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2014

August
7-10 Alan Senauke Visit
10 Dharma Talk with Alan
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10
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17 Well Being Service
22 Night Shelter Cooking
31 Dharma Talk with Gene

September
7 Dharma Talk with Gene
9 Full Moon Ceremony
12
Night Shelter Cooking
14
Poetry Sunday
21 Well Being Service
26 Night Shelter Cooking
26-27 Sesshin with Gene
28 Dharma Talk with Gene

October
10 Night Shelter Cooking
12
Poetry Sunday
14 Full Moon Ceremony
19 Well Being Service
24 Night Shelter Cooking

November
2 Dharma Talk with Gene
9 Dharma Talk with Gene
11 Full Moon Ceremony
14
Night Shelter Cooking
16
Poetry Sunday
16 Well Being Service
28 Night Shelter Cooking
28 Dharma Talk with Gene

December
1-6 Rohatsu Sesshin with Gene
7 Dharma Talk with Gene
9 Full Moon Ceremony
12
Night Shelter Cooking
14
Poetry Sunday
21 Well Being Service
26 Night Shelter Cooking

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No. 1 ~ 2013


Contents

In Grateful Memory of Pete Kayes

Tomales Bay ~ from Angie Boissevain

Finding Our True Place ~ from Maylie Scott

Heart and Diamond ~ from Judith Louise

Toby Griggs Jukai Ceremony

Together ~ from Toby Griggs

The Buddha Beat ~ from Jakc Miller

The Wheatfield ~ from Barbara Maderas



In Grateful Memory of Pete Kayes

Pete Kayes

"Clarence "Pete" Kayes of Hydesville passed away on December 13, 2012 due to a rare kidney disease that he lived with and bravely fought for 8 years. He was born in Maryland on June 5, 1944. He graduated from Sparrows Point High School and continued on to receive a master's degree in family counseling from USF. He served in theUnited States Navy for 6 years aboard a nuclear submarine stationed in Hawaii; he was a scuba diver and underwater photographer. Pete married Nina Hand on May 20, 1965. Their journey together began in high school and throughout 50 years, they found great joy and purpose in each other's presence. Pete worked at Pacific Lumber Company on the pond and as a blacksmith. Later, he was proud to work at Redwood Memorial Hospital as Engineering/Maintenance Supervisor until he retired due to his illness. He was a member of the Arcata Zen Group for 30 years. He also participated in a weekly meditation group in Fortuna and helped facilitate an outreach program at the Humboldt County jail. Pete had volunteered with Big Brothers and with Hospice of Humboldt. He was a gifted photographer; among his favorite subjects was his beloved granddaughter. Pete was a skillful woodworker and enjoyed making beautiful furniture for friends and family. He loved poetry. Pete was a lifelong champion of justice and seeker of understanding. He was a generous and compassionate friend and counselor who will be in our hearts forever. Pete is survived by his wife, Nina; his twin daughters Jennifer Kayes and Sarah Dunlap, Sarah's husband Norm and his granddaughter Ashlee; his brother Ted Kayes and sister Shirley Hummel; by his brothers-in-law Arthur Hand and Charles Hand and by his niece Kim Boatright and nephews Ted and Chase Kayes.. A private service was held to honor Pete's life. The family would like to thank Dr. Allen Matthew and Tennie Brooks for their expert, dedicated and compassionate treatment of our beloved Pete. We would also like to express sincere gratitude to the Sisters, staff and physicians of St. Joseph Hospital and Dr. Amanzadeh for excellence in all aspects of patient care."

Published in Eureka Times-Standard on January 6, 2013


Tomales Bay
from Angie Boissevain

Far below, some small four-legged shape
Is drinking at a farmer’s pond.
As it lopes away, I say, “Coyote”
And watch it take a curved way off
Behind the hill. But suddenly,
Over the nearest brow, insouscient,
On not so dainty feet, she’s present,
Moving slowly toward me through
Dry grass and tiny summer flowers,
As if I’d called her---and then stops
To look at me more carefully before
She sits down two arms-lengths away.
Side by side we two admire the Tomales
View and the small sounds of our breath
In the estuary air, her rough coat
A good animal smell. Rising, finally,
with a last look, she trots on up the hill
and there’s no awe in me, just joy
To have been confirmed this way.

 

Maylie Scott
6/6/1996
Lloyd Fulton's, Arcata, CA

Finding Our True Place


In Berkeley, there is a practice period going on, and the head student there is talking about Dongshan Liangjie enlightenment poem which is a famous little poem which certainly several people in this room are familiar with so I would like to talk a little bit about the poem and my experience of it. Then I hope we can have a discussion.

