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Mondo: Fall 2020 Ango Opening

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Geoffrey Shugen Arnold, Roshi & Ron Hogen Green, Sensei & Jody Hojin Kimmel, Sensei

Zoom, 9/5/2020

Intention, Aspiration and Vow are taken up by three teachers of the Mountains & Rivers Order in open discussion with the on-line sangha.

The Importance of a Contemplative Life

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Geoffrey Shugen Arnold, Roshi

Zen Mountain Monastery, 8/30/2020

Shugen Roshi returns to the topic of the contemplative life, the practice of reflective inquiry which is often the first thing to be abandoned in difficult times. He cites the Faith-Mind Poem: “If you wish to see the truth, then hold no opinion for or against anything. To set what you like against what you dislike is the disease of the mind.” In an incredibly polarized political climate, what do these instructions truly mean? How do we turn back again and again to the reality of our lives in order to free ourselves and one another?

Zhaozhou’s “Wash Your Bowl”

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Geoffrey Shugen Arnold, Roshi

Zen Mountain Monastery, 8/23/2020

Book of Serenity, Case 39: “Zhaozhou’s ‘Wash Your Bowl'” and Dongshan’s “5 Ranks”

“Take a torch and make a special search deep into the night,” the pointer to this classic koan instructs. Shugen Roshi speaks about this path of contemplative inquiry in terms of Master Dongshan’s Five Ranks, which describe the dynamic interplay of relative and absolute reality over a lifetime of practice.

Dukkha

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Bear Gokan Bonebakker, Senior Monastic

Zen Mountain Monastery, 8/22/2020

In this talk, senior monastic Gokan digs into the Buddha’s first noble truth, that life is marked by suffering. In the stillness of zazen, we can directly encounter the many forms of suffering, subtle and dramatic, that our mind engages. “Are we ready to let that go?”, Gokan asks, urging us to remember that our habitual distractions will not satisfy us.

A Seamless Monument For Our Times

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Geoffrey Shugen Arnold, Roshi

Zen Mountain Monastery, 8/21/2020

Book of Serenity, Case 85: “The Appearance of the National Teacher’s Monument”

“Meeting difficulties,” Shugen Roshi reminds us, “is not a sign of lack.” He urges us to regard the unavoidable moments of dullness, frustration, or self-doubt as propitious opportunities in practice. These are chances to turn away from our well-worn habits and “do something unheard of,” to stop creating cycles of suffering and to appreciate the depths and mystery of what is right here.

 

Garden Dharma

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YukonMichael Yukon Grody, Senor Monastic

Zen Mountain Monastery, 8/20/2020

Each year the Monastery gardener, Yukon, says he makes a deal with the seed packets he’s planting to ask for their commitment: he will nurture them tirelessly, and they just have to put down good roots and then give themselves away, entirely. This is our practice too—when we sit down and make an “ancient body connection” with zazen, with our buddha nature—we ground ourselves in goodness so that we can give ourselves away entirely, for the benefit of all beings. Keeping alive our wonder and curiosity is the garden dharma, says Yukon, which we can live in any place we are.

Vast Is The Robe of Liberation

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Gwitha Kaido Nash

Gwitha Kaido Nash, Senior Lay Practitioner

Delivered to Zen Mountain Monastery from New Zealand, via Zoom, 8/19/2020

How the Buddhadharma came to Aotearoa/New Zealand is part of Kaido’s story. Another important aspect is how this now 32-year old sangha reflects its own place and time. The sangha made a collective decision to incorporate the cultural restoration of the Mauri people, the native New Zealanders, within their own practice and liturgy along with what has been transmitted from the Mountains and Rivers Order of Zen Buddhism. With contemporary writings and relationships, Kaido finds the spiritual teachers of Maori ancestry speaking of this “formless field of benefaction” as the welcoming nurturance and integrity in which we and all creatures are completely enveloped.

For a moving reflection on the development of our Kiwi sangha over the years, watch this short film made for the 30th anniversary, celebrated in 2018.

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The Labor of Love

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Prabu Gikon Vasan, Senior Lay Practitioner

Zen Mountain Monastery, 8/16/2020

Unconditional love is the kind that leads dharma teacher angel Kyodo williams to declare her aspiration, “To love those who want me to be invisible.” Along with James Baldwin’s instructions to his nephew on radical acceptance and teachings from the Pali canon on the Three Poisons, Gikon poses the questions: what would it be like to receive this kind of love? As we live into this time of deep division based on our nation’s history of injustice and our collective failure to reckon with that, we can take up this practice wholeheartedly, as the labor of love.

Freedom’s Just Another Word

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Geoffrey Shugen Arnold, Roshi

Zen Mountain Monastery, 8/09/2020

In this talk, Shugen Roshi delves into the teaching of the Middle Way, offering guidance in practicing without falling into extremes of reverence or resentment, discipline or laxity, craving enlightenment or succumbing to samsara.  This, he suggests, is true freedom – not each individual acting according to their desires in each moment, but a deeper form of collective liberation rooted in a recognition of interdependence and the dignity of all beings.

Art Practice – Painting Spring

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Jody Hojin Kimmel, Sensei

Zen Mountain Monastery, 08/02/2020

“Creativity is our birthright,” Daido Roshi wrote in the Zen of Creativity. In this talk, Hojin Sensei speaks about the essential practice of creative expression as a gate of freedom, a path of insight, and a way of encountering reality as it truly is.  She invokes the many ways of expressing the dharma that have been passed down to us – the Buddha touching the earth or holding up a flower, Zen masters shouting, pointing, or uttering apparent nonsense – as performance art: a way of displaying the truth beautifully with body, mind, and speech. Artistic expression at its most powerful shocks us into recognizing what we already know – and it is that very recognition which allows us to live more fully, encountering the familiar world with greater freshness and curiosity.