A quiet place in a noisy, anxious world. Teaching meditation since 1989.
The Albuquerque Zen Center offers daily practice and study opportunities to anyone interested in exploring Rinzai Zen Buddhism. It is an urban practice center, with a diverse lay sangha (community) drawn from many walks of life.
Saihō-ji Rinzai Temple, Western Kyoto, founded A.D. 729-749. Garden designed in 1339 by Musō Kokushi.
"Thus Spring begins: old
new errs invented"
Guidance at the time of Corona #11
Shodo Harada Roshi
Every day doing zazen as an important part of your life?
Zazen is not the form of sitting zazen, but all motions of the day are zazen. Since the time of the Buddha it is taught in this way. Sitting is zen, standing is zen, all five positions of the day are zazen.
After the awakening of the Buddha for 49 year without resting a single day, the Buddha taught his students. Bodhidharma as well at the high age of 140 he travelled to China. Not being quiet for a single moment, the ancients passed on their experience to society. Not only sitting zazen when there was a need for it, but doing training all day long. Not losing the state of mind of Zazen in our daily life, that is not how Zen looks at it. Zen is taking every single moment of your day as being your zazen. For that we need to know our center well, then not losing that center, just like a top spinning. When the top is balanced well on its one point, then it can move freely in all directions.
The same is true for us. When we have many extraneous thoughts, we lose the natural flow of our mind. This is called confusion.
Sitting zazen, talking or being quiet – that is also zazen. We can do all types of work, we can stay centered in our mind from morning until night, not having lost our center we do not stop anywhere. Our body then responds and acts accordingly. That is called Zen. If we think, it is all about sitting, then as soon as we move, we lose our essence easily. We may be quiet when sitting but as soon as we move, we are pulled around by outer impressions. If we fall into inner noise, that is not zen.
We simply sit to experience the base of our mind.
“Daily work is worth 10000 times that of sitting zazen. “ Zazen is not only when sitting, but when we work, we can do not lose our center – that is zen. Not just in the zendo but in our daily life, not stuck on the form, when we are in society, we do not lose this central focus. Please see this as important. And check for yourself how alive your zazen is. In daily life staying centered is important.
How we sleep at night is how our day starts. How we sleep affects us is of great importance. When we go to sleep, we should be in a huge expansive state of mind, facing up, the legs a bit apart, and feeling as if this great universe is embracing us. Just when our mother held us in her arms when we were small, when we could completely entrust to being held, with this huge feeling we can fall asleep. Not forcing ourselves to sleep, but with a natural feeling, not pulling that along what happened during the day, neither being so exhausted that we simply fall asleep, but with a huge feeling, a huge state of mind, we can rest deeply. This is a habit of our daily life which we can practice. How we fall asleep, we know it best ourselves and need to look at this carefully. Huge and entrusting completely, that is how our state of mind should be. Do not be mean and critical with yourself, do not judge yourself, but simply entrust. There is no need to think about anything when falling asleep.
If we pull those many thoughts and emotions of the day into our sleep, we create a huge damage to our mind. This we should not do. If we were to do this, we do not wake up with a good feeling. We can check ourselves when we wake up. If we can wake up quickly, feeling light and bright, that shows us we we actually fell asleep. If you want to wake up refreshed, then to point is about how we fall asleep.
Do not carry those happenings of the day, those many thoughts and emotions into your sleep. That is the important point of zazen. If we wake up refreshed, our day will continue in this way and we can respond to encounters in a bright way. How we sleep at night shows us how we give life to our zazen.
Please look at this carefully. It is not about making efforts to sit only, we should not try to not think either, but this hugeness of mind is what we need to experience.
Please however the situation in society may be, do not let your state of mind get affected by it.
The Albuquerque Zen Center
Guidance at the time of Corona #10
by Shodo Harada Roshi l,
Are you taking your daily zazen as most important? I have talked about the important points of the breath and energy flow, yet it does not work only by hearing it.
In Sogen-ji (my home monastery) there are now over 20 people who sit deeply while there is so much turmoil going on worldwide about the corona virus. Morning and night they all put everything into their zazen. Of course, I join and sit together with them. Not leaving out daily sanzens as well.
This is now a time when deep practice is possible, when it is needed.
The Sixth Patriarch (Huineng) taught how to practice zazen:
Let go of all concern about good and bad in the outside
And inside to stay immovable no matter what arises.
