Zen Open Circle http://zenopencircle.org.au An Australian Zen Community Thu, 31 Aug 2017 12:28:42 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.6.7 http://zenopencircle.org.au/wp-content/uploads/2016/05/cropped-cropped-logo-100-300x300-32x32.png Zen Open Circle http://zenopencircle.org.au 32 32 102423338 Public Talk with David Loy http://zenopencircle.org.au/davidloy/ Mon, 19 Jun 2017 10:38:24 +0000 http://zenopencircle.org.au/?p=2062 'Public Talk with Daivd Loy... 'Why Zen and a world in crisis need each other'

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Merran Dawson (Left), Roshi Susan Murphy - after Merran took jukai at Gorricks Run in 2005.

Zen Open Circle & The Sydney Zen Centre invite you to join us for a public talk with special guest Professor David Loy

When: 6-8pm / 14 July 2017 
Where: Sydney Zen Centre – 251 Young Street, Annandale
Cost: Entry by donation


 

The mercy of the West has been social revolution. The mercy of the East has been individual insight into the basic self/void. We need both. 
– Gary Snyder 

The highest ideal of the Western tradition has been to restructure our societies so that they are more socially just. The most important goal for Buddhism is to awaken and put an end to dukkha “suffering” due to the delusion of a separate self. Today it has become obvious that we need both: not just because individual transformation and social transformation complement each other, but because each project needs the other
 
In the particular context of a world facing social and ecological crisis, David Loy will explore the intersections and possibilities that emerge when Zen/Buddhism and modernity meet and become entangled.
 
Our global and human predicament calls for new perspectives that question many of the priorities and presuppositions of modernity and buddhism. Can we employ each viewpoint to interrogate the other without accepting either perspective as absolute? How can we maintain a dual practice of continuing the path of personal transformation while doing everything we can to promote social and ecological transformation? Is there a new path that can be forged on the knife-edge between the two at this critical moment in history? 
 
 
 

 


 

About David Loy

David Loy is visiting Australia from the United States. He is a professor, writer, and Zen teacher in the Sanbo Kyodan tradition of Japanese Zen Buddhism. He is known for his contribution to socially engaged Buddhist practice and his exploration of the relationships between Buddhism and social/eccological issues. Loy is a professor of Buddhist and comparative philosophy. He is the author of numerous books including the bestselling book Money, Sex, War, Karma, and most recently A New Buddhist Path:  Enlightenment, Evolution, and Ethics in the Modern World.

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Talk 4 of 4: Sunlight and Firelight – Roshi Susan Murphy – Autumn Sesshin 2017 Cloud Mountain http://zenopencircle.org.au/talk-4-4-sunlight-firelight-roshi-susan-murphy-autumn-sesshin-2017-cloud-mountain/ Mon, 01 May 2017 00:25:10 +0000 http://zenopencircle.org.au/?p=2049 Opening teisho from the Autumn 2017 Sesshin. As is customary, Roshi Susan begins with an exploration of the koan 'Mu'...

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Speaker: Roshi Susan Murphy
Date: April, 2017
Event: Zen Open Circle Autumn Sesshin
Location: Cloud Mountain, Sydney, Australia
More information: www.zenopencircle.org.au / gassho@zenopencircle.org.au

Transcript not yet available. 

Full playlist for this sesshin: https://soundcloud.com/zen-open-circle/sets/autumn-sesshin-2017-dark-of

 
 

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Talk 3 of 4: Holding the Earth Whole – Roshi Susan Murphy – Autumn Sesshin 2017 Cloud Mountain http://zenopencircle.org.au/talk-3-4-holding-earth-whole-roshi-susan-murphy-autumn-sesshin-2017-cloud-mountain/ Mon, 01 May 2017 00:20:51 +0000 http://zenopencircle.org.au/?p=2047 Opening teisho from the Autumn 2017 Sesshin. As is customary, Roshi Susan begins with an exploration of the koan 'Mu'...

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Speaker: Roshi Susan Murphy
Date: April, 2017
Event: Zen Open Circle Autumn Sesshin
Location: Cloud Mountain, Sydney, Australia
More information: www.zenopencircle.org.au / gassho@zenopencircle.org.au

Transcript not yet available. 

Full playlist for this sesshin: https://soundcloud.com/zen-open-circle/sets/autumn-sesshin-2017-dark-of

 
 

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Talk 2 of 4: The Stone Tomb – Roshi Susan Murphy – Autumn Sesshin 2017 Cloud Mountain http://zenopencircle.org.au/talk-2-4-stone-tomb-roshi-susan-murphy-autumn-sesshin-2017-cloud-mountain/ Sun, 30 Apr 2017 23:26:31 +0000 http://zenopencircle.org.au/?p=2045 Opening teisho from the Autumn 2017 Sesshin. As is customary, Roshi Susan begins with an exploration of the koan 'Mu'...

