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Yunmen’s Every Day is a Good Day

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Geoffrey Shugen Arnold, Roshi

Zen Mountain Monastery, 04/05/2020

Blue Cliff Record, Case 6

The challenging unknowns faced by ancient Zen teachers were often not different than our own times, with catastrophic epidemics, political upheaval and uncertainties. Facing the  epicenter of the pandemic in NYC, Shugen Roshi turns to this koan that looks beyond the superficial and into our great capacity—our human gifts—for living deeply and fully into the present reality.

Mondo on the Metta Sutta

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Geoffrey Shugen Arnold, Roshi

Zen Mountain Monastery, 03/29/2020

A Question and Answer session between Shugen Roshi and students on practicing the teachings of the Metta Sutta during this time of challenge and uncertainty in our world.

Ta Lung’s Hard and Fast Body of Reality

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Geoffrey Shugen Arnold, Roshi

Zen Mountain Monastery, 03/28/2020

Blue Cliff Record, Case 82

In a time of uncertainty what do we rely on? How is practicing and investigating calming the mind—finding a peaceful mind—even possible during a time of strife and turmoil ? Shugen Roshi takes up this case from the Blue Cliff Record and the Mountain and Rivers Sutra to address the question of how we can view dharma practice in a time of crisis and even ask ourselves: What is it we can truly rely on?

Yunmen’s Every Atom Samadhi

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Geoffrey Shugen Arnold, Roshi

Zen Mountain Monastery, 03/26/2020

Blue Cliff Record, Case 50

The monk in the koan asks “What is every atom samadhi?” Yunmen answers “Food in the bowl, water in the bucket.” In this talk, Shugen Roshi explores this profoundly simple teaching: the need to protect the mindfulness we are cultivating from the “thieves” of boredom, distraction, anxiety, and other hindrances. Roshi relates this constancy of practice to a teaching from Yasodhara on extending loving-kindness in every direction, reminding us that concentration must not exclude the many beings with which we share this life.

Lost and Found

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Robert Rakusan Ricci, Senior Monastic

Zen Mountain Monastery, 03/25/2020

What does it mean to be lost? With the help of Master Kakuan, Leonard Cohen, and some of his own poetry, Rakusan speaks of the spiritual search, eloquently describing the literal and metaphorical wandering which often precedes insigh, and invoking Daido Roshi’s first encounter with the monastery building forty years ago. Being completely lost, he notes, can be a “joyful predicament,” a deep not-knowing in which we are truly at home.

How Dirty is This Water?

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Geoffrey Shugen Arnold, Roshi

Zen Mountain Monastery, 03/22/2020

From The Record of Master Dongshan

In the words of a beautiful Theodore Roetke poem, “What Can I Tell My Bones?,” Shugen Roshi reminds us that we need not be content with “a puddle’s calm.” He emphasizes the transformative power of mind training in a time of great uncertainty, encouraging us to engage practice diligently as a compassionate offering to all beings.

The Four Meditations

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Geoffrey Shugen Arnold, Roshi

Zen Mountain Monastery, 03/15/2020

From Master Dogen’s Zuimonki

“Our life changes moment by moment, it changes swiftly day by day. This is the reality before our eyes.” In this moment of great uncertainty, Shugen Roshi reflects on Dogen’s teachings on the great power of practice in the face of impermanence, urging us to reflect on the preciousness of our lives and our capacity to meet the many challenges of this time with equanimity, compassion, and clarity.

Qingshui: A Poor Monastic

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Geoffrey Shugen Arnold, Roshi

Zen Mountain Monastery, 03/08/2020

Gateless Gate Case 10

Buddhist practice is driven by the question of how to know how to be satisfied in light of the endless desires and acquisitiveness that marks our human experience. In this case from the Gateless Gate, Qingshui expresses his sense of being spiritually “poor and destitute” and asks his teacher to make him rich. As experiential beings we are anxious at the thought of fully letting go, unsure of what will replace that which we’ve relinquished. Practice allows us to continue to experience the ordinary pleasures as equal to what they are, to trust in non-possessiveness, and to embrace our true nature as our wealth.

Spring Ango Opening, ZCNYC, 2020

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Ron Hogen Green, Sensei 

Zen Center of New York City, 03/08/2020

Exploring the study text for the 2020 Spring Ango, Dogen’s Mountains and Rivers Sutra, Hogen opens the Spring Ango at the Zen Center of New York City, reviewing the meaning and history of Ango, a three-month period of intensive training and dedication to practice. Ango helps us realize that our practice is about aspiration, not accomplishment. We become more alive through increased intimacy with the teaching. Ango is one answer to the question, “What are you going to do about it?” It invites us to turn both inwards with concentration to our practice, and outwards with compassion to the world outside the Monastery.

Suffering Cannot Reach It

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Ron Hogen Green, Sensei 

Zen Center of New York City, 03/07/2020

True Dharma Eye, Case 260

Hogen Sensei asks: How do you actually wake up, using the events of your life to become real? In the koan, the monastic asks Caoshan “Where do we go to avoid the heat?” We come to practice for answers to the “heat,” the many forms of delusion and suffering. Sensei says that even when suffering we can be present with fundamental acceptance and love, and then “no suffering can reach there”. There is a goodness that does not belong to bad or good judgements, and wherever you may find yourself, you are standing in the midst of the Buddha Field. Each thing is whole and complete, so, start with yourself and be present.