November Half Day sit this Saturday, 11/12

Our monthly half day is here, just in time for post-election recovery. Please join us in the practice of simple silence and deepening presence.

The schedule is as follows:

1:00-1:35 zazen
1:35-1:45 kinhin (walking)
1:45-2:20 zazen
2:20-2:30 kinhin
2:30-3:05 zazen
3:05-3:15 kinhin
3:15-3:50 zazen
3:50-4:00 kinhin
4:00-4:35 zazen
4:35 Service and closing

There is no fee, and you may enter or depart at any point, preferably during the kinhin periods. Donations are welcome.

Please wear comfortable clothing that is preferably in dark solid colors and that covers legs and shoulders. Make sure cell phones are turned off – please check that vibration also is turned off. Leave personal items including water bottles in non-practice spaces (back cubbies or entrance way.)

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Taigen returns October 8, 2016!

Rev. TAIGEN DAN LEIGHTON, PhD
returns to Valley Dragon!
Saturday, 10/8/16
12:30-5:30 pm

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Cultivating the Empty Field:
The Teachings of Zen Master Honctefgzhi

Cultivating the Empty Field was Taigen’s first book. A personal favorite of many western Zen students, Taigen will spend the day revisiting and unpacking these rich, poetic translations of Soto Zen Ancestor (and major influence on Eihei Dogen) Hongzhi Zhengjue (1091-1157). Taigen’s visit represents a rare opportunity to study these seminal and poignant Mahayana Zen Buddhist teachings with one of the foremost Zen scholar/practitioners in America today. The program will begin with zazen (silent sitting), and include questions and discussion.

 

  • Taigen will also be speaking as part of our weekly Monday night program, 10/10/16 at 7:15 pm (zazen begins at 6:30.)
  • Taigen is scheduling dokusan (private interviews) with individual students. Contact Keizan in interested: keizan@valleydragon.org
  • Taigen will be teaching at Upaya in Santa Fe. Please check their schedule for details.

 

Taigen Leighton is founder and Senior Dharma Teacher of Ancient Dragon Zen Gate in Chicago, and a guiding teacher of Valley Dragon Zen Sangha. He is a Dharma heir in the lineage of Shunryu Suzuki, the founder of San Francisco Zen Center and Tassajara Zen Monastery, the first Buddhist monastery outside of Asia. Taigen is the author of many books, including a translation of Dogen’s Eihei Koroku, Faces of Compassion, Zen Questions, and Just This is It: Dongshan and the Teaching of Suchness.

65 suggested donation for the Hongzhi event; no one turned away. Kindly RSVP
more information: http://www.valleydragon.org
email: info@valleydragon.org

Dedication to Zazen

What is it to be dedicated to zazen? Zen teacher Kosho Uchiyama talks about this in his modern Zen classic, Opening the Hand of Thought. He speaks poignantly about being a relatively bright young man with many capacities, but driven by this urge to find a unifying, practical foundation to build for himself the most elegant, refined, and true kind of life. He found this way of life in dedication to zazen. If we too find ourselves somewhat mysteriously compelled toward zazen, these kinds of people articulate ideas and inspire us to find out for ourselves what it’s all about.

In the “exoteric” sense, this dedication maybe means we simply do zazen everyday. My teacher Taigen recently (very quietly) celebrated 40 years of daily zazen – likely by just doing more zazen. I think that’s maybe the most important thing, and a good direction to point ourselves. But we probably don’t want to glom on to that as some kind of identity builder. Or maybe we do and that helps in some way for awhile. No problem. Eventually, as Jack Kerouac said, it all comes out in the wash. If there is some quality of competiveness or acquisitiveness in our Zen practice, it’s hopefully quickly revealed to be extraneous. Zen, which is just life, which is just our apprehension through the heart/mind, seems insistent that we eventually see (on some schedule that we aren’t likely to ever be fully privy to) all the facets of our stuff, from many angles.

