Category Archives: Dharma Talks

Includes both transcriptions and recordings (podcasts) of Dharma talks given by Nomon Tim Burnett, Zoketsu Norman Fischer, and students and visiting guests of Red Cedar Zen Center.

Two Sides of Zen

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I want to again welcome everyone to sesshin. And as I was saying last night I hope we can really invite all sides of ourselves to sesshin. Invite all of us here. The excited one. The scared one. The grumpy one. And let all of those voices be heard.

I want to invite us not to think that because of these august circumstances we are only supposed to bring along the “Zen” version of ourselves: that projected idea of our best self who is calm and collected and grounded. If we do that our practice is not real. Is not complete. We need to invite our real experience forward to this powerful community practice to be truly real and transformational

The question is how we listen to these many voices inside us. What is our relationship to them? Continue reading

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Living the Life of Samantabhadra

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DHARMA TALK RED CEDAR ZEN 3/5/14

Please let me say some things up front. I want to thank Nomon Tim Burnett for the invitation to be shuso, thereby giving me the opportunity to give this talk. I thank the sangha for supporting me so wonderfully. But foremost, I want to thank Zoketsu Norman Fischer for allowing me to be his student. I appreciate that when I ask him a question, he does respond. It is not always something I would call an answer, but he responds. Maybe the response is “why don’t you find out.” And this is the response I received when I asked about Samantabhadra’s great activity. And thus the theme of the Winter 2014 practice period, enlightening activity, was born.

Together, during this practice period, we explored ourselves, our activities, our thought streams, the Avatamsaka Sutra and Samantabhadra. His name means “Universal Virtue” or “Universally Good.” We found that Samantabhadra is hard to encounter directly, his enlightened and enlightening activity often hidden. Nevertheless, he is the bodhisattva of enlightening activity in this world. Manjushri’s wisdom and Avalokiteshvara’s compassion express themselves through Samantabhadra’s activity.

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There are No Teachers of Zen

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Zoketsu Norman Fischer offers his reflections on his own teachers and what it means to him to become a teacher of Zen in a tradition that also embraces the emptiness of teachers and teachings. In the talk he cites this koan:

Book of Serenity, Case 53

Huangbo said to the assembly, “You people are all slurpers of dregs. If you travel like this, where will you have today? Do you know that in all of China there are no teachers of Chan?”

At that point a monk came forward and said, “What about those who guide followers and lead groups in various places?”

Huangbo said, “I don’t say there’s no Chan, just that there are no teachers.”

This talk is based on an essay Norman wrote for the Winter 2014 issue of Bodhidharma Magazine.

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Enlightening Activity – class 2

“Enlightening Activity” or the Bodhisattva in the Middle of It / Session 2

[Unfortunately no audio was recorded from this class]

Vairochana Buddha, pure dharmakaya,
Lochana Buddha, complete sambokakaya,
Shakyamuni Buddha, myriad nirmanakaya,
Manjushri bodhisattva, great wisdom,
Samantabhadra bodhisattva, great activity,
Avalokiteshvara bodhisattva, great compassion,
wisdom beyond wisdom heart sutra.

Hi, how are you? Thank you for coming to session 2 of “Enlightening Activity” or the Bodhisattva in the Middle of It.

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Enlightening Activity class 1

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Enlightening Activity” or the Bodhisattva in the Middle of It / Session 1

Vairochana Buddha, pure dharmakaya,
Lochana Buddha, complete sambokakaya,
Shakyamuni Buddha, myriad nirmanakaya,
Manjushri bodhisattva, great wisdom,
Samantabhadra bodhisattva, great activity,
Avalokiteshvara bodhisattva, great compassion,
wisdom beyond wisdom heart sutra.

Good morning, how are you? Thank you for coming to this class. I am very happy to be back from my travels and to catch up with all of you. Between my contract in Santa Cruz and the stay at Tassajara Mountain Zen Monastery, two years have passed. I thank you all for the thoughts, the letters, the kindness, and the welcome back. It means a lot to me.

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Chant Book Talks: Enmei Jukku Kannon Gyo

A talk by Heigaku Talus Latona on the Ten Verses for Protecting Life – Bodhisattva of Compassion Sutra.

Enmei Jukku Kannon Gyo
kan ze on
na mu butsu
yo butsu u in
yo butsu u en
bup po so en
jo raku ga jo
cho nen kan ze on
bo nen kan ze on
nen nen ju shin ki
nen nen fu ri shin

English translation
Kanzeon!
I venerate the Buddha
Buddha is my source
Buddha is my affinity
Affinity with Buddha, Dharma, Sangha
Constancy, ease, assurance, purity
Morning my thought is Kanzeon
Evening my thought is Kanzeon
Thought after thought arises in the mind
Thought after thought is not separate from mind

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Chant Book talks: Bodhisattva Vows part 2

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Nancy’s talk continuing with the Four Bodhisattva Vows chanted after Dharma Talks and in our precepts ceremonies. See also the first talk by John Wiley.

May our intention equally extend to
Every being and place
With the true merit of buddha’s way.

Beings are numberless; I vow to save them.
Delusions are inexhaustible; I vow to end them.
Dharma gates are boundless; I vow to enter them.
Buddha’s way is unsurpassable; I vow to become it.

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Chant Book Talks: Bodhisattva Vows part 1

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May our intention equally extend to
Every being and place
With the true merit of buddha’s way.

Beings are numberless; I vow to save them.
Delusions are inexhaustible; I vow to end them.
Dharma gates are boundless; I vow to enter them.
Buddha’s way is unsurpassable; I vow to become it.

Tonight I am going to talk about the chant we do after the dharma talk, which begins with “May our intentions equally extend to every being and place with the true merit of Buddha’s way. Beings are numberless, I vow to save them, Delusions are inexhaustible, I vow to end them, Dharma gates are boundless, I vow to enter them, Buddha’s way is inexhaustible, I vow to become it.”

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Asserting Personhood–Our Very Own Action Figure (Rohatsu 2013)

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Eko Jeff Kelley’s talk given at our combined Seattle-Bellingham sangha rohatsu sesshin. Below are Jeff’s notes, listen to the talk for the whole experience and hold your action figure high.


Asserting Personhood—The Action Figure of Our Self

Rohatsu Sesshin Talk – Dec. 7, 2013

Chiyono story told by Tim, but how in the moment, with our minds as they are, do we realize our true nature?

Sometimes we don’t talk enough about the details of what goes on during our meditation

We say:

  • Thoughts are not the enemy
  • Just open to what is
  • Allow the mind to settle and unfold
  • It’s none of your business what happens in your zazen

The mind must first be calmed, not completely but to a significant degree, before anything else can happen

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