Does a dog have Buddha nature? Mu! (No)
What is Buddha? This very mind is Buddha.
What is the Way? Ordinary mind is the Way.
These koans (Zen dialogues and teaching stories) from the thirteenth century Chinese collection, The Gateless Gate (Mumonkan), are some of the best-known in Zen literature. These and other koans can be touchstones in a lifetime of Zen practice.
Often the difference between between the Rinzai and Soto Zen schools is stereotyped as: Rinzai Zen emphasizes meditation on koans; Soto Zen emphasizes "just sitting" (shikantaza). However, Dogen Zenji's writings are full of references to and commentaries on the koans of the great Chinese collections. To our twenty-first century rational materialist sensibilities koans can seem frustratingly nonsensical and obscure. But with help from ancient and contemporary commentaries we can take them in and let them jostle us loose from our conventional dualistic habit-patterns.
During this year’s practice period we will explore how we can bring the Mumonkan koans alive in our practice and everyday lives. Wednesday evening seminars will be led by Myoshin Kate McCandless and Shinmon Michael Newton, and Sunday morning seminars will be led by shuso Jakushin Todd Slobogean.
No advance reading is required but if you would like a recommended reading list is available here: Reading list PDF
Each session will include two zazen periods, a talk by one of the teachers, and time for small and large group discussion. We may use writing exercises so please bring a notebook. Informal snacks and tea served after the seminar.
Please note: During practice period the Sunday practice schedule will be 9:30-12:00 rather than 10:00-12:00.
9:00 zazen 9:30 kinhin 9:40 zazen 10:10 kinhin 10:20 service 10:40 dharma seminar
Schedule (Subject to change, like all phenomena) Numbers refer to the order in the Mumonkan, which is the same in all translations.
Sept. 23 #1 Chao-chou’s Dog Michael(weekend retreat)
Sept. 24 #2 Pai-chang’s Fox Kate (weekend retreat)
Sept. 27 #46 Shih-shuang: Step from the Top of the Pole
Oct. 1 #6 The World-Honored One Twirls a FlowerTodd
Oct. 4 #16 Yun-men: Sound of the Bell Kate
Oct. 8 #37 Chao-chou: The Oak Tree in the Courtyard Todd
Oct. 11 #12 Rui-yen Calls Master Michael
Oct. 15 #19 Nan-Ch’uan: Ordinary Mind is the Way Todd
Oct. 18 #40 Kuei-shan Kicks Over the Water Bottle Kate
Oct. 22 #14 Nan-Ch’uan Kills the Cat Todd
Oct. 25 #41 Bodhidharma Pacifies the Mind Michael
Oct. 29 #5 Hsiang-yen: Up a Tree Todd
Nov. 1 #35 Wu-tsu: Which one is the True Ch'ien? Kate
Nov. 5 #38 Wu-tsu’s Buffalo Passes through the Window Todd
Nov. 8 #42 Manjusri and the Young Woman in Samadhi Michael