Sangha Notes


Sangha notes for 2-5-18

An excerpt from a dharma talk given by Zen Master Dae Gak at Furnace Mountain in March, 2010:
“If we dig deeply enough, if we scratch the surface of our own consciousness deeply enough, we know that the only true route to saving the world is realization in the body of the one who is reading these words. There is no doing anything about. What allows prejudice-free relationship is realization in this very body.The activity of practice is to be that and the being that is being the entire world and it can’t be touched by the linear mind that says how can that happen and what about all the crime and evil and child abuse and slavery, etc. That is the mind of utopian hope which still believes in self verses other. To touch what is below that is the only refuge possible and it is our birthright. it doesn’t come to you because you were born into a particular class, culture, race, gender, intelligence, alert sensitive capacity; it is everyone’s birthright as a human being. It does not come to you through great effort. Who could control a mind that has no substance? Where would you put it in a consciousness that has no place? What could you do to bring it about when at it’s core there is no time? It is not dependent on any belief whatsoever. You can call it any name you want and it doesn’t matter. It doesn’t depend on any belonging whatsoever, belonging to this group versus that group, doing this set of rituals versus those sets of rituals. It doesn’t depend upon any agreement. It doesn’t depend upon any likeability and it doesn’t depend upon any feeling state that we could have. It is not dependent upon anything. It doesn’t arise and it doesn’t cease and it cannot be brought about. It is our birthright and it is the birthright of everything that comes into existence. That which is born can awaken.”


Sangha notes for 1-22-18

An excerpt from “Bodhidharma, the Greatest Zen Master:
“PRACTICING THE DHARMA. THE DHARMA IS THE TRUTH THAT ALL NATURES ARE PURE. BY THIS TRUTH, ALL APPEARANCES ARE EMPTY. DEFILEMENT AND ATTACHMENT, SUBJECT AND OBJECT DON’T EXIST. THE SUTRAS SAY, ‘THE DHARMA INCLUDES NO BEING BECAUSE IT’S FREE FROM THE IMPURITY OF BEING. AND THE DHARMA INCLUDES NO SELF, BECAUSE IT’S FREE FROM THE IMPURITY OF SELF.’ THOSE WISE ENOUGH TO BELIEVE AND UNDERSTAND THIS TRUTH ARE BOUND TO PRACTICE ACCORDING TO THE DHARMA. SINCE THE EMBODIMENT OF THE DHARMA CONTAINS NOTHING WORTH BEGRUDGING, THEY GIVE THEIR BODY, LIFE AND PROPERTY IN CHARITY, WITHOUT REGRET, WITHOUT THE VANITY OF GIVER, GIFT OR RECIPIENT, AND WITHOUT BIAS OR ATTACHMENT. AND THEY TAKE UP TRANSFORMING OTHERS TO ELIMINATE IMPURITY BUT WITHOUT BECOMING ATTACHED TO FORM.”


Sangha notes for 1-15-18

Sangha notes for 1-15-18: An excerpt from a Dharma talk given by Zen Master Dae Gak on Nov 13th, 2010:
“The teaching of tariki … is that it is by the grace of Amitabha that spiritual realization is attained. Self can never overcome itself and so awakening must be by a power or cause other than self interest. This is not meant as a moral judgement, but more as a statement of the human condition as ego dominated. We are so ego dominated that we think we can do a few spiritual gymnastics or go to a workshop or two and become enlightened saints free from all suffering. So the tariki perspective is, “Not by my will, but by thy will.” Anything else would be like trying to fix the self with personal effort, and this is like trying to sober up by drinking more alcohol.”


Sangha notes for 1-8-18

Sangha notes for 1-8-18: A poem by Zen Master Dae Gak:

“Find your original job and do it impeccably.
Never give up.
While failure is impossible, there is nothing that
cannot be transmuted.
Our mistakes are our teachers and our alchemy
is in our heart’s blood.
Our breath is our point of entry to truth.
It is with us always, as us, as all of creation.
Find the breath in everything.”


Sangha notes for 12-11-17

A quote from Korean scholar Hee-Jin Kim concerning Dogen’s view of active Compassion:

“In Dogen’s view, things, events, relations were not just given, but were possibilities, projects and tasks that can be acted out, expressed, and understood as self-expressions and self-activities of the Buddha-nature. This did not imply a complacent acceptance of the given situation but required man’s strenuous efforts to transform and transfigure it. Dogen’s thought involved this element of transformation, which has been more often than not grossly neglected or dismissed by Dogen students.”


Sangha notes for 12-4-17

An except from “The Zen Teaching of Huang Po.”

“Q. Allowing that the enlightened man who achieves the cessation of thought is Buddha, would not an ignorant man, on ceasing to think conceptually, lose himself in oblivion?
A.There are no enlightened men and there are no ignorant men and there is no oblivion. Yet though basically everything is without objective existence, you must not come to think in terms of anything non- existent; and although things are not existent you must not form a concept of anything existing. For “existence” and “nonexistence” are both empirical concepts, no better than illusions.”


Sangha notes for 11/27/17

A excerpt from a Dharma talk given by Zen Master Dae Gak at Furnace Mountain in March, 2010:

“In the activity of friendship, which is sangha, one is fully supported by the activity of each other. This means not to take refuge in each other but to take refuge in the dharma itself. What the dharma is, or how to take refuge in the dharma is that the dharma is none other than your very life itself, the very activity of your life itself. Getting up in the morning, one of the things you have to do when you get up in the morning, if you sleep in a bed, is that you have to turn and put your feet on the ground. This is called morning kensho, feet on the ground kensho. If you had only one foot and a stub, then you would appreciate having two feet. But we take it for granted, to be able to get up, turn and put your feet on the ground. The activity of the dharma, which is the appreciation, is just that. The activity itself is the activity of the dharma. There is no place that you could find yourself, no circumstance in which you could find yourself, no activity that you re doing that isn’t the activity of the dharma.”


Sangha notes for 11/6/17

An except from The Zen Teachings of Huang Po:
“The One Mind alone is the Buddha, and there is no distinction between the Buddha and sentient beings, but sentient beings are attached to forms and so seek externally for Buddhahood. By their very seeking they lose it, for that is using the Buddha to seek for the Buddha and using mind to grasp Mind.”


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.”