Taking Refuge

What does it mean, “Taking Refuge”?

One thing is certain, this week’s events regarding the Supreme Court decision has rattled a lot of cages. There is profound emotion, upheaval and consternation. My reaction has vacillated between fear, anger and an attempt at compassionate detachment (bearing witness). It’s been hard to contain, hard not letting it “spill over”. To me, this feels like another step in the erosion of rights and the marginalization of all but the powerful. One thing is certain, the lives of many women and men will be affected. Compound this week with the ultra-violenceof the past few weeks and it seems like we all are experiencing a high level of anxiety and other powerful emotions. In the maelstrom of emotions that rise, is there one place, one way of finding some semblance of inner equanimity?

This phrase “taking refuge” is what’s comes up. Taking refuge can be as simple as a half-hour of zazen or 3 breaths at any moment. We can’t control what comes up, it arises choicelessly, but we can take the refuge of that ‘inner-place of practice’ in many different ways.

Pema Chondron puts it simply; “The idea behind taking refuge is that when it starts to rain, we like to find a shelter.” We reflect on the meaning of Buddha, Dharma and Sangha as the refuge of the three jewels. We understand that the teachings and the sangha can be helpful for us as well. So too, we understand that we are not hiding or escaping life’s problems by taking refuge. We are not escaping samsara. Roshi Bernie taught, “Bearing Witness and Not Knowing”, not turning away, but seeing ‘what is’ without the mental fog of dualism and conceptualization. If we do as Roshi Bernie suggests, we do not turn away but look directly, somewhat painfully at times, and we gain some heart-insight and understanding of the suffering we are witnessing. In being awake to what’s happening there is an empowerment that dissolves some of our anxiety and at best leads us to compassionate action.

We are so fortunate to have each other to speak with, to lean-on, to trust and to be heard without the fear of judgement and the assurance of comforting understanding. We hold a common understanding of compassion. We respect the efforts we ourselves make and support each other, no matter how halting our progress, toward a deeper embodiment of greater compassion. We bring to mind the teaching of impermanence of the “10,000 Things”. Becoming comfortable in that uncertainty, even it means ‘becoming comfortable being uncomfortable’, as many of us are feeling now, also increases our inner peace, and helps us rest in naturalness and equanimity. It seems to me that taking refuge is really just being present, awake, aware and ready to engage in whatever way we are capable of, for each other and all being.

SCHEDULE 6/26-7/2

Monday 6:30am Zazen at the Tea House

Tuesday 7pm Dream Koan at the Tea House or ZOOM

Wednesday 6:30am Zazen at the Tea House of ZOOM

Thursday 6:30am Green Tara Sadhana at the Tea House or ZOOM

(Sensei Zenho requests that the merits of practicing the Green Tara Sadhana this week be dedicated to women and marginalized persons affected by the ruling of the supreme court.)

Friday 6:30am Zazen at the Tea House and dokusan.

(Issan in Denver Thursday-Monday.)

Deep Peace & Great Love,

Issan & Zenho

Happy Summer Solstice!

Greetings Sangha!

How wonderful it is to be enjoying the summer rains recently! This hottest time of the year now somewhat tempered by the cool New Mexico rains! Tuesday is the solstice and it’s a time that has always been really special for me. When I lived for so many years in the frozen grip of northern New Hampshire the summer solstice was my assurance that, at last, my favorite season had arrived. I was born at the apex of summer and have always resonated with summertime the most! I am moved by the stillness and beauty of summer, the grasses tall by the roadsides, the shimmering heat and the verdant growth of living things at their peak. Dreamlike images and numinous tones arise of themselves within me in the summer, like glimpses of summer lives lived before. I have such amazing memories of great adventures on lakes and in mountains, festivals, swimming holes, and also of those summer jobs that I always quit a month early, determined not to be cheated out of the adventures of August!

We begin the celebration of summer on the solstice with the Aspiration Prayer of Samantabhadra. The Aspiration Prayer states: ” During solar or lunar eclipse, when clamor or earthquakes occur, at the solstices, or at the turn of the year if we let ourselves arise as Samantabhadra and recite this prayer within the hearing of all, through the aspiration of us yogic practitioners, all sentient beings of the three realms will gradually become free from suffering and then swiftly attain buddhahood.”

Schedule 6/19-6/25

Monday, 6:30 AM, Zazen at the Tea House

Tuesday, 6:30 AM, Samantabhadra, ZOOM ONLY

Tuesday, 7 PM, Dream Koan, at the Tea House or ZOOM

Wednesday, 6:30 AM, Zazen at the Tea House or ZOOM

Thursday, 6:30 AM, Vajrakilaya Sadhana, at the Tea House or ZOOM

Friday, 6:30 AM, Zazen, at the Tea House

Hope you all dance a circle around the sun this week!

