 2012, and ordained under him in 2013. That same year, Rinzan founded No-Rank Zendo as a place of practice that embraces the religious aspects of the Zen Buddhist cultural frame as well as the ordinary, everyday mind that embraces us all. Currently, Rinzan leads sesshin and zazenkai several times a year. He provides Dharma Interview for koan study and enjoys walking and having coffee with sangha members.
Zen Master Dogen’s “Bodaisatta-Shishobo” – Domyo – 2019-07-07
Domyo talks about an essay by Zen master Dogen called “Bodaisatta-Shishobo”, or “The Four Ways Bodhisattvas Embrace Living Beings”. Given the many stressful and sad things happening in the world right now, it’s helpful to contemplate and aspire to enact the bodhisattva’s “four embracing actions:” Generosity, kind speech, beneficial action, and “sharing the same aim.”
Nine Fields of Zen Practice, Part 5, Karma Work. – Domyo – 2019-06-30
The self as we usually conceive it may be an illusion, but the self as a bundle of tendencies, habits, conditioning, and concerns is very real, and has tangible impacts in the world. As Buddhists we vow to take responsibility for our unique karma – the result of countless causes and conditions from the past – and learn to act more compassionately and skillfully for the sake of self and other. Taking care of our lives is part of the Bodhisattva Vow, but this work is also complementary to our work in the other fields; as Dogen said, studying the self leads to forgetting, or transcending, the self – and therefore to real spiritual freedom.
Nine Fields of Zen Practice, Part 4, Connecting With the Ineffable. – Domyo – 2019-06-16
Domyo continues our exploration of the Nine Fields of Zen Practice. Connecting with the Ineffable is one of the areas of practice we often find it difficult to get our mind around. To help us, she describes, defines and explains the concepts and techniques of Connecting with the Ineffable.
“Exploring the Journey of a Care Giver – Opening to Love, Strength, and Acceptance” Diana Keishin Saltoon-Briggs – 2019-06-09
Diana Keishin Saltoon-Briggs discusses Zen, Japanese Tea Ceremony, her book Wife, Just Let Go: Zen, Alzheimer’s, and Love, and more. More about Diana, her upcoming talk, and a poem can be found on our website by clicking here.
Nine Fields of Zen Practice, Part 3, The Precepts and Opening the Heart. – Domyo – 2019-06-02
Domyo continues our exploration of the Nine Fields of Zen Practice. She talkes briefly about Precepts (we study precepts annually so this is an aspect of our practice most of us are pretty familiar with), and then about the next field, Opening the Heart: Sometimes we get stuck in thinking practice is all about us, or that opening our hearts – to other people, all living beings, and the universe itself – is somehow extra. However, working explicitly to open the heart not only benefits living beings, it puts us in accord with the Dharma and supports all other aspects of our practice.
Sun Faced Buddha – Moon Faced Buddha. – Shintai – 2019-05-26
There is a koan story from the Blue Cliff Record called “Sun Faced Buddha, Moon-faced Buddha”. The story is this: “Great Master Ma was unwell. The temple superintendent asked him,”Teacher, how has your venerable health been in recent days?” The Great Master said, “Sun Face Buddha, Moon Face Buddha”. A Sun Faced Buddha is said to live for 1,800 years, while a Moon Faced Buddha lives for a single day and a single night. Shintai gave this Dharma Talk and led the discussion about this well loved koan story.
Letting Go of the Dharma to Find the Dharma. – Myoju – 2019-05-21
The fruits of Dharma practice often eludes us because we search for it outside ourselves. It is “only when we take the light and shine it inward” that we begin to taste some freedom and liberation.
Nine Fields of Zen Practice, Part 2, “Cultivating Insight”. – Domyo – 2019-05-12 Continuing from last week, Domyo takes up the Field of “Cultivating Insight”.
Nine Fields of Zen Practice. – Domyo – 2019-05-05.
Zen practice can permeate every aspect of our lives. To help lay practitioners appreciate this outside the full-immersion experience of residential training, I’ve defined Nine Fields of Zen Practice: Zazen, Dharma Study, Cultivating Insight, Precepts, Opening the Heart, Connection to the Ineffable, Nyoho (according with the Dharma in everyday activities), Karma Work, and Bodhisattva Activity.