One of the things I appreciate about Dogen’s presentation of zazen, what we call our Soto way of practice, is that the emphasis, the direction, is on consistent, non-achieving effort. This quality of practice is supported by one of my favorite of the Paramitas, or Perfect Practices: virya in Sanskrit, sharing a root with “virility”. It means an enduring, sustainable enthusiasm for practice, practice that possibly even extends life after life (if we go for that sort of idea). Sometimes, just being reminded that this is a possibility is the greatest gift. We can do this. We can honestly love practice, which is just some aspect of our own authentic selves – a self that even precedes name and form and circumstance, but which is also only manifest through them. So, at some basic level, love of practice is love and care for this own self, which we know from Buddhist teaching to be irrevocably connected to all other beings/phenomena.

These verge on being “esoteric” (hidden) ideas about practice. Zen doesn’t much go in for esotericism; it doesn’t intentionally hide anything away. It says, just sit, see for yourself what you find there. I like to investigate different practices and different ideas. I abhor all forms of fundamentalism. That said, I find a great relief in having encountered this simple practice of zazen, which says no matter what, when in doubt and even more so in confidence, sit; settle. Develop a relationship to a baseline, and keep checking in to that. Then let it go completely, and find the joy in being able to check back in again later. Whether we realize it or not, we are doing this anyway.

Many people only get something resembling this baseline during sleep. Science backs this up, revealing to us the brainwave states we traverse through the waking/sleeping cycle. Yoga talks clearly about this, too. Science now also confirms that people who practice things that resemble zazen and that generally get called “meditation”, are able to achieve sleep-like brain states willfully, and that this capacity has a tendency to improve quality of life in various ways. Zen ancestors might consider these pleasant side effects of a process that is more vital than mere self-improvement.

When we are dedicated to zazen, we are dedicating ourselves to life. I think there is a fundamental anxiety that the practice of zazen can help address. We might call it existential, or spiritual. It is the desire to plug in, to be connected, and to express an intrinsic support for life. We really want very much to support life, and be supported, and consistently find meaning in the daily mundane rhythms of things. It is obvious to almost everyone. Ever notice if when you say you meditate, people say “oh, I should do that. I could use it”? But mostly, they don’t.

Dedication is just doing (in this case doing not-doing.) You know what to do. “The wholehearted way is intimately transmitted. Preserve it well.” There is no objective measure we’ll ever be able to rely on. We’re not going to know the majority of the time, and in fact, not knowing is highly valued in the Dharma teachings (the saying goes, “not knowing is most intimate.”). Not knowing, we can just sit everyday, with faith. This faith is only in the possibility of more zazen! I don’t think anyone has ever regretted a period of zazen after it was completed. We just have to do it. Where does that energy come from? We don’t even have to know. Once we’ve received the “good news” of zazen, we can just do it, and see.

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Uchiyama roshi was a master of origami; he was famous for inventing many different patterns, while the origami world remained largely unaware he was also a dedicated Zen priest and teacher.

On the Tenzo Kyokun

To my mind, Dogen’s essay ‘Tenzo Kyokun’ expresses several important aspects of our practice.  First, of course it highlights the spiritual dimension of what we may think of as mundane daily activities.  Today, we do less cooking than ever before, but for millennia cooking was the epitome of daily housework.  It wouldn’t be crazy to think that the cooks in a monastery might have just been service providers – in today’s context, maybe the monks would just hire contractors to do the cooking while they focus on more important matters of the spirit.  Of course, we know that’s not what a spiritual practice is about – if our practice doesn’t bring meaning into our daily activities, what good is it?  So Dogen really emphasizes that not only is cooking a spiritual practice, it’s maybe the most advanced spiritual practice, only for teachers who are settled in the way.  This makes sense within a monastery – you want the person heading up the kitchen to be solid, to have a good understanding of the practice and to really be able to turn the kitchen into a place of practice as surely as the zendo is a place of practice.  This is not a unique perspective to Soto Zen or to Buddhism.  Brother Lawrence was a 17th century monk who wrote along these very lines:

The time of business does not with me differ from the time of prayer, and in the noise and clatter of my kitchen, while several persons are at the same time calling for different things, I possess God in as great tranquility as if I were upon my knees at the blessed sacrament.