Deep Peace, Great Love,

Issan & Zenho

Sangha Meet Up Thursday 6/16

Hello Friends!

Some of us are planning to meet up to hear Krishna Das for a free show at the Plaza in Santa Fe on Thursday evening. I guess the schedule is; Yoga with Santa Fe Yoga at 5, Zueikha plays next then KD. Please come if you can! Text me when you arrive and we’ll find one another: 603-568-6828 (Issan).

Krishna Das

About KD

The song/chant we sing before zazen is called “Bernie’s Chalisa” or “Gate of Sweet of Nectar” and goes into the “Hanuman Chalisa”. It’s KD playing and singing. It was done for/with Roshi Bernie Glassman. Check it out!

In 1994, he started leading chant at Jivamukti Yoga Center, NYC. Over the years, he continued chanting, developing his signature style, fusing traditional kirtan of the east with western harmonic and rhythmic sensibilities. The audiences have been ever growing. With a remarkably soulful voice that touches the deepest chord in even the most casual listener, Krishna Das – known to friends, family, and fans as simply KD, has been called yoga’s “rock star.”  He has taken the call-and-response chanting out of yoga centers and into concert halls, becoming a worldwide icon and the best-selling western chant artist of all time.

KD now travels the world sharing his kirtan practice and wonderful stories of his life, of Maharaji-ji, of his life on the Path, and discusses bringing chanting into our lives through retreats and workshops.

To date, KD has released 16 well received albums, including Live Ananda (released January 2012)  that was nominated for a Grammy in the Best New Age album category.

In February 2013, Krishna Das performed at the Grammy awards in Los Angeles, CA streamed online to millions of viewers. The award-winning film ‘One Track Heart: The Story of Krishna Das’ has been in over 100 US cities, over 10 countries worldwide and is available on DVD everywhere.

In 2014 the Kirtan Wallah Foundation was formed. This 501c3 is dedicated to spreading the teachings of KD’s guru and spiritual teacher, Neem Karoli Baba, Lovingly called Maharjji, his teachings can be summed up by his saying:

‘Love Everyone. Serve Everyone. Remember God”

More information from AMP Concerts

Schedule:

Tuesday, 7PM, Dream Koan, at the Tea House or Zoom

Wednesday, 6:30AM, Zazen at the Tea House or Zoom with Zenho Sensei

Thursday, 6:30AM, Samantabhadra, In person at the Tea House

Thursday, 5:00 PM, Meet Up for Krishna Das at the Plaza, Santa Fe

Friday, 6:30AM, Zazen at The Tea House

Deep Peace & Great Love,

Issan & Zenho

Responsibilities of the Sangha

Greetings my dear friends!

As we have spoken about together, Sangha is a sacred Jewel and one of the three fundamental tenants of being Buddhist. To become Buddhist one simply states out loud; “I take refuge in the Buddha, I take refuge in the Dharma, I take refuge in the Sangha.” Each ONE is none other than US.

One time when Jitsudo was Taizan Maezumi’s “gisha” (attendant) he removed Maezumi’s tea bowl when he was finished with it, washed it and put it away. Maezumi bowed to him and Jitsudo asked him “Why bow to me, all I did was took care of your tea?” Maezumi responded to him; “When you take care of my tea bowl, you are taking care of me and all beings.”

Such a simple gesture, but deeply relevant when looked into in this way. Each thing we care for, each gesture, no matter how small serves to remind us that the view we strive to put into compassionate action: “all-is-one”.

At this time the Sangha has some basic needs that we are asking all of you to help meet.

*Our fountain needs an electrician to repair it and we need to pay for it.

*The altars (3) need fresh flowers purchased each week and arranged. Would someone volunteer to take this as a rotating responsibility for perhaps one month at a time, then graciously pass it off to another sangha member? It is a an auspicious task to care for the altar.

*Tea light candles need to be kept stocked up.

*Incense needs to be kept stocked.

Dana is the offering of selfless giving, teaching us to recognize and free ourselves from our propensity for clinging.

Please consider offering monthly dana (financial support) to the sangha so that we may create a “prudent financial reserve” in order to care for the things we need to care for.

I know each one of your hearts and know from experience the depth of your generosity and kindness.

Deep Peace and Great Love,

Issan & Zenho

Schedule June 5- June 11:

Monday, 6:30AM, Zazen at the Tea House

Tuesday, 7PM, Dream Koan, at the Tea House or Zoom

Wednesday, 6:30AM, Zazen at the Tea House or Zoom with Zenho Sensei

Thursday, 6:30AM, Vajrakilaya Sadhana, In person at the Tea House

Friday, 6:30AM, Zazen at The Tea House

Resting in naturalness

Samantabhadra

These excerpts from the Aspiration Prayer of Samantabhadra:

“Through this aspiration prayer of myself, the buddha, may sentient beings full of attachment and clinging neither cast out the torment of desire nor welcome the craving of attachment,
but may awareness take its very seat through letting mind relax in its own state and may discriminating wisdom be attained.”

