Sangha Notes

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.”

Sangha notes for 2-27-17

Steve read from Enlightenment Unfolds, The Essential Teachings of Zen Master Dogen,
edited by Kazuaki Tanahashi:
“When we have true practice, then valley sounds and colors, mountain colors and sounds all reveal the
eight-four thousand verses. When you are free from fame, profit, body, and mind, valleys and mountains are
also free. Through the night the valley sounds and mountain colors do and do not actualize the eighty-four
thousand verses. When your capacity to talk about valleys and mountains is not yet mature, who can see and hear
you as valley sounds and mountain colors?”

Sangha notes for 2-13-17

An excerpt from Upright with Poise and Grace by Zen Master Dae Gak:
“A Partial List of Myths of Meditation
1. There is a place where the deer are that can be found and mapped.
2. There is a lot of time to find out; how long our life really is.
3. There is a way to bring it about and keep it or cause it.
4. That it is the discovery rather than the looking.
5. That a sensation, a state or a feeling is it.
6. Somehow one thing is better than the other.
7. The memory of it is it.
8. Some people are more capable of realization than others.
9. That it can be found anywhere but here and now, in this! “

Sangha notes for 2-6-17

Steve read a passage from The Eight Gates of Zen by John Daido Loori:
“Everyone of us is conditioned from birth, programmed by our parents, teachers, peers, education,
and culture. By the time we reach adulthood, we’re living out of a program, responding to circumstances
like robots. We do not know who we are or what our life is. Yet, underneath all the conditioned responses
is a person. What Zen is about is peeling back the layers of conditioning and getting to the ground of being.
It is about realizing that ground of being and learning to live one’s life out of what we directly, personally,
and intimately experience of ourself and our life, rather than out of what we’ve been told we should or
shouldn’t be.
The attainment of our true nature is something that no one can give to us; each person has to do
it alone. Zen is a process for doing it, a 2,500-year-old process. It wasn’t invented yesterday. It is not a fad.
It has been tested by innumerable practitioners on virtually every continent on the face of the Earth and now
it is here, in this country, and we have an opportunity to try it. It is simple and direct and very difficult. It
challenges us to be with ourselves, to study the self, to forget the self, and to be one with the ten thousand

Sangha notes for 1-30-17

Steve read from The Way of Zen by Alan W. Watts:
“[Zen] does not confuse spirituality with thinking about God while one is peeling potatoes.
Zen spirituality is just to peel the potatoes. In the words of Lin-chi:
‘When it’s time to get dressed, put on your clothes. When you must walk, then walk.
When you must sit, then sit. Don’t have a single thought in your mind about seeking for
Buddhahood…. You talk about being perfectly disciplined in your six senses and in all
your actions, but in my view all this is making karma. To seek the Buddha (nature) and to seek
the Dharma is at once to make karma which leads to the hells. To seek (to be) Bodhisattvas
is also making karma, and likewise studying the sutras and commentaries. Buddhas and
Patriarchs are people without such artificialities…. It is said everywhere that there is a Tao
which must be cultivated and a Dharma which must be realized. What Dharma do you say
must be realized and what Tao cultivated? What do you lack in the way you are functioning
right now? What will you add to where you are?’ “

Sangha notes for 1-23-17

Steve quoted a Zenrin [poems/writings used in the Rinzai school of Zen] from The Way of Zen, Alan W. Watts:
“ ‘To be conscious of the original mind, the original nature–Just this is the great disease of Zen!’
As ‘the fish swims in the water but is unmindful of the water, the bird flies in the wind but knows not of the wind,’
so the true life of Zen has no need to ‘raise waves when no wind is blowing,’ to drag in religion or spirituality as
something over and above life itself.”