Zen Society of Wooster

Sangha notes for 7-10-17

Greg shared a reading from No Beginning, No End: The Intimate Heart of Zen by Jakusho Kwong:
“Stepping back, or the backward step, is an interesting phrase…Dogen points the way when he says that we take the backward step when we turn our thinking mind, with the light of awareness, on our own mind source.
In our meditation practice it is very important not to get lost entertaining the thinking mind, because the activity and capacity of the thinking mind is endless. If you give it all of your attention, it will take your life. It’s the same for each and every one of us: the more attention you give it, the stronger it becomes. And the more you try not to entertain it, the more you confirm its presence. Either way, it’s got you. The antidote is really a very simple thing; instead of putting all the emphasis on your small mind, put the emphasis on the Big Mind. ‘Cultivate your Big Mind,’ as Suzuki-roshi said. And so in zazen the backward step is taken when you turn your light of awareness inward like a mirror on your mind source.”

Sangha notes for 7-3-17

An excerpt from The Zen Teachings of Huang-Po, On the Transmission of Mind:
“All the qualities typified by the great Bodhisattvas are inherent in men and are not to be separated from the One Mind. Awake to it, and it is there. You students of the way who do not awake to this in your own minds and who are attached to appearances and who seek for something objective outside your own minds, have all turned your backs on the Way.”

Sangha notes for 6-26-17

Steve shared an excerpt from Nothing Special, Living Zen by Charlotte Joko Beck:
“Who is it that you cannot forgive? Each of us has a list which may include ourselves (often the hardest one to forgive) as well as events, institutions and groups.
Isn’t it natural that we should feel this way about a person or event that has injured us, perhaps severely and irrevocably? From an ordinary standpoint the answer is yes. From a practice standpoint the answer is no. We need to vow: I will forgive, even if it takes me a lifetime of practice. Why such a strong statement?
The quality of our whole life is on the line. Failing to grasp the importance of forgiveness is always a part of any failing relationship and a factor in our anxieties, depressions and illnesses – in all our troubles. Our failure to know joy is a direct reflection of our inability to forgive.”

Sangha notes for 6-19-17

Greg read an excerpt from No Beginning, No End (The Intimate Heart of Zen) by Jakusho Kwong:
“In your Zazen practice you will see the thinking mind spin, spin, spin, and the Big Mind will just watch it spin. That may be something new for some of you, and it’s a very interesting phenomenon. The Big Mind will watch it, but since its nature is immovable, it won’t spin with it. This reminds me of the poem by Wanshi in which he alludes to the empty nature and function of this Big Self. The last four lines are very beautiful,
and each one sparkles like the separate facets of one translucent diamond. These lines come from Wanshi’s poem, Acupuncture Needle of Zazen:
‘The water is clear right down
to the bottom.
Fish swim lazily on.
The sky is vast without end.
Birds fly far into the distance.’ ”

Sangha notes for 6-12-17

An excerpt from Nothing Special, Living Zen by Charlotte Joko Beck:
“Historically Zen practice and most other meditative disciplines have sought to resolve the conflict of subject-object dualism by emptying the object of all content. … [But] a hidden subject remains, observing a virtually blank object. … A clearer practice does not try to get rid of the object, but rather sees the object for what it is. We slowly learn about being or experiencing in which there is no subject or object at all. We do not eliminate anything, but rather bring things together. There’s still me and there’s still you, but when I am just my experience of you, I don’t feel separate from you, I am one with you.”

Sangha notes for 6-5-17

An excerpt from The Zen Teachings of Huang Po:
“Even after aeons of diligent searching, you will not be able to find the way. The methods [of Zen] cannot be compared to the sudden elimination of conceptual thought, in the certain knowledge that there is nothing at all which has absolute existence, nothing on which to lay hold, nothing on which to rely, nothing in which to abide, nothing subjective or objective. It is by preventing the rise of conceptual thought that you will realize Bodhi. And when you do, you will be just realizing the Buddha who has always existed in your own mind. “

Sangha notes for 5-15-17

An excerpt from Nothing Special, Living Zen by Charlotte Joko Beck:
“Student: What is the difference between being totally absorbed in hammering the nails and being aware that you’re totally absorbed in
hammering the nails?
Joko: Being aware that you’re totally absorbed in hammering the nails is still dualistic. You’re thinking, ‘I am totally absorbed in hammering
the nails.’ That is not true mindfulness. In true mindfulness, one is just doing it. Awareness that one is absorbed in an experience can be a useful
step on the way, but it’s not quite it, because one is still thinking about it. There’s still a separation between awareness and the object of awareness.
When we’re just hammering the nails, we’re not thinking about practice. In good practice, we’re not thinking, ‘I have to practice.’ Good practice is
simply doing what we’re doing and noticing when we drift off. When we’ve been sitting for many years, we know almost instantaneously when
we’ve started to drift.”

Sangha notes for 5-8-17

An excerpt from Nothing Special by Charlotte Joko Beck:
“Practice is not about having experiences, not about having giant realizations, not about getting somewhere or becoming something. We are perfect the way we are. By ‘perfect’ I mean simply that this is it. Practice is simply maintaining awareness – of our activities and also thoughts that separate us from our activities. … When thoughts arise, we notice them and return to our direct experience.
Awareness is our true self. It’s simply what we are. So we don’t have to try to develop awareness; we simply need to notice how we block our awareness, with our thoughts, our fantasies, our opinions and our judgements. We’re either in awareness, which is our natural state, or we’re doing something else.”

Sangha news for 5-1-17

An excerpt from True Love by Thich Nhat Hanh:
     “Meditation is the practice of looking deeply into the nature of your suffering and your joy. Through the energy of mindfulness, looking deeply into the nature of our suffering makes it possible to see the deep causes of that suffering. If you can keep mindfulness and concentration alive, then looking deeply will reveal to you the true nature of your pain. And freedom will arise as a result of your sustaining a deep vision into the nature of your pain. Solidity, freedom, calm and joy are the fruits of meditation.”

Sangha notes for 4-24-17

Steve read from The Zen Teaching of Huang Po, translated by John Blofeld:
“It is only in contradistinction to greed, anger and ignorance that abstinence, calm and wisdom exist.
Without illusion, how could there be Enlightenment? Therefore Bodhidharma said: ‘The Buddha enunciated
all Dharmas in order to eliminate every vestige of conceptual thinking. If I refrained entirely from conceptual
thought, what would be the use of all the Dharmas?’ Attach yourselves to nothing beyond the pure Buddha-Nature
which is the source of all things.  Suppose you were to adorn the Void with countless jewels, how could they
remain in position? The Buddha-Nature is like the Void; though you were to adorn it with inestimable merit
and wisdom, how could they remain there? They would only serve to conceal its original Nature and to
render it invisible.”