Its Not Enough to Respond to What’s Right in Front of You. – Domyo – 2019-04-21. The core of Buddhist practice is cultivating mindfulness of this moment and responding as best we can to whatever we encounter in the course of our personal, daily lives, but if we aspire to cease from harm and benefit other beings, this is not enough. We also need to cultivate awareness of, and take responsibility for, the repercussions of our actions throughout space and time – far, far beyond the limits of what’s right in front of us.
The Meaning and Value of Lineage. – Domyo – 2019-03-31.
On Sunday, April 28th, we have our first “Dharma Cloud Lineage” day. In preparation, Domyo presented a talk on what “lineage” means in Buddhism and Zen, and why it’s important. You may want to see the page on our website describing the lineage of our teachers and temple: Click Here.
The Five Hindrances. – Domyo – 2019-03-24.
We all know meditation and other aspects of Buddhist practice can be difficult. According to the Buddha, it’s useful to pay attention to exactly what’s going on when we’re feeling challenged. Any obstacle can be characterized as one of five hindrances: 1) Sense desire; 2) ill-will; 3) sloth-and-torpor; 4) restlessness-and-worry, or 5) uncertainty (or skeptical doubt). By identifying our hindrance, we get a better sense of what caused it to arise and how we can best overcome it, because the Buddha offered a number of teachings on the subject.
Unethical Buddhist Teachers – Were They Ever Really Enlightened? – Domyo – 2019-03-10.
Unethical and selfish behavior is incompatible with our Buddhist ideal of true enlightenment, and transgressing teachers are often exactly those held up as especially inspiring examples of realization and practice. What does all of this say about realization and practice? Were the teachers ever really enlightened?
Approaching Your Practice as a Lifelong Path of Growth and Transformation. Domyo – 2019-03-03.
It’s tricky: Our path is supposed to be about acceptance, letting go, and reaching the profound “goal of goallessness.” But we also aspire to the bodhisattva vow, which commits us to working diligently to fulfill vows so grand and noble they’re actually unachievable. On Sunday we talked about how to challenge your practice, honor your deepest aspirations, and cultivate a sense of spiritual urgency without getting caught in dualistic thinking (adequate versus inadequate, enlightened versus deluded, success versus failure).
“To Study Buddhism is to Study the Self” Shintai and Domyo’s Teacher, Rev. Gyokuko Carlson -2019-02-17
In this sad time of polarization and blame we all feel the pull to look for “the cure” and are tempted to despair when the cure seems elusive. Gyokuko talked about just one of the elements of self that can make matters more difficult.
Directed Effort vs. Relaxation in Our Meditation Practice. Domyo – 2019-02-05
Domyo said: “For the last year or so at Bright Way, I’ve been emphasizing shikantaza as a practice of relaxation, letting go, doing nothing, and relinquishing any techniques. After discussions with many people, I’ve decided it’s probably best to present people with two paths to the calm, clear, still mind so important in Buddhism. One is a relaxation/letting go approach like shikantaza, but employing directed effort in meditation (and practice off the cushion) is also, of course, an entirely legitimate and valuable approach.” Tuesday night we discussed the differences between directed effort versus relaxation practice, and how to know which practice is right for you.
Seng Ts’an’s “Faith in Mind”: Damned If You Do, Damned If You Don’t. Domyo – 2019-02-03
Do you think there’s something to gain in practice? Are you sure there’s nothing to gain in practice? Both wrong! Faith in Mind is a short text is about the koan of practice (we often recite it on weekday evenings) – how we have to find a dynamic, sincere, unscripted response to life without falling into either the trap of complacency, or the trap of striving. Click here for a copy of “Faith in Mind”.
Treating Each Thing as if it is Buddha. Domyo – 2019-01-20
We have a practice in Zen of trying to make even our smallest actions reflect the deep truths of the Dharma, including interdependence, impermanence, no-self, suchness, and Buddha-nature. I’m going to call this practice “Nyoho,” a Japanese term which means being in accord with (nyo) the Dharma (ho), even though this term is typically associated with a precise tradition of sewing Zen robes in accord with the Dharma (Nyoho-e). Nyoho goes beyond moral behavior or even the practice of compassion or generosity for other people, although both of those things are also essential in our practice. When we practice Nyoho, we look for opportunities to act in accord with the Dharma in the midst of our daily lives, and in very practical, physical ways. No act is too mundane or insignificant to perform with care. No object or being we encounter is beneath our respect or attention. We handle things gently, appreciatively, and appropriately – our pillows, toothbrushes, clothing, shoes, coffee mugs, doors, cars, and printers. We engage mundane activities like little sacred rituals, the same way we might offer incense at an altar, even if we’re straightening the kitchen after breakfast, bathing our toddler, or preparing a room for a work meeting.
