One of the main reasons people embark on the spiritual path is to identify what's causing their pain. Oddly enough, when we try to find our pain we often can't put our finger on it, and this is because our pain comes from an idea. We believe that we are separate from everything else, and we cling to this idea of "me", believing we need to protect it from the outside world. And yet this idea of separateness has nothing to do with reality, with our true nature. Instead of spending our lives struggling with imagined realities, we can learn to experience our intimacy with the world. When we realize our true mind, this truth penetrates our hearts and creates peace of mind.
Zen Buddhism emphasizes zazen, or seated meditation, as the means to study the self and understand who we truly are. Dharma talks are an essential aspect of Zen training and take place in the context of zazen. Said to be "dark to the mind and radiant to the heart", a dharma talk is one of the ways in which a teacher points directly to the heart of the teachings of the Buddha. In our meditation practice, it is easy to get lost in self-doubt, fantasy, numbness, and emotional agitation. Dharma talks help to ground our practice, providing inspiration and an essential recognition of exactly where we find ourselves, so that we can learn to face difficulties and obstacles with a free and flexible mind. This talk was given at Zen Mountain Monastery or the Zen Center of New York City of the Mountains and Rivers Order of Zen Buddhism, founded in 1980 by the late American Zen Master John Daido Loori, Roshi (1931-2009).