Dharma Talks

Dharma Talks by Nyogen Roshi (Audio)

The following teisho were given by Nyogen Roshi at the Hazy Moon Zen Center unless otherwise noted.


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.”



Become an Empty Vessel (24:01)

“You cannot free yourself from the dualistic mind by thinking about it,” Nyogen Roshi reminds us in a talk he gave during a recent sesshin. Instead, using our practice, we have to allow our minds to become still and empty in order to see clearly. “The Miracle is right here!” Roshi says. “This is the miracle!”

The Oyster Swallows the Moon (27:26)

Working with “Chimon’s Prajna Wisdom”–a case from the Blue Cliff Record–Nyogen Roshi offers practice instructions that apply not just to working with koans but to any of the practices in the Zen tradition. “You have to take the koan beyond the intellectual mind, the egocentric mind, and that is not easy,” Roshi says. “The difficult part is to continuously sustain it.”

Lineage Is Real (32:30)

“Lineage isn’t something that you develop, something that you create. It’s something that you receive.” Responding to those who want to establish novel Buddhist institutions in the United States, Nyogen Roshi reminds us how profoundly simple and profoundly difficult true Buddhist practice inevitably is–and how important it is, for those reasons, to practice with a teacher who has “sat in the room with a teacher who has sat in the room with a teacher.”

Miraculous Activity (33:27)

In a talk weaving insights from the contemporary physicist Russell Targ into the teachings of Dogen Zenji and Nagarjuna, Nyogen Roshi demystifies “miraculous activities” like levitation and remote viewing. “The true miracles are the daily activities of Buddhas,” Roshi says. Clarifying the matter for us, he says, “the truth is absolute naked awareness, free from all conditioning.”

Do You See Where You Are? (41:51)

In this teisho, Nyogen Roshi relates the story of his recently getting lost in what he calls a “hell realm” and connects his experience with the lessons he is taking from The End of Suffering, a book that he has recommended to the sangha. “It’s your head that you’re constantly looking at,” Roshi says. “So long as you’re up in there, blinded behind your eyeballs, you are not dealing with reality. You have to free yourself. You cannot hold a conceptualization of what you think it is.”

Belief Systems (31:23)

“Do you see how your belief system is shaping you?” Nyogen Roshi asks in a Dharma talk inspired by an “old master” who has figured into many of Roshi’s recent talks. “It is a belief system that makes you think this sense of separation is real.”

The Point to Practice (24:44)

At the beginning of our sesshin commemorating Shakyamuni Buddha’s enlightenment experience, Nyogen Roshi reminds us of the common thread connecting all the forms of practice in our lineage. “You have to push through the wall of duality–the sense of separation that keeps us trapped in the six senses,” Roshi tells us. “How do I do that? You don’t think about your thoughts. How simple!”

Prajna (33:49)

“There is much confusion” about the definition of prajna, Nyogen Roshi tells us in this new Dharma talk. “And yet it is the simplest, most direct experience of actualized Buddhadharma.” The reason for the confusion? Prajna simply can’t be understood, because “there is no understanding to the manifestation of great prajna.” Listen as Roshi clarifies the matter for us.

Embrace the Suck (32:41)

In a riveting talk weaving together Navy SEALs survival strategy, admonitions from the Avatamsaka Sutra and insights from physicist Tom Campbell, Nyogen Roshi reminds us that if the demands of true practice are difficult, the rewards are immeasurable. “Always it is only you,” he says. “And all the players on this great stage are you. You wake up here, but you can’t carry anything forward.”

Buddhadharma Is Real (25:39)

In this teisho inspired by Dogen Zenji’s fascicle on self-realization samadhi, Nyogen Roshi reminds us that Dogen’s writing–in fact, the teaching of all the past masters and Buddhas–is pointing directly at the mind of the individual practitioner. “The whole point of Buddhadharma is the evolution of your consciousness,” Roshi says. “Realizing this is relatively easy. To truly actualize it is extremely difficult.”

Doing Non-doing (16:44)

Prompted by a student talk that touched on caring for the dying, Nyogen Roshi discusses the urgency of cultivating samadhi by “doing non-doing.” If we ignore or trivialize this imperative, we contribute to the pain and suffering around us. But if we engage in the hard work of Zen practice, we transform ourselves and our world. “You have to push through the barrier of duality,” Roshi says. “And then you begin to experience the most amazing occurrences. But it’s quite ordinary–very ordinary, see?”