That brings me to the next important aspect expressed by this essay: the transformational quality of our attention.  When we wholeheartedly bring our attention and our efforts to what is right in front of us, we make our environment into what M.F.K. Fisher describes as a place.  “When you walk into a workshop or a studio or classroom of a dedicated teacher, you get this same magical feeling – The key is that concentrated, conscientious work is done there regularly.  In a place, something hangs in the air – a life, a spirit.  You are held there not merely by comfort, but by interest and expectation:  important things go on here.”

Finally, I think Tenzo Kyokun touches on another aspect of practice, our desire to have, as much as possible, experiences that are unmediated.  I mean this in a few different ways – Dogen emphasizes the importance of one-pointedness in the work of the Tenzo, paying close attention to the work at hand, not getting so wrapped up in one aspect of it that you lose track of the rest of the situation.  He also emphasizes the need to not judge the ingredients we are using – just do the best you can with simple ingredients, and don’t get too proud if you happen to have especially good ingredients.  So in this sense, I am referring to experience that is, as much as possible, unmediated by our own judgements, our own preferences, our own distractions.  It’s entirely enough to just cook the food.  Ed Brown tells a wonderful story about the early days at Tassajara, in fact it’s one of the founding stories of our tradition:

When I arrived in April of 1967 to undertake my role as head cook of the newly-founded Zen Mountain Center located at Tassajara Hot Springs, I soon became acquainted with the food habits and rituals of the residents. The center had not officially opened yet, but about twenty-five people were already living there. During my first meal preparation, someone informed me, “We do not use salt in the cooking.”

I was stunned. I couldn’t imagine such a thing. “You don’t use salt?” I stammered. No, of course not. The custom was explained to me as though I was from another planet, as though it were the most obvious thing. “We don’t use salt in the cooking because salt is bad for you. Everyone eats too much salt.” The explanation didn’t explain anything to me.

Arbitrary rulings are pretty common in community life everywhere. Someone knows what is right for everyone else, and although the rationale is vague and incoherent –no real information is conveyed–the authority wants you to go along with it (for your own good).

I found the idea of not using salt upsetting and disconcerting, but not being particularly adept at negotiation or inclined to throw my weight around, I went along with it until I had a chance to consult with Suzuki Roshi, our Zen teacher. These are, after all the kind of matters that can be easily resolved by higher spiritual authority.

“What shall I do?” I asked him. “Everybody has all these different ideas.”

“Different ideas? Like what?”

“They don’t want me to use salt. They say it’s bad for you,” I told him.

“You are the head cook,” he said, “you can use salt if you want.” The things a Zen teacher has to clarify. I was relieved. I wanted everyone to be happy and to agree—but they didn’t. I didn’t want to side against anybody, but the Roshi’s authority settled it for me. I could use salt.

Then I asked the Roshi if he had any advice for me as the cook. His answer was straightforward and down-to-earth: “When you wash the rice, wash the rice; when you cut the carrots, cut the carrots; when you stir the soup, stir the soup.”

         Zazen is close to an unmediated experience – just our senses, our thoughts, moment by moment.  When we go to the mountains and feel refreshed by the cool air and the sights and sounds of the mountains, we enjoy the unmediated quality of the experience.  There’s something wonderful about experiencing the natural world in our bodies, with no assistance from binoculars or cameras or even sunglasses – just feeling the form of the mountains, hearing the sounds of the valley streams.

