Zen Study Group

See our virtual practice schedule for meeting times.

April 2021

April Zen Study Group
Led by Chris Genyu Spinler

Zen Buddhism encourages practitioners to set aside their personal agenda, sit quietly in zazen, and work to understand the world on its own terms through patient and careful examination of day-to-day life. So doing, three fundamental insights may arise: (1) that nothing in the world exists inherently on its own, but instead requires (and implies) the existence of every other thing (emptiness), (2) that this being the case, there is no such thing as an inherently existing self anywhere to be found (absence of self), and (3) that qualities normally considered opposites (e.g., hot/cold, good/bad, self/other) are in fact mutually conditioning elements of an undifferentiated wholeness (identity of opposites/non-dualism).These themes are ubiquitous in Zen Buddhist literature, but the temptation exists to forgo deep consideration of the teachings in-and-of themselves in favor of investigations of their ethical and philosophical implications. While it is just these implications that manifest Zen insight in the wider world and help make Zen Buddhism a living and viable spiritual tradition, it is also important to work to understand what these teachings both do and do not say, the better to understand the foundations of Zen Buddhist thought and practice. The April discussion group will examine the themes of emptiness, absence of self, and the identity of opposites as presented by both contemporary Zen teachers (including Robert Aitken, Thich Nhat Hanh, Steve Hagen, and David Loy) and classical masters (including Dogen Zenji, Huang Po, and Shitou Xiqian). Materials for this discussion group will be posted on the DMZC Virtual Practice webpage.

April 14 reading – Nondualism
April 21 reading – Not-Self
April 28 reading – Emptiness

May 2021

May Zen Study Group
Led by Eishin Tom Houghton

During May, we will look at three koans, two from the traditional Zen literature and one “koan” from Australia, and contemporary commentary from teacher John Tarrant from his book, “Bring Me The Rhinoceros: And Other Zen Koans That Will Save Your Life.”  While all koans have practical implications to our everyday lives, the three chosen for study and discussion this month stood out particularly for Eishin not only in their individual content but also how they compliment each other.  The themes being addressed are: meeting and relying on the inconceivable, meeting the heaven in our everyday lives, and finding your song.

Study group material is listed below.

To be read on your own at any time – About Koans

May 12 –  Blue Cliff Record: Case 91 – The Rhinoceros 
May 19 –  Gateless Gate: Case 19 – Ordinary Mind is the Way
May 26 –  Australian Koan – The Master Song Man