All posts tagged: zen

Practicing Simplicity: Two Teachers on Zen

By Katharine Kaufman and Michael Wood // The beginner’s mind has many possibilities — Shunryu Suzuki The upcoming SMC retreat, “Practicing Simplicity,” is the result of an ongoing conversation between two friends and students of Zen. Katharine’s Zen practice is foundational to her work with Poetry and Contemplative Movement Arts. Michael revels in the paradoxical; learning from ontological and cultural engagements with Dharma Art and Zen philosophy. It is through our shared intuitive appreciation for the beauty of fragility and contingency of expression that we have come together to offer this weekend introduction to Zen retreat. Please join us in discovering the simplicity of Zen practice.  Michael says: In the Sôtô Zen tradition, the primary practice is shikantaza- or “just sitting.” While we do not sit as a means to an end, through the process of sitting, we find that as our thoughts settle and a  glimpse of the non-dual nature of reality reveals itself, awareness and the ability to concentrate on the precision of forms and transience of the present arises. In doing so, experience is once again …

[VIDEO] Zen Path of the Heart

By Gerry Shishin Wick, Roshi and Ilia Shinko Perez, Roshi // Many spiritual practitioners are confused about what to do when feelings and emotions arise during meditation. Some traditions teach to treat the emotions like thoughts and let them go, returning to the breath. In Zen Path of the Heart, feeling sensations and emotions are welcomed and seen as necessary aspects of progress in the path of awakening. The sensations of emotions, when present, become the focal point of the concentrated mind and are held with nonjudgmental awareness. This gentle and kind acceptance of our present state allows feelings to come, run their course, and dissolve and transform. Allowing these emotional processes to unfold as they naturally need to heals the emotional wounds developed throughout one’s life, and thereby dissolving karmic habit patterns. Ongoing meditation develops the expansive container that can hold these emotional states without needing to eject into mental stories or repress the emotion through avoidance. The path to the recognition of our True Being must include everything: our feelings, our personality and our humanity. …

Follow

By Katharine Kaufman // Be soft in your practice. Think of the method as a fine silvery stream, not a raging waterfall. Follow the stream, have faith in its course. It will go it’s own way, meandering here, trickling there. It will find the grooves, the cracks, the crevices. Just follow it. Never let it out of your sight. It will take you. ~Sheng-yen In January 1994 I was lay ordained in the Soto Zen lineage. On my way to Hokoji Zendo I gave Fran Lewis a ride. Fran is an early student of Chogyam Trungpa and best friend of Kobun Chino, Roshi. Fran was the first outwardly outrageous person I met on this Dharma path, long white hair in two thick braids, big glasses, layered and colorful clothes. She says what ever she wants, tells wild funny stories about the 60’s, and cuts through pretention like a Samurai. During the seven-hour drive I have a lot of questions about what I’m in for. “Don’t doubt your Guru!” Fran repeats. In Arroyo Secco Kobun serves …

Wisdom & Compassion

By Katharine Kaufman // It was Kobun Chino’s birthday a few days ago. If he was still alive Fran would give him some birthday money and he’d spend it all at the Pacific Mercantile. Lesley would make him sushi. I would be his assistant, along with others. He’d show up late and drive the president crazy. Zen would be very popular at Naropa. Certain Zen Centers would disapprove of the wild lineage…but they would love Kobun. ~ But he’s not here and we are. I am. ~ In 1994 at the beginning of a three month practice period in the Santa Cruz Mountains, Michael Newhall put his two hands on my back and pushed me up the hill to try to catch Kobun Chino, who was about to drive away. ~ When you want to be on this Soto path you sew a rakasu (the bib like fabric that maybe you’ve seen, sort of short hand for a full robe). I am told in Shakyamuni Buddha’s time people used fabric from piles of discarded cloth. …

water writing: homage

By Katharine Kaufman Shibata Sensei is so old that it takes two people to prop him upright. Yoshiko holds his left side. She is the daughter of Zen master, Kobun Chino. We are here, at the home-made Zendo, in a small dip in the Santa Cruz mountains, because it’s the 10th anniversary of Kobun’s death. Kobun’s expression of being came from the natural depth of what it is to be human and nature. Every body has it. He told me not to speak of it so much, as if my saying the words, original nature, chipped something away from the type of beauty that is also truth. When my friend Janet Solyntjes hosted him at Naropa College she did all these things for him. She registered students for the class, drove him where he wanted to go and made sure he had a place to stay where the sound of the refrigerator was only a quiet hum. In the end he thanked her for the glass of water she gave him to drink once, before …

