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presence of mind to absence of mind

[AUDIO AND TEXT] I think we can all agree that we all must be able to maintain a certain presence of mind in order to conduct ourselves through our daily lives. We must be able to connect with the happenings of our days, in our personal circumstances and in the larger world, and in that…

what defines us?

[AUDIO AND TEXT] We spend a lot of energy on the question of self; i.e., just who or what is this self I call me? Who, in fact, is the “I” who’s even asking these questions? Since that seems to be a fundamental question that all of us experience – from time to time, at…

setting our self aside

[AUDIO AND TEXT] Here is a familiar story from Zen lore. It’s about Rinzai (Linji in Chinese) and an unnamed monk, and it’s often referred to as “Rinzai’s True Man of No Rank.” Today, we’d say “true person,” and many recent translations do use that terminology. But here’s the story as presented in a collection…

balance, equivalence, and true nature

[AUDIO AND TEXT] The Great Prajna Paramita Heart Sutra says this: “form is no other than emptiness, emptiness no other than form;form is exactly emptiness, emptiness exactly form;” When we present these phrases for mental examination, they may not make sense. In fact, they probably don’t make sense – not to our minds and intellects,…

the walls we build

[AUDIO AND TEXT] Tonight, I want to touch on a koan that has somehow stuck in my consciousness and is shouting very loudly within me of late. It’s a scenario that hones in on the walls we build that make up our individual worlds – the boundaries we draw that circumscribe our experience of living.…

transmission of mind – coming to awareness

[AUDIO AND TEXT] The book titled The Zen Teaching of Huang Po [tr. John Blofeld, 1958, pp. 127 – 128] reports a monk having a dialogue with Master Huang Po: Q: To whom did the Patriarch [that is the Second Patriarch, Hui-ke] silently transmit the Dharma? A: No Dharma was transmitted to anybody. Q: Then…

staying awake

[AUDIO AND TEXT] This is the first talk given by Nona Strong Roshi at the June 2022 zen sesshin at Mercy Center Burlingame. “To have it all stripped bare, just experienced directly, naked: this is sesshin.” (Roko Sherry Chayat, Rinzai Zen master, Syracuse, NY, in Sitting with Koans, p. 337) This means staying awake while…

awakening ain’t thinking it

[AUDIO AND TEXT] This is the second talk given by Nona Strong Roshi at the June 2022 zen sesshin at Mercy Center Burlingame. In the Heart Sutra, we read: Form is no other than emptiness; emptiness is no other than form. Form is exactly emptiness, emptiness exactly form. The Diamond Sutra has the same fact…

keeping it simple

[AUDIO AND TEXT] This is the third talk given by Nona Strong Roshi at the June 2022 zen sesshin at Mercy Center Burlingame. So, we have the essential world (emptiness), and we have the phenomenal world (form). They may not seem so, but they are co-equal. In fact, according to the Heart Sutra, they are…

the never-ending story

[AUDIO AND TEXT] This is the fourth talk given by Nona Strong Roshi at the June 2022 zen sesshin at Mercy Center Burlingame. Despite the sensation we have of time passing, from life’s beginning to its end, life – especially our own life – is really a never-ending story, isn’t it? When we call up…

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