Dharma Talk Archive


The Six Gates to the Sublime

  Tesshin Roshi returned to our normal Dharma talks this week after our intensive preparation for the Jukai ceremony during this past spring.  This week he shared with us the “The Six Gates...

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Art of the Sangha

  We welcomed Tesshin Roshi back after his trip through Europe.  Roshi described the last day of his trip visiting the Prado National Museum of Art in Madrid.  The museum was hosting a collection...

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Listening to Reality

  This week Tesshin Roshi continued exploring the Diamond Sutra.  The sutra contains a question-and-answer session between the historical Buddha and a senior monk named Subhuti.  Roshi noted that...

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Everyday Zen

  This week Tesshin Roshi began our discussion of the Diamond Sutra.  This Sutra was first written down in the 300’s CE.  It is one of the most popular of the eighteen short Prajnaparamita (Perfe...

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Bodhisattva Vows

  This week Roshi explained the Bodhisattva vows as we will begin chanting them as part of our service.  Why would it make sense for us to chant such outrageous vows in the first place?    •Being...

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The Three Bodies

  Tesshin Roshi continued our discussion this week of the Sixth Patriarch.  One thing to remember about Huineng is that he was illiterate.  This means that his Zen was not academic, but rather in...

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Things are not What They Seem

  This week Tesshin Roshi started an exploration of the Platform Sutra   This sutra is important in Zen Buddhism as it centers on the teachings of the sixth patriarch Huineng.  The term ‘platform...

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Rituals and Patterns

  Roshi used his talk this week to explore the value of adding ritual to our practice.  It seems that in today’s world everyone is dropping rituals as fast as possible as they appear to be repeti...

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Breaking Feedback Loops

  Tesshin Roshi opened his talk this week by mentioning that he attended a clergy seminar describing a new version of the King James Bible under development.  This new version will include many n...

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Physics Finds Koans

  Tesshin Roshi used his talk this to explore how the insight of “uncertainty” from modern physics is similar to a message which Buddhism, and Zen in particular, has been conveying for thousands ...

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The Vow to Manifest

  Tesshin Roshi continued our Jukai training this week by beginning a discussion on the Ten Grave Precepts.  To western ears this may sound a lot like the biblical Ten Commandments.  As such, Ros...

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The Three Pure Precepts

  This week Tesshin Roshi began instructions for our Jukai ceremony coming in the spring.  He began by discussing the Three Pure Precepts.  The first of these precepts is “Do No Evil.”  This soun...

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Make a Stand

  This week Tesshin Roshi started to discuss with us what is involved with taking Jukai or Buddhist vows.  “Ju” literally means “taking” and “kai” translates as precepts.  As such, in its most ba...

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108 Bono

  As this was our last meeting before the new year, Tesshin used the opportunity to discuss the Japanese Buddhist tradition of ringing the temple bell 108 times to banish the 108 “Bono” or sins. ...

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Dharma Rain

  This week Tesshin shared the “Parable of the Plants” from the Lotus Sutra.  (attached below)  Tesshin noted that a parable is a common teaching tool used in Buddhism to drive home a point.  The...

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Dharma Combat

  This week Tesshin continued his discussion of Case 38 of the Blue Cliff Record   Feng Hsueh’s Workings of the Iron Ox.   Last week Tesshin discussed the terms of this koan including ...

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Mind Seal

  This week Tesshin started our exploration of Case 38 of the Blue Cliff Record  Feng Hsueh’s Workings of the Iron Ox.  Below is the entire case …   At the government headquarters in ...

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Itadakimasu

  This past week tesshin was invited to participate in a formal event.  Before starting the program, the group had an informal lunch.  Tesshin noted that something about this lunch was unsatisfyi...

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Meh to Marvelous

  Tesshin opened his talk this week by remarking that this past year has been one of survival and trauma.  The upcoming year will definitely shift to a better outcome, but many of us still have a...