The Way Seeking Mind. Shoketsu – 2019-01-20
Life is rich with experiences and things rarely go the way you expect them to. Shoketsu Ellen Carlin shares three dharma lessons she has gleaned from ten years of Zen Buddhist practice. She shares about scars from childhood, marriage, being a parent, and the importance of community. This is the first Way-seeking Mind (or Bodicitta) talk at Bright Way, but far from the last we hope!
Directed Effort vs. Relaxation in Meditation. Domyo – 2019-01-13
Domyo said: “For the last year or so at Bright Way, I’ve been emphasizing shikantaza as a practice of relaxation, letting go, doing nothing, and relinquishing any techniques. After discussions with many people, I’ve decided it’s probably best to present people with two paths to the calm, clear, still mind so important in Buddhism. One is a relaxation/letting go approach like shikantaza, but employing directed effort in meditation (and practice off the cushion) is also, of course, an entirely legitimate and valuable approach.” On Sunday we discussed the differences between directed effort versus relaxation practice, and how to know which practice is right for you.
I Shouldn’t Feel Like This – A Practitioner’s Conundrum. Domyo – 2019-01-08
Buddhism teaches that you can change the nature of your experience by changing your own mind and behaviors – increasing the proportion of your life spent feeling calm, confident, positive,and compassionate. Sometimes, after many years of effort, we experience negative thoughts and emotions and find ourselves thinking, “I shouldn’t feel like this.” I discuss how to practice with this conundrum, and suggest that sometimes our internal experience can’t or shouldn’t be changed, but simply tolerated.
I Shouldn’t Feel Like This – A Practitioner’s Conundrum. Domyo – 2019-01-08
Buddhism teaches that you can change the nature of your experience by changing your own mind and behaviors – increasing the proportion of your life spent feeling calm, confident, positive,and compassionate. Sometimes, after many years of effort, we experience negative thoughts and emotions and find ourselves thinking, “I shouldn’t feel like this.” I discuss how to practice with this conundrum, and suggest that sometimes our internal experience can’t or shouldn’t be changed, but simply tolerated.
Two Buddhist Emotions Important for Our Practice Samvega and Prasada. Domyo – 2018-12-02
“Buddhism is full of fascinating and useful concepts that help us make sense of our experience and engage our lives more skillfully. This week, I encountered two concepts that were new to me, and I feel like I’ve been looking for them all my life!” – Domyo Samvega and prasada are complex emotions the Buddha encouraged us to recognize and cultivate, and they really can’t be translated. About samvega, Thanissaro Bhikkhu writes, “It’s a hard word to translate because it covers such a complex range—at least three clusters of feelings at once: the oppressive sense of shock, dismay, and alienation that comes with realizing the futility and meaninglessness of life as it’s normally lived; a chastening sense of our own complicity, complacency, and foolishness in having let ourselves live so blindly; and an anxious sense of urgency in trying to find a way out of the meaningless cycle.” Prasada is similarly complex, but could be translated as “clarity and serene confidence.” Samvega is what inspires us to practice. It’s different than dukkha, which is dissatisfaction created by our own minds. Far from discouraging samvega, Buddhism embraces it, addresses it head on, and even encourages us to keep it alive. However, we need to balance samvega with prasada, a calm confidence in the path of practice that can free us from suffering. Join us for a conversation on these topics on Sunday. And to read more about samvega and prasada, read Thanissaro’s essay: Affirming the Truths of the Heart
The Ten Ox-herding Pictures: Descriptive Rather Than Prescriptive Stages of Practice. Domyo – 2018-11-04
(PDF of the Pictures we Discussed) In Zen, for the most part, we get no clear course of training and few external affirmations of whether we are doing it right, progressing, or achieving anything. How can we maintain our focus and motivation in Buddhist practice? In essence, we are asked to patiently and diligently to apply ourselves to a demanding and repetitive practice, and… well, that’s it. Still – there are stages in Buddhist practice. It is not that no development or progress occurs, it’s just that it is usually subtle and intimately entwined with our lives. In Zen, we have a lovely visual teaching – Ten Oxherding Pictures – that illustrates our stages of practice when we’re not trying to go anywhere besides right here.