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Speaker: Roshi Susan Murphy
Date: April, 2017
Event: Zen Open Circle Autumn Sesshin
Location: Cloud Mountain, Sydney, Australia
More information: www.zenopencircle.org.au / gassho@zenopencircle.org.au

Transcript not yet available. 

 

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Talk 1 of 4: Mu – Roshi Susan Murphy – Autumn Sesshin 2017 Cloud Mountain http://zenopencircle.org.au/talk-1-4-mu-roshi-susan-murphy-autumn-sesshin-2017-cloud-mountain/ Sun, 30 Apr 2017 23:12:49 +0000 http://zenopencircle.org.au/?p=2042 Opening teisho from the Autumn 2017 Sesshin. As is customary, Roshi Susan begins with an exploration of the koan 'Mu'...

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Speaker: Roshi Susan Murphy
Date: April, 2017
Event: Zen Open Circle Autumn Sesshin
Location: Cloud Mountain, Sydney, Australia
More information: www.zenopencircle.org.au / gassho@zenopencircle.org.au

Transcript not yet available. 

 

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Zazen: Just Ordinary Mind http://zenopencircle.org.au/zazen-just-ordinary-mind/ Wed, 15 Feb 2017 11:08:00 +0000 http://zenopencircle.org.au/?p=2001 A brief introduction to the practice of Zazen.

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This article first appeared in Lion’s Roar here.

By Roshi Susan Murphy

Our natural mind is clear, simple, and ordinary. The practice of Zen meditation, says Roshi Susan Murphy, is simply to abandon anything extra. Then the ordinary reveals its magic.

First, what Zen meditation is not. It is not a meticulous body scan, nor a rigorous examination of the contents of the mind. Nor is it a private entry into nirvana.

Zazen is a deep study of the embodied mind. It is a meditation practice that fosters both gradual and sudden shifts of radical insight into the genuine nature of mind. In a typically startling yet low-key undoing of expectations, Zen often calls this clear and most natural experience “ordinary mind.” In zazen, “ordinary” things grow both plainer and stranger at once.

This “ordinary” does not mean ho-hum or customary. It means as ordinary as the way a bee softly bothers the flowers. As ordinary as waves welling and sucking back over rocks. As ordinary and unlikely as the overwhelming fact of the universe, of breathing in and out, of having a boundless consciousness that seems also to have a name and history and a mortal body. Ordinary means to be with what is, freely moving with unfolding circumstances and at rest everywhere, like a leaf in the breeze.

Zazen (literally, “seated meditation”) is a focused investigation of the nature of “self.” But as the great Zen philosopher Dogen put it, to study the self is to forget the self. All fixed ideas and sense of “self” become “forgotten”—in other words, softened, dissolved, dropped away, expanded to include all that is.

This is done not by directing yourself toward something special but by subtly abandoning anything that resists the simplicity of just being, just sitting, just breathing. It begins in grounding the mind deep in the body and breath, just as they are.

Simple? Yes. And yet it takes all that we are, and many years of practice, to truly experience and maintain.

Zazen means only sitting. It means dropping away anything extra to your breathing, the air on your face, the weight of your body, the subtle energy in your hands, the intimate sounds of lungs, heart, and belly, the sudden cry of a bird, the coming and the going of thoughts and half thoughts, feelings and sensations. None require anything beyond your steady, unpresuming attention.

Wonderfully, there are no steps, guidelines, bullet points or blueprints for this state of resting the mind in what is. I love the way Zen’s generous but challenging gift to us stays almost completely silent on method—as silent as the mind free of constructs and narratives of self. Instead, zazen honors direct, ordinary experience, moment by moment, as the path itself.

I am delighted to learn that in Botswana some train crossings bear a sign saying “WARNING: Trains may be hiding trains!” Well, be warned (and reassured): the method of Zazen is hidden (and revealed) entirely in the activity. It will reveal to you the birdsong hiding in the birdsong, mountains hiding in mountains, trains hiding in trains, the self hiding in the self.

How to Do Zazen

 

Settle into stillness with an upright spine and a slight curve at the base of the spine, assisted by a cushion that subtly tilts the pelvis and establishes a firm base that is free of strain.