Ikkyu’s Letter (19:20)

Ikkyu, a 15th century Rinzai poet-monk, was born the son of the Japanese emperor and was exiled from the royal court along with his mother when he was still a young boy. Both mother and son became ardent students of Zen. In the letter she left for him upon her death, Ikkyu’s mother urges him “to see your own nature.” In his teisho on this letter, Nyogen Roshi touches on Dogen’s writing on prajna, the Buddha’s empirical quest and the reality of the experience of enlightenment.

Bathing the Body of the Buddha (16:57)

Reflecting on the Hanamatsuri ceremony–when Sangha members offer flowers and bathe the body of the newborn Buddha–Nyogen Roshi reminds us that this ritual of purification is simply another reminder that cultivating Samadhi is the point of our practice. And, he adds, this means that the body we bathe is our own. “There is no point on the compass that you don’t totally cover,” he says.

A Practicing Buddhist (23:30)

Nyogen Roshi touches on the key points in our practice in a talk prompted by a question about the actions of Buddhist monks in Myanmar. “What does it mean to be awake?” Roshi asks. “Does it mean that I follow some doctrine, I follow some dogma, I follow some group of rules? No! To be a practicing Buddhist means that I’m awake. That’s all it means. But do you know what it means to be awake.”

The Eyelash of Doubt (36:29)

As Nyogen Roshi reminds us, the notion of belief always carries with it the shadow of doubt. It also implies a host of intellectual assumptions that only serves to obscure the pure state of being that we’re working to realize in our practice. “We cannot simply think ourselves into this state of samadhi,” Roshi says. “And so long as you think there is something outside of your awareness, you’re in delusion. You have to keep swimming into the light–here, now.”

“There Is Enlightenment” (13:32)

“The thing I most want you to experience is that the teaching of Buddha-dharma is real. Some of you still play with this as a conceptual game. But real transformation is absolutely possible.” Excerpt from a Dharma Talk given by Nyogen Roshi at the Hazy Moon Zen Center.

Holding Up the Living Word (12:02)

In this excerpt from a recent talk, Nyogen Roshi recounts some of the key moments in his relationship with Maezumi Roshi and reflects more broadly on the student-teacher relationship, lineage and transmission. “Transmission isn’t something that you can think your way into,” Nyogen Roshi says. “It is profound. And it has come 81 generations down to here.”

“Make Peace With Yourself”  (46:31)

At the start of a weekend sesshin, Nyogen Roshi reminds us why meditation retreats are so valuable.”When you begin to quiet down and you stop looking for something out there, then the Buddha-Mind manifests. And then you begin to experience the wonder of what you are.”

In this new teisho, Nyogen Roshi connects his renewed emphasis on affirmations with some of the fundamental insights of the Shurangama Sutra. “This is the place where it’s easiest to work on enlightenment,” Roshi says. “The whole process is evolvement of consciousness. If you don’t get that, you’re going to miss the most amazing journey.”


Dharma Talks by Nyogen Roshi (Video)

You Are Everything (and Everything is You)

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.


Buddhism: Seeing Through the Illusion

On February 10, 2007 Nyogen Yeo Roshi gave a Dharma talk on the ancient Tibetan master Marpa the translator. This is an excerpt of this talk.


Dharma Talks by Nyogen Roshi (Audio)

“Nirvana” (24:37)
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.”

“The Middle Path” (49:41)
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 or bliss.”

Pacify the Mind” (35:23)
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 your life.”

“True Reality: Practicing Zazen” (32:07)
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.

“There Is Enlightenment” (13:32)
“The thing I most want you to experience is that the teaching of Buddha-dharma is real. Some of you still play with this as a conceptual game. But real transformation is absolutely possible.” Excerpt from a Dharma Talk given by Nyogen Roshi at the Hazy Moon Zen Center.

“What Is the Buddha?” (31:33)
“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.

“The Fundamentals of Zazen” (13:26)
Nyogen Roshi talks us through the basics of allowing body, mind and breath to settle–the heart of our Zen practice. Excerpt from a Dharma Talk given at the Hazy Moon Zen Center.