Soto Zen Buddhist Association Conference Report. Domyo – 2018-09-30
The Soto Zen Buddhist Association (SZBA) is about 17 years old and, so far, a professional organization of Soto Zen priests (although there’s talk of expanding it in the future to include lay Zen teachers and sangha membership, and Domyo would like to see this). Last week Domyo attended the 8th biennial SZBA conference at Zen Mountain Monastery in upstate New York. For our Dharma Talk, Sunday 9/30, Domyo gave a report on the conference and the important things she’s taken away from it. There’s also a brief report in the online Buddhist magazine “Lion’s Roar” you can read: “Soto Zen priests discuss diversity and privilege at biennial gathering”. That article includes the text of an inspiring equity statement created by members of the SZBA and proclaimed during the meeting.
Vow and Intention. Shintai – 2018-09-23
As autumn approaches, we naturally turn inward and intensify our practice. Shintai offers a Dharma talk and leads a discussion about how we turn towards our deeper aspirations and sustain this effort over time in the form of vows of practice. We explored the usefulness of vows and how to formulate vows.
Buddhist Practice: Dealing with Intrusive Thoughts and Emotions. Domyo – 2018-08-19
“Intrusive” thoughts and emotions arise repeatedly with enough intensity for them to be disturbing or distracting, even though they aren’t objectively relevant or helpful as they’re arising. In this talk Domyo describes how to use Buddhist practice – meditation and mindfulness – to reduce the intrusiveness of irrelevant or unhelpful thoughts and emotions by decreasing our identification with the content of our experience and increasing our identification with our natural, spacious awareness.
Zen Practices in Our Daily Lives. Fumyo – 2018-08-12
Dharma Teacher Fumyo talks on “Zen Practices in Our Daily Lives” also described as “Social Action Zen”, by Peter Matthiessen, and “Living a Life that Matters” by Bernie Glassman. He starts by describing why people come to Zen. In a fluid and cogent presentation, he includes portions of Dogen’s manual on Monastery Rules, Tenzo Kyokun, or Instructions to the Chief Cook.
The Value of Studying and Wrestling with Buddhist Teachings. Domyo – 2018-07-29
There are an almost overwhelming number of Buddhist teachings, and Zen emphasizes practice – particularly zazen and precepts – over what we know. Is it really necessary to study? Isn’t study just an intellectual exercise? Ideally, no. It’s extremely valuable (necessary?) to be familiar with foundational Buddhist teachings so they can give structure to our lives – context, direction, and framing. However, we don’t just accept the teachings in a rote way. The lively, fruitful aspect of the teachings arises when we wrestle with them – when we reflect on our own personal, direct experience in the light of the teachings. We ask, “What do the teachings say about this situation?” Then we wrestle: Do the teachings fit our experience? Do we understand the teachings? Do we resist them? Why? What do we think is true? When we find a place where the teachings and our experience meet, our understanding of the teachings is deepened and our life is truly informed by Buddhism. We can call this process “Dharma Reflection.” Domyo talks about this process, and also about how to go about studying the Buddhist teachings so you have the basis for Dharma Reflection. (What teachings should you know, and where do you begin – or continue – your study?)
Summer Practice. Zen Teacher Shintai Dungay – 2018-07-22
Summer is often a time of outward activity, often including family get-togethers, vacations, and enjoying the outdoors. It can be a time when the discipline we bring to practice loosens a bit–we may not sit quite as often and some of the reminders of practice that we have included in our day get forgotten at times. The relaxation that occurs in summer can be quite useful. It’s a time to reflect and ask “What of my practice feels integrated? and “What could use a little support?” We explored the topic of the practice of summer this Sunday.
Dealing with Fear, Anger, and Hatred as a Buddhist. Domyo – 2018-07-01
Domyo highlights some of the most important teachings of our tradition regarding how to deal with fear, anger, and hatred – our own, or that of others. We discuss how our practice can relieve us of some of the weight and stress of our own negative emotions, and how that doesn’t in any way decrease our capacity to respond with wisdom, compassion, and skillfulness. In fact, our practice, ideally, prepares us for the best possible response – which does not mean accepting or allowing destructive behavior from others.
Expectations and Assumptions. Zen Teacher Jyoshin Clay – 2018-06-10
Jyoshin is a monk and teacher at Dharma Rain Zen Center, a Dharma sister of both Domyo and Shintai. She’s also a regular teacher at Wy’East Zen Center in Sandy, and served as our tenzo for our first sesshin last August.
