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Join all or parts of …

Posted on Jul 27 , 2012 in Blog

Join all or parts of Founder’s Day this weekend!! http://t.co/hGcpA2lC

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Getting ready for Sangha Weekend! …

Posted on Jul 26 , 2012 in Blog

Getting ready for Sangha Weekend! http://t.co/981DuMPH

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Sink Into This World

Posted on Jun 06 , 2012 in Blog

Here is a great blog post about sitting a week of Kyol Che from Kwan Um School of Zen member Mike Bruffee. Click here to head over to his blog to read the whole article:

“Even five years ago, if you told me I would be spending a week doing this, I would have laughed in your face…But it was a great place to hang out for a week. How often do we close our mouths and let the world speak for a change?”

Photo c/o Arunas Kulikauskas

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Meditation Techniques

Posted on May 17 , 2012 in Blog

By Abbot Jason Quinn

There are a million different types of meditation techniques and they’re all the same. Once, Zen Master Seung Sahn said, when sitting meditation “you can say Coca-Cola, Coca-Cola, Coca-Cola….doesn’t matter.”

When we teach meditation to someone new to our school, we teach them to breath-in and say to themselves “clear mind, clear mind, clear mind…don’t know.” The reason why we give this phrase is to reminds us of how to practice and why we practice. “Clear mind” points to how we keep our mind right now in this moment. What do you hear right now? What do you see right now? What do you perceive right now in this very moment? “Don’t know” points to the direction of our practice. Why do we practice? Is it for a good feeling? Do we want to get some kind of experience? Is it to return to our true self? What am I? Don’t know……..

Whatever technique we use, it is important to not fight our thinking. Meditation doesn’t mean just think about whatever we want. It also doesn’t mean cut off all of our thinking. Don’t push it away and don’t hold on to it. When you’re doing any kind of meditation technique, naturally thinking will appear. That’s fine, that’s correct. But when it appears, just perceive it and gently come back to your breath, to what you see, what you hear. Come back to just this very moment.

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Meditation Techniques

Posted on May 09 , 2012 in Blog

Senior Dharma Teacher Jason Quinn grew up in California and started practicing with the Dharma Sound Zen Center in Seattle in 1997. In 1999, he moved to Providence Zen Center, to do monastic training. After nine years at Providence Zen Center, Jason relocated to Empty Gate Zen Center, returned to lay life, and took on the position of abbot. Tonight Jason returns to PZC to serve as our Abbot. In this video, Jason shares some meditation techniques during a Foundations of Zen Workshop. This is similar to the meditation instruction you can expect when you visit any Kwan Um Zen Center.

Traditionally, in China and Korea, only monks did Zen practice. But Zen has come to the West and here lay people practice Zen besides monks and nuns. This has changed the character of Zen. Now our teaching is about Zen in everyday life. Sitting Zen all the time is not possible for lay people. Everyday-life Zen means learning mind-sitting. Mind-sitting means not-moving mind. How do you keep not-moving mind? Put down your opinion, condition and situation moment-to-moment. When you are doing something, just do it. This is everyday Zen. Sitting meditation is a particular kind of meditation, unique to Zen, that functions centrally as the very heart of the practice.

For lay people, the teaching of great love, great compassion and the Great Bodhisattva Way is very important. To attain that, it is necessary to keep a not-moving mind, then correct situation, correct function, and correct relationship appear by themselves in everyday life.

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Overwhelmed

Posted on Apr 24 , 2012 in Blog

Dear Zen Master Seung Sahn,

I feel like I’m going crazy. I’m working for the Legal Aid Society, and the maximum caseload at any one time is supposed to be 75. I have more than 75 cases right now. Starting this Friday, one of the attorneys is going on vacation, which will mean even more new cases for each person (there are 3 other lawyers).

I am quite new to the job and feeling totally overwhelmed. As the number of cases increases, I can do less and less for each person. Weeks go by in which there is no time to devote to some of the cases I already have.

I am very worried about this because I’m forced to keep doing a more and more sloppy job. I want to help people, and I like to do a beautiful job. I fear what this will do to my health (pains, ulcers, etc.) I try to have a good attitude, but I am being completely overwhelmed by all this. I am feeling very desperate.

Hapjang with love,
Michael

Dear Michael,

Thank you for your letter. How are you? You are very busy and are helping many people–that is wonderful!

If your mind is busy then the whole world is busy. If your mind is complicated, thewhole world is complicated. If your mind is quiet, then the whole world is quiet.So, an eminent teacher said, “Everything is created by the mind.”