Dongshan is one of the Soto Zen school ancestors. His dates are 807-869. When he first made a connection with Buddhism, his initial question, stemming from his knowledge of the Heart Sutra was, "But I do have ears, I do have nose, I do have eyes" etc. so his first hit was this Middle Way position of, "This is my experience, and there is something more." His question was, then, how you balance this person with these habits and these ideas, how you balance this continual stream of personality experience with the unlimited experience of the whole world, of the whole universe. How do we find our place? That was his question, and in pursuing that question, he went to various teachers until he found his root teacher, Yunyan (782-841).

His question to Yunyan was a little bit different: "What kind of man is able to hear the teaching of the dharma through non-sentient things?" Dongshan had understood that you partly get the teaching by learning it and understanding and partly you have to turn all that effort upside down. You have to put aside everything you think you know and just exercise "Beginner's Mind." Now how do you hear teachings from the wall, the mats, the tape-recorder?

Dongshan asked, "how do you hear the teaching from these objects around us?"
Yunyan replied, "The dharma taught by non-sentient things will be heard by non-sentient things." [A good practical answer.]
Dongshan said, "Can you hear it?" His teacher said, "If I hear it, you will not. Now I am teaching the dharma."
And Dongshan replied, "If this is so, it means I do not hear you teaching the dharma."
Yunyan challenged him saying, "When I taught the dharma, even you did not hear it so how can you expect to be taught by non-sentient things?"

Then Dongshan made up a little poem-maybe based on his first kind of insight experience:
It is strange indeed; it is strange indeed.
Dharma taught by non-sentient things is unthinkable.
Listening through your ear, you cannot understand it.
But you will be aware of it, listening through your eyes.

So how do we put ourselves in the position of listening with our eyes? How do we open our senses without some kind of expectation or design on what we are going to get in the way of teaching?
For Dongshan, there were more years of practice; in fact, there were a lot of years of practice, and then he felt he knew enough or was ready to leave his teacher so he asked his teacher a very traditional question on leaving:
Dongshan asked, "After you have passed away, how can I answer someone if he wants me to describe what you were like?"
Yunyan answered, "Just this person."

This is another pointer about how we find our place: "Just this person."
Tozan then left. The next day he was crossing a stream, and he had his major enlightenment experience and composed this poem which is what I want to talk about. His experience was that as he crossed the stream, he looked down, and he saw his reflection in the stream, in the very flux of things. In the flowing water beneath him he saw a reflection of his individual self. I will read three translations of his experience-poem.

You should not search through others lest the truth recede further from you.
When alone, I perceive through myself.
I meet him wherever I go.
He is the same as me yet I am not he.
Only if you understand this, will you identify with suchness.

The following is Suzuki Roshi's translation:

Don't view the world or yourself as an object or you will stray from from it.
Today I walk alone; whichever way I turn, I meet myself.
I am not it; it actually is me.
If you understand that you as an object is not your true self, then you have your own true way.

And the third translation is:

Do not try to see the objective world (world as object).
The you which is given as something to see (the object) is not yourself.
I am going my own way now, and I meet myself wherever I go.
If you understand that you as an object is not yourself, then you have your own true way.

The line, "I am not it; it actually is me," is very famous; actually, it's a wonderful koan. Dongshan also uses it in his "Song of the Jewel Mirror Samadhi." "It is like facing a jewel mirror; form and image behold each other--you are not it, it actually is you." (For a translation, see Thomas Cleary's Soto Zen anthology Timeless Spring.)

As I said at the beginning, our head student in Berkeley, whose name is Ross, gave a talk about Dongshan and this verse, and he told a lot about Dongshan's life and did a nice job of setting the verse in place. Then he switched to talking about his early life in New York, riding the New York subways, and told a story about how one of his subway rides was the first insight into what this poem was about. He was riding the subway in the summer. Anytime you ride the subway, you take quite a bit into consideration. For example, you think about which car you will enter, seeing whether it's air conditioned, whether or not the people look o.k. To join, whether it's crowded. So he got into the subway during rush hour, and it was really crowded. So he got into the subway during rush hour, and it was really crowded, and the only car that wasn't very crowded was a non-air-conditioned car. But he and the friends he was with got into it. It was really hot, and they rode for a while and talked about this and that. They were going to Riverdale where Tetsugen Glassman's Zen center is. After a while, the cars became less crowded. His friends then suggested that they move to an air-conditioned car.