Our Luminous Mind, our Buddha Nature. Zen Teacher Fumyo Mishaga – 2018-05-27
When we look deeply into our own existence, into who we really are, and into what is our relationship to all that is surrounds, we confront the reality of what we Buddhists express as our Buddha Nature. This essence, our true nature, that we share with all beings makes it possible to realize enlightenment, to become Buddhas. Over the centuries, the experience of Buddha Nature has been expressed in different ways with various nuances. This Sunday, we explored some of those nuances of this life affirming belief and what it means to us personally and how it is manifested in our daily lives. Zen teacher Fumyo Mishaga is a Dharma brother of Domyo and Shintai, and has given a talk at Bright Way Zen before.
Greed: One Of The Three Poisons. Zen Teacher Shintai Dungay – 2018-05-13
This week’s Dharma talk will focus on the Buddhist teachings on greed, one of the three poisons or ways in which we create suffering for ourselves. Greed can show up in subtle and unexpected ways. We can be greedy for non-materials things like more time or more affection.
Greed, Hate, and Delusion: The Buddhist Teaching of the Three Poisons. Domyo – 2018-05-06
The Buddha taught that all harmful action and suffering arises from greed (or grasping), hate (or aversion), and/or delusion (or ignorance of the truth). However, instead of seeing human beings as tainted by these weaknesses or inclinations, Buddhism teaches that our experience is determined by our actions. As long as we recognize greed, hate, and delusion when they arise, we can choose to act based on non-greed, non-hate, and non-delusion instead. Domyo introduces this teaching and talks about how useful it is for navigating our own lives more skillfully, as well as how it could be a powerfully transformative teaching for whole societies.
What’s the Big Deal About Zazen? Domyo – 2018-04-29
Zen master Dogen wrote Bendowa in 1231 to introduce his Japanese students to Soto Zen. In a sense, then, it’s “Soto Zen in a nutshell.” Domyo introduces the text and the context in which it was written, and talks about how and why Dogen recommends zazen – seated meditation – above all other Buddhist practices. She also talks about how Soto Zen elevates zazen far above a mere method for achieving awakening to enactment of enlightenment itself.
Is this Spiritual Practice? Zen Teacher Shintai Dungay – 2018-04-22
At many stages of our practice, we ask ourselves, “Am I really practicing?” Sometimes it feels like nothing is really happening—-or there is the feeling that everyone else seems to know what what they are doing except you. This week, Shintai offers a Dharma Talk and leads the discussion about how we grapple with questions of what practice is and how we know if we are really practicing.
Avalokiteshvara Bodhisattva and the Power of Compassion – Domyo – 2018-04-15 Avalokiteshvara is the archetypal bodhisattva of compassion, also called Guan Yin, Kannon, or Kanzeon. The many teachings and stories around Avalokiteshvara express the Buddhist view that compassion is a force unto itself – a reflection of interdependence and something that functions freely when we simply get ourselves out of the way. Rather than compassion being merely a feeling, something we create, or an ideal for personal conduct, we practice in order to tap into and more skillfully manifest the compassion that’s already inherent in the universe.
You Don’t Need to Improve or Get Anything to Fulfill the Buddha Way – Domyo – 2018-04-01
You don’t need to improve one iota, change anything about yourself, or obtain anything you don’t already have, in order to fulfill the Buddha Way and directly experience the ultimate goal of Zen. You don’t have to lose weight, overcome your anxiety or depression, deepen your compassion, end your addictions, or improve your relationships. You don’t have to understand Buddhism, master the art of meditation, or experience special insights. No need to perfect your morality, generosity, mindfulness, self-discipline, or become any more responsible or capable than you already are. Without a single improvement, without the addition of a single thing, this very moment you can awaken.
