Pick up a newspaper or turn on the television, and you're bound to see suffering. And it's not just on the news; we struggle with great and small issues all the time, as do our families and friends. How do we respond to the cries of the world? There's so much suffering that it often seems easier to retreat into distance and cold-heartedness, but each of us is born with the ability to give. When we allow that giving to happen naturally, something comes to life: we learn to listen to the cries of the world with our whole body and mind, and we see how easy it is to turn things around with simple actions and gifts. To really take on the responsibility of caring, to willingly accept the consequences of love, transforms our lives entirely.
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).