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The body being empty, the arms are in activity

From beginning to end the changing appearances and ten thousand differences share one pattern.

Facing changes has its principles, The great function is without striving

This affair hits the mark straight and true.

Transmit it in all directions without a desire for recognition.

Hitting the mark straight and true

Hitting the mark straight and true

The body being empty with the arms in activity may seem a bit obscure, but when you are immersed  in the flow of your activity no thoughts hinder the total dynamic functioning of  whatever you are doing. The movements seem to happen of themselves and a free and light openness, absent of the usual tension, resides in the body. Airy, light and spacious. Because there is a common pattern to everything coming at you–all the fluctuations of the world and its demands–there is no problem responding appropriately. The response is automatic. There are some guiding principles, however (like the 8-fold noble path), in how to act in accord with the great functioning of the universe. But they all presuppose zero friction, no tension, no preplanning or thought. Relating to all the various beings you encounter, you can’t help but transmit this enlightenment to them, even if it isn’t recognized. In fact, unrecognized, it actually circulates more freely and effortlessly. Hitting the mark is being smack dab here,  without trying so hard to notice.

 

When silent illumination is fulfilled,
The lotus blossoms, the dreamer awakens,

A hundred streams flow into the ocean,
A thousand ranges face the highest peak.

 

The Highest Peak: Everest

The Highest Peak: Everest

The culmination of our meditation practice–our awakening, our enlightenment–is similar to the images in these stanzas. Like watching a lotus or a rose blossom in fast motion photography, our opening, our awakening, is a constant process: petals opening up to the bigness of the sky. Most of our life then seems like its been a dream, and we are finally waking up to reality. This awakening is more than a metaphor–its a description. The word Buddha means to be awake. Its the same experience as awakening from a dream in the morning, or waking from our daydreams when sitting in meditation. The clouds disperse and the open sky is clear, our fuzzy minds clear and perception is vivid and no longer obscured. Reality is seen directly, things are seen as they are, without any overlay of judgement or interpretation, without any influence from thoughts of the past or future. Naked reality, right here and now. When this happens all the different streams of our lives cascade into a single source. All these different facets of our experience intermingle and can be seen to have the same aim. Undivided, all our different aspirations and goals, plans and efforts, have always been part of the Big Plan, the purpose of everything. And we are aligned with it.

Zen Master Hongzhi

Zen Master Hongzhi

The meditation group is investigating an ancient Chinese poem describing the experience of enlightenment with experiential pointers along the way: The Guidepost for Silent Illumination. It is a very rich poem full of allegory and direct experience.  We are looking at more than one translation and a commentary by the contemporary Buddhist Sheng Yen. Here is an excerpt to to entice your thirst:

 

Silent and serene, forgetting words, bright clarity appears before you

When one realizes it, time has no limits

When experienced, your surroundings come to life.

After our sitting meditation period, where we will have the chance to forget words and let the world become vivid and alive, we’ll have some time to look into this further–hopefully not with too many words! Please join us.

dscn2988Last week we restarted the sitting group after a long hiatus and many people attended.  The group is up  and running again!

This week people will be bringing in ideas for our group intention. So bring in a favorite book, poem, or practice–one you would like to investigate with the group. It might be a book you’ve already read, an author your curious about, or one that has been on your bucket list. In the past this has included books or chants or poems which we have examined as a group activity. Some favorite authors have been Pema Chodron, Suzuki Roshi, and Trungpa Rinpoche. For a period of time we picked a short Lojong slogan (pithy statements for practice) each week for maintaining mindfulness from week to week.  We’ve also looked closely into traditional poems used as meditation practice guidelines.  As a group we will decide a topic for enquiry that will keep our attention focused for the next few weeks.

We will start, as always, at 7pm on Tuesday evening. And if you have signed up to bring something, don’t forget to remember it!

earth touching BuddhaSix days into it, the Buddha was sitting under the Bodhi tree, vowing to not move from his spot until he understood why the world is full of suffering. As the story goes, he was visited by demons, temptresses, and attacking armies, all guided by Mara, the buddhist equivalent of the devil. It was not unlike Jesus’s interactions with the devil in the wilderness shortly before he gathered his disciples and gave the sermon on the mount. The Buddha was unmoved, turning arrows into flower petals. As a last resort, Mara asked, “Who are you to think you can be fully awakened?!” dissuading him with a dose of shame and self doubt. The Buddha simply reached down and touched the earth as his witness, and the earth vouched for him.

The earth is a sentient being. Ancient and indigenous cultures believed this and even science today has come close to this conclusion with the Gaia hypothesis. Tuesday is Earth Day, the day we humans take note of the Earth and its amazing symbiotic activities. There are many meditation practices that utilize the power of the earth for our human development.  If not for the earth, you and I would not be here, we would not be aware of ourselves and the universe. The Buddha, like many other awakened people, realized this and expressed his gratitude. In honor of the earth, the sitting group will gather this earth day, starting anew. Please come and join us for our meditation group.

Sitting Group meets Earth Day: Tuesday April 22 7pm

 

As human beings we are little creatures on the earth, like little fleas. Some might say we’re a virus. But our purpose on the surface of the earth is unknown to us. The earth doesn’t exist for us, we exist for the earth.

 

DSCN3546.JPG

Earth Day: Tuesday April 22 7pm

A common reminder for meditation practice is to begin again: when we find ourselves lost in thought or fantasy or just spacing out, we return again, with a beginner’s mind, to following our breath. As spring begin’s again, the sitting group starts anew.

It has been a long winter, and a long hiatus. Today there is freshness in the warm air. Earth Day is a good day and a good reason to rededicate our practice.  When the Buddha, the most famous meditation master, achieved enlightenment he touched the Earth as his witness who shook to validate his experience. Join us Tuesday, starting April 22 at 7pm, for our Lake Minnetonka Meditation Group.  This group is open to all people, no previous experience necessary. We practice sitting and walking meditation and have a discussion afterwards, often about our experience, technique, or a poem or writing. We often read together and discuss books and other writings on meditation, mindfulness, and practicing in everyday life. we have discussed writings by Pema Chodron, Suzuki Roshi, Jack Kornfield, Trungpa Rinpoche and many others. To get a flavor of our group, check out the postings below and the rest of this site.

The group gathers at 7pm, and meditation begins at 7:15.  A bell to gather is rung at 7:10 to encourage people to settle in for the sittting, and a different bell is struck to mark the beginning. After 15 minutes, a bell is rung and people can get up for walking meditation at that time or continue sitting for another 15 minute period. A third 15 minute period begins after the second one.

Contact Steve below or at 952-451-7003 for more information, directions, and/or to let him know you’ll be there Earth Day.  

Steve’s CiW Dharma Talk.

Steve gave the Dharma Talk at Clouds in Water Zen Center on Sunday Oct. 21.  He playfully titled it “Human Consciousness is a Disease.” His talk was a Way-Seeking Mind talk, which is a traditional form of talk given by Zen students to describe how they came to practice and arrived where they are at today. Describing the internal monologue–that part of us that incessantly talks to ourselves: commenting, analyzing, judging–as the disease of human consciousness he mischievously describes how he caught this disease, suffered from it, and found the remedy.  If you want to know some key experiences in his life story–a story not unlike everyone’s story–and laugh a few times, check out his talk at this link: Steve’s CiW Dharma Talk.

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