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Beyond Mindfulness: The Radical Practice of Unified Self – Domyo – 8-7-16 Domyo presents an alternative to mindfulness practice that she calls, for now, the “Radical Practice of Unified Self (or Presence).” She offers this because she believes the concept of mindfulness – at least the way it is typically understood – can limit our spiritual development. It can become a dualistic trap that causes us to reject much of what we are as human beings… She also says, “Before I explain, I want to state that I think it is essential that we start our practice with mindfulness. We also benefit from returning to that practice again and again over the course of our days and lives. What I’m going to talk about here is how we move beyond mindfulness and avoid (or drag ourselves out of) the potential pitfalls of the practice. I discovered these pitfalls by falling into them, so, in part, this is a confession of my own struggles with mindfulness…” Reconciling the Absolute and the Relative in Your Life – Domyo – 2015-02-15 Most of us experience the relative nature of our life more or less as default. This is the realm of duality: large and small, correct and incorrect, self and other. The relative is where we function, and this functioning requires discernment and attention to cause and effect. The absolute is the reality of our direct experience right here, right now, free of any conceptualization whatsoever. Experienced directly, everything is simply thus – inexplicably precious, luminous, and complete. Becoming personally intimate with the absolute nature of life is an essential step in our Zen practice. The absolute and relative are not just complex spiritual concepts. They are at the center of every pressing human question, from the personal to the global. Keeping Vows And Resolutions – Domyo – 1-5-14 Whether our intention is to meditate more, get in shape, manage our time better, keep in touch with family, or be more generous, it is useful to clarify and state our intention in terms of a vow or resolution. But why is it vows or resolutions are so often forgotten or broken? What can we do to help ourselves maintain them? How can we carefully craft our vows so they are doable but still inspiring? How can a vow reflect our deepest aspiration, instead of being a thinly veiled rejection of part of ourselves? Four Elements Of A Bodhisattva’s Social Relations – Domyo – 12-22-13 Dogen Zenji wrote “Four Elements of a Bodhisattva’s Social Relations” in 1243, but it is still very relevant today. A Bodhisattva is an “enlightening being” – one who continues to enlighten her or himself, and works to support others on their path to awakening. According to Dogen, a Bodhisattva does this through 1) free giving; 2) kind speech; 3) helpful conduct, and 4) cooperation. Change Without Violence – Domyo – 12-15-13 How do we identify things we want to change in our lives and in ourselves without indulging in subtle rejection, which breaks the precept “do not kill”? The Noble Eightfold Path – 11/10/2013 We don’t talk about the Eightfold Path very often in Zen, but Zen includes all the same elements – we just refer to them a little differently, or assume they are part of our practice. It can be useful to hear the Dharma phrased and described in different ways – sometimes something sinks in because we hear it for the first time in a new way. The Eightfold Noble Path: Right view/understanding/knowing, Right resolve/intention, Right speech, Right action, Right livelihood, Right effort, Right mindfulness, Right concentration The Four Divine Abidings – 11/3/2013 The Four Divine Abidings, or the Four Immeasurables, are an ancient Buddhist teaching on peaceful and intimate relationship – with other beings, and with everything. They are loving-kindness (metta), compassion (karuna), empathetic joy (mudita) and equanimity (upekkha). Inviting Our Ghosts to Be Present with Us – 10/27/2013 In the fall, Zen Buddhists celebrate the Segaki festival, or the festival of the hungry ghosts. “Ghosts” can be the persistent and troubling memories of people we have lost, but ghosts can also be unresolved karma of other kinds. It is very tempting to avoid or repress our ghosts, so during Segaki we consciously invite them to be present with us for a while. This allows us to remember and acknowledge them, learn from them, and maybe even take a step toward the resolution that will allow them to leave us in peace. (In this talk we read an article on Segaki aloud, written by Kyogen Carlson, which can be found here: http://dharma-rain.org/on-segaki/) Bringing All of Our Selves Together A “self” is way we manifest at particularly times, in particular situations. A self is always changing, but it does have some continuity in terms of tendencies, energies and habits of thought. Using this manner of speaking, you have lots of “selves:” a parental self, a child self, a politically righteous self, a sad, discouraged self, an angry self, a teacher self, a daydreamy self, a greedy self… We need all of our selves to participate in Zen practice. We may hope to exclude, reform or banish some of our selves, but it’s not going to work. Any self that we fight will only fight back, and prevent us from finding any peace in our practice. Instead, we need to gently and respectfully encourage each self to participate in practice. The more “selves” we get together on the cushion, the more energy and motivation we have for practice. Stages of Practice When You’re Going Nowhere With no clear course of training and no external affirmations of whether we are doing it right, progressing, or achieving anything, how can we maintain our focus and motivation in Zen practice? In Zen we are taught to give up petty ideas about attainment and to realize there is no place to go other than right here. In essence, we are asked to patiently and diligently apply ourselves to a demanding and repetitive practice, and… well, that’s it. There’s nobility in this kind of goalless patience and diligence, but how realistic is it to expect it from Zen practitioners who don’t have their black belts yet? After all, goallessness is a goal, not something that comes easily (unless you are actually just uninspired). Not Needing to Have an Opinion It’s rather amazing, but it possible to experience something without having to judge it, evaluate it, or form an opinion about it. Instead, you rest in don’t-know mind – leaving you more receptive and objective.