Dave Cuomo - History of Zen pt 2

What was Buddha’s problem? - an empty container for an open question

Dave continues his series tracing the philosophical and social history of Zen. In part 2 we come to Buddha himself, what was the social context he was teaching in, who were his teachers and what did they teach him? What was the problem he was trying to solve and how did he solve it?? The sangha discusses our connection to history and whether history is even knowable, what, if anything, Buddha was doing differently, and of course, what is the meaning of life?

Brad Warner - The Problem Might Be Society

rad opens Dogen’s Eihei Koroku at random to see if the spirits have any special message for us, and settles on a reading of “A Demonstration of Six Magical Powers” (dude whoa), where Dogen gets a little sarcastic. The sangha discusses whether it is possible to feel sarcastic during satori, why we eat so many sweets, whether we would rather lose all of our senses than see a loved one be eaten, before making their way to an interesting conversation o the use of anti-depressants and whether or not they would classify as “altered states” in Buddhist terms.

Brad Warner - Limitless Potential (Zenki pt 3)

“Maybe if you can get comfortable with letting go of things, then the ultimate letting will be a bit easier. I hope so anyway.” - Brad Warner

Brad concludes his retreat series on Dogen’s Zenki with a reading of his own translation “Limitless Potential.” He discusses ethics, the full moon atonement ceremony, and some of his early dating mistakes. The sangha delves into what exactly Dogen might mean by “states beyond life and death,” how to deal with death and dying, managing rage and the proper way to take a punch, and of course, timely for the season, how to deal with your family over the holidays.

Brad Warner - All Functions (Zenki pt 2)

“The ego can grab onto anything, even the realization that the ego doesn’t exist.” - Brad Warner

Part 2 of Brad’s talks from the Mt Baldy retreat on Dogen’s Zenki. He reads Nishijima’s translation, as well as portions of Okumura’s “The Mountains and Rivers Sutra,” the sangha discusses the differences between Soto and Rinzai, kensho and satori, near death experiences, the miracle of sitting on your couch watching a godzilla movie, and the divine light that is eating a pizza.

Brad Warner - How to Harness Your Practice

Q&A night with Brad Warner, tackling the big questions - how do we harness our practuce in difficult circumstances? What does Buddhism say about love? Wasn’t Cha Cha the best? There’s also some great geeking out about the poetry inherent in Chinese characters.

Dave Cuomo - Intro To Zen

If you’ve ever been curious what exactly we do here and why, this is your chance to find out! We cover all the basics from extended Zazen instructions to what exactly we do here in Zen and why. What does it all mean? How do I be the greatest meditator of all time and will that help? Is life just one continuous mistake? Find all these questions and more here!

Nina Snow - The Neurotic Emotional Veil

Nina leads us in a a reading from Charlotte Joko Beck - Experiencing and Experiencing. It's a conversation about how we objectify our world by seeking out experiences instead of resting in the act of experiencing. Why are we so reluctant to let go of the things that we know hold us back? Why do we cling to an illusion of safety when freedom lies in giving in?

Brad Warner - Two Truths

Brad talks us through the often maligned teaching of the two truths. It’s about the absolute and the relative, trying to see the forest and the trees. It’s about zazen and the underlying sub strata we find there where everything is ok, combined with the reality that nothing is certain and there’s so much to do. How can both truths be true?! And what are we supposed to do with that? Explore the contradictions with us here!

Brad Warner - Don’t Argue With an Ox

“The entire world is using human beings to see itself; the entire universe is studying itself through us.” - Shohaku Okumura

“Although the power of a wise man exceeds that of an ox, he does not fight with the ox.” - Dogen

Brad gives a reading from his favorite Zen author, Shohaku Okumura, The Mountains and Waters Sutra. It’s a talk about mountains studying mountains, how the universe is using us to study itself, and why even if you’re certain you’re right it is still never wise to argue with an ox.

Erik Andersen - Beliefs

In a freewheeling talk, Erik talks about beliefs. Do we need them? No, well sometimes, but not like we think we do. What happens when you let go of even the most fundamental beliefs? What happens when the beliefs you've most relied on fall apart? Can anything be known for certain?! Find out here!

Emma Roy - Rituals and Playing With Fire

"Be careful what you say out loud, and make it good."

Emma and the sangha discuss rituals - what are they really and why do we do them? Is it superstition, is it magic, a way to mark a moment, or is it just something nice to do with your friends on a saturday afternoon? Do they actually hold meaning or are they how we make meaning? What's the line between a lucky pair of socks and a fascist rally? Join us in a discussion on the power and pitfalls of religion and community!

Brad Warner - What is Zen & What is Japanese Culture?

In an impromptu talk, Brad explores an often asked question, “how do you separate japanese culture from what is Zen?” It’s a discussion of the paradox of Western Buddhism - if we just mimic foreign forms for form sake, we miss the heart of the practice, but if we drop all the traditions and make up something new then we lose the heart of the practice. It’s a nuanced discussion delving into cultural appropriation, the difficulties of communicating across cultures when all communication is culturally contingent, and Brad even sings the preamble to the US constitution just for good measure.

Brad Warner - Let it All Go

A Q&A w/ Brad Warner where he answers the big questions, such as; do meditation apps work? What are the four truths of Nishijima? Can we meditate away anxiety? What are we letting go of, how do we let go, and what is letting go?! Find out all the answers here.

Emily Eslami - Nothing is Sacred, Nothing is Mundane

“Everything is sacred, I believe nothing. Nothing is sacred, I believe in everything” - Tom Robbins

It’s hard to say what this podcast is about since the topic of Emily’s talk was explicitly nothing special. All I know is that when I listened to it, I felt moved, both to sit zazen and to appreciate today for just what it is. She explores how not let the good days over charm you and not let the boring days discourage you, and how the mundaneness of zazen becomes the best part of the day if only we can remember to stop thinking in those terms. The sangha discusses what to look forward to after a wedding, whether mexican food is really just one dish, and how much we’ll all miss lukewarm coffee when we’re gone. Again, I’m not exactly sure what it’s about, like I’m not sure what any of this is about, but it’s a convincing exhortation to practice and a reminder of what really matters in the end, which is to say nothing and everything at the same time.

Dave Cuomo - History of Zen pt 1

Dave attempts to trace the history of Zen from its Indian roots up to our present day Zen center. Part 1 is an exploration of pre-Buddhist Brahmanism, and the sangha discusses what to do when you're cultural narrative no longer fits the world as you find it.

Nina Snow - Love and Attachment

We often don't talk about love in Zen, sticking to more monkly sounding terms like "compassion" or "loving kindness" but Nina is not one to shy away from the big topics. She opens her new series this week exploring the difference between love and attachment with a reading from Brad's Sex, Sin, and Zen, and opening up about her own experiences while the sangha discusses how to let go while keeping what truly matters close. Do we have to abandon our loved ones and run off to the forest to find enlightenment? Does non attachment mean we can't love our families?? (spoiler: no you don't and no it doesn't...)

Craig French - The Vine That Connects Everything

Jiko - Self, the vine that encompasses everything; past present, and future. Craig discusses the universal self; what that means, how to act when there is no ultimate purpose, and how to engage in conflict and be with yourself and others in the big universal self.