“Through this aspiration prayer of myself, the buddha, when fierce hatred flares up
in all sentient beings of the six realms,
may it relax in its own state without adopting or rejecting, may awareness take its own seat, and may lucid wisdom be attained.”

“Through this aspiration prayer of myself, the buddha,
when sentient beings give rise to such haughtiness,
may they let their mind relax in its own state,
may awareness take its very own seat
,
and may the wisdom of equality be realized.”

“…when a competitive mind, fighting, and struggling dawn, may we not entertain enmity but let it relax in its own place, may mind take its very own seat,
and may the wisdom of unimpeded enlightened activity be.”

Samantabhadra is saying is rest in “naturalness”. In other words, just being as you are, allowing all to be as it is. Not trying to not think, not trying to meditate on something, not striving to become or working an idea. No effort towards attainment or silly ideas of buddhahood. Rather, abiding in awareness, simple letting our attention rest. In doing so the mind gently melds with any circumstance, emotion we may be experiencing, person, place or thing effortlessly. Duality drips away and equanimity oozes in.

There is a method of meditating that Mingyur Rimpoche teaches which is, to allow all the random profusion of thoughts to pervade effortlessly unimpededed in the mind. Then he says “Now raise you hand when you become distracted.” Ha! Distracted from what…distraction?! This is one way of embracing “naturalness”.

In the 4 Vows we say “Dharma gates arise choicelessly, I vow to pass through them.” Dharma gates can be anything! Even thoughts. The fact is, if you sit for a few minutes and try to think of one thing, moments later you are choicelessly thinking of something else. Simply resting in the naturalness or “allowing the mind to take it’s own seat” results in the dissolution of duality and the pristine awareness that illuminates our inherent compassionate nature.

Being as you are.

Ahhhhhhhh…..!

Schedule:

Monday, 6:30AM, Zazen at the Tea House.

Tuesday, 7PM, Dream Koan, at the Tea House or Zoom

Wednesday, 6:30AM, Zazen at the Tea House or Zoom with Zenho Sensei

Thursday, 6:30, Green Tara Sadhana, In person at the Tea House

Friday, 6:30AM, Zazen at The Tea House with Victor opening.

Resting Buddha

“Abiding in emptiness,

resting in awareness,

life and death, an ordinary moment.

No gate.”

~IME

Deep Peace and Great Love,

Issan and Zenho

Schedule 5/22-5/28

“The Great Way is not difficult
for those who have no preferences.
When love and hate are both absent
everything becomes clear and undisguised.
Make the smallest distinction, however,
and heaven and earth are set infinitely apart.

If you wish to see the truth
then hold no opinions for or against anything.
To set up what you like against what you dislike
is the disease of the mind.
When the deep meaning of things is not understood,
the mind’s essential peace is disturbed to no avail.

The Way is perfect like vast space
where nothing is lacking and nothing in excess.
Indeed, it is due to our choosing to accept or reject
that we do not see the true nature of things…”

Seng T’san, who lived in the sixth century, was the third Chinese patriarch of Zen

The rest of this poem can be found here.

Schedule:

Monday, 6:30AM, Zazen at the Tea House

Tuesday, 7PM, Dream Koan, at the Tea House or Zoom

Wednesday, 6:30AM, Zazen at the Tea House or Zoom with Zenho Sensei

Thursday, 6:30AM, Vajrakilaya Sadhana, In person at the Tea House

Friday, 6:30AM, Zazen at The Tea House

May all auspicious circumstances be present in abundance for all beings.

Deep Peace, Great Love,

Issan & Zenho

Psychedelic Sangha?

…and schedule for 5/15-5/21

There’s been more than a “casual interest” in psychedelics in the sangha recently.

From my research over the past several years, there seems to be a very clear history of the use of psychedelics throughout the history of Buddhism, from its earliest roots through the present. When we examine the imagery, root tantras, sutras and koans we can speculate that they may very likely have come from psychedelic experiences. The iconography of the mushroom in various guises appears constantly. References to “soma” and “amrita”, potent psychedelic drinks, appear as well as countless images of “sacred amrita bowls”. Buddhist literature abounds with references to magic mushrooms!

And, there are many perspectives to consider as well.

