Join us each Wednesday on Zoom at 7pm (Pacific) for a guided meditation, dharma talk and discussion, and a period of silent zazen meditation...
Join us Friday evening, May 14 thru Saturday, May 15 at noon for a "Shikan Zazenkai," a half-day meditation retreat of Calming and Insight o...
RECORDING (link below) of last night's Wild Country Zen sangha Zoom meeting (Wed., May 5, 2021) ....Read some sweet excerpts from a book by ...
We begin with a calming guided meditation to open our hearts and minds, and then we explore the cherished wisdom of the Metta Sutra. This "l...
A PDF of the Jikoji Chantbook with the major chants used in Zen temples including the Heart Sutra, Metta Sutra, and much more.; a poem by Geraldine Gilbert; copy of the Jukai Precepts; copy of "Hearing the Cries of the World" poem; and our "Shikan Zazenkai May 2021" schedule
In addition to this WildCountryZen.com website, we have a SoundCloud site dedicated to the audio recordings of our Dharma talks, guided meditations, and discussions, increasing access to practicing with us even if you can't make it when "live," prefer to listen while driving, or want to just listen...
By Taizan Gendo (Mark Adams)
In this time of uncertainty and suffering we may be called to more than listening to the cries of the world. We may be called to action, to follow in the footsteps and example of a most favored saint in all of Zen—Avalokiteshvara bodhisattva.
This is heartfelt work, in a confusing, frightening, and painful time, when spiritual practice can be a powerful shared medicine, much more than simply a welcome, soothing balm of comforting habit. The reason it is such powerful medicine is that the bodhisattva ideal cuts to the heart of this mystery of being alive. And that mystery, that essence, is shunyata, the emptiness detailed so exquisitely in the Heart Sutra.
But accepting the emptiness of shunyata, how do we embrace the role of shedding blood and tears, searching desperately (and often futilely) for a skillful response? To suffer ourselves as a bodhisattva while recognizing the emptiness at the heart of all things?
The upaya (skillful means) required for this path seems celestial in quality—not earthly for us mortals. Perhaps this is why in our Mahayana practice of Zen, there are two types of bodhisattvas—earthly and transcendental. The first type (earthly) we may undertake to follow as intentions, as a vow in Jukai, with precepts and paramitas as the guiding lights. The second (celestial), serves as an inspiration for courage, for energy, for resilience, like a morning star. And like the sun, we can all feel it’s effects, but we can never look at it directly with our naked eyes without losing our vision. Yet we know (feel) it is there.
Hearing the cries of the world is gut wrenching, despair-making, but essential to remind us of our intentions. Shunyata, “uncovered” and revealed through the meditative power of prajna paramita, holds the mysterious power of enlightenment that allows us to be effective and not “submerged by the things of the world” as the refrain in the Metta Sutra advises.
Instead of denying reality, or becoming numb to those cries, instead of generating elaborate myths of future rewards, ultimate answers, or a comforting meaning in suffering, recognizing Shunyata encourages us to be with things exactly-as-they-are, just “thusness” and “suchness,” with an open-to-all, loving heart for all sentient beings, and with action—not just ideas, ideals, or meditation.
For each of us, the “how” will be specific to our circumstance, context, timing, and skills. The bodhisattva path is not general—it is specific, derived from the actions we take in response to hearing those cries.
With a deep bow,
In addition to WildCountryZen.com and SoundCloud websites, we have some recorded YouTube videos (below) and Zoom recordings from our Autumn 2020 Practice Period called "The Lens of Shunyata." Check them out...
Recording of my Shuso ceremony at Jikoji Zen Center on Dec. 6, 2020. Wild Country Zen and Jikoji Zen Center sangha members test the "chief seat" at the conclusion of the Autumn 2020 practice period called "Explorations of Shunyata." Thank you to all! [Low Zoom quality, some glitches, best we could do with social distancing and pandemic rules]
When my friend Rick Gilbert went back to spend the last days with his dying mother, Geraldine Gilbert, he found this poem she had written. "Because of this poem, I held my moms hand as often as I could in her last days..."
Purifying hands in the Tsukubai, lighting incense, ringing bells at my home temple—a combination of beautiful Shinto and Buddhist rituals before sitting for the whole world...
Here is a "walk and talk" on a levee in the beautiful Pajaro Valley... And don't forget our advanced meditation practice: a welcoming smile...
In this minute and a half walk, the faint sound of the shakuhachi is followed on a path leading to the zendo at Jikoji Zen Center in the smoke and fire filled Santa Cruz Mountains of California. At last a forest monk (Chōbun Nenzen) is spotted, playing her beautiful, haunting tune at the memorial site of Kobun Chino Otagawa-Roshi...a million blessings upon Jikoji, may it be spared from the fires!
How did the name "Wild Country Zen" come about? I think of "Wild" as the true, boundless, wordless state of nature; "Country" is meant to signify an open, healing spaciousness, a joyful "allowing" of our true buddha-nature to emerge; "Zen" of course is my Buddhist lineage. I am a guiding teacher of meditation and dharma with the A-Town Sangha in Aromas, California, and sangha member of the Jikoji Zen Meditation Center in the Santa Cruz Mountains. I hope you enjoy the name "Wild Country Zen" as much as I do--it always makes me smile! Let's see how it manifests going forward. Come walk this path with us and see... -- Taizan Gendo
My own path in Zen began in earnest in 1989 with the winter residential practice (Ango) period at Green Gulch Farm Zen Center and my first teacher, Zoketsu Norman Fischer, who set me on a 30 year path. In 2009, I received the Jukai precepts and lay ordination, and was given the name "Taizan Gendo" (meaning "peaceful mountain, subtle way") from Eiko Carolyn Atkinson, a dharma heir of Kobun Chino Otagowa Roshi. In 2018 I was ordained a Zen priest in Kobun's Phoenix Cloud lineage by Jikoji Zen Meditation Center's guiding teacher, Shoho Michael Newhall. I have come to love this practice. I hope to be a skillful vehicle in sharing it with all sentient beings...
Someday...can't wait to meet again in person...