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A Formless Field of Benefaction

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Geoffrey Shugen Arnold, Roshi

Zen Mountain Monastery, 7/12/2020

Each morning, Zen practitioners around the world chant the Verse of the Kesa:
Vast is the robe of liberation
A formless field of benefaction
​I wear the Tathagatha’s teaching
Saving all sentient beings.
Referencing the words of Master Dogen, Shugen Roshi addresses this verse and its implications for all Mahayana Buddhists. As he says in the talk, we are all fully capable of engaging this path, just as we are, using just what is available to us in our own time and place.

Never Far From Home

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Geoffrey Shugen Arnold, Roshi

Zen Mountain Monastery, 07/05/2020

From the Book of Serenity, Case 56: “Spiritual Uncle Mi and The Rabbit”

 

The Bridge of No Walls

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Geoffrey Shugen Arnold, Roshi

Zen Mountain Monastery, 06/28/2020

The Blue Cliff Record, Case 52: “Zhaozhou let’s asses cross, let’s horses cross”

A monk asked Zhaozhou, “For a long time I’ve heard of the stone bridge of Zhaozhou, but now that I’ve come here I just see a simple log bridge.” Zhaozhou said, “You just see the log bridge; you don’t see the stone bridge.” The monk said, “What is the stone bridge?” Zhaozhou said, “It lets asses cross, it lets horses cross.”

 

The Whole World Is Medicine

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Ron Hogen Green, Sensei

Broadcasted from Hogen Sensei’s home in Pennsylvania, 6/27/2020

Blue Cliff Record, Case #87

“Medicine and sickness heal each other. The whole world is medicine. Where do you find the self?” Speaking on this simple, powerful koan via Zoom from his home, Hogen Sensei explores how poison is transformed into medicine, how medicine can be misused as poison, and how we can meet the great challenge of this time with honesty, clarity, and humility, within the freedom of no-self. He emphasizes that rage itself can heal, quoting Zenju Earthlyn Manuel Sensei, who writes of anger as “a burning from which I am able to speak on injustice from a place that includes the liberating nature of all beings.”

Extracting the Marrow Becomes a Way of Life

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Geoffrey Shugen Arnold, Roshi

Zen Mountain Monastery, 6/26/2020

This talk explores a poem on meditation by Yikui, a 17th century nun who succeeded Xinggang as abbess of Crouching Lion Convent. “In moments of leisure,” Yikui writes from her hermitage, “I sit upright in the shade of the pine tree.” Shugen Roshi speaks about the great effort, profound faith, and tireless determination out of which this leisure is born, urging us to take up our practice, to “enter the scars of the burning,” with the urgency of the blazing, red hot-stove which Yikui evokes.

The Ocean, the Wave, and the Goddess

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Danica Shoan Ankele, Senor Monastic

Zen Mountain Monastery, 6/24/2020

“Vast ocean of dazzling light, marked by the waves of birth and death.” Shoan uses this powerful line from the memorial service liturgy to speak about how we can trust our connection to the whole, although we appear to manifest as separate beings. Because it is difficult to see our wave-selves as completely one with the ocean, sometimes it is skillful to address enlightened mind as if it is outside of ourselves. Shoan speaks of the importance of this devotional attitude, highlighting the invocations of the sacred feminine already present in our daily liturgy.

Knowing How To Be Satisfied

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Bear Gokan Bonebakker, Senior Monastic

Zen Mountain Monastery, 6/24/2020

In this talk, Gokan investigates the Buddha’s teachings on “knowing how to be satisfied,” taking up these instructions as guidance in letting go of the self-critical voice. He cites Maezumi Roshi’s commentary: “If we know how to be satisfied with ourselves exactly as we are right now, that’s all there is to know.” The solitude of zazen gives up this opportunity to offer ourselves complete acceptance, which is not different, Gokan suggests, from letting go.

 

Not Knowing is Most Intimate

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Geoffrey Shugen Arnold, Roshi

Zen Mountain Monastery, 06/21/2020

Book of Serenity, Case 20 : Dizang’s Intimacy

Jukai Ceremony, Summer 2020

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Geoffrey Shugen Arnold, Roshi

Zen Mountain Monastery, 6/14/2020

The moral and ethical vows of a practicing Buddhist are given and received in this ceremony of Jukai. Join the sangha in hearing these teachings as Sarah Taisho Sands receives the Bodhisattva precepts and the dharma name, Taisho, “Illumination Body.”

The Leaf Man

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Prabu Gikon Vasan, Senior Lay Practitioner

Zen Mountain Monastery, 6/7/2020

Our minds project shape and meaning on all things in the world, and also offer ways to understand how our bodies manifest in the world: how our senses give us entry but also obscure. It is our work to dismantle the thoughts which cause restriction, harm ourselves and others, and to do so in reliance on the Buddha’s teachings can ground us in how we manifest the antidote to suffering and offer it to others in our lives.