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Hot Karma Moments

  Tesshin used his talk this week to cover case 14 from the Blue Cliff Record.  This entire koan is stated in two lines – which is a teaching in and of itself!     A monk asked Yun Men, “What are...

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Put it Down

  Tesshin opened his talk this week reminding us that in Zen we are constantly pushed to “let it all go.”  This is not a new message – all teachers throughout history have counseled us to d...

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Breathing

  After the rather intellectual topic of the Sandokai, Tesshin wanted to ground us this week in a fundamental part of our practice – namely Zazen and the simple act of breathing.  The first thing...

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Relative and Absolute

  Tesshin continued his discussion this week on the Sandokai or “Harmony of Difference and Sameness” by carefully analyzing the text.   (Full text can be found HERE)   The Sandokai opens wit...

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Returning to Ourselves

  Tesshin continued the discussion this week on the theme of reorienting our perspective.  Last week he touched on the Jewish tradition of Shmita and the concept of “Beginners Mind” in Zen.  This...

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Reorientation

  Tesshin noted that as we enter September, we need to take account of many things.  For instance, we are remembering the twentieth anniversary of the 9/11 attacks in the United States.  Summer i...

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Coming Together

  This week we had our first in-person meditation session at the 4th UU church in over a year and a half.  Tesshin was pleased by the number of people coming out and sitting Zazen together.   (Ph...

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Ornaments in Space

  Tesshin opened this talk this week by noting the recent passing of Thomas Cleary who is considered one of the greatest translators of classical Buddhist texts into English.   In many ways, Clea...

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Obon Observances

  Tesshin mentioned this week that Japan is observing the Obon holiday.  Obon is when many families across Japan come together to honor their ancestors and loved ones who have passed away.  Commo...

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The Mucilinda Tree

  This week tesshin continued our exploration of the Udana Teachings.    These short stories are from the Pali Canon which comprise the earliest Buddhist scriptures.  This week Tesshin shared the...

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It Starts With You

  This week Tesshin used his talk to discuss relationships.  If you think deeply enough you can easily identify the people who can be considered friends or enemies.  There are people who, given a...

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Prajna

  This week we discussed the sixth Paramita, Prajna, which translates as the wisdom to deeply understand the nature of all things.  Tesshin mentioned that in Zen Jhana (concentration) and Prajna ...

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Concentration

  This week Tesshin continued our discussions of the Paramitas with Jnana, which roughly translates as “concentration.”  Tesshin noted that jnana predates Buddhism.  In fact, many of the practice...

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Enthusiastic Perseverance

  This week Tesshin continued our discussions of the paramitas by focusing on Virya which roughly translates as vigor.  Tesshin noted that translations are heavily affected by the value judgement...

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Patience

  This week, Tesshin continued our study of the Paramitas.  Our focus for this week was the third paramita, Kshanti, which commonly translates as patience.     What is patience?  Tesshin com...

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Morality and Ethics

  Tesshin continued the discussion of the paramitas this week.  He likened the paramitas to baking a cake, as all the ingredients need to work together to get a good outcome.  Stated differently,...

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Fearless Dana

  This week Tesshin began our study of the six Paramitas.  The term Paramita translates as “reaching the far shore.”  The understanding of this ‘reaching’ is all about the balance bet...

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Yorktown Pride

  Tesshin postponed our study of Xufeng’s “What is It” this week so he could arrive at the Yorktown Pride Parade on time.  (see our events page – hope to get some pictures as well!!)     Wh...

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No Comparisons

  This week we continued our analysis of “Xuefeng’s What is It?”  (Book of serenity case #50 and the Blue Cliff Record case #51.)     Again, to refresh our memories, here is the case: When Xuefe...

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Refuge of the Crowd

  This week Tesshin shared a koan which actually appears in two different collections.  (Book of serenity case #50 and the Blue Cliff Record case #51.)  Tesshin mentioned that we will work on unp...

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Imagination

  Tesshin used his talk this week to discuss the topics of imagination and creativity.  During this past week he was doing some art work and asked various people what they thought of it.   Some p...

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