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.”

Sangha notes for 4-10-17

An excerpt from True Love by Thich Nhat Hanh:
“In meditation we act according to the principle of nonviolence. This is because I know that I am happiness and that I am also suffering, That I am understanding and I am also ignorance. For this reason, I must take care of both these aspects. I must not discriminate against one of them. I must not suppress one in favor of the other. I know that each of them is vitally necessary for the other. The Buddha tells us that, ‘If this exists, that exists.’ This exists because that exists. So there should be no conflict, no violence, between one element of our being and another element of our being. There should only be an effort of taking care and being able to transform. So we must have a nonviolent attitude in regard to our suffering, our pain. We must take care of our suffering the way we would take care of our own baby.”

Sangha notes for 4-3-17

Greg read a passage from The Zen Teaching of Huang Po, translated by John Blofeld:
“Q: If there is nothing on which to lay hold, how is the Dharma to be transmitted?
A: It is a transmission of Mind with Mind.
Q: If Mind is used for transmission, why do you say that Mind too does not exist?
A: Obtaining no Dharma whatever is called Mind transmission. The understanding of this Mind
implies no Mind and no Dharma.
Q: If there is no Mind and no Dharma, what is meant by transmission?
A: You hear people speak of Mind transmission and then you talk of something to be received.
So Bodhidharma said: ‘The nature of the Mind when understood,
No human speech can compass or disclose.
Enlightenment is naught to be attained,
And he that gains it does not say he knows.’
Q: Surely the void stretching out in front of our eyes is objective. Then aren’t you pointing to
something objective and seeing Mind in it?
A: What sort of Mind could I tell you to see in an objective environment? Even if you could
see it, it would only be Mind reflected in an objective sphere. You would be like a man
looking at his face in a mirror; though you could distinguish your features in it clearly,
you would still be looking at a mere reflection. What bearing has this on the affair
that brought you to me?”

Sangha notes for 3-27-17

Steve read from an article by Ven. Bhikkhu Bodhi, “Love and Compassion in Meditation and in Action,”
in Parabola, Volume 41, No. 4, Winter 2016-2017:
“In the teachings of the Buddha, love and compassion are regarded as the foundation of ethics and important criteria of
right speech and right action. They are also qualities to be developed by meditation. The Buddhists texts call love and compassion
brahmavihara, “divine abodes,” for they manifest our inherent divinity even while we dwell in a human body. For Buddhism love and
compassion should be balanced by wisdom and insight into the real nature of things…. The meditative practices of love and
compassion purify the mind of constricting emotions [such] as resentment, ill will, anger, and callous indifference, which cause misery
for ourselves and others. These [practices] promote harmony and break down the barriers that confine us in the prison cage
of ego. By developing love and compassion, our hearts can expand and radiate immeasurable good will to everyone we meet.”

Sangha notes for 3-20-17

Steve read from Enlightenment Unfolds, The Essential Teachings of Zen Master Dogen, edited by Kazuaki Tanahashi:
[“Nanyue…went to study with Huineng, the Sixth Ancestor, and was his attendant for fifteen years. He received the way and the craft,
just like receiving a vessel of water from another.”]
“There must have been a lot of hardship during the wind and frost of those fifteen years. In spite of it Nanyue single-heartedly pursued
his investigation. This is a mirror for later generations. Without charcoal in the cold stove, he slept alone in an empty hall. Without lamplight
on summer evenings, he sat at a window by himself. Not having one piece of knowledge or a half of understanding, he reached the place of
no effort, going beyond study. This is no other than continuous practice. As Nanyue had subtly abandoned greed for name and love for gain,
he simply accumulated the power of continuous practice day by day. You should not forget the meaning of this. His statement to Huineng,
‘Speaking about it won’t hit the mark,’…. Such continuous practice is rare throughout past and present, aspired to by those who are wise
and those who are not.”

Sangha notes for 3-13-17

An excerpt from True Love by Thich Nhat Hahn:
“The most precious gift you can give to the one you love is your true presence. What must we do to really be there? Those who have practiced Buddhist meditation know that meditation is above all being present: to yourself, to those you love, to life.
Between mind and body there is something that can serve as a bridge. The moment you begin to practice mindful breathing, your body and mind begin to come together with one another. It takes only 10 or 20 seconds to accomplish this miracle called oneness of the body and mind. With mindful breathing you can bring body and mind together in the present moment, and every one of us can do it, even a child.”

Sangha Notes for 3-6-17

An excerpt from Enlightenment Unfolds, The Essential Teachings of Zen Master Dogen, edited by Kazuaki Tanahashi:
“When you first seek the dharma, you imagine that you are far away from it’s environs. At the moment when dharma is correctly transmitted, you are immediately your original self.
When you ride in a boat and watch the shore, you might assume that the shore is moving. But when you keep your eyes closely on the boat, you see that the boat moves. Similarly, if you examine myriad things with a confused body and mind, you might suppose that your mind and nature are permanent. When you practice intimately and return to where you are, it will be clear that nothing at all has unchanging self.”