To quote Alan Watts: “Psychedelic experience is only a glimpse of genuine mystical insight, but a glimpse which can be matured and deepened by the various ways of meditation in which drugs are no longer necessary or useful. If you get the message, hang up the phone. For psychedelic drugs are simply instruments, like microscopes, telescopes, and telephones. The biologist does not sit with eye permanently glued to the microscope, he goes away and works on what he has seen…”

It would be fascinating to share our experiences and perspectives on this together as a sangha.

Here are a couple interesting sources:

From Trycycle:

https://tricycle.org/magazine/high-history-buddhism/

This is a really interesting read:

“The Secret Drugs of Buddhism..”

Here’s an interesting site: Psychedelic Sangha website

Heres the schedule:

Monday, 6:30AM, Zazen at the Tea House

Tuesday, 7PM, Dream Koan, at the Tea House or Zoom

Wednesday, 6:30AM, Zazen at the Tea House or Zoom with Zenho Sensei

Thursday, 6:30, Green Tara, In person at the Tea House

Friday, 6:30AM, Zazen at The Tea House with Victor opening.

It was so wonderful to gather as one heart Saturday! To practice samu, zazen, eat and share our thoughts and feelings with one another. Our hearts are filled with one another!

Jitsudo said; “I AM ONE WITH THE BREATH OF THE HEART.”

Deep Peace and gratitude for each of you and US together!

Issan & Zenho

Jitsudo Daiosho Memorial Service

We are holding a Memorial Service for Jitsudo Daiosho on Monday evening, May 9, 2022, at 6:30 PM MDT. Please join us in person, or via Zoom.

Two years has passed all too quickly – and Jitsudo remains alive and warm in our hearts and minds. All are welcomed. We look forward to sharing with you.

Topic: Jitsudo Daiosho Memorial Service
Time: May 9, 2022 06:30 PM Mountain Time (US and Canada)

Join Zoom Meeting
https://us02web.zoom.us/j/84586564512?pwd=cE1FWWxJNndvM0lrUXhxYzQ5T09FQT09

Meeting ID: 845 8656 4512
Passcode: 089458

April 25-May 1

https://www.lionsroar.com/dogens-instruction-for-zazen/

Dogen

Shine the light inward. Body and mind will drop away.

You must know that the true dharma appears of itself, so that from the start dullness and distraction are struck aside.

Enlightenment is like the moon reflected on the water. The moon does not get wet, nor is the water broken. Although its light is wide and great, the moon is reflected even in a puddle an inch wide. The whole moon and the entire sky are reflected in dewdrops on the grass, or even in one drop of water. Enlightenment does not divide you, just as the moon does not break the water. You cannot hinder enlightenment, just as a drop of water does not hinder the moon in the sky. The depth of the drop is the height of the moon. Each reflection, however long or short its duration, manifests the vastness of the dewdrop, and realizes the limitlessness of the moonlight in the sky.

~Eihei Dogen

Schedule:

Tuesday, 7PM, Dream Koan, at the Tea House or Zoom

Wednesday, 6:30AM, Zazen at the Tea House or Zoom with Zenho Sensei

Thursday, 6:30, Vajrakilaya Sadhana, In person at the Tea House

Friday, 6:30AM, Zazen at The Tea House with Victor opening.

Enjoy your zazen! Rest in naturalness, effortless, abiding in empty-awareness!

Hold the sangha in your heart.

Deep peace,

Issan & Zenho

April 17-23

Considering our roles in Sangha.

In considering our personal roles in the sangha, we would like to reflect upon on our views of Dana. Dana is not simply the offering of money.  It is comprised of our presence, our gifts of time, kindness, labor, food, samu (work practice), and intentions in our practice… and more.

The word Dana is a Sanskrit and Pali word which means giving something unconditionally with an open heart. It is an ancient practice in Buddhism for cultivating generosity. Dana or generosity in Buddhism is the foundation of Buddhist practice. 

In Buddhism, an act of giving encourages us to examine our attachments, our greed and exposes our mental formations that work to sabotage our innate generosity. When we practice acts of dana we begin to dissolve greed and attachment and attain a more compassionate view.

It is easy to give away the things that we don’t want and that may be convenient or easy, but giving our time and of things of value not only helps the recipients (the Sangha), but it also loosens our grip in the world of desire. When we give something without seeking anything this leads it to the greater spiritual wellbeing of each our us and our sangha. 

Schedule:

Monday, 6:30AM, Zazen at The Teahouse with David opening

Tuesday, 7PM, Dream Koan, at the Tea House or Zoom

Wednesday, 6:30AM, Zazen at the Tea House or Zoom with Zenho Sensei

Thursday, 6:30, Vajrakilaya Sadhana, In person at the Tea House

Friday, 6:30AM, Zazen at The Tea House with Victor opening.

Your radiant presence is a profound blessing to one another.

Deep peace, great love and unity,

Issan & Zenho