Zen (Chan)

The meditation (dhyana) school originating in China that emphasizes "mind-to-mind transmission"
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    A Special Transmission Paid Member

    Legend tells us that Chan Buddhism began in India, specifically when the Buddha transmitted his true dharma to one and only one disciple, Mahakashyapa. History, however, tells us a different story, namely that Chan originated in China some time around the 6th century. Over time, the Chan school spread throughout most of the Chinese sphere of cultural influence—to Korea, Vietnam, and of course Japan, and it is by its Japanese name, Zen, that Westerners recognize it best. Of course, it is not just the name; the Japanese tradition is by far the most familiar and visible of Chan’s various cultural manifestations, though Korean and Vietnamese traditions as well have gained sizable footing in the West. All of which makes for a certain irony: while Chan originated in China, and while China, after the Indian subcontinent, has been the most historically influential home for Buddhism, Westerners tend by and large to have very little working knowledge of contemporary Chinese Buddhism. More »
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    The Enlightenment Pill Paid Member

    Western society is obsessed with medication. Because medical science has advanced so far so quickly, we are prone to imagine that drugs can cure any illness if only we can find just the right combination of chemicals. So naturally when we hear representatives of Eastern religions describe our normal condition as diseased, we wonder what we can take to fix that. The notion that there might be a pill to make us enlightened seems to make perfect sense. The idea that psychedelic drugs might be able to do in minutes what used to take years of deep introspection and hard practice has recently made a major comeback. As if the 1960s and 1970s taught us nothing, there is a whole new generation promoting hallucination as a substitute for meditation. More »
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    The Buddha Stain Paid Member

    At the further edges, cults are certainly different from other types of communities, whether religious or secular. But aside from the extremes, there can be a large gray area. Which is to say, certain characteristics that are present in most any purposeful community—self-validating agreements about authority; the singular significance of the group’s mission; clear rules of conduct and organization—can, when pushed far enough, lead to cult-like behavior, with damaging consequences. More »
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    Goalless Practice Paid Member

    The iconoclastic itinerant Soto Zen teacher “Homeless” Kodo Sawaki Roshi famously said, “Zazen is good for nothing!” He wasn’t being facetious. He wasn’t employing some kind of “skillful means” by saying something he really didn’t believe. He wasn’t being mystical and saying it’s good (wink, wink) for nothing (nudge, nudge). Nope. He meant it. Zazen really is good for nothing. It’s useless. Absolutely useless. One of the hardest aspects of Zen practice is getting your head around the idea that zazen has no goal. No goal at all. You don’t do it for anything except itself. It doesn’t get you anywhere. It doesn’t gain you a damned thing. More »
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    How a Buddhist Can Prepare for Death Paid Member

    Each of us will enter the Painful Bardo of Dying and Death, some of us sooner than later. Why not prepare for this event now, while you still are able to do so?  In this retreat, you will be offered practical tools to help plan this process, including completion of advance care directives, will and estate planning, death care options for Buddhists, and Tonglen, Nine Contemplations of Atisha, Essential Phowa Practice, and Dissolution of the Elements instruction. If you allow yourself this opportunity to consider your own death with clarity, lovingkindness, compassion and tenderness, you will learn to move beyond—beyond fear, apprehension, and denial, and into an acceptance and understanding of the nature of impermanence. Your willingness to do this will be a gift to your loved ones, as you will then be able to leave them with the information they will need to continue their support when you cannot speak for yourself. Retreat begins November 6, 2012. More »
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    Do Your Best Paid Member

    Just do your best. This is the whole of practice, the whole of our life. All sorts of chatter comes up in the midst of the circumstances of our life. Something breaks, we clean it up or fix it up. Or we can start chattering about, “Why does this happen to me? Oh, I always do this. What am I going to do? What does this mean?” We all know the consequences of that. After speaking with someone, do we continue holding on to the discussion with “internal” chatter, like, “Why did they say that to me? It’s not fair.” If that chatter—habits of reactions, habits of thoughts and emotions—arises, then right there in the noticed chatter is our practice. Just be chatter in the midst of doing, and allow chatter to pass. Bodily experience this. More »