A collection of dharma talks, events, interviews and other media from Zen Mountain Monastery and the Zen Center of NYC. Please scroll down for all available talks. Subscribe via: iTunes | Google Play.
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FEATURED DHARMA TALK
Beyond the Wall
This talk was given at the conclusion of our February Bodhidharma Sesshin. Shugen Roshi asks us “Why are we here?”“In the deepest sense, we’re here to transmit the dharma. It happens when we are practicing all the time, and most of the time we are not aware of it. Transmission is an intimate encounter. It’s meeting the dharma, intimately. It’s really important as a sangha to be very very clear about that.” “You are here to see what is real and what is not real. This is of the utmost importance. Please do not forget.”
In August ’21, we consecrated the new Jizo House, and completed the latest phase of the Jizo Project—our initiative that aspires to make Zen Mountain Monastery a more accessible and welcoming place for all.
Bear Gokan Bonebakker, Senior Monastic and Dharma Holder
Zen Mountain Monastery, New York, Sunday 02/19/2023
Gokan invokes the Buddha’s words on fear and dread, how we can’t work through such mental formations and barriers without confronting them. To confront them, we can’t run away when we encounter such habitual reactions. We may even need to welcome such disturbances as opportunities to really stop and see what’s happening below the thoughts. This is the arena of zazen, where we can experience the bareness of sensation as we relax the mind and learn to trust that, rest in that. Gokan asks, “How much of our thinking is reactivity?” To explore this further, he brings in Yogacara teachings. The late Zen Master Bernie Glassman epitomized these teachings with the refrain, “That’s just my opinion,” recognizing that any reaction and opinion is based on one’s own conditioned perceptions. Gokan concludes by saying, “This is the good news! This is the possibility of liberation.”
Zen Center of New York City, Fire Lotus Temple, Sunday 02/19/2023
Drawing on a story from the Panchatantra, Yunen looks at the Buddha’s First Noble Truth. How do we work with the teaching that life is suffering? In what ways do we try to avoid this fact? And what is our intention in practice?
Zen Center of New York City, Fire Lotus Temple, Sunday 02/12/2023
Hojin Sensei reflects on Tilopa’s Six Nails, a set of instructions for practitioners composed by the 10th century Buddhist master Tilopa. This talk reminds us to come back to the basics; abandoning thoughts of past, present or future, and not trying to analyze or control. Instead, we can learn to just rest, in our meditation and in our own awakened nature.
Danica Shoan Ankele, Senior Monastic and Dharma Holder
Zen Mountain Monastery, New York, Sunday 02/12/2023
From Master Dogen’s Shobogenzo Fascicle “Komyo” (Radiant Light)
There are many teachings, elements of study, that help us with our engagement and understanding of practicing the Way. For instance, we need to know about the 5 kleshas, the 6 paramitas, concentration, mindfulness, Vipassana, Shamatha, etc., etc…. We learn about all of that and we’re sorted? Liberated? Shoan kindly says no not quite, “it’s not like that.” So then, how and where do we encounter liberation? She brings in Master Dogen’s Fascicle “Radiant Light” to delve into this question.
Zen Mountain Monastery, New York, Sunday 02/05/2023
From Master Wu-men’s Gateless Gate, Case 33 – Ma-tsu: “No Mind, No Buddha”
These things we seek and questions we have… What is Buddha? What is enlightenment? What is peace, compassion, … When we seek something we must know something about it, no? Otherwise how would we know to seek it? Shugen Roshi encourages us to let go of what we think we know; see what happens when we let go of our understanding. Including our understanding of “letting go”.
Zen Center of New York City, Fire Lotus Temple, Sunday 02/05/2023
Hojin Sensei officiates the Novice Monastic Ordination ceremony for Simon Sekku Harrison, surrounded by a full and joyful zendo at Fire Lotus Temple. Novice monastics receive the Bodhisattva Precepts and the Monastic Vows, which Sekku has committed to develop as he continues his discernment of the monastic life.
Bear Gokan Bonebakker, Senior Monastic and Dharma Holder
Zen Mountain Monastery, New York, Sunday 01/29/2023
From Zen Master Hakuin’s “Song of Zazen”
At the conclusion to our New Year’s sesshin, Mn. Gokan explores “Song of Zazen,” an 18th century poem by Master Hakuin Ekaku. This text has served as an inspirational touchstone for generations of practitioners and is even chanted at some Zen temples as part of their daily liturgy. “The gateway to freedom,” Hakuin promises, “is zazen samadhi.” Gokan explains this as having complete investment in our practice, which means in any activity we’re engaged in. He encourages us to develop “enthusiasm for meeting the rigors of practice” with a “joyful effort” and goes on to summarize that effort—and Hakuin’s intent—with the following prescription: “Don’t grasp, don’t crave, don’t push away, relax the mind, stop fighting with yourself; be gentle.”
Zen Mountain Monastery, New York, Thursday 01/26/2023
Mn. Rakusan delivered this talk in the midst of New Years’ sesshin, asking, what is the relationship between prayer and zazen? Both involve reverence, devotion, faith and a willingness to be open to whatever arises in our experience. Rakusan draws on an essay by Ken McLeod called, “Where the Thinking Stops,” and goes on from there to tap several mystic voices, including St. John of the Cross. Another mystic, Leonard Cohen, provides the soundtrack, as it were, to this talk with his 1969 incantation, “Lady Midnight.” Through it all, Rakusan encourages us to keep going above and beyond ourselves and see how and where prayer fills our lives.
Zen Mountain Monastery, New York, Wednesday 01/25/2023
From The Awakening of Faith in the Mahayana (traditionally attributed to Asvaghosa)
What does Faith mean and what does it encompass in our Buddhist tradition? In this 3-part series, based on this text, Shugen Roshi talks about the Aspiration to Awakening Through Faith and it’s many aspects which are the essentials of Buddhist teachings and practices.
Zen Mountain Monastery, New York, Sunday 01/22/2023
On this auspicious day, Shugen Roshi officiated the shukke tokudo ceremony for Jeffrey Kien Martin. Tokudo marks the formal taking of monastic vows and, in our tradition, expresses a lifetime commitment to the Monastery. Kien was given the monastic name Jogo, the meaning of which Shugen Roshi beautifully explains near the end of the ceremony. In short, it can be interpreted as “Steady Strength.”