Today, so much of our experience is mediated by corporate culture – we drive to work in our Honda cars and use our Apple computers and eat food from Whole Foods, we are largely separated from the basic physical reality of our lives by corporations.  Corporate culture was not an issue, as far as we can tell, during Dogen’s time, but the practice of the tenzo, that personal dedication to the daily work of living, and sharing our efforts to support our community, is perhaps the greatest antidote we have to the rising tide of disconnection we face in our society today.  So, I am pleased to be able to tell you that tonight’s period of zazen was not sponsored by Coca-Cola, Bridgestone, or Toyota.  Nor was it brought to us through a generous grant from the John D. and Katherine T. MacArthur Foundation.  Instead, zazen was brought to us through our animal bodies and by our wild, fertile human hearts.

Sincerity is the Railway Track

“The Bodhisattva’s way is called “the single minded way,” or “one railway track thousands of miles long.” The railway track is always the same. If it were to become wider or narrower, it would be disastrous. Wherever you go, the railway track is always the same. That is the Bodhisattva’s way. This way is in each moment to express true nature and sincerity.

“We say railway track, but actually, there is no railway track. Sincerity is the railway track. It is a beginingless and endless track. There is no starting point, no goal, nothing at all to attain. Just to run on the track in our way. This is that nature of our Zen practice.

“But when you become curious about the railway track, danger is there. You should not see the railway track. If you look at the track you will become dizzy. Just appreciate the sights from the train. That is our way. Someone will take care of the track; Buddha will take care of it. There is no secret. Everyone already has the same nature as the railway track.”

Shunryu Suzuki roshi, Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind, p. 54

This statement feels really reassuring in some way, in the heart. But the mind’s natural tendency is to question, to balk a little bit. Maybe we say, but how will anything get done? How would we have science, or art? How will we solve the climate crisis?

If we turn fully toward Buddha Dharma, some of this attitude has to be surrendered. And often enough, that can be a relief. We can seem to work through a lot of stuff internally, but often, the circumstances of our life simply dictate whether we turn left or right. We are just riding on the track, fully encountering and occupied with what shows up along the way. Considering that the whole universe can be seen as “one great pearl” or “10,000 miles of white jade,” we can potentially enact awakening in all instances. Which we don’t even need to do, because maybe it is awakening us.

I like Suzuki roshi’s explanation here. It is suffused with this attitude of cheerful patience that I think many of us aspire to rest more within. As perhaps we’ve noticed, it doesn’t always just spontaneously arise in all circumstances. A regular zazen practice, especially connected with other people sharing this intention to ride more smoothly on the tracks of Buddha Dharma, can simply provide context and circumstance for us to encounter the grace and intelligence that is already unfolding in our midst.

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Samadhi for Difficult Times

A message from ADZG teacher Taigen Dan Leighton

We are practicing in tumultuous times. Our zazen is the samadhi of all beings, to be present together with everyone, even in the middle of sadness and confusion. Tragic murders of black people by police keep happening again and again, recently the senseless and brutal killing of Alton Sterling, Philando Castille, and then the terrible killing of Dallas policemen. We are present with the fear felt by all beings, both black people and police. We recognize the powerful legacy of racism that pervades our society, and all our hearts, and goes back to our country’s foundations in slavery. Our practice gives us the power to face sadness and fear, not to give in to hatred, but to share kindness and support with all. We sit facing the wall not to keep people out, but as a window to see our connectedness, and to see ourselves in all others. I actively support the nonviolent Black Lives Matter movement as a way to honor all beings, and I encourage others to support dialogue and justice.

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July Half Day Sit 7/9

Please join us for all or any part of our half day sit tomorrow.

(Meditation shown to grow brain cells and improve gut function!)

The schedule is as follows:

1:00-1:35 zazen
1:35-1:45 kinhin (walking)
1:45-2:20 zazen
2:20-2:30 kinhin
2:30-3:05 zazen
3:05-3:15 kinhin
3:15-3:50 zazen
3:50-4:00 kinhin
4:00-4:35 zazen
4:35 Service and closing

There is no fee, and you may enter or depart at any point, preferably during the kinhin periods. Donations are welcome.

