Blog Posts

Uselessly Doing Nothing: Zazen without Techniques

Last Tuesday we had a lively class discussion on zazen that went almost 30 minutes overtime! First, we read the “Nothing to attain, Nothing to enlighten” chapter from Rev. Issho Fujita’s book Polishing a Tile.(1) Then we debated whether zazen should involve any techniques at all. Based on Fujita’s teachings (which are based on Dogen’s, as well as those of many great Soto Zen masters), I proposed that true zazen, or shikantaza, is letting go of doing anything. No...

read more

Bendowa: Zen Master Dogen on Why Zazen Is Such a Big Deal

In the 13th century, a Japanese Buddhist monk named Eihei Dogen traveled to China to search for the truth. He discovered a teacher there who emphasized zazen above all else, and in studying with him Dogen found the resolution to his personal koan. Dogen then traveled back to Japan to share what he had learned, and although he generally eschewed sectarianism, we call the school of Zen that descends from him “Soto.” Three years after his return from China, Dogen still hadn’t...

read more

Two Sides of Practice Part 3: When We Neglect Samadhi Power, and How the Two Sides are Complementary

What about neglecting samadhi power, and overemphasizing karma relationship? This is when we try to get free from our suffering, be a good and wholesome person, have harmonious relationships, and/or aspire to greater wisdom and compassion – and then we struggle in our efforts in same way we struggle with the rest of our ordinary tasks. Approaching things only from the relative perspective, we set goals or adopt ideals, work hard, notice when we’ve fallen short, devise another way, and try harder. Chances are good we also criticize ourselves, compare ourselves to others, and experience a mixture of frustration, pride, and shame. Caught up in the drama of the relative, we fail to see things from a larger perspective, and may succumb to arrogance, depression or despair.

read more

Two Sides of Practice Part 2: When We Neglect Karma Relationship

Two Sides of Practice, but Only One Reality I’ve heard people say karma relationship work is about the “relative world,” while samadhi power is about the absolute. There’s some truth in this statement, in the sense that relationships between beings and things are part of the relative aspect of reality. From the absolute perspective, there are no inherently-existing, separate beings and things that can be said to interact, and discriminations such as good and bad, right and wrong, don’t apply....

read more

Two Sides of Practice Part 1: Samadhi Power and Karma Relationship – Definitions

Buddhist practice can be seen as consisting of two parts, and both are essential. The first part is cultivating “samadhi power,” or our ability to perceive – or be awake to – the absolute aspect of reality. We do this through practices including meditation, mindfulness, and studying teachings such as impermanence and emptiness. The second part of our overall practice is working on “karma relationship,” or learning to live our daily lives in an enlightened way. We do this by working with our...

read more

Renewal in the Stillness and Silence of Meditation

It can be helpful to think of meditation as renewal time for our body-minds. The space of meditation, at least Zen meditation, involves a realignment of the self with the universe. Getting caught up in activity can invite us to assert the self against the world, especially when we care deeply about what we’re doing. We get busy trying to understand, maneuver, express, create, change, hurry, finish, resist, and come up with an effective plan. Our actions may even be fruitful, but...

read more

The Experience of Less-Self

Excerpted with permission from Idiot’s Guides: Zen Living by Domyo Burk — As I mentioned earlier, you can’t recognize when you are living without the filter of your self-concept. The moment you think, “Ah, here I am, experiencing no-self,” the self-concept is obviously back. Still, you can learn to live with less-self, and this is definitely something you can appreciate and work on. Ironically, Zen practice can make experiencing less-self more difficult, at first. All of the Zen...

read more

The Courage to Face Our Shit

Every time we sit down in meditation we are challenged to face our shit. What is really going on in our body-mind? What ideas are we stubbornly holding onto? What are we afraid of? What would we rather not deal with – anger, resentment, longing, dissatisfaction, numbness? What, or who, are we rejecting? What aspect of our lives makes us want to act selfishly or childishly – by throwing a tantrum, blaming others, or refusing to participate? We don’t have go seeking for our shit when we...

read more

Paying Attention No Matter What

When the ability to be fully present in our life eludes us, it is usually because we cannot possibly believe the mundane or frustrating experience in front of us merits our attention. This bowl of cereal? This tax form? This stop-and-go traffic? This irritating co-worker? Surely these are just experiences we have to pass through on the way to what really matters. This approach to life ends up feeling profoundly dissatisfying when a) we realize we are “just passing through” a majority of our...

read more

Events for week of September 23, 2019

This Week Navigation

Loading Events
Mon 23rd
No Events Today
Tue 24th

Tuesday Practice: Zazen and Class

September 24 @ 7:00 pm - 9:00 pm
Wed 25th

Mindfulness for Preschoolers

September 25 @ 10:00 am - 11:00 am
Thu 26th
No Events Today
Fri 27th
No Events Today
Sat 28th

Just Sitting

September 28 @ 8:30 am - 9:30 am

Poetry Group

September 28 @ 10:00 am - 12:00 pm
Sun 29th

Sunday Practice: Chanting, Zazen & Study

September 29 @ 9:30 am - 12:15 pm

Dharma Talk with Shintai

September 29 @ 11:15 am - 12:15 pm

Categories