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Yunmen Composes a Verse

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Geoffrey Shugen Arnold, Roshi

True Dharma Eye, Case 261

Zen Center of New York City, 08/18/2019

Poetry when used as a Zen art serves to bring seekers to realization; although they may beautifully reveal and turn the phenomenal world, all Dharma teachings in these poems point to the great reality, to Buddha nature, right here and right now. Using the example of Yunmen guiding a student in this koan, Shugen Roshi encourages us to take heed and use our time on this earth to good use, being of true benefit to both self and other.

The Practice of True Reality

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Bear Gokan Bonebakker, Senior Monastic

Zen Mountain Monastery, 08/18/2019

A verse by Master Hongzhi is a direct encouragement to work with mind and the thoughts which generally occupy us. This helpful talk from monastic Gokan explores using these teachings to shift from habitual spinning into a practice that is not obscured by external causes and conditions, but is a practice of true reality.

The Diamond Cutter Scriptures Scornful Revilement

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Geoffrey Shugen Arnold, Roshi

Blue Cliff Record, Case 97

 Zen Mountain Monastery, 08/11/2019

Causes and conditions give rise to all things; so how does karma transform? How can the Buddhadharma help us understand our own potential, and our responsibility; how we can transform our own suffering, and that which we encounter in our world? In this discourse Shugen Roshi explores working with our mind’s ability to encounter extreme views and still stay present and engaged in the activity of change.

Born as the Earth

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Jody Hojin Kimmel, Sensei

Zen Center of New York City, 08/11/2019

Taking up a commentary from Koans of the Way of Reality, Hojin asks, “where do you find your self?” How do we realize ourselves as the entire world? Within all that we’re holding together and in our hearts and minds, returning to this great earth is returning again to our natural mind, our “Buddha nature,” and our great capacity, even in the most challenging of times.

Meeting a True Person on The Way

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Geoffrey Shugen Arnold, Roshi

Master Wumen, Gateless Gate, Case 36

 Zen Mountain Monastery, 08/04/2019

The Buddha, sometimes called the Great Physician, addressed the fundamental illness of delusion, healing himself and establishing a path to help us all to that great healing. The Bodhisattva sees through the fog of delusion and lives to be of benefit to all beings, and so we grapple with our world to recognize delusion and to meet each other within great suffering, with great compassion.

Using the 24 Hours

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Valerie Meiju Linet, Senior Lay Student

Zen Center of New York City, 08/04/2019

How do we best use our minds throughout the day? Taking up an exchange between Zen master Joshu and a student, senior lay student Meiju explores the urgency we feel at not wasting our lives, or our time, as a place that often slips into disconnection from what is actually happening. How do we use the 24-hours without being used by them?

Guishan’s “Great Capacity, Great Function”

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Geoffrey Shugen Arnold, Roshi

True Dharma Eye, Case 279

 Zen Mountain Monastery, 07/28/2019

Our capacity is boundless, but how do we put one foot in front of the other again and again on a long spiritual path? Letting go of fixed patterns and habits is a process; freeing ourselves and others from great suffering takes time and commitment. Our potential, Shugen Roshi reminds us, comes alive from our willingness to practice and encounter things as they are, without shutting down or turning away. And we don’t do this alone, but with the support and guidance and wisdom of others.

The Monster Within

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Yukon

Michael Yukon Grody, Senior Monastic

Zen Center of New York City, 07/28/2019

We all have the capacity to change for the better, and often face resistance to those very changes that could improve our lives and those of our communities and our world. What is underneath our resistance? Monastic Yukon asks, What do we feel apart from, how do we feel disconnected? From the natural world, and from each other? Understanding our minds and our intrinsic Buddha nature can bring out the sense of wholeness and compassion within us that we deeply want to know.

Buddhas come Whole

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Bear Gokan Bonebakker, Senior Monastic

Zen Mountain Monastery, 7/27/2019

Sesshin can provide us with many things: time and space to develop concentrated awareness; an enhanced appreciation for the value of sangha. It also has the power to show us our minds more keenly than at other times, particularly where we get stuck.
On the last day of Interdepedence Sesshin, Senior Monastic Gokan talks about the irritations that can arise, and do arise, in the container of a weeklong meditation intensive. Whether it’s an itch or a person triggering an habitual annoyance, where does it begin? And where exactly is the problem?

Pilgrim at Garuda Island

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ShoanDanica Shoan Ankele, Monastic

Zen Mountain Monastery, 07/26/2019

Flying garudas, tinkling bees and singing dakinis. Senior Monastic Shoan Ankele describes some of the practices taken up during the women’s wilderness retreat earlier this month. Seated on the banks of a sparkling Adirondack Lake, immanent details of the shoreline come into sharp focus. “Are we noticing this world?” Shoan asks. “When our mind quiets we can catch a glimpse. And the implications of a glimpse give us some sense of what’s possible. They reverberate.”