Ross, however, was feeling o.k. So he said, “You go.” They left for the air-conditioned car, and he sat, more or less by himself in this very hot car, steaming and sweating—and feeling pretty good, just feeling as if this was his place.
Usually, we are very much swayed by the conditions of our place, the circumstances of our lives, and we move according to our preferences and our aversions. When we are not moved by those preference or aversions, when we see and are aware of our preferences and aversions, and also are just keeping our place, that is where we are involved in the realm of practice. Just that is where, “I meet myself wherever I go.”

There is another saying which also is illustrative of the point, “The ass looks down at the well, and the well looks up at the ass.” By and large we are concerned with our ass-face looking down at the well (preference or aversion, liking it or not liking it), but we are not so concerned with the way the well is looking up at our ass-face. As we become quieter and more able to feel the well looking up at us, we feel received in our place, and we are comforted.
“Don't view the world or yourself ad an object, or you will stray far from it” is what I have just been talking about. “today I walk alone; whichever way I turn, I meet myself.” “Today I walk alone” is this all-one condition that arises when we are not seeing either ourselves as object or the world as object, then the all-one alone.

I've been reading The Essential Haiku, Basho, Buson, and Issa edited by Robert Haas and largely translated by him with a very nice introduction. One of the selections concerns loneliness, the sense of being an object isolated from other objects labelled “the world.” I bring this up because yesterday, I had a lovely walk up Dead Man's Creek just north of here, and I was really appreciating being alone and being very quiet and intermittently stopping and reading a haiku. Basho is very interested in being in the condition of being alone. Friends mean a great deal to him, and and friendships are very important in his life. This is apparent from the fac that his journals are full of so-and-so coming and this party and staying up all night and drinking sake and looking at the moon and then also the periods of being alone. There's one entry in his diary written about four years before his death when he is staying in his ramshackle little house by himself, having visitors and also being alone, and this section is about being alone.

The twenty-second. It rains during the morning. No visitors today. I feel lonely and amuse myself by writing at random. These are the words:
“Who mourns makes grief his master.
Who drinks makes pleasure his master.”

The fact that Saigyo composed the poem that begins, “I shall be unhappy without loneliness,” shows that he made loneliness his master. He also wrote, “In the mountain village, who are you calling, Yobuku bird? I thought you lived alone.” There's nothing so intriguing as living alone. Chosho, the recluse said, “If one's guest enjoys a half day's leisure, his host loses a half day's leisure.”

Let me read that again; this is the interior guest and host:

“If one's guest enjoys a half day's leisure, his host loses a half day's leisure.”
“Sodo is always moved by these words; I too feel it.

And the last haiku:

Not this melancholy, Cuckoo
But your solitary song.”

These are interesting little studies on our responses to being alone, and the shade between melancholy which is still having a master—not quite alone—and the solitary. So this is a very subtle teaching, this “You are not it; it actually is you,” very subtle; it is a Soto persistent, gentle teaching of questioning, listening, questioning, listening, listening with the eyes, listening with the ears, listening with the heart.

Last Sunday there was a huge conference or workshop in People's Park in Berkeley. The subject of it was “Awakening the Collective Unconscious.” I am part of a group in Berkeley called the Religious Coalition which works with the homeless. We sponsored this big conference, and a team of eight Jungians was very interested because everybody's feeling is that we need to move out of these social boundaries that we have been in and need to enlarge our way and need to understand more how the world sees us, how the well looks up and sees us; we need to find ways of being a larger community.

With these concerns in mind, this conference was set up, and you could pay anywhere from $120 to $0 to attend. There were a large number of homeless people who attended. The ages of those attending ranged, I would say from 30 to 70. Part of the time, we were in a church, but most of the time, we were out in People's Park so the boundary line of the conference was very permeable. People could wander in and wander out as they felt.

It ws pretty hard-going; in fact, the first morning was really sort of terrible. Channel 2 had come with a TV cameraman which right away sparked a dialogue about, “Do we want the press here?” “Do we want people taking pictures of us?” “What will the press do with what's happening?” and so on. So we moved very quickly from not knowing quite how to conduct ourselves to an invitation to rhetoric inspired by the camera, and people began talking about their views. The views were vehement and endless and (?) and a lot of people enjoying expressing them. We then began to feel more and more exhausted; “We're killing each other,” someone observed about two-thirds of the way through the morning. The Jungians kept making various interpretations which had minor effect, and we just were engaged in this enormous view-battery process. As that thickened our group, some people said some very strong things, were really emotional and spoke in stirring ways.

