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Beholding the Mind

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Geoffrey Shugen Arnold, Roshi

From The Record of Master Bodhidharma: the Breakthrough Sermon

Zen Mountain Monastery, 08/23/2019

Zen has been called a “short cut method” to enlightenment and in that regard this practice of beholding the mind might seem easy. But when called to let go of every shred of identity-clinging we create, the path seems much longer, if not impossible. Insight can be sudden but realization takes all the effort we can manage to manifest insight in the world of differentiation: practicing kindness when feeling selfish, finding equanimity in the midst of conflict, all require beholding the vast and boundless corners of mind.

The Long Haul

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Robert Rakusan Ricci, Senior Monastic

Zen Mountain Monastery, 08/22/2019

Words from long-time Zen practitioner and monastic Rakusan. Drawing on his lifetime of poetry as spiritual practice, he offers perspectives on the long road of distraction and commitment, obstacles and skillful means helping us to grapple with the wonder and the mystery of our lives.

Clear Spirit Breeze, Breath of our Song

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Michael Chizen Brown, Senior Lay Practitioner

Zen Mountain Monastery, 08/21/2019

A universal spiritual element, the breath of life is also the basis of zazen practice as taught in Zen Buddhism. The breath as a practice is fundamental in working with the mind, letting go of conceptual thought, practicing bodhicitta, and raising the Buddha Mind. Long-time senior lay practitioner Chizen shares perspectives on practicing the heart of the Way during the Hazy Moon Sesshin.

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.