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Dharma Talks, Events, Interviews & Other Media


Dongshan’s “Not-Buddha”


Geoffrey Shugen Arnold, Roshi

True Dharma Eye, Case 72

Zen Mountain Monastery, 12/30/2019

Shugen Roshi examines Dongshan’s koan of “Not-Buddha,” encouraging us to go beyond the status quo of suffering. When we can see Samsara as not inevitable, we are beginning to go beyond our powerlessness and take up the burden of not knowing what happens next. The Way is free from success or failure, and we can open our hearts and minds by trusting that the treasure store is open even when our habit-minds think otherwise.



ShoanDanica Shoan Ankele, Senior Monastic

Zen Mountain Monastery, 12/29/2019

In this talk from Rohatsu Sesshin, Mn. Shoan reflects on a commonly used intention-setting invocation from Tibetan Buddhism:

“May the precious bodhicitta arise where it has not yet arisen, and where it has arisen, may it not diminish.” This kind of directed aspiration also pervades Zen liturgy.  When we look, we see it everywhere. That desire for awakening fuels our capacity to notice habitual patterns, commit to the path and stay the course.

Living By Vow


Bear Gokan Bonebakker, Senior Monastic

Zen Center of New York City, 12/29/2019

In the spirit of the New Year, senior monastic Gokan encourages us to be inspired by Zen teacher Okumura Roshi’s definition of a bodhisattva as a person who lives by vow instead of karma. Our karma is the habit energy of our conditioning, but a true vow—whether public or personal—is a compass that helps us turn in the right direction. In living our lives based on vow we can continuously shift the direction of our karma towards the Buddha Way.

The Courage To Meet Reality


Patrick Yunen Kelly, Senior Lay Student

Zen Mountain Monastery, 12/28/2019

“Humankind cannot bear much reality,” noted the poet TS Eliot. From this vantage point senior lay student Yunen considers the role of courage and whole-heartedness in a life of practice. What is is that I think that I personally cannot bear? In practice we learn to just take the next step, facing the realities we think we cannot bear with wholeheartedness for the benefit of all beings, giving rise to joy and the freedom to love.

The Four Powers


Geoffrey Shugen Arnold, Roshi

Zen Center of New York City, 12/22/2019

An adaptation of the Four Powers or the Four Factors of Tibetian Buddhism

Support in taking refuge; remorse for unskillful and harmful actions; antidotes of practice; and, resolve to proceed with wholesome constancy. In this Discourse Shugen Roshi adapts the Tibetan Four Powers, a practice of purification, to our individual and collective practice. When we can open our hearts, taking complete responsibility in the interdependent web of life, then nothing is forsaken.

When A Question Is Lit


Jody Hojin Kimmel, Sensei

Zen Mountain Monastery, 12/22/2019

Hojin Sensei examines the nature of inquiry, exploring how diligent practice arises from the basic questions about who we are and the nature of dharma, or reality, itself. With a lyric from Bob Dylan, “A question in our nerves is lit,” she delves into the deep inquiry that requires asking what we sincerely care about, where nothing can be assumed to be true. Faith and insight evolves as a direct result of our own whole-hearted inquiry.

Yanguan’s “Rhinoceros Fan”


Geoffrey Shugen Arnold, Roshi

Book of Serenity, Case 25

Zen Center of New York City, 12/21/2019

What does it take to bring us face to face with our fundamental nature? The whole purpose of a koan is to awaken us to this, and Yanguan’s request surprises his attendant and the attendant has no reply. We have what we are seeking, but we just don’t know it, or how to find it. Trusting that this right now is sufficient, letting go of right and wrong, Shugen Roshi encourages us to allow the question to bring everything to life.

Buddhist Studies, Session 6, Zen Mountain Monastery


Geoffrey Shugen Arnold, Roshi

Zen Mountain Monastery, 12/19/2019

Please note: The first 5 minutes of this audio was not recorded.

Continuing the discussion of individual aspects of the Eightfold Path, this session takes up Right Livelihood. Shugen Roshi and students explore how to navigate the difficulties and entanglements that arise when we strive to balance the demands of making a living within a life guided by fundamental Buddhist principles.

Do Not Forsake A Single Being


Geoffrey Shugen Arnold, Roshi

From the record of Master Dongshan

Zen Mountain Monastery, 12/15/2019

What does it mean to “broadly benefit the world” without disregarding a single being? How do we love someone who is filled with hate, or be generous toward someone who is greedy? Having committed to being of benefit in the face of these challenges, we can develop extending compassion and lovingkindness to anyone. And we can do this, not simply because it is morally right or the right thing to do, but because it is our very nature to do so.

The Power Of Inquiry


Jody Hojin Kimmel, Sensei

Zen Center of New York City, 12/15/2019

This podcast is similar to the talk Hojin Sensei gave later on 12/22/2019, at Zen Mountain Monastery.  That talk was titled: When A Question Is Lit.