Geoffrey Shugen Arnold

Buddhist Studies, Session 9, Zen Mountain Monastery

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Geoffrey Shugen Arnold, Roshi

Zen Mountain Monastery, 02/13/2020

 

The Dialogue of Manjusri and Wu Cho

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Geoffrey Shugen Arnold, Roshi

Zen Mountain Monastery, 02/02/2020

The Blue Cliff Record, Case 35

“Right at this very moment seeing and hearing are not obscured…ordinary people and sages dwell together.” Presenting this koan from the Blue Cliff Record, Shugen Roshi explores the way our delusions create destruction and pain—an experience of poverty of spirit—and asks us to enter with a mind of not-knowing. When we experience our “self” as a temporary gathering place, we are freed. When our view is in harmony with the nature of things, our world is also in harmony; an ordinary life is nothing special but it is also more extraordinary than we think.

Buddhist Studies, Session 8, Zen Mountain Monastery

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Geoffrey Shugen Arnold, Roshi

Zen Mountain Monastery, 01/30/2020

In this commentary and questions between Shugen Roshi and students, Right Mindfulness is addressed as a central component of the eightfold path. While the path might be seen as a progression or series of steps, it can more correctly be viewed as an interrelated whole within which each of the eight factors works with each of the others to support and inform practice of the Buddhadharma. What characterizes Right Mindfulness, and in what ways is it critical to practice? How can we practice skillfully and recognize those moments that are not Right Mindfulness?

Loving Your Enemies

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Geoffrey Shugen Arnold, Roshi

Zen Mountain Monastery, 01/26/2020

Shugen Roshi relates the practices of “The Non-Disparaging Buddha” from a passage in the Lotus Sutra to help explore the difficulties of living a life of true compassion. How do we respond to those who hate and those who are doing harm to others in ways that the destructive cycles of anger and violence are not perpetuated? The teachings and actions of of Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. offer examples of  love in the face of harms and hatred. So too do the words and actions of other wise ones across traditions and cultures, reminding us that it is our fundamental nature to love and nurture without being complacent in the face of challenges and ill will.

Chao Chou’s Three Turning Words, Part 2

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Geoffrey Shugen Arnold, Roshi

Zen Mountain Monastery, 01/25/2020

The Blue Cliff Record, Case 96, The Gold Buddha

In this second part of this teaching on this koan Shugen Roshi turns to the verse, “A gold Buddha does not pass through the furnace,” to examine how seekers of the Way encounter our clinging. How is it that we become adept at recognizing what is seen, and its depth and strength? And in releasing, or having lost what we hold most dear, what remains?

Chao Chou’s Three Turning Words

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Geoffrey Shugen Arnold, Roshi

Zen Mountain Monastery, 01/22/2020

The Blue Cliff Record, Case 96, The Mud Buddha

Huik’e stood in the snow all night outside of Bodhidharma’s cave. Mother Theresa looked for Christ in the knowing smile between caregiver and cared for, even as she struggled at times to feel connected with God. In this talk from January’s New Year Sesshin, Shugen Roshi asks, what for you constitutes putting your faith on the line?

Honoring Martin Luther King Jr. at Zen Mountain Monastery

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Geoffrey Shugen Arnold, Roshi

Zen Mountain Monastery, 01/19/2020

Invoking the life and words of Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., Shugen Roshi celebrates his teachings on the power of the love and its manifestation in the Beloved Community. Sangha is an example of this united effort to live as an expression of love, and the life of practice requires our sincere engagement and action. Dr. King believed in the “practical realism” of love, a power which is always available and can be lived every day. Understanding the interrelated structure of reality from a Christian perspective, he said, “Your suffering is my suffering,” echoing the Bodhisattva’s interdependent vow to put an end to the suffering of all beings.

