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Transforming Negative Actions on the Bodhisattva Path

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Geoffrey Shugen Arnold, Roshi

Zen Mountain Monastery, 10/24/2020

Shugen Roshi continues his teachings from  The Thirty Seven Verses on the Practice of a Bodhisattva, with verse 13:

“If, in return for not the slightest wrong of mine, Someone were to cut off even my very head, Through the power of compassion to take all their negative actions Upon myself is the practice of a bodhisattva.”

Speaking to embodiment of the 13th verse, Shugen Roshi points to it’s non-dogmatic nature. As in the case with the precepts, this verse is meant to serve us and all beings. In doing so it can not be a rule to bind us, but instead a guide in moments of confusion. Thus the embodiment of the verse and our Bodhisattva path should always be sensitive to the time, place, and circumstance in which we find ourselves. By cultivating mindfulness through our practice, we are able to transform negative actions directed toward us into wisdom and compassion for all beings.

An Old Man Alone in the Morning

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Ron Hogen Green, Sensei

Broadcasted from Hogen Sensei’s home in Pennsylvania, 10/23/2020

Rarely do we, as a society, intimately contemplate death. Even the minority of those seeking to uncover the nature of death may be doing so superficially. Hogen speaks of a renowned philosopher, who wrote many prized works on death. Yet in his final days, sensing the reality of life and death, he proclaimed them all worthless! Fortunately for Zen students, we don’t have to wait for our lives to end. We can practice and become intimate with life and death. Pulling from one of America’s great contemporary poets, Hogen Sensei supports and inspires our own reflection:

“There are questions that I no longer ask
and others that I have not asked for a long time
that I return to and dust off and discover
that I’m smiling and the question
has always been me and that it is
no question at all but that it means
different things at the same time
yes I am old now and I am the child
I remember what are called the old days and there is
no one to ask how they became the old days
and if I ask myself there is no answer
so this is old and what I have become
and the answer is something I would come to
later when I was old but this morning
is not old and I am the morning
in which the autumn leaves have no question
as the breeze passes through them and is gone” by W.S. Merwin

Giving Generously to Thieves

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Geoffrey Shugen Arnold, Roshi

Zen Mountain Monastery, 10/22/2020

Shugen Roshi continues his teachings from  The Thirty Seven Verses on the Practice of a Bodhisattva, with verse 12:

“If someone driven by great desire Seizes all my wealth, or induces others to do so, To dedicate to them my body, possessions, And past, present, and future merit is the practice of a bodhisattva”

Speaking directly to the Bodhisattva way of life, verse 12, may inspire us to practice deeply or perhaps fill us with a defensive anger. Wherever we are, this verse is sure to invoke a stir within us. And regardless of wherever we think we are, Shugen shows that we can incorporate this teachings into our lives, and for our lives. He asks us to consider who steals from us? We may think of specific individuals in our lives, but time will rob us of our health. Natural disasters may rob us of our friends, homes, or wealth. And what do we do when these things are taken from us unfairly? To guide us, Shugen explores the profound nature of Dana, or giving. Even when we find it hard to give, when we have been wronged. We can give patience, we can give non-violence. By practicing where we are, we manifest the bodhisattva path.

One Fortunate Attachment

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Katie Yosha Scott-Childress, Senior Lay Student

Zen Mountain Monastery, 10/22/202

Senior Lay Student Yosha brings up the Buddha’s wise words to guide us: “Let not a person revive the past, or on the future build his hopes, for the past has been left behind and the future has not yet been reached”. An amazingly simple teaching, that many of us may have heard before, but how deeply have we felt this truth? Have we given reverence to this fundamental instruction? Yosha asks us, perhaps our challenge in letting go of past and future is the delight in our fantasies? The pleasurable fantasy of “fixing” the future, getting it all right. Or perhaps the sublime feeling of old memories. Yet we know, that as we cling to these mental constructions, we are separated from our lives. Recognizing these temptations we seek to uncover the root of our attachment.

Benefiting Others

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Geoffrey Shugen Arnold, Roshi

Zen Mountain Monastery, 10/18/2020

From  “The Thirty Seven Verses on the Practice of a Bodhisattva“, verse 11, Benefiting Others.

All suffering comes from yearning for your own happiness.
The perfect Buddhas are born from the intention to benefit others.
Therefore, to truly exchange your own happiness
For the suffering of others is the practice of a Bodhisattva.

Fusatsu: Developing Bodhicitta

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Geoffrey Shugen Arnold, Roshi

Zen Mountain Monastery, 10/15/2020

From  “The Thirty Seven Verses on the Practice of a Bodhisattva“, verse 10, Developing Bodhicitta.

“From beginningless time your mothers have cherished you,
If they now suffer, what good is your own happiness?
Therefore, in order to liberate limitless sentient beings,
Giving rise to bodhicitta is the practice of a Bodhisattva.”

Celebrating a Forty Year Archive of Sanity

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Geoffrey Shugen Arnold, Roshi

Zen Mountain Monastery, 10/11/2020

This Talk concludes our Forty Year Anniversary Celebration of Zen Mountain Monastery.

ZMM Podcast Presents: An Interview with Bethany Senkyu Saltman

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The ZMM Podcast is pleased to present this conversation about the practice of parenting and how informed self-inquiry can lead us to true intimacy. These are just two of the topics explored by Bethany Senkyu Saltman in her new book, Strange Situation: A Mother’s Journey into the Science of Attachment.  Senkyu is a poet, essayist, and consultant, as well as a senior student in the Mountains and Rivers Order. She was drawn to the study of attachment theory to understand both her own karma as a parent and the ways in which her own upbringing—starting from the beginningless beginning—has influenced the ways she has related to her now teenage daughter.

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Buddhist Studies – Session 2

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Geoffrey Shugen Arnold, Roshi

Zen Mountain Monastery, 10/7/2020

Fall Ango Study Session #2 on “The Thirty Seven Verses on the Practice of a Bodhisattva

Covering verses Seven and Eight

In Touch with Manjushri Bodhisattva

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Jody Hojin Kimmel, Sensei

Zen Mountain Monastery, 10/4/2020