Upright and self-supported, head erect but chin slightly tucked in to draw the weight of your head off your neck and spine, you begin to focus on every part of each breath.

You are asked to favor a gentle persistence—not so much controlling the mind as letting thought soften. At the same time, maintain a foreground awareness of the whole body breathing, hearing, feeling, resting. Any unbidden sounds, sensations, emotions, and half thoughts passing through are taken to be just right and just enough. In each moment you offer “just what is” your complete confidence, and rest your mind in that.

There’s no need to fear failure. As the contemporary Chan master Sheng-yen said, “If you have never failed, you have never tried.” When straining for something falls away, what is more natural can appear and success and failure no longer trouble you. “Natural” means closer already to your true nature.

As self-consciousness begins to soften its grip, you intimately encounter, breath by breath, a sense of who you really are. In that heartfelt awareness of body, breath, and mind, you become more seamlessly breath-body-mind. Slowly the mind darkens from thoughts into a state of “not-knowing.” When that grows deeper, some utterly ordinary sound or sight or touch can abruptly escape the clutch of conceptual mind and reveal its self-nature in a way that wondrously confirms your own original nature. Dogen called this the falling away of body and mind in realization. In becoming real.

A sudden birdcall, a twig snapping, a flame flickering, a shadow melting in grass, the crunch of an apple in the mouth, the ridiculous beauty of a crushed beer can found on a beach—any ordinary blessed thing can bring the entire universe to light as your self, clean as a whistle, with nothing that can possibly be attached to it.

This “confirming of the self” is an unbidden coup de grace, a gift that can reach the ground of mind made receptive by freeing itself again and again from “supposing” anything in advance or adding anything in excess of this one breath-mind moment.

This receptivity is an act of yielding the self to the completeness of each moment. Even if the particular moment is difficult, when it is received complete we are able to die to one moment and be born fresh to the next, with our sense of curiosity and appreciation intact, free from the crippling mind of “better” and “worse.”

Zazen is a disciplined act of conceding full agreement with what is. With this comes the dropping away of the kind of “knowing” implicit in anticipation and disapproval, and Zazen begins to open as a pure question.

What is the provenance of this breath? What is it? Who is breathing? Where on Earth did this mystery of being here and breathing come from? And where does it go when we are gone?

To sit Zazen is not to sit in the presence of big existential questions. It is to sit as these questions. In place of an assured goal or method, or the promise of final answers, Zazen practice offers radical uncertainty that is alive with something bigger, more generous, more promising.

As the late Robert Aitken Roshi put it, Zen is dedicated not to clearing up the mystery but to making the mystery clear. Whales, blue wrens, cries in the dark, the sudden fall of a heavy camellia—each thing steps forward to let us know how mysterious this being here really is. As Emily Dickinson said, “Life is so astonishing, it leaves very little time for anything else!”

So how do you offer yourself to such intimate inhabiting of this very moment of life? The poised alert state of Zazen presumes nothing; with a simple, ruthless kindliness, it just avoids inattentiveness and preferences.

When you choose not to object to what’s going on, the lovely thing is that it has a much harder time becoming objectionable. And when you persistently drop each arising impulse to control or engineer things for ever-improved “outcomes,” you can discover the peculiar contentment, low-lit and wondrously “ordinary” inside the subtle action of the mind of not-doing.

_()_

Roshi Susan

Photography by Ron Moss.

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Talk: Helping in Hell – Roshi Susan Murphy – October Sesshin 2016 Cloud Mountain http://zenopencircle.org.au/talkhelping-hell-roshi-susan-murphy-october-sesshin-2016-cloud-mountain/ Mon, 12 Dec 2016 05:42:43 +0000 http://zenopencircle.org.au/?p=1947 Speaker: Roshi Susan Murphy Date: October, 2016 Event: Zen Open Circle Zazenkai Location: Cloud Mountain, Sydney, Australia More information: www.zenopencircle.org.au / gassho@zenopencircle.org.au    

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Speaker: Roshi Susan Murphy
Date: October, 2016
Event: Zen Open Circle Zazenkai
Location: Cloud Mountain, Sydney, Australia
More information: www.zenopencircle.org.au / gassho@zenopencircle.org.au

 
 

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Talk: The Precepts – ‘Everything that lives and breathes, moves together’ – Zazenkai June 2016 http://zenopencircle.org.au/talk-precepts-everything-lives-breathes-moves-together-zazenkai-june-2016/ Thu, 04 Aug 2016 12:43:05 +0000 http://zenopencircle.org.au/?p=1932 Dharma Talk from our June 2016 Zazenkai: 'Each of the precepts addresses our fundamental responsibility to that space where we meet the other and dissolve self and other, in the presence of the other… other being, other person, other 8 billion others, human beings, on the Earth and our sense of responsibility, not just to human beings, but to all the beings. The ethos of the buddha way, the ethics, is very deeply natural. It is...'