Buddhist Studies, Session 7, Zen Mountain Monastery

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Geoffrey Shugen Arnold, Roshi

Right Effort, Zen Mountain Monastery, 01/16/2020

This discussion of the Eightfold Path takes up the concept of Right Effort. Shugen Roshi’s introduction and the questions from the sangha offer rich perspectives on how to engage practice in ways that are an antidote to apathy, boredom and dullness. Joyful effort, energy, Ki and humor are discussed, noting right effort as a wholesome state of consciousness directing us toward awakening in all areas of life.

Yanyang’s “Thing”

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Geoffrey Shugen Arnold, Roshi

Book of Serenity, Case 57

Zen Mountain Monastery, 01/12/2020

The path is letting go—and letting go—and letting go still more. When we have let go of every single thing we let go of the very idea of letting go. Shugen Roshi speaks of the profound “putting down” in which wisdom and compassion arise together. He cites Vimalakirti: “Ultimately if interested in the Dharma, take no interest in any thing.” Not to be confused with isolation or turning away from anything, but to realize ones true nature within the spaciousness of mind which contains all things.

Daitsu Chisho

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Geoffrey Shugen Arnold, Roshi

The Gateless Gate, Case 9

Zen Mountain Monastery, 01/05/2020

At the conclusion of an introduction to Zen Practice Weekend, Shugen Roshi examines a koan originally drawn from the Lotus Sutra. In this teaching story, how are we to understand attainment or the absence of attainment? The Way is originally perfect and all pervading, always present – and yet we experience a sense of distance, a gap. It is within this gap that practice occurs.

Fusatsu, New Years Eve, 2020

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Geoffrey Shugen Arnold, Roshi

Zen Mountain Monastery, 12/31/2019

In the midst of a Renewal of Vows ceremony for the new year, Shugen Roshi explores the Buddha Way as a path of peace which can direct us to cease from harm and practice good. Our basic impulse is toward good, but this needs to be practiced and cultivated in order to be brought forth. The taking of vows is an act of courage that helps us rise to the challenge of being happy and free even in the midst of conflict.

Dongshan’s “Not-Buddha”

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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.

The Four Powers

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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.

Yanguan’s “Rhinoceros Fan”

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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

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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

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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 National Teacher’s Stone Lion

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Geoffrey Shugen Arnold, Roshi

Koans of the Way of Reality, Case 103

Zen Mountain Monastery, 12/08/2019

In the spirit of the Buddha’s enlightenment vigil under the Bodhi tree, Shugen Roshi speaks about fearlessnes in this koan of the Stone Lion. Reacting to our own ubiquitous anxiety about impermanence, and never really knowing what will happen next, how do we proceed skillfully? The Buddha’s courage and fearlessness on the path of practice is not so distant or different from our own.

Buddhist Studies, Session 5, Zen Mountain Monastery

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Geoffrey Shugen Arnold, Roshi

Zen Mountain Monastery, 12/04/2019

Shugen Roshi continues his discussion of the Eightfold Path with this discussion of Right Action. His introductory discourse is followed by questions and discussion with members of the sangha.

 

Nan Ch’uan Kills A Cat

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Geoffrey Shugen Arnold, Roshi

Blue Cliff Record, Case 63

Zen Mountain Monastery, 12/1/2019

Shugen Roshi examines this startling and unsettling koan in terms of the imperative that spiritual practice can reflect in our daily lives. He asks what it takes to get us to wake up, “to open our eyes in the midst of the dream,” and take up the responsibility each of us has to be of benefit and take care of the suffering we inadvertently cause ourselves and others.

Lingzhao’s “Bright and Clear”

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Geoffrey Shugen Arnold, Roshi

True Dharma Eye, Case 88

Zen Mountain Monastery, 11/23/2019

In a koan featuring Layman Pang’s daughter Lingzhao, Shugen Roshi helps deepen our understanding of delusion. With compassion we can see our fixed beliefs as delusions and mistaken ideas, eventually realizing that at every moment the path is complete. And yet, delusions are what our natural, thinking minds produce, and yet every experience of them is “bright and clear” by nature. Roshi asks us to consider how to recognize and acknowledge our imperfections, and actualize this in our practice and our lives: to be without anxiety about non-perfection.