You all heard the teaching of the Sixth Patriarch many times, yet you need to experience this during your zazen for yourself. In theory we know this well, yet at this point in time we cannot escape the information which is reaching us. We do need to absorb it but we cannot let our mind get pulled off center. That would be sad. We are alive and because of us being alive, this world exists. If we lose our life essence because of this world, that would be truly sad.
Of course, if we do get the virus and are in a fragile state, we may die with the virus. But if we are filled with energy, we can face even such a terrible virus and have the inner strength and energy to deal with it. Rather than facing the actual situation, we get unsettled within because of the information we hear. If we get confused by the phenomena, we lose track of our original mind.
We do zazen, and it is not the body that is sitting but our mind. No matter what problems may occur in the world, be exhale with each breath into our tanden ( the area right below your navel) and let the essence accumulate. If our tanden is filled then then we can see this world as being a reflection in our mind. This is our actual experience in zazen. As soon as outer information moves us around, we lose our inner center.
Each and every breath, each and ever step that is taken brings us to rising our essence. Let go of the tension in the upper part of our body, in the diaphragm, and exhale to the last point of the breath. Not letting go of the efforts needed, but exhale completely, maybe 30 – 40 seconds long. It is not easy to have such a long breath from the beginning, but if we stay with our Kufu – creative work – and do not get stopped by any obstacles. The inhalation can be ignored. The inhalation is what we receive from the heavens. We do not need to think about it in a complicated way. Simply be open to receive the huge energy of the heavens.
Exhale completely and then absorb the heaven´s energy with you inhalation, do not stop your efforts, use every single day to develop this essence further. Then we feel our belly being like a blown up balloon. This is what we need to actually experience with our body, we can use this body, and not stay with our idea about it.
The more we feel this essence, it fills our whole being, our mind as well. The surroundings, the world´s situation, all has been drunk down. We can actually experience this, then facing within we can stay immovable no matter what happens. That place free from any dust, worry, uncertainty, all that has been blown away. We do not need to carry these heave feelings around but rather entrust and see this huge open state of mind. With each and every breath you can purify your own essence. This is my deep inner wish, that you may experience it for yourself.
Zen Studies Society
The Albuquerque Zen Center
PHILIP KAPLEAU, ROSHI
"To be reborn hourly and daily in this life, we need to die-to give of ourselves wholly to the demands of the moment, so that we utterly “disappear.” Thoughts of past, present, or future, of life and death, of this world and the next, are transcended in the superabundance of the now. Time and timelessness coalesce: this is the moment of eternity. Thus our every act is a matter either of giving life or taking it away. If we perform each act with total absorption, we give life to our life. If we do things half-heartedly, we kill that life."
***The Zen of Living and Dying: A Practical and Spiritual Guide
Guidance at the time of Corona #9 and Buddha´s Birthday
by Shodo Harada Roshi
The situation changes daily, the number of infected people as well. Does this new corona virus actually influence our life or is it only the talk about it?
Today is the birthday of the Buddha, the Buddha was born and awakened to human´s original mind. Teaching us what it is we can believe in, not as some philosophy to believe in, but he was speaking from his own actual experience. We have been guided by these words, embraced by the love of the Buddha, while we are alive in these uncertain times, we can experience a deep serene state of mind.
The Buddha´s birthday is also called the flower celebration. For this ceremony I wrote a poem in which I express my gratitude.
Flowers are laughing, birds are singing
Completely freed from all doubts.
Leaving the womb taking seven steps
Hearing this does not suffice, my own words are needed
Losing it all through the six senses
Flowers a laughing, birds are singing
This is the scenery we are perceiving now, Sakura flower blooming, Birds can be heard singing everywhere, becoming more daily. Singing empty minded, blooming empty minded. If we carefully listen to nature,
Completely freed from all doubts.
All those worries of society are being forgotten and let go of.
Leaving the womb taking seven steps
Hearing this does not suffice, my own words are needed
It is said that the Buddha walked 7 steps when born, symbolizing walking the whole earth. This of course did not actually take place. It means that the Buddha was born with this huge expansive mind. The Buddha pointed with his right hand to the heavens and with his left hand to the earth and said: Only I exist in this world. There is no God who scares us, neither is there an evil that can affect us. All is created by humans. Nowadays there is so much uncertainty, so many worries which appear as sickness. We see the news about people dying and of course anyone would become worried hearing this. But we need to see clearly at this point. How could we react in such circumstances? How should we look upon it? Carefully see that we do not let those worries become bigger in our mind, we settle within, and bring forth our wisdom, facing this changing reality straight on. We cannot fall into panic and become worried. This is how we as humans need to take responsibility. All 7, 5 billion people on this planet, we all need to awaken to the truth, and from there face the problems and make efforts on the path to resolving these.
