Sangha Notes


Sangha notes for 10-30-17

An excerpt from The Eight Gates of Zen By John Daido Loori:
“Dogen uses the example of Hsueh-feng as tenzo at Te-shan’s monastery: One day Hsueh-feng was washing the rice. Te-shan said to him ‘Do you wash the sand away from the rice or the rice away from the sand?’ This is a teaching about duality – about the absolute and relative, good and bad, heaven and earth, man and woman. Dogen constantly addressed these dualities in terms of everyday affairs: rice and sand, purity and impurity. Hsueh-feng said ‘I wash both rice and sand away at the same time.’ Hsueh-feng shows a side of [the bowl]. ‘Then what will the assembly eat?’ Te-shang brings up the other side. Hsueh-feng covered the rice washing bowl with his body. Te-shan said, ‘Some day you will be a great teacher’ and left.”


Sangha notes for 10-23-17

An excerpt from “Nothing Special” by Charlotte Joko Beck:
“When we’re engaged in pure activity, we’re a presence, an awareness. But that’s all we are. And that doesn’t feel like anything. People feel that the so called enlightened state is flooded with emotional and loving feelings. But true love or compassion is simply to be nonseparate fron the object. Essentially, it’s a flow of activity in which we do not exist as a being separate from our activity.”


Sangha notes for 10-16-17

From The Zen Teaching of Huang Po, On the Transmission of Mind, translated by John Blofeld:
“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 and are attached to appearances and who seek for something objective outside your minds, have all turned your backs on the Way.”


Sangha notes for 10-2-17

We discussed the differences between approaches to spirituality based on the Old Testament vs Buddhist teachings and vows.
Here is one version of Buddhism’s Four Great Vows:
“However innumerable sentient beings are; I vow to save them.
However inexhaustible the passions are; I vow to extinguish them.
However immeasurable the Dharmas are; I vow to study them.
However incomparable the Buddha-truth is; I vow to attain it.”


Sangha notes for 9-25-17

Steve read from The Eight Gates of Zen by John Daido Loori:
“One of the important parts of training as laid down by Master Dogen is what he calls ‘purification.’ This purification gets down to the nitty-gritty of life itself. His teaching is that the daily actions of our life are sacred…. [Purification] is not an attempt to be rid of pollutants, sins, or guilt, but rather the self-affirmation of original purity or emptiness, totally untouched by dualism. It is the simple act of using the bathroom, washing the face, brushing the teeth. Whether you are eating, working, or bowing, be present with the whole body and mind. Tune into yourself, into your body, into your life. Every act is not only a ritual in Zen—it is a sacrament.”


Sangha notes for 9-11-17

“Song of the Grass Roots Hermitage’ by Shitou Xiqian:
“I’ve built a grass hut where there is nothing of value.
After eating, I relax and enjoy a nap.
When the hut was completed, fresh weeds appeared.
Now it’s been lived in – covered by weeds.
The only person in the hut lives here calmly, not stuck inside, outside or in between.
Places worldly people live, he doesn’t live.
Realms worldly people love, she doesn’t love.
Though the hut is small, it includes the entire world.
In ten feet square, an old man illumes forms and their nature.
A Mahayana Bodhisattva trusts without doubt.
The middling or the lowly can’t help wondering;
Will this hut perish or not?
Perishable or not, the original master is present,
Not dwelling north or south, east or west.
Firmly based on steadiness, it can’t be surpassed.
A shining window below the green pines-
Jade palaces or vermilion towers can’t compare with it.
Just sitting with head covered, all things are at rest.
Thus, the mountain monk doesn’t understand at all.
Living here he no longer works to get free.
Who would proudly arrange seats, trying to entice guests?
Turn around the light to shine within, then just return.
The vast inconceivable source can’t be faced or turned away from.
Meet the ancestral teacher, be familiar with their instruction,
bind grasses to build a hut and don’t give up.
Let go of hundreds of years and relax completely.
Open your hands and walk, innocent.
Thousands of words, myriad interpretations
Are only to free you from obstructions.
If you want to know the undying person in the hut,
Don’t separate from this skin bag here and now.”


Sangha notes for 8-21-17

Quoted from Becoming Enlightened by the Dalai Lama:
      [The Core Perspective]
     “Just as you recognize that you are ill
     And see that you can eliminate  the cause of illness
     By attaining health through relying on a remedy,
     So recognize suffering,
     Eliminate it’s cause,
     Attain it’s cessation,
     And rely on the path.”
     –Maitreya, Sublime Continuum of the Great Vehicle

Sangha notes for 8-14-17

An excerpt from Becoming Enlightened by The Dalai Lama:
“Why is Shakyamuni Buddha valued so highly? By developing great compassion to an unbounded state, with sympathy for an infinite number of sentient beings that is like a mother’s feeling for her own sweet child, he developed a boundless intention to help all beings overcome all obstacles to happiness, and worked eon after eon in order to be of the greatest benefit to others. At the culmination of his practice, he succeeded in attaining all realizations and removing all obstructions to his own enlightenment, solely for the sake of continuously assisting others to rise to the same state. This is why it is suitable to go to him for refuge.”


Sangha notes for 7-7-17

Steve shared a passage from Becoming Enlightened by the Dalai Lama:
[quoted from Chandrakirti in Introduction to the Middle Way]
“Compassion itself is seen to be
The seed of a rich harvest, water for growth,
And the ripened state of long enjoyment.
Therefore, at the start I praise compassion.”