Zen (Chan)

The meditation (dhyana) school originating in China that emphasizes "mind-to-mind transmission"
  • Tricycle Community 5 comments

    Face-to-face with Natalie Goldberg Paid Member

    I think there's nothing better than being a teacher and a student. It is an education. But Katagiri Roshi taught me what it was to go beyond the teacher, to be a great living, breathing, human being who gave a hundred percent to life—forget about the dharma—to life, to what it means to be alive and to love not just another person but to love every moment. He used to say, "Our goal is to have kind consideration for all sentient beings every moment forever." So that was very large. He gave me a big vision of not only what a teacher could be but what a human being could be. Once I went to Roshi . . . and told him, "When I'm at Zen Center, I feel like a writer. When I'm with writers, I feel like a Zen student." "Someday you will have to choose," said Roshi. "You're not ready yet but someday you will be. Writing and Zen are parallel paths, but not the same." More »
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    Give and Take: On Studying Koans Paid Member

    What are three good reasons for studying koans? First of all, koan study is an efficient and effective means to bring students to realization of their true self. Second, koans attract type A personalities and goal-oriented people to meditation. Third, they give you something to think about while meditating.What are three really bad reasons? See answer to question one.Do you have a favorite koan? I have many favorite koans, and it is hard to pick only one. I especially like case 20 in the Book of Equanimity, when Master Jizo asks Hogen what is the nature of his pilgrimage and Hogen replies, “I don't know.” Jizo then says, “Not knowing is most intimate.” Hearing that, Hogen experiences great enlightenment. More »
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    Ambivalent Zen Paid Member

    Roshi wears his Yankee cap to breakfast, doesn’t remove it even after we sit down. He has a large collection of hats, but he has worn this one exclusively since I bought it for him last week at Yankee Stadium. Slightly self-conscious about his shaved head, he never goes out without a hat, but the Yankee cap has the added advantage of making him look, if not like an American, at least at home in the culture. Like any Zen master, he aims to walk the streets as if invisible, attract no attention, leave no trace of himself in anyone’s mind. The robes he wears in the zendo are seldom worn outside it. He favors flannel shirts and khaki pants, Saucony running shoes, a Yankee jacket in the fall and, when the weather turns, a parka and a black woolen watch cap purchased through the L. L. Bean catalogue. In addition to hats, he collects watches and seems to wear a different one every day. More »
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    Raven's Edge Paid Member

    IN MEDITATION PRACTICE, as in the garden, often the best learning happens at the edge of what you know, where the sorceress hills at the back of your brain go stone dark and you push through onto new ground. “Not wholly in the busy world, nor quite beyond it,” observed the poet Alfred, Lord Tennyson of the garden. This is the landscape I happened upon this winter, standing in the last Green Gulch field before the ocean, when a flock of ravens dismantled my notion of what it takes to make a garden. More »
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    Of Samurai and Sisterhood Paid Member

    Alexis: Many of us came into Buddhism at the same time that we came into feminism, at least the three of us, and so we were wondering for you, how these two isms, Buddhism and feminism, are complementary and how are they contradictory? I find them complementary, and it’s probably because my personal and academic interests in feminism have been about the self and the formation of gender. I teach a course called “The Construction and Deconstruction of Gender,” which almost sounds like a course on Buddhism—in both cases it seems to me that the practice is about letting go of the labels and identities that limit us. I’m not sure I have ever found feminism and Buddhism in conflict. Because I see any feminist issue—like any issue ever, anywhere in the universe—as a Zen issue. More »
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    Being Intimate with Demons Paid Member

    At Tassajara, the Soto Zen monastery inland from Big Sur, where I lived for three years in the mid-seventies, a stone Buddha of great beauty and concentration sits on an altar. From his lotus throne he radiates both serenity and acceptance, the traditional half-smile on his face greeting whatever is brought into the room. In many ways, I found such a reminder of one’s own Buddha-nature quite helpful. Without such equanimity, how could one sit without moving amid the many hours of thoughts, feelings, memories, physical pain, or even the joys, that are an inevitable part of Zen practice? More »