Everything in our practice turns back to each of us as individuals; practice is always right here and now. What does it mean to do away with all beliefs, meanings, systems, and religions? How does complete, wholehearted practice illuminate our responsibilities for our own lives - and for our whole world?
When we rest in a single moment and allow ourselves to really experience it, then we become open to the whole world and all of the ease in it. We can access the gap between feeling and desire, and the openness of intimacy with everyone and everything.
Everything is a field of practice - even our dreams. In this liminal, freewheeling talk, Ryushin Sensei explores the nature of dreams, and their usefulness as a source of the "uncanny realm," or, as he puts it, "the un-canned mind," in which our egos become permeable and our minds unhindered by the five senses. What is a dream? What is waking up from a dream? What is it to be awake? The very reality you're in right now is a dream. Practice offers you an opportunity to be lucid within the dream.
"A Rare and Brilliantly Intuitive Mind"
In this fiery talk Ryushin Sensei takes up the fundamental and pervasive truth of impermanence. How do we deal with the fear of our death, he asks? When we understand that every bit of time and space is impermanent, how do we live our lives?
Master Dogen writes, “To study the way is to study the self. To study the self is to forget the self.” How do we study ourselves, our lives, our world, the questions of why and how? Do we refuse to study them? In practice, experience and explanations of experience become the same thing. How are we students?
If we really engage the dharma and our work with a teacher, then inevitably the teachings shake us up and disturb our comfort. While this is disconcerting, we can also find it fresh, alive, and even oddly comforting. In this penetrating talk, Ryushin Sensei explores how Zen practice invites us to see reality clearly, to not be fooled by appearances, to let go of accomplishment and gain, and to abandon all familiar reference points.
Lulled into complacency by the apparent repetition of our lives, our habitual passivity, or our feelings of accomplishment, we can end up more dead than alive. What better antidote than to recognize all we are receiving and to generously offer all we are in return?
No one can break from the self’s shell alone; even the Buddha had the morning star. Especially in a culture prizing isolation and impenetrability, our practice is not only essential but also radical and risky. How does the teacher-student relationship work in our time? What is student mind? What is the teacher’s vow?
What if attaining clarity were only the first step in fully experiencing our lives? Becoming clear means seeing clearly the work we can do in this life. Turning towards ourselves to obtain freedom will inevitably turn us back to everything else. Realizing interdependence, we recognize our obligations to the world.
We bring uniqueness to every situation. How can we cultivate intimacy within the sparkling, diamond-like differences among us? How can we live in reality seamlessly, without edges, without smoothing out differences or polishing edges so that they disappear? This is the work of a lifetime - and of this moment.
If most of us want deeply to be in harmony with ourselves and our world, why does harmony feel so out of reach? Perhaps because to experience it requires us to commit to disharmony. By fully embracing this ever-changing world as it is, with its joys and pains, we enter the stream of being and truly find harmony.
In a koan, Yunmen says, "This world is vast and wide. Why do you put on your priest's robe at the sound of the bell?" This is the fundamental question of our lives. Even amidst our particular life circumstances, we are making choices with every action - and the possibilities are limitless. Why do we do what we do? What are our choices based on? Do we know? In this fiery talk, Ryushin Sensei challenges us to find out, so that we can live our lives completely with no regrets.
In this koan, a buffalo passes through a window. His entire body passes through but not his tail. Why is that? After his enlightenment, the Buddha taught for forty-two years amidst the pain and suffering of the world. What was his freedom? In this entrancing talk, Ryushin Sensei explores what trips us up - in practice and in our lives: ideas of completion, attainment, perfection - and our ideas about practice. Our questions and suffering move us to search. But is the search itself getting in the way?
In practice, challenges are nothing but opportunities to help us see something about ourselves we were previously blind to. Working with a teacher can help us move through these obstacles, but ultimately, the only one who can realize complete freedom is each one of us.