Sunday, July 21, 2013

You Should Know

From Dogen's BendowaTrans. by Shohaku Okumura and Taigen Daniel Leighton in The Wholehearted Way

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Mondo Text for July 2013 - KUSEN: Oral Teaching Number 1, by Robert Livingston Roshi

The discussion text for July is Robert Livingston Roshi's KUSEN: Oral Teaching Number 1 (New Year Sesshin 1997 at the New Orleans Zen Temple). 26 pages. Copies are available for purchase ($5) or for loan.

Excerpt from December 29, 1997, 3:30 pm ...

People think too much, have too many ideas, concepts in the brain. Always thinking about this, that and the other. True Zen, the satori of zazen, has nothing to do with concepts, nothing to do with words. These things are the fruits of man's complicated brain, thought patterns. If you hang on to ideas and definitions, you are taking a position, you are opposing the cosmic order.

You must understand that the basic law of the universe, of the entire cosmos, is mujo, constant change. From one moment to the next, nothing in the entire cosmos remains the same - nothing. So if there is constant change in the reality of the cosmos, what good is hanging on to some idea or definition or concept going to do you? If you hang on to anything, attach to anything, the result is going to be problems, pain and suffering.

Childcare during Zazen

If you would like to come to zazen on Saturday morning but need childcare, it will now be available in the adjacent building for kids 4-11.

Please let us know by 8:00 pm the Friday evening before so that we can make arrangements.

Text: 318-451-3418 or Email:

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Summer Sesshin - 28-30 June 2013

June 28-29 at the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Kern County
June 30 at the Bakersfield Museum of Art Sculpture Garden
Excerpts from Fukenzazengi (Universal Recommendation of Zazen)

The Way is originally perfect and all-pervading. What need is there for practice and realization?

The Dharma vehicle is rolling freely. Why should we exhaust our effort?

There is no speck of dust in the whole universe. How could we ever try to brush it clean?

Everything is manifest at this very place. Where are we supposed to direct the feet of our practice?

Now, if you make the slightest discrimination, you will create a gap like that between heaven and earth.

If you follow one thing while you resist the other, your mind will be shattered and lost.

Suppose you are confident in your understanding and rich in enlightenment, gaining the wisdom that knows at a glance, attaining the way and clarifying the mind, arousing an aspiration to reach for the heavens. Now your head is stuck in the entranceway, while your body has no clue how to get out.

Although Shakyamuni was wise at birth, can't you see the traces of his six years of upright sitting? Bodhidharma transmitted the mind-seal from India. Can't you hear the echo of the nine years he sat facing a wall?

If even the ancient sages were like this, how can we today dispense with wholehearted practice? Therefore, put aside the intellectual practice of investigating words and chasing phrases, and learn to take the backward step that turns the light and shines it inward.

Your body and mind will drop away of themselves, and your original face will manifest. If you want to get into touch with things as they are, you - right here and now - have to start being yourself, as you are.

Monday, July 1, 2013

June 2013 Ordination and Child Dedication

30 June 2013
Bakersfield Museum of Art Sculpture Garden
Excerpts from Japanese Master Daichi Sokei’s [14th century] teaching to the samurai Kikusi when ordained a bodhisattva. (See The Zen Way to the Martial Arts by Taisen Deshimaru.)
Photos by Cortnie Enns unless otherwise noted..
Summer sesshin culminated in ordination and child dedication ceremonies at the Bakersfield Museum of Art Sculpture Garden.

Photo by Patrick Blake

If you want to know, beyond any doubt, the truth about the fundamental problem of life and death, you must first put your faith in mujo bodai shin, the peerless wisdom of the Buddha.

What does bodai shin mean? It means the state of mind that has observed mujo (impermanence, constant change) and observed it to the full.

Photo by Bob Savage
Photo by Leigh Collins

Among all living things, not one escapes change and death. Mujo is hanging over your head at every instant, and may strike before you know.

Photo by Leigh Collins
Photo by Leigh Collins

That is why the sutra says, This day is ending and with it must end your life. Observe the innocent joy of the fish swimming in a puddle of water, precarious though that joy may be.”

Photo by Leigh Collins
You must concentrate and consecrate yourself wholly to each day, as if a fire were raging in your hair. You must always be prudent, remember mujo, and never weaken.

Photo by Leigh Collins

When you life receives a blow from mujo, you will go forward to death alone. There will be none to keep you company, not even family. Not even the palaces of kings or the royal crown can follow a dead body.

The one who seeks the true spiritual way of Buddhism must begin by planting mujo in her heart as solidly as an oak tree. Soon your death will come. Never forget that, from one moment of consciousness to the next, from breathing in to breathing out. If you do not live like this, you are not truly one that seeks the Way.

Now I will tell you the best way to solve the problem of life and death: practice zazen.

Zazen is sitting on a zafu in a quiet room, absolutely still, in the exact posture, without uttering a word, the mind empty of any thought, good or bad. And zazen is continuing to sit peacefully, facing a wall, and nothing more—every day.

In zazen there is no special mystery, but through zazen your life will surely prosper and flourish. So you must let go of every intention and give up the idea of achieving any goal through zazen.