What does it mean to work on a koan? “You’re trying to free yourself from the limitations of your egocentric intellect,” Nyogen Roshi tells us in this excerpt from a recent talk. Seeing beyond these limitations requires focus and determination, but the reward is nothing less than liberation from delusion. “You have to kick out […]
The last line of the “Gatha on Opening the Sutra,” a verse that we all chant before Roshi or anyone else gives a talk, says, “May we completely realize the Tatagatha’s [the Buddha’s] true meaning.” We have included the chanting of the gatha in this excerpt from the beginning of a recent talk because Roshi […]
Inspired by Yamada Roshi’s account of his kensho in the book, “Zen: The Authentic Gate.” Nyogen Roshi encourages us to remember that just as suffering and death are real, enlightenment is also real. “Without enlightenment, there is no Zen Buddhism,” Roshi says. “Yamada wasn’t some mythical character. I met him! He was a remarkable man […]
Drawing on some of Rinzai’s practice instructions—and on his experiences with own teacher—Nyogen Roshi clarifies some common misunderstandings about our Rinzai lineage. He also identifies the reason we struggle in the practice: “What ails you? Lack of faith in yourself! If you begin to see what’s clearly here, it’s you!”
What does it mean to say that realizing Buddha-mind is also arriving at the place of not knowing? Nyogen Roshi marshals Dogen’s words on not knowing and Maezumi Roshi’s teaching on undivided activity to clarify the point for us. “Bring yourself back from the fantasy in your head,” Nyogen Roshi says. “To where? The only […]
Violence against African-Americans, reprisals against police officers and seemingly endless war provoke Nyogen Roshi to deliver a powerful talk about Samsara–the realm of suffering driven by greed, anger and ignorance of the fundamental unity of all things. Weaving a reading of a koan about the nature of compassion into his talk, Roshi arrives at the […]
Weaving some of Maezumi Roshi’s commentary into a talk on Zenki—”undivided activity”—Nyogen Roshi reminds us that all the Buddhist teachings are pointing directly at the individuals who receive them. “What is Buddha?” Roshi asks. “Buddha is awake! Who is awake? Is there anyone there but yourself?”
In a Teisho on the third chapter of the Nirvana Sutra, Nyogen Roshi reminds us that the Buddha’s words are directed to each of us, exactly as and where we are. “Anybody who begins to practice,” Roshi says, “can walk out into the bright sunlight of this amazing world, which is what you are.”
Connecting the teaching of Gunabhadra and Bodhidharma, Nyogen Roshi points toward the profound implications of both teachers’ emphasis on pacifying the mind. “You can’t conceptualize this,” Roshi says. “If you keep judging it–yes or no, good or bad, I want to understand it–there is the separation. And that’s the difference between enlightenment and delusion, suffering […]
In a recent Teisho on the teaching of Gunabhadra, the 5th-century Indian monk who translated the Lankavatara Sutra from Sanskirt into Chinese, Nyogen Roshi highlights Gunabhadra’s emphasis on pacifying the mind as the essential feature of Buddhist practice. “This practice is real,” Roshi says, “and it is beyond anything you can imagine. It will transform […]
This should be so encouraging to those of you who are sick of being frightened, who are sick of fear, sick of anger. You don’t need some sort of new program. You need to sit down and get quiet and turn the light of the mind inward.
“So long as you think that there’s something ‘out there,’ then this ‘out here’ is threatening. If you can catch that, then you’re beginning to understand what meditation is. Keep that awareness.” Excerpt from a Dharma Talk given by Nyogen Roshi at the Hazy Moon Zen Center.