Friday, July 17, 2015

What Is "True" Zen Practice?

by Richard Collins

When the American Zen Association republished Deshimaru’s The Ring of the Way, the title became The Way of True Zen. Some have objected that “true” Zen is either an arrogant claim that Deshimaru’s is the only “real” Zen or that “true” Zen (being always paradoxical) is an oxymoron, at least for those allergic—and perhaps hypersensitive—to any hint of dogma.

When we say “true Zen,” though, we don’t mean true as in “I am the way, the truth, and the life” (John 14.6), but rather as in “my aim is true” (Elvis Costello, Columbia Records, 1977). True Zen practice is sincere, dedicated, unswerving, like an arrow that has been trued, like a plank that has been leveled, like a wheel that has been balanced.

Using true as an action verb instead of an adjective, we “true” ourselves in Zen practice in the sense of bringing ourselves into proper alignment or adjustment. Thus the importance of the posture, which is only the embodiment of bringing ourselves into alignment with the cosmos. (Cosmos = the way things are as they are.)

The etymology of the word might be helpful. The Old English “treow” (tree) is related to “treowe” (true). I often urge students to sit in zazen like a tree in the wind, firmly rooted, not sinking or settling but with head pressing the sky. Going further back, the Indo-European root is “deru-“ or “dreu-“ and refers to wood and indicates strength or firmness. The ancient Celtic druid priest, for example, was a “dru-wid” or strong seer of the truth.

Firmness, balance, and wisdom. These are the attributes of true Zen practice.

Friday, May 1, 2015

Book Review: Zen: Simply Sitting

This concise yet deep book includes, as the title makes clear, commentaries on Dogen’s Fukanzazengi. The author also makes it clear that he is using the Koroku text (1242 – 1244). The Koroku or as the author refers to as the Rufubon text, was revised from Dogen’s earlier 1227 Tenpuku text.[1] The included commentaries were originally given as kusen, a form of spontaneous oral teachings, offered by Rei Ryu Philippe Coupe, a student of Taisen Deshimaru, during periods of zazen and which, according to the author, function as direct transmissions to the student’s unconscious.

For the rest of the review by Seiso Paul Cooper, visit Sweeping Zen.

Saturday, March 7, 2015

Spring Sesshin: 3-4 April 2015

The Zen Fellowship of Bakersfield will host its Spring sesshin (retreat) at the Ablin House, designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, Friday (5 p.m. start) and Saturday (6 p.m. conclude), April 3-4, 2015.

Sesshin, which means “touch the mind,” offers intensive Zen practice of zazen (sitting concentration), kinhin (walking concentration), and samu (work practice).

Spring Sesshin will be led by Richard Collins, Zen monk and teacher in the Robert Livingston Roshi of the New Orleans Zen Temple.

The $50 donation ($35 students) includes meals, instruction, and for regular practitioners dokusan (private interviews with the teacher).

Those without prior experience of zazen or other meditation practices are welcome.

This is an excellent opportunity to experience true Zen practice, whether you are an experienced practitioner or a beginner.

Partial registrations for those who cannot attend the entire sesshin are welcome. Email the V.P. from the "Contact" page for more information on partial attendance registration.

Registration

Early Registration: $50 ($35 for students) before April 1. First, reserve your spot by emailing the Director. Once you receive confirmation, you can prepay early registration by visiting the following registration page.

  Sesshin Early Registration Payment (now closed)

Late Registration: $60 ($45 for students) after April 1. First, reserve your spot by emailing the Director. Once you receive confirmation, you can pay the day of the event by credit card, check, or cash.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Dharma and Drinks - 14 January 2015

Interested in discussing Zen? Got lots of questions? Join us for dharma and drinks at Dagny's Coffee Co.

Each gathering will focus on one important, or provocative, or humorous Zen text.

Date: Wednesday, January 14, 2015
Time: 5-6 p.m.
Location: Dagny's, 1600 20th Street, Bakersfield, CA 93301 (map)

For our inaugural meeting, we will discuss a portion of The Platform Sutra of the Sixth Patriarch. Read pages 125-134 of the following pdf manuscript, and bring your thoughts, questions, and insights:


(Note: This particular version contains copious footnotes, which you can choose to ignore entirelythey are not essential to our discussions.)

May we "receive the pivot of the teaching" (126). Over tea and beer? Why not.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Rohatsu Day of Zen - 6 December 2014

In celebration of Rohatsu (holiday commemorating the historical Shakyamuni Buddha’s enlightenment), the Zen Fellowship of Bakersfield will host a Day of Zen Practice at the local George and Millie Ablin House designed by Frank Lloyd Wright.

A Day of Zen, or zazenkai, is a short sesshin, a term which means “to touch the mind.” This is an excellent opportunity to practice sitting concentration, silence, and reflection in a beautiful and architecturally significant setting.

The Day of Zen will be led by Richard Collins, a Zen monk and teacher in the lineage of Taisen Deshimaru and Kodo Sawaki.

Registration includes instruction, a day of practice, breakfast, lunch, and evening hors d'oeuvres.

Those without prior experience of zazen or other meditation practices are welcome.
 
Registration

Early Registration: $45 ($30 for students) before December 3. First, reserve your spot by emailing the retreat coordinator. Once you receive confirmation, you can prepay early registration by visiting the following registration page.


Late Registration: $55 ($40 for students) after December 3. First, reserve your spot by emailing the retreat coordinator. Once you receive confirmation, you can pay the day of the event by credit card, check, or cash.

Day of Zen Early Registration Payment

6 December 2014 - Day of Zen - Early Registration - Regular
Amount: $45
Due: December 3

Before you pay, remember to confirm your spot with the retreat coordinator. Once you have received confirmation, click the PayPal button below to pay.

After the due date, regular registration is $55 and payable the day of the event via credit card, check, or cash.




6 December 2014 - Day of Zen - Early Registration - Student
Amount: $30
Due: December 3

Before you pay, remember to confirm your spot with the retreat coordinator. Once you have received confirmation, click the PayPal button below to pay.

After the due date, student registration is $40 and payable the day of the event via credit card, check, or cash.







Friday, October 10, 2014

Here and Now Newsletter - October 2014

Here and Now October 2014 has arrived. Click the link or image below to read and download this edition of the American Zen Association (AZA) newsletter.


Here and Now, Fall 2014 Title Page
Click to read Here and Now - October 2014
The AZA is the umbrella organization of sanghas established in the lineage of Robert Livingston Roshi, Abbot of the New Orleans Zen Temple. Founded in 1983, AZA is devoted to teaching Zen in the tradition of Taisen Deshimaru and Kodo Sawaki. In addition to Robert Livingston, teachers in this lineage are Tony Bland of the Mississippi and Alabama groups and Richard Collins of the Alexandria (Louisiana) and Bakersfield (California) groups.

Included in this edition:
  • Sangha news
  • An interview with Robert Livingston Roshi
  • Bodhisattva testimony
  • Ordination photos
  • Recent book publications 
  • Poems and essays by AZA members around the country
  • More ...
Gasshos.