Losing it all through the six senses
Everyone mistakes these words, not taking them as one´s own truth, but only thinking about oneself, about one´s satisfaction, about one´s own peace of mind – a huge misunderstanding. Don´t get stopped by the interpretation of these words.
What can we believe in, each person needs to revise this for himself. In the olden days, Confucius said, “I taught in different ways yet people do not understand me. I will stop teaching now. “His students replied: “You cannot do that. However much you teach, people will not understand. But if you stop teaching, even more so do people not know what to believe in.” Confucius replies: “This world does not speak, spring summer autumn and winter come about, all move naturally without a mistake. The leaves grown and fall again. In winter the whole world is quiet. The heavens do not speak a word, yet nature moves along in its own course.”
What makes the flower bloom in spring time? What makes the leaves grow, change color in the autumn? We do not know what moves them, yet without knowing this we can see the changing seasons.
There are disasters when many people lose their life, then again new life is born. When we see how nature moves, how the season change, we get a sense for the law which is at work behind it.
When the Buddha was about to die, he said to his students: I taught you the law of impermanence. How about it?” Since no one else replied, Anurda Sonja spoke and said: “You have taught us the eightfold path. We have received your wisdom and know well that humans were born to suffer, that is because we gather. The only way out is to know this immovable state of mind. We do need to make efforts and polish our wisdom. We all have understood this teaching of yours well.” – “If you have understood, then I can enter Nirvana.” Everyone started to cry and because they are crying so much, the Buddha raised his head once more and said: “Did you not just say that you have understood the truth? All who were born will die. This is a law. If we look at it from a personal small view we make mistakes. But looking at the whole picture, this is a law. I will die. I cannot go against the law, but the truth which I have realized is not the body and will live forever. This is what we call Dharma, it cannot be perceived with our eyes, yet people are born and die, this is the law. If we get stopped by the phenomena, we cannot see the whole picture.
These words of the Buddha are seen by the monks from South east Asia as being the precepts. The daily life of the Buddha is seen as the teaching, thus living according to the precepts is seen as the truth.
Zen has a different view, we need to awaken to the Buddha´s state of mind, to his experience. Not getting fooled by the self, by ideas, if we can taste this huge state of mind, that is where we can find the truth of the Buddha. Not searching for our own happiness only, but as it says in the Vimalakirti sutra, the light of a candle is not shining for itself, but by shining it shares its own light onto the surroundings. And this light is what brings brightness into this world. When it is dark we cannot see much. Only in brightness can our wisdom function. From there we are able to resolve problems. While the candle shines it uses up itself. The candle will burn up but it will give light to another candle, where the same flame will continue to burn and shine wisdom onto the surroundings. A light burning brings light upon others and thus will continue to live through others.
That is what the Buddha said, my body will die, but you can take your experiences and show the truth to others. Taking this truth and letting this world become bright. Thus our own light is what we can pass on. We do not live for the happiness of ourselves, but for all beings, and for this to become reality, we cannot stop making efforts. That is what the Buddha taught us.
A student asks Unmon: “What is the Dharma body?” – Unmon replies: “Roppushu”. The words meaning is “it does not settle within six”. If we explain these words, the number 6 stands for our six senses. Seeing Hearing Smelling Tasting Touching Thinking. These six senses connect us to the world outside. We can perceive the seen heard smelled tasted touched thought world. Unmon did not say it that conceptually. He goes beyond concepts and speaks about our own existence, if we look at it from a philosophical point, that would be a big mistake. The seeing life energy, the hearing life energy, the smelling life energy, touching life energy, thinking life energy – roppushu. All day long we encounter many people, many situations, hear many data, our own life energy is this roppushu. From morning until night from night until morning, we become this roppushu. We become it completely, we fill the whole universe with it. There is no need to try and understand our life but simply becoming it. Through this reality we become the seeing and hearing, we become one with our senses. This experience is what matters. Not staying with dualistic ideas, not stopping there, but in society face reality and not getting confused by it, our human value is to be found there. To be able to pass it onto others is our human responsibility.