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About this talk: 

Speaker: Roshi Susan Murphy
Date: 26 June 2016
Event: Zen Open Circle Zazenkai
Location: Sydney, Australia
More information: www.zenopencircle.org.au

Dharma talk and discussion on the precepts.

Roshi Susan:
“The impulse and the value and the gift of the precepts arises out of this: ‘You are welcome here’…together with all the many beings.

Each of the precepts addresses our fundamental responsibility to that space where we meet the other and dissolve self and other, in the presence of the other… other being, other person, other 8 billion others, human beings, on the Earth and our sense of responsibility, not just to human beings, but to all the beings.

The ethos of the buddha way, the ethics, is very deeply natural. It is naturalness itself… to recognise to realise to make real this fundamental fact of no-self and no-other…

This realisation arises in the presence of each other. We bring it into being together. A most mysterious thing happens when two people are face-to-face or even side-by-side, but sharing the space together – something flows between us.

The no self that is your most open response to what is happening is entirely received by and mysteriously interacts with the no-other of the other… we call this compassion. But compassion side steps the fact that this is a practiced interweaving, a giving away of the self. Thomas Merton, a great catholic zen person, spoke of this as ‘self donation’. The whole ethos of our becoming more aware, is that we want to give this very self – donate it – make it dana. And truly, all of the precepts arise from this sense of there being one precious body here – one body.

Everything that is beautiful about human beings flows through this, even dim recognition, that all that we have hear is one body, and that everything moves together.

The contorted sense we have, of an individual insulated, needing to prove something, carved out from the wholeness of this one body, is really the source of almost all of our suffering and delusion – and all of its consequences.

A fundamental way of calling it is ‘me in here you out there’… That dissolves quite naturally in zazen. Zane dissolves it. Thats the beautiful offer of zazen.

We share one breath, one body… everything that lives and breathes, moves together.”

 

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Mountain Zen – By Ron C. Moss http://zenopencircle.org.au/mountain-zen-ron-c-moss/ Sat, 23 Jul 2016 01:49:31 +0000 http://zenopencircle.org.au/?p=1812 Haibun (Prose and Haiku) from Tasmanian poet and zen practitioner Ron C. Moss...

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Merran Dawson (Left), Roshi Susan Murphy - after Merran took jukai at Gorricks Run in 2005.

Ron C. Moss is a visual artist and poet from Tasmania. His haiku and related genres have won many international prizes and he has been published in numerous journals and anthologies. His award winning first haiku collection is: The Bone Carver, Snapshot Press. Ron is well known for his haiga paintings, illustration and design and is an award winning photographer.

Ron writes: “I consider myself a student of the Zen arts, which have fascinated me from an early age.  I enjoy the distilled conciseness of haiku, the exploration of art and mixed media, and sometimes I like to combine the two, as in the ancient tradition of haiga. I try to bring a sense of contemplation into my work.  Moments of stillness are important in our very busy lives and my path is to practice the way of art and haiku poetry.”

Email: ronmoss8@gmail.com Website: www.ronmoss.com


Haibun (俳文  ? , literally, haikai writings) is a prosimetric literary form originating in Japan, combining prose and haiku. The range of haibun is broad and frequently includes autobiography, diary, essay, prose poem, short story and travel journal. (Wikipedia)


 

Mountain Zen by Ron C. Moss

 

We’re gathered on Mount Wellington at the edge of the Tasmanian wilderness — a mountain that rises 1300 meters above the port city of Hobart. I’m with my fellow zen meditators and friends. We support each other on the path and we have come to mark the passing of 15 years of zen practice in a small rock cabin called Kara.

 

water ferns
one in more sunlight
than the rest

 

We sit in a silence that emanates from deep within the rock. I read a passage by Suzuki Roshi “die into the moment, don’t move!” I signal another time period and we settle into our breath.

 

second bell
a flame-robin scatters
heavy dew

 

The wind lifts and the old rocks cabin roof changes key. The smell of undergrowth mixed with pine incense fills our senses. 