Please wear comfortable clothing that is preferably in dark solid colors and that covers legs and shoulders. Make sure cell phones are turned off – please check that vibration also is turned off.

As usual, we will be at Dragonfly Yoga.  Please be in touch if you have questions or concerns.

April 9 Half Day Sit

Saturday, April 9th, we will have our monthly half-day sitting.
The schedule is as follows:

1:00-1:35 zazen
1:35-1:45 kinhin (walking)
1:45-2:20 zazen
2:20-2:30 kinhin
2:30-3:05 zazen
3:05-3:15 kinhin
3:15-3:50 zazen
3:50-4:00 kinhin
4:00-4:35 zazen
4:35 Service and closing

There is no fee, and you may enter or depart at any point, preferably during the kinhin periods. Donations are welcome.

Please wear comfortable clothing that is preferably in dark solid colors and that covers legs and shoulders. Make sure cell phones are turned off – please check that vibration also is turned off.

As usual, we will be at Dragonfly Yoga.  Please be in touch if you have questions or concerns.

Breath and Precepts

Eihei Dogen on Breath from Eihei Koroku, vol. 5, case #390 (trans. Leighton/Okumura pg. 348-350)

In the zazen of patch-robed monks, first you should sit correctly with upright posture. Then regulate your breath and settle your mind. In the lesser vehicle originally there were two gateways, which were counting breaths and contemplating impurity. In the lesser vehicle, people used counting to regulate their breath.

However, the buddha ancestor’s engaging of the way always differed from the lesser vehicle. A Buddha ancestor said, “Even if you arouse the mind of a leprous wild fox, never practice the self-regulation of the two vehicles.” The two vehicles refer to such as the school of the four-part Vinaya and the Abhidharma Kosa school, which have spread in the world these days. In the Mahayana there is also a method for regulating breath, which is knowing that one breath is long, another breath is short. The breath reaches the tanden and comes up from the tanden. Although exhale and inhale differ, both of them occur depending on the tanden. Impermanence is easy to clarify, and regulating the mind is easy to accomplish.

My late teacher Tiantong said, “Breath enters and reaches the tanden, and yet there is no place from which it comes. Therefore it is neither long nor short. Breath emerges from the tanden, and yet there is nowhere it goes. Therefore it is neither short nor long.”

My late teacher said it like that. Suppose someone were to ask Eihei, “Master, how do you regulate your breath?” I would simply say to him: Although it is not the great vehicle, it differs from the lesser vehicle. Although it is not the lesser vehicle, it differs from the great vehicle.

Suppose that person inquired again, “Ultimately, what is it?” I would say to him: Exhale and inhale are neither long nor short.

Someone asked Baizhang, “The Yogacarabhumi Shastra and the Jewel Necklace Sutra contain

the Mahayana precepts. Why don’t you practice according to them?” Baizhang said, “What I take as essential is not limited to the greater or lesser vehicles, and does not differ from the greater or lesser vehicles. I condense and combine the extensive scope [of regulations] to establish standards for appropriate conduct.”

Baizhang said it this way, but Eihei is certainly not like this. It is not the case that it is not limited to the great or small vehicles, or not different from the great or small vehicles. What is this small vehicle? The affairs of the donkey are not complete. What is this great vehicle? The affairs of the horse have already arrived. Not the extensive scope means the extremely great is the same as the small. Not condensed means the extremely small is the same as the great. I do not combine, but gallop over and drop away great and small. Already having accomplished this, how shall we go beyond?

After a pause Dogen said: When healthy and energetic we do zazen without falling asleep. When hungry we eat rice, and know we are fully satisfied.