Do you know an elevator’s job? Many people can push the button wanting the elevator, but the elevator only comes when the proper floor and direction appears. When the elevator is going up, it only stops for up-buttons and coming down it only stops for down-buttons. The elevator understands its correct action sequence. That is only going straight. If you put your mind in order, then it works the same as a computer. Then you will understand your correct action sequence.That is correct opinion, correct condition, and correct situation–Zen mind. Also,that is great love and great compassion mind. If you want that mind you must make your “I, My, Me” disappear. If you don’t hold your opinion, your condition oryour situation, then your original high-class computer will work correctly. So, you must practice every day.

I ask you: What are you? If you don’t understand, only go straight don’t know.This don’t know broom will sweep your consciousness computer clear of I, my,me dust. Then clear moment-to-moment working is possible. That is the correct way and the great bodhisattva way.

I hope you only go straight don’t know, which is clear like space, don’t make complicated, don’t make busy, soon get Enlightenment and save all people from suffering.

Yours in the Dharma,
Zen Master Seung Sahn

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You Must Understand Yourself

Posted on Apr 17 , 2012 in Blog

Many centuries ago, the Greek philosopher Socrates used to walk through the streets and marketplaces of Athens, teaching his students. He would say to them, “You must understand yourself! You must understand yourself! You must understand yourself.” Then one day a student said, “Sir, you always say we must understand ourselves. But do you understand yourself?”

“No, I don’t know myself,” Socrates replied. “But I understand this ‘don’t know.’” This is very interesting teaching. Buddhist practice points at the same experience, because most human beings pass through their lives without the slightest sense of what they are.

We understand many things about this world, but we don’t understand ourselves. So why do human beings come into this world? Why do we live in this world? For love? For money? For respect or fame? Do you live for your wife, husband, or children? Why do you live in this world? If someone asked you these question, you might very well answer, “I live for my children. I live to earn enough money for them, or maybe just to have a good life.” Most people think like this. They live only for their family, for some fleeting social respectability, perhaps to enjoy art or to get some powerful position. Everyone wants to have a good situation for themselves. If you look at this world very closely, it is easy to see that most people eat and sleep and live merely for their own personal happiness. Yet these things are not the real purpose of human beings’ life. They are just temporary means for living in the world. If human beings cannot find who they are, how can they ever be truly happy?

From the Comapss of Zen

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Zen and Psychotherapy

Posted on Apr 11 , 2012 in Blog

Zen Master Bon Soeng during a workshop about psychotherapy and Zen practice. From Buddha’s Birthday Weekend March 31, 2012.

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Four Blind Men (Original)

Posted on Apr 10 , 2012 in Blog

A holy person came with his elephant to a remote village that was suffering from severe drought. On the back of the elephant he brought a large vessel of fresh water to the home of six blind men who always stuck together to help each other, but somehow always quarreled. After the water pot was lowered from the elephants back, down to the ground, the first blind man reached out and caught hold of the elephant’s tail. “The elephant,” he declared, “is like a piece of rope.”

The second man grabbed an ear and said, “No, the elephant is like the leaf of a banana sapling.”

The third man was holding the trunk and said, “Wrong. The elephant is very much like a huge snake.”

The fourth man had his arms around one of the elephant’s legs. “What nonsense are you talking!” he exclaimed. “It is definitely like a pillar.”

“Wrong,” cried out the fifth blind man, clinging to a tusk. “You are all misled. The elephant is certainly like the branch from a magnolia tree.”

The sixth man, rubbing the elephant’s belly, said, “Can’t any of you see? It’s obvious the elephant is like a sack of grains.”

Soon a quarrel erupted between them. While they were on the ground punching and tearing each other’s hair, they rolled right into the water vessel. All the water spilled out onto the ground while the elephant stood by looking on with an expression of pity.

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Hae Jae Talk by Zen Master Seung Sahn

Posted on Apr 04 , 2012 in Blog

Last Friday we finished our annual three month Winter Kyol Che retreat and entered into the Hae Jae period. Kyol Che is the intensive meditation retreat period and Hae Jae is the looser, less formally scheduled period in the spring and autumn. The Hae Jae period provides more of an opportunity to practice in everyday life situations. During this time, monks and nuns traditionally travel from temple to temple to visit other great masters at or meet with their Doban (Dharma friends).

To celebrate, here is a video of Zen Master Seung Sahn giving the Hae Jae talk at the end of Winter Kyol Che 2004 in Korea. This is probably one of the last recordings that capture his Dharma and it’s wonderful to see so many of his senior students practicing together in the same room. Enjoy!