We all wore nametags so we could identify each other: “Hello. My name is Maylie.” “Hello. My name is Piss-in-a-Cup.” The principal person who struck me in the morning was a man who is quite a familiar character on Telegraph Avenue. His hair is very voluminous, and he wears a cap with a feather and a garment torn down the middle, buttons, one red sneaker, and one blue sneaker. I had assumed that he was one of our very far-out crazy people, but he wasn't. He is sometimes called the “Hate Man” because if you begin to talk with him, he looks at you in a very clear and rather nice way, and says, “Tell me you hate me,” and if you won't tell him you hate him, there's no dialogue. If you say, “I hate you,” then the dialogue begins. Actually, he has worked out a very free life-style for himself which also involves using the conflict, the anger that any large meeting of diverse people invokes. When he thinks he was said enough, he asks for someone to come and push him so his way of nourishing and being nourished by strong shoulder to shoulder contact with another person. How do we use frustrated, angry energy? Outside on Lloyd's field, people confront each other with swords, and we hear, claque, claque, claque. We have a need when we're together to use oppositional energy in a way that is not divisive but using the contact of anger to bring us together in a community.

The conference continued for two days, and it had its highs and lows. For me, it became an experience of what the world is—all these different voices from the people people to university people, including a 79-year-old Nobel Prize winner.
The question is, how do I, how does anybody, find a way to have their place in this world? “I'm not it actually is me.” How can we be in this cacophony, be with the suffering that it evokes, and also not lose our voice, also take care of ourselves. I found as the day went on that I just had to keep getting up from time to time, wandering around the outskirts—in and out, and in and out, and in and out. Some people talk very easily and want more time than they can get while other people get kind of snowed and find it hard to find anything to say. How do you let it go through you and not drown you? It's very difficult. If you are not one of the people who talks very easily, how do you speak from your authentic person, not caring too much what you should like, what good you're going to do, who's going to think you are foolish, all that stuff, all that extra stuff. How does the voice of the authentic person (Yunyan's “Just this person”) arise and take its place among all the other voices?

In planning the conference, we had decided to do a ritual at the end. We had purposely left its exact form undecided so the group had to work it out, and for this group that was an incredible task. After talking in a very disorganized way about what we might do—talking to the point where everyone was exhausted—the ritual just began to happen. A woman who lives in the park and takes care of the park got some water in a jar and began to pass it around, and each person said something. Then a little boy, a toddler, came over from a group of homeless people next to where we were sitting, and he was very interested in a special stone that someone had dropped in the water. This water went around the circle, and this little toddler went around the circle with the water, and there was something about the way the whole group found its center that actually was quite wonderful.

A number of people of color, and some police who had come earlier, had left. Their absence created a feeling of who is not here, created the loneliness that comes when others you want are not present. Little by little, however, the people who weren't there had returned and the circle felt more complete. I felt it as a kind of blessing, the hope we all have of being able to be together in our enormous variation—that that hope is not impossible but is something we can all work towards with some promise.

That's all I want to say, and I realize I've wandered quite a long way with Tozan, but I think, in a certain way, that that is what we need to do, and then come back. So let me read Tozan's words one more time and then hear what you have been thinking of.

Don't view the world or yourself as an object or you will stray from from it.
Today I walk alone; whichever way I turn, I meet myself.
I am not it; it actually is me.
If you understand that you as an object is not your true self, then you have your own true way.

Heart and Diamond
from Judith Louise

Reading ancient texts has always felt to me like beating my head against a wall. I usually want personal stories of people like myself and practical wisdom I can apply to my life. But after 11 years of daily practice, and the repeated exposure to Buddhist texts provided by our visiting teachers, I began to get curious. Karen’s donation of her beautiful hand-written copy of the Lotus Sutra, recommendations to acquire more sutra translations for the library, and Angie’s paradoxical advice to meditate first, study later, while repeatedly including studies of these texts in her retreats, increased my motivation to try sutra study.

While reorganizing the Buddhist Texts section of our library, I found several different translations and commentaries of the Heart, Diamond and Lotus Sutras (along with many others I’d never heard of). Since I’d at least chanted the Heart Sutra and written it by hand in one of Mark’s workshops, I decided to start with that. I appreciated it as poetry, and was able to let it flow over me, enjoying the “tilt” effect it had on my mind. Because Thich Nhat Hanh’s writing is accessible and encouraging, I chose to start with his book, The Heart of Understanding: Commentaries on the Prajnaparamita Heart Sutra.

Most of our visiting teachers have encouraged us to wrap the text we are studying in a special cloth, and to treat it with respect. Instead of sticking the book on the stack by my bed, I wrapped it in some Guatemalan cloth and placed it on my altar. Before each reading session, I bowed and chanted the verse beginning, “An unsurpassed, perfect and penetrating Dharma,” and afterwards I chanted the Four Great Vows, just as we do with a Dharma talk.