We have spent a few weeks investigating the practice of taking and maintaining the 16 Bodhisattva precepts in the Soto Zen tradition. This is following on the heels of some our regulars having participated in jukai (receiving lay precepts/ordination) with our sister sangha up in Taos and their teacher, Ian Forsberg. I wished to go to our founding teacher in Japan, Eihei Dogen Zenji, to see what advice he had about the precepts. Some cursory research confirmed my impression that Dogen didn’t directly speak about the precepts all that much. He clearly outlined them and how to administer them in chapter 83 of the Shobogenzo, called simply “Jukai”. Beyond that, the references generally remain oblique.

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Jukai at Hokokji

For instance, in this wide-ranging case from Dogen’s Eihei Koroku, he drops an interesting reference to the precepts, but he curiously couches it in a discussion about breathing – that in true Dogen fashion, is hardly just about “breathing”.

In the zazen of patch-robed monks, first you should sit correctly with upright posture. Then regulate your breath and settle your mind. In the lesser vehicle originally there were two gateways, which were counting breaths and contemplating impurity. In the lesser vehicle, people used counting to regulate their breath.

Dogen Zenji gives a succinct lucid summary of our zazen practice right off the bat. Then he leads us right into weeds and tangled branches. “Lesser Vehicle” (Hinayana) can mean different things. The Buddhism that established itself in East Asia some centuries after the historical Buddha’s physical lifetime referred to itself as the “Great Vehicle” (Mahayana) as opposed to the earlier, “lesser” iteration which (in a nutshell) emphasized cutting off worldly attachments with the hope of getting “enlightened” in order to get off the perceived cyclical wheel of existence, or at least get a better “rebirth” to make that more likely in future.

Mahayanists are defined by their emphasis on practicing for the benefit of all beings, realizing that the very idea of self and other is highly conditioned and subjective. In other words, everybody or nobody. Hinayana as a reference to a specific school of Buddhism is generally considered pejorative today. Instead the term Theravada (“the elders path”) is used. In Tibetan Buddhism, Hinayana and Mahayana can refer to stages of practice and their associated techniques or concepts. I think both qualities are implied in Dogen’s use.

However, the buddha ancestor’s engaging of the way always differed from the lesser vehicle. A Buddha ancestor said, “Even if you arouse the mind of a leprous wild fox, never practice the self-regulation of the two vehicles.” The two vehicles refer to such as the school of the four-part Vinaya and the Abhidharma Kosa school, which have spread in the world these days.

Dogen immediately begins to point (with some urgency) beyond this “two vehicle” model, and its associated distinctions or emphases. The school of the four part Vinaya can mean practitioners who are overly obsessed with following the complex and stringent rules of conduct laid out for ordained monastics during the historical Buddha’s time; a sort of fundamentalist position. The Abhidharma Kosa school might be thought of as practitioners overly concerned with theory and maps of consciousness. We can find correlates in our own place and time, and in more familiar traditions.

In the Mahayana there is also a method for regulating breath, which is knowing that one breath is long, another breath is short. The breath reaches the tanden and comes up from the tanden. Although exhale and inhale differ, both of them occur depending on the tanden. Impermanence is easy to clarify, and regulating the mind is easy to accomplish.

These instructions will be familiar to many students of Zen (which is technically a form of Mahayana Buddhism): concentrating the energy in the abdomen (tanden), and utilizing diaphragmatic breathing to cultivate settledness, confidence, and clarity of mind. But Dogen doesn’t let us settle in believing these “Great Vehicle” techniques superior to the “Lesser Vehicle” ones.

My late teacher Tiantong said, “Breath enters and reaches the tanden, and yet there is no place from which it comes. Therefore it is neither long nor short. Breath emerges from the tanden, and yet there is nowhere it goes. Therefore it is neither short nor long.”

Dogen reaches for the words of his teacher, who handily dismantles this idea of refuge in a fixed idea of breath. Where does breath come from? Where does it go to? In this deeper sense, how can we call any individual breath long or short? Tiantong Rujing posits the breath as a readily available koan, a living gateway to the mystery of Buddha.However, Dogen does not stop even here. He’s not interested in setting up another authority for you, or another bottom line – even from his own master.