Please see that is the place where the Buddha and Unmon are alive, letting go of the small perception and facing that which is right in front of us. Our efforts bring forth our wisdom. Shining this wisdom onto others, for this we cannot stop making efforts.
Guidance at the time of Corona #8
Shodo Harada Roshi
Settling your breath, settling your energy, are you protecting your own health? During these days extreme news are circulating and we need to deepen even more within. We are living in coexistence with the environment. The earth has the power of gravitation. Gravitation is protecting our health. All our actions of the day are based on this power of gravitation.
When we are tired, we lie down. Still it is difficult to sleep more than 8 hours. That is because we are not absorbing enough gravity power when lying down. When we are sick and have to stay in bed for a long time, we need to have some rehab exercises to again feel well again. When we are in bed, the gravity affect the circulation of our blood flow. We have all types of paths to strengthen our health and support the blood circulation, like chikung, yoga etc.
The place on top of our head is called the fontanelle. We receive the energy of the heavens through this place (Hyakue). Below our feet there is a point (Yusen) from where we receive the energy of the earth, where we can feel gravity.
The energy from the heavens and from the earth gathers in our tanden. During zazen we can use this energy and let it circulate freely. When this energy moves naturally through our body, at this point we can easily forget our body, feeling at one with this huge universe.
Hakuin Zenji taught that with each exhalation and with each inhalation we move the ki energy for 10 cm through our body.
There are the capillaries in our body and parallel to them we have the meridians, the nervous system along which the energy flows. To say we move the energy for 10 cm means that these meridians are being stimulated. During one day the energy circulates 50 time throughout the whole body.
Nowadays we do not count how many times we breathe each day, yet it is known from olden days. That we breathe about 13500 times a day. This is the wisdom of Asian medicine. This flow of energy is what maintains our health.
Everyone has this energy flow, yet you might no be aware of it. It is expressed in the Chinese letter “Kan” which is part of the word “Kangoshi” – nurse. “Kan” is written as a “hand having eyes” and is read as “seeing”. A nurse can sense the sickness of a person, can feel the pulse – all done with one´s hands. The expression of the hands is happening because of the energy moving through our body. This Ki energy can be found in many Japanese words: Tenki (weather), byoki (sickness), Kuki (air), Genki (health), Kiryoku (willpower). … It is expressed in this way, because from the origin the energy of the heavens and of our body are one. The energy of the heavens being absorbed by our body is Genki, is being healthy. Simply being alive we are at one with the energy around us. Sickness, byoki, means the energy not working well. The heavens in small is our body, and our body in big are the heavens. This is how Asian medicine looks at it.
We feel separate, yet we are of the same energy which is the source of us being healthy. This is what we sense when we do Chikung, Yoga and Taichi. We absorb the energy and thus sustain our own health. Looking at it in this way, we feel taught and alive. Once we lose this, that is called death.
In our life we do face many different obstacles, and the energy flow does not happen in a healthy way. We cannot see this energy, but can feel it, especially when doing zazen we can let it settle in our lower abdomen. Zazen is a path for us to increase our energy and develop our wisdom. This is not our personal problem only, but we can receive this energy of the heavens, using our breathing, and protect our health, taking this full taught energy as most important. When we are healthy the energy is strong in the lower part of our body. When we get sick, the energy rises in our body, going against the natural flow. The energy gets stuck in our head, worry and fear create further thoughts and unsettledness. It can even get so intense that we cannot manage our daily livelihood, being emotional and not standing firmly on the ground, feeling dizzy with our head being hot. Clear decisions are difficult to make at this time.
Please see how important it is to bring the energy down and gather the energy in the tanden.
Celebrating its 30th anniversary in 2019, the Albuquerque Zen Center was founded in 1989 and offers daily practice and study opportunities to anyone interested in exploring Zen Buddhism. It is an urban practice center, with a diverse lay sangha (community) drawn from many walks of life. In addition to a robust daily sitting schedule, AZC activities and events include weekly dharma discussions, monthly beginner’s instruction, community work practice (samu), family zendo, full moon sits, guest teacher visits, Forest Bathing wilderness excursions, and jodo training.
|Monday||05:30 - 07:30|
|Tuesday||17:30 - 19:00|
|Tuesday||05:30 - 07:30|
|Wednesday||17:30 - 19:00|
|Wednesday||05:30 - 08:30|
|Thursday||17:30 - 19:00|
|Thursday||05:30 - 07:30|
|Friday||05:30 - 07:30|
|Saturday||05:30 - 14:00|
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