 

broken window 
an edge of cloud
settles on the ridge

Merran Dawson (Left), Roshi Susan Murphy - after Merran took jukai at Gorricks Run in 2005.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Bearing witness to the city: ‘Above & Below’ http://zenopencircle.org.au/bearing-witness-city/ Tue, 19 Jul 2016 14:42:09 +0000 http://zenopencircle.org.au/?p=1821 A reflection on our recent bearing witness practice day in the Sydney CBD. These days are becoming a regular part of our practice. Each time the adventure is utterly distinct and miraculous...

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A reflection on our recent bearing witness practice day in the Sydney CBD. These days are becoming a regular part of my practice. Each time the adventure is utterly distinct and miraculous. Slowly a community of people are coming together to explore what it might mean to bear witness – with nothing left out. Visit our calendar for news of upcoming events. 
 

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Warren


 

The day is silver and Sydney is drizzling. A fine mist of rain is drifting and the roads reflect my face. Buildings fade into sky and sunlight pours onto the ground. 
 
As I look for somewhere dry to sit, I meet David (also known as Cassus). He has a new-to-him violin and is playing tunes from his childhood. ‘Do you know this one?’, he says grinning. It is the theme song from an old TV puppet show: Mr Squiggle. He tells me that for a few dollars I can make a video if I like.
 
On the way to practice, practice begins!
***
 
Four of us nestle ourselves, dry-enough, amongst the pastiche of stone pillars that mark the top of the grand entrance to the Sydney Town Hall. I sit on the white marble floor and lean my back against a bronze memorial pressed with the names of some folks who died in a World War or two. Silence becomes apparent as our small group settles in for our first sit.

 

The floor is cold through my jeans. The twelve bells of St Andrews Cathedral are cartwheeling their sound through us. Police sirens are smudged alongside the sound of air-conditioning units and occasional clicks of tourist cameras. Place becomes the teacher
Earlier, the architecture of this staircase whispered to me saying ‘Above & Below! Above & Below!’. The stairs of town hall flare outwards from the main building to the street – a limestone, marble, and brass drawbridge between political power, and the concrete Earth. These stairs stretch over a poorly lit lower level that provides entry to the train station below and shelter for homeless people in heavy rain.
 
The contrasts between the formal extravagance above and the transitional shadows below are both obvious and taken-for-granted. I wonder: Will we sit in this space below the stairs? How might people react to the damp, sour smell, and the dirt of the pebble-filled concrete? Below the stairs is not ‘comfortable’. I feel myself seeking out discomfort – or turning to face the strange (as Bowie would say). I am curious about below. 
 
Who is welcome on these white marble stairs, and who is at home below? These fault-lines follow me as we walk. 
 

***

We cross the street and enter the opulent antique shopping arcades of the ‘Queen Victoria Building’. In a mash-up of class and privilege, a swarm of people taking a walking tour of Sydney wrap themselves around us. We shape-shift and become tourists. Without irony or any hint of our violent colonial history, the guide notes the immense statue of Queen Victoria that sits above us on a grand plinth. A bronze likeness of her favorite dog sits nearby cunningly disguising a ventilation shaft from the carpark below. 

Level 3 of the Arcades. Shops selling pens, and crystal desk ornaments. Designer clothes and stuffed koala souvenirs. We are on something of a mission – going somewhere. I feel the group is looking for something, wrestless, even anxious. We are still learning to walk together.
 
Navigating a city without words and no rules is a feat of social invention. Each person reaches into their bag of history and positions themselves in the group and space accordingly: walking at the front, taking the lead, or spending time alone amongst the group. How can we walk together? 
 
Above: A massive mechanical clock hangs from the glass ceiling. The clock features scenes from Australian history. As we draw close I see little animated figurines. Below: Around their feet are years of dust. I wonder if the mechanical parts still work? I lean against the balustrade and read the title of the scene: ‘The taking of the children’ (a reference to generations of children stolen from families of the traditional custodians of this land). Was it too controversial to say genocide? 
 
The clock is gilded in real gold.
 
There is a piano in the distance. A redheaded teenager is playing ‘Imagine’ by John Lennon, reading the music from their iPhone. 
Pit Street Mall and the sky has cleared. The light is brilliant. Three of us walk ahead. Standing behind, I ring a pair of finger cymbals to indicate that we are finishing our walk: ding! The three keep walking. I ring the bells again – did they hear?
 
Shoppers around us don’t flinch. Someone smiles. Bells.
 
I catch up with the group. We walk four across – as one body. I pass the bells to someone else. Bells.
 
Shops hum and a busker sings traditional Peruvian songs. Another person is given the bells.  Bells. 
 
I feel a growing mass of people walking behind and with us. As though we were the front line in a great peace march. The world is shining and everything seems in-proportion. Bells. 

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