Diane Musho Hamilton on Creativity, Emotions and the Necessity of Conflict

Sitting before a blank page, waiting to decide on the opening words of this post, I’ve been experiencing a sense of unease, disruption, chaos — in mind and body. And that’s no surprise. It turns out that the space of creativity — and communication in general — is tinged with uncertainty, and that brings with it some rather challenging psychological and physiological upheavals. It’s interesting to learn about the evolutionary basis for “fight or flight” and how we’ve evolved in such a way that allows us to accomodate the gushing of adrenaline and cortizol without actually bolting from the room of lunging at a fellow human with our claws out. More to the point though… meditation is quite helpful in allowing us to not only accomodate our emotions, but to ride them in such a way that the intelligence of these energies can be harnessed and employed in the service of creativity. That’s what was happening with me as I began writing this post. And that’s what happens each time I pause and wait for …

Zen Mind, Brush Mind: Kaz Tanahashi

  Kazuaki Tanahashi will be leading Brush Mind: Zen Calligraphy and Brushwork, September 11–13, 2015 A lot could be (and has been) said about  Kazuaki Tanahashi (who is affectionately known as “Kaz”) — a deeply precious teacher, artist, and activist.  Here, we’ll let his masterful bushwork do most of the talking.  Enjoy.     Zen Circles “In the Zen tradition ensos, or circle symbols, have been drawn with black ink on paper, to represent enlightenment. As the multi-colored flow of paint represents the interconnectedness of all life, each circle reflects my hopes, visions and aspirations for a world making healthier choices for the benefit of future generations.” –Kaz   Brush Calligraphy “The ideography that originated in China has been a common writing system in China, Vietnam, Korea, and Japan for centuries, although the ideographs are pronounced differently.” –Kaz   One-Stroke Paintings “Tanahashi’s one-stroke paintings … always painted in just one breath, leave a passionate swash whispered trace.” – Kyoto Journal To see more of Kaz’s artwork, and to learn more about this incredible master, please …

The Virtue of Variety: A Practitioner’s Toolbox

By Troy Rapp Early in my meditation life, I found myself drawn to explore different styles of practice. I was in the midst of my first fall training period at Tassajara Zen Mountain Center after having spent two years practicing meditation in the Soto Zen tradition, when I found myself drawn to study Korean Zen that winter. A group of monks from this tradition had come to visit and brought with them an English translation of their teachings. I discussed this with the teacher under whom I had begun to practice Zen, and was strongly advised against it. The basis of this instruction was a belief that it was not possible to deepen a spiritual life without unwavering devotion to one style of practice. This type of admonition is not uncommon in the world of spiritual practice. I’ve encountered it from many teachers in a variety of traditions over the years. “If you’re digging a well, you won’t hit water by starting a new hole” goes the metaphor commonly used to support this perspective. I …

Free Your Genius From Myth

  It has been said of Vincent Van Gogh, Ernest Hemingway, Sylvia Plath, John Nash, Franz Kafka, Rothko, Jackson Pollock, Michael Jackson, Nick Cave, Kurt Cobain, Billy Stayhorn, Billie Holiday, Roman Polanski, Marlon Brando, Winston Churchill, Caravaggio, Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo, Tchaikovsky, Dostoevsky, Tolstoy, well…anyone famous and Russian. The myth of the Tortured Genius dates back to the ancient Greeks who attributed to the god Dionysus the realms of music, wine, inspiration and madness. Dr. Ronald Alexander sees it differently. “The idea of the Tortured Genius is both a reality and a perpetuated myth.” He points out that the lives of many accomplished and inspired individuals, like those listed above, were afflicted with mood disorders. Depression and bipolar disorder, usually. Most of them suffered at a time when psychology was ill-equipped to address their needs, and society had little understanding of how the mind and body work together to create a personal experience. But it is important to separate the myth, and its false perceptions, from the reality. The myth was that people believed the extreme moods, behavior …

Way Seeking Mind: A Meditation and Yoga Retreat for Women

by Katharine Kaufman I offer a women’s retreat twice a year, on the hottest, longest days in the middle of summer, and the coldest, dark winter days. I see myself as more of a facilitator of this retreat, rather than a teacher. We arrive alone and together, 12 or 15 of us, and we simply practice yoga, sitting, sharing. Something subtle and close transforms because of this turning our discursive gaze inward. There is a luxurious break in the afternoons to hike, read, rest, or visit with each other. Transformation is not always a smooth ride. We have our practices, the support of the schedule, teachings, to hold us—and each other. My favorite part of this retreat is when we individually choose a place outdoors, and practice solo the four postures of meditation. These beautiful places we choose offer us the chance to simply be in one area in nature, with no agenda. We understand the gentle wind, grasses, texture of rocks, as good friends, not just scenery. We can lean against a tree, close our …