“The Raft of Buddha-Dharma” (22:48)
“By using the practice you can begin to free yourself from the illusion of separation. But don’t try to understand it–understanding is in the realm of delusional thought. This pure awareness is what you are.” Excerpt from a Dharma Talk given by Nyogen Roshi at the Hazy Moon Zen Center.

“Walking the Eightfold Path” (51:39)
“The practice of Buddha-dharma is to realize and actualize in this moment what our life truly is all about.” Excerpt from a Dharma Talk given by Nyogen Roshi at the Hazy Moon Zen Center.

The Four Noble Truths: Diagnosing What Afflicts Us” (17:26)
“As a sentient being living in the world of samsara there is the worst kind of illness. This is the fear and the suffering of unfulfilled spiritual practice. The great healer, Shakyamuni Buddha, diagnosed this illness and offered us a way out.” Excerpt from a Dharma Talk given by Nyogen Roshi at the Hazy Moon Zen Center.

Marvelous Contrivances” (14:51)
“Koans are these marvelous contrivances given to us by the enlightened masters. Don’t try to understand what I’m saying. Just sit here awake. You are a perfectly functioning Buddha. Just wake up now–this is the whole point of Buddhadharma.” Excerpt from a Dharma Talk given by Nyogen Roshi at the Hazy Moon Zen Center.

The Center of the Empty Field” (17:26)

“Modern science–quantum physics–will never prove Buddhadharma, but Buddhadharma might validate their work.” Excerpt from a Dharma Talk given by Nyogen Roshi at the Hazy Moon Zen Center.


Dharma Talks by Nyogen Roshi (Audio Archive)

The Five Houses of Zen

The Way is You

Right Faith

Entering Zazen

Awakening in the Marketplace

What is it?

Manifesting Ultimate Reality

The Hall of Pure Bliss

You Are the Enlightened State

Dogen’s One Day 

Grasp it Directly! 

Churning Pure Butter 

The Precept of Being

You Are the Way 

The Backward Step

What is the Buddha?

Beating the Drum


Scattering Seeds

A deep gassho to Tricycle magazine for including one of Nyogen Roshi’s talks in their Video Dharma archives. We’re glad to be working with Tricycle to make the liberating message of the Buddha’s teaching available to everyone.



Watch Hazy Moon Student Talks and see the refreshing clarity, confidence and transformativeness of a living Zen practice:


The Cloud (3:17)

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 (2:21)

In this student talk, Donin, a Buddhist Chaplain in training, relates her experience sitting vigil with a dying woman.


One Moment to be Kind (3:32)

In this video, Luis Chudo Escobar recounts his efforts to overcome his aversion to dogs after his wife adopted a dog named Nori.


Impossible to Deny (4:50)
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.”


Being Present (3:53)
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 (5:39)
Kelly Doman Stevens, sensei, recounts his experience of having a stroke and shares how the practice transforms his experience.


Every Place is Wonderful (4:05)

Ento, a senior student at the Hazy Moon Zen Center, shares how her practice helps her navigate the ups and downs of life.


Voices of Zen (AUDIO)

Listen to Hazy Moon Student Talks and hear the refreshing clarity, confidence and transformativeness of a living Zen practice:

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.


You-Can-Heal-Your-Life-75Affirmations (14:50) Michael Isshin Spiller

“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.”

Blue Fountain Buddha rev 75

Affinity (14:50) Michael Isshin Spiller

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.”


What Is Belief? (6:47) Russell Ryozen Martin
“If we truly believe, it’s almost like everything else just falls into place. We don’t have to worry about any of that.”


Kujaku75“Recovering Hippie Catholic Zen” (12:16) Kujaku
“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.”


gendo-75The Existence of All Buddhas (8:54) Chris Gendo Bowman
“If it’s an infinite universe, as soon as you say no, that can’t be, it’s not an infinite universe anymore.”



Kogyo-portrait-C75Just What the Doctor Ordered (10:55)
Matt Kogyo Silverstein recounts his halting journey toward Zen, humorously admitting that he has been counting his breath for more years than it took him to get his Ph.D. “And I still don’t have it!”



Signs of Progress (10:04)

Kelly Doman Stevens, sensei





It’s Just a Dish  (11:47)

Karen Maezen Miller, sensei




Hogen-port-75Pain v. Suffering (2:36)

Derek Hogen Dieter




ShindoShuso-web-thumb Follow the Monk! (11:01)

Nick Shindo Street