Thich Nhat Hanh’s translation of the Heart Sutra is slightly different from the one we use at AZG, and the variations shed additional light on this famous teaching. He takes the sutra line by line, explaining references, bringing in Buddhist history and Asian culture, and emphasizing the concepts I’ve encountered in his writings: no separate self, looking deeply, interdependence. His example of how a rose is made up of “non-rose elements” (as we ourselves are) I found especially illuminating. Another gem is “form is the wave and emptiness is the water.” He tells us that Avalokitesvara has given us in this sutra the gift of liberation from fear. This is the heart of understanding.

I’d come across many references to the Diamond Sutra that made me want to expose myself to its wisdom, so that was the second sutra I chose to study. Thich Nhat Hanh says In The Diamond That Cuts Through Illusion: Commentaries on the Prajnaparamita Diamond Sutra that though we commonly refer to it with the word Diamond, the phrase “cutting through” is more important. The Sanskrit title translates as “the diamond that cuts through afflictions, ignorance, delusion, or illusion.”

Following the author’s advice to read the sutra itself before beginning the commentaries, I started reading a page or two a day of the 25-page sutra. Before long I was experiencing the old “head hitting the wall” feeling by encountering such phrases as “what is called Buddhadharma is everything that is not Buddhadharma”, and “to create a serene and beautiful Buddha field is not in fact creating a serene and beautiful Buddha field. That is why it is called creating a serene and beautiful Buddha field.” Many other terms were used in this paradoxical way.

Before reaching the end of the sutra, I was ready to give up, and allowed myself to move on to the commentaries, since each section was quoted before discussing it, and I wouldn’t be completely skipping the sutra itself. In Thich Nhat’s Hanh’s compassionate hands, I was able to drop my frustration and absorb what I could of the wisdom of this sutra. There were even a few moments of seeing the truth of those paradoxical statements. The “Cutting Through” Sutra is a handbook for aspiring Boddhisattvas. It is written in the form of a dialogue between Gautama Buddha and Subhuti, an advanced student at a monastery in India. There is repeated emphasis on the happiness that is brought about by sharing this sutra, even in a very simple form.

I can only describe my own approach to these two sutras; you must develop your own relationship with the sutras in order to learn from them. If this is a new experience for you and you feel drawn to learning more, I think these two books are a good way to start.

To whet your appetite, here is the closing verse from the Diamond Sutra:

All composed things are like a dream,
A phantom, a drop of dew, a flash of lightning.
That is how to meditate on them,
That is how to observe them.”



Toby Griggs
Jo Shin Sei Zan
Compassionate Heart Quiet Mountain
Jukai Ceremony

Toby's Jukai 1Toby's Jukai 2
Toby's Jukai 4Toby's Jukai 3
Toby's Jukai 4

Together
from Toby Griggs

No one can do this for us
We can not do this alone
Together we welcome eachother
Morning mist dew dawn
Days roll along like bird songs sung
We balance between us
Blossoming becoming
Before two we are one
We hold eachother
In our hearts and our mind
Fully wholeheartedly
Healing with time

The Buddha Beat
from Jack Miller

Laos 2006

While traveling with my nephew William around the Bolaven Plateau of southern Laos in 2007, we came across the small village of Kieng Than Lei located on the Sexet River near a series of low waterfalls collectively known as Tad Lo.  Walking into town in the late afternoon we realized that the methodical drum and gong beat permeating the village was coming from the small Buddhist Wat along the river.  We entered the temple grounds to find the beat coming from a small elevated hut.  Upon climbing the stairs we found two young and friendly novices at their practice.

 

The Wheatfield
from Barbara Madaras

On the edge of the Wheatfield, I listen for ghosts
I see only wheat stalks

Where are the boys, sweating and trembling
their eyes big in terror

In hot July sunshine, propelled by their slogans
they fall on each other

Shredding wheat into pulp, with grapeshot and blade
why can't I hear them

Six thousand lie broken, the Blue and the Gray
run red beyond caring

Carmen karma in motion, carried by keening
twisting me toward them

A field pulses outward, a love-force through space
warps for my heeding

Numberless fields, inexhaustible moanings
I vow to hear them

The Weatfields

What was Farmer Rose's wheat field lies less than a mile from Little Round Top and Cemetery Ridge, some two miles southwest of Gettysburg, became one of the bloodiest battle sites of the Civil War. On July 2, 1862, the 19 acre field of wheat changed hands between the North and South six times. Veterans compared it to a whirlpool. Swept up in the intense fighting, over 6,000 men were killed, wounded, or captured in the field and surrounding woods.



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