In this brief excerpt from a recent talk, Nyogen Roshi lays out the fundamentals of dokusan, the setting where formal one-on-one interviews between a Zen teacher and his or her students take place. “Dokusan is where you confront yourself,” Roshi says. “You can begin to lead yourself out of the entanglements of the egocentric mind. The whole point is to wake up in the now, to become selfless. You can’t understand that intellectually.”
Taking up one of the most famous koans, Nyogen Roshi touches on what it means when a Zen student resolves to live an awakened life. “The magic happens when I begin to relax and when I begin to learn to focus the mind,” Roshi says. “If I can begin to experience the wonder of this most amazing life, anyone can. But you have to have some determination.”
In this talk, Nyogen Roshi reminds us of the most essential aspect of Buddha-dharma: The practice is real! “All the egocentric rumination that you think is so important–it’s silly! Literally. When you are close to the most amazing kind of experience. Closer, as the great Joshu said, than the skin on your nose.”
How are Tibetan visualization practices, koans and Tai Chi related? All of these practices help the practitioner let go of the sense of separation that keeps him or her in a state of delusion about the true nature of reality. “Buddha-dharma is about your evolution–the evolution of your consciousness,” Nyogen Roshi says. “There is no ‘out there.’ There is just this amazing world of oneness.”
A reluctant guest at a Saturday talk prompts Nyogen Roshi to deliver a tour-de-force round-up of the key themes of his teaching over the past few years. Connecting the yearning that brings a student to Zen to the cultivation of samadhi through practice, Roshi says, “There is something right here, right now that wants to wake up, or you wouldn’t be here in this room.this room.”
In this talk connecting the wisdom of Dogen Zenji with some of the insights of quantum physics, Nyogen Roshi encourages us to realize the teachings of the Buddha right where we sit. “There’s something so amazing here,” he says. His words point us toward the place of liberation–which is always where we find ourselves right now.
“You Can Never Leave the Now (What is Buddhism?)”
William Nyogen Yeo Roshi takes the mystery out of the practice of Buddhism and explains how brain science and quantum theory confirm some of the basic teachings of the Buddha.
In this Dharma talk, which he gave shortly after he returned from a hiking adventure to Everest Base Camp in Nepal, Kelly Doman Stevens, sensei, recounts the rewards and challenges of his transforming experience. “It was vast, desolate and awe-inspiring,” he says of the landscape around Mount Everest. “But I wouldn’t call it pretty exactly.” Ultimately he sees his practice as the key factor that enabled him to make a journey that would have been almost impossible for his younger self.
“When he began talking about affirmation practice, I told Nyogen, this is so long overdue for me personally. This habit of negative thinking of mine is poison, and I have been poisoning myself with it for years.”
In a recent talk about his affinities with Zen practice, Michael Isshin Spiller’s inventory began with a pair of items that will be familiar to any regular student at the Hazy Moon. “The first thing that occurred to me,” Isshin said, “was that I have an affinity with sitting. If you don’t cultivate some sort of affinity for sitting, you won’t be at home at the Hazy Moon because that’s what we do here. The other thing that I have an affinity with is listening to the teacher. Always had that, from the first day I heard him
“I do have a real appreciation of Christ as a teacher, so I guess that would make me a Catholic Buddhist… In my view Christ was not unlike Buddha, and was not perhaps the savior in the way we think of him, but an enlightened teacher.”
Jotai, student at the Hazy Moon, considers the meaning of zen practice. “For me it’s life with practice, as opposed to life without practice.”
In this dharma talk, Rev. J.J. Kyoji Anderson speaks about caring for her elderly mother and how being present opens up a world of joy and possibility.
“Living on the Edge”
Kelly Doman Stevens, sensei, recounts his experience of having a stroke and shares how the practice transforms his experience.
In this talk given at the Hazy Moon Zen Center of Los Angeles, Hosso Sensei of the Black Scorpion Zen Center of Mexico, relates her fear of public speaking and her experience preparing to give this talk. She shares how her practice allows her to see things as they are.
“Taming the Mind, Dying Well”
Hazy Moon priest Russell Ryozen Martin talks about what being a Zen priest means–or doesn’t mean–for him. His words ultimately lead to the conclusion that his role or purpose is simply to do zazen, the only way he knows to tame his mind and prepare to die well.
“Dying Without Fear”
In this student talk, Donin, a Buddhist Chaplain in training, relates her experience sitting vigil with a dying woman.
“One Moment to be Kind”
In this video, Luis Chudo Escobar recounts his efforts to overcome his aversion to dogs after his wife adopted a dog named Nori.
“Every Place is Wonderful”
Ento, a senior student at the Hazy Moon Zen Center, shares how her practice helps her navigate the ups and downs of life.