My late teacher said it like that. Suppose someone were to ask Eihei, “Master, how do you regulate your breath?” I would simply say to him: Although it is not the great vehicle, it differs from the lesser vehicle. Although it is not the lesser vehicle, it differs from the great vehicle. Suppose that person inquired again, “Ultimately, what is it?” I would say to him: Exhale and inhale are neither long nor short.

Here Dogen pulls it all together, and also takes it all a bit more apart. The lesser and greater vehicles are not the same, nor are they different. Don’t stick, he says. Well, should I concentrate on breath? Can I take refuge in that? Don’t stick, he says. Then he lays out some more fly paper.

Someone asked Baizhang, “The Yogacarabhumi Shastra and the Jewel Necklace Sutra contain the Mahayana precepts. Why don’t you practice according to them?” Baizhang said, “What I take as essential is not limited to the greater or lesser vehicles, and does not differ from the greater or lesser vehicles. I condense and combine the extensive scope [of regulations] to establish standards for appropriate conduct.”

This is the reference to the precepts. Basically, the student is asking the teacher, “this famous text authoritatively presents especially ennobling and liberating rules of conduct. Shouldn’t we just follow those? Won’t that do?” As with defining the breath or being subject to the differing schools, Dogen quotes this eminent ancestor who says, don’t stick. Use what works, in context. Importantly though, the example here isn’t just “do what you want.” Rather, this discussion is occurring among people who already have recognized the greatness of their traditions and ancestors, and fully taken refuge in Buddha, Dharma, and Sangha. This isn’t antinomianism. These are devoted people suggesting that we establish ourselves in practice, then use our common sense and not get stuck in dogma. But lest we get stuck even here

Baizhang said it this way, but Eihei is certainly not like this. It is not the case that it is not limited to the great or small vehicles, or not different from the great or small vehicles. What is this small vehicle? The affairs of the donkey are not complete. What is this great vehicle? The affairs of the horse have already arrived. Not the extensive scope means the extremely great is the same as the small. Not condensed means the extremely small is the same as the great. I do not combine, but gallop over and drop away great and small. Already having accomplished this, how shall we go beyond?

After a pause Dogen said: When healthy and energetic we do zazen without falling asleep. When hungry we eat rice, and know we are fully satisfied.

Of course, Dogen wants to liberate us even from this idea of liberation. I will let these final words stand on their own. I feel like they go straight to the place beyond words, galloping over and through them. I don’t know about you, but they just make me want to practice. I imagine this was precisely the point.

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Upcoming events at VDZS

Please join us next Monday, February 8th for a special visit and dharma talk with our friend Maia Duerr.  Maia is an anthropologist, writer, and longtime Zen practitioner. She is a student in the Soto Zen lineage of Suzuki Roshi, and has lived and practiced at the San Francisco Zen Center where she received jukai from Victoria Shosan Austin in 2008. She is currently preparing to receive entrustment as a lay Zen teacher from Shosan. In 2012, she received lay ordination from Roshi Joan Halifax as a lay Buddhist chaplain. Maia was the director of Upaya Zen Center’s Buddhist Chaplaincy Training Program from its inception in 2008 to 2014 and continues to serve on Upaya’s Engaged Buddhism faculty.

Zazen will begin as usual at 6:30pm, followed by a short service.  Maia’s talk will begin around 7:15pm, and there will be time for discussion after the lecture.

On Saturday, February 13th, we will have our monthly half-day sitting.
The half-day schedule is as follows:

1:00-1:35 zazen
1:35-1:45 kinhin (walking)
1:45-2:20 zazen
2:20-2:30 kinhin
2:30-3:05 zazen
3:05-3:15 kinhin
3:15-3:50 zazen
3:50-4:00 kinhin
4:00-4:35 zazen
4:35 Service and closing

There is no fee, and you may enter or depart at any point, preferably during the kinhin periods.

Both events will be held at Dragonfly Yoga.  Please be in touch if you have questions or concerns.