The Zen Studies Podcast

Dharma Talks (a bit more personal take on Dharma topics)

275 – Ten Fields of Zen, Field Five – Precepts: Transcending Self-Attachment (3 of 3)

This episode, “Precepts: Transcending Self-Attachment,” is the third installment of chapter five of my book-in-process, The Ten Fields of Zen: A Primer for Practitioners. In the first episode, I described the central role of Precepts in Zen and covered the Three Refuges, Three Pure Precepts, and two of the Grave Precepts. In the last episode, I talked about the Grave (serious, or weighty) Precepts 3-8. In this episode, I discuss Grave Precepts nine and ten, and talk about how we work with Precepts.

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274 – Ten Fields of Zen, Field Five – Precepts: Transcending Self-Attachment (2 of 3)

This episode is the second part of chapter five of my book-in-process, The Ten Fields of Zen: A Primer for Practitioners. In the last episode, I described the central role of Precepts in Zen and covered the Three Refuges, Three Pure Precepts, and two of the Grave Precepts. In this episode, I talk about the Grave (serious, or weighty) Precepts three through eight. In the next episode, I’ll discuss Grave Precepts nine and ten, and talk more about how we work with Precepts.

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273 – Ten Fields of Zen, Field Five – Precepts: Transcending Self-Attachment (1 of 3)

The fifth Field of Zen Practice is living according to moral Precepts. The Buddhist precepts guide our ethical conduct, ensuring we minimize the harm we do to self and others. Such conduct is a prerequisite for the peace of mind we need for spiritual practice. The precepts also serve as valuable tools for studying the self; when we are tempted to break them, it alerts us to our self-attachment and reveals our persistent delusion of self as a separate and inherently-existing entity. Keeping the precepts familiarizes us with acting as if the self is empty of inherent existence.

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272 – Keizan’s Denkoroku Chapter 3: Ananda and the Flagpole

According to Zen master Keizan’s Denkoroku, Ananda spent 20 years at the Buddha’s side. He had a perfect memory, understood all the teachings, was an impeccable practitioner, and attained arhatship. Despite this, the Buddha made Kashyapa his Dharma heir, and Ananda spent another 20 years practicing with Kashyapa. Finally, Ananda asked Kashyapa, “What am I missing?” This chapter of the Denkoroku discusses their subsequent exchange and Ananda’s long-awaited awakening.

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271 – Ten Fields of Zen, Field Four (2 of 2) – Dharma Study: Wrestling with the Teachings

The Fourth Field of Zen Practice is Dharma Study. In the last episode, Part 1, I talked about the value of Dharma Study and how best to approach it. Then I discussed how to go about deciding what you want to study. In this episode I offer a list of eight fundamental teachings I recommend becoming familiar with, along with suggested texts to begin your investigation of each topic. I’ll end with a discussion of how to engage the teachings you study in a meaningful way. 

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270 – Ten Fields of Zen, Field Four (1 of 2) – Dharma Study: Wrestling with the Teachings

The fourth Field of Zen practice is Dharma Study, which is becoming familiar with and investigating Buddhist teachings. The texts and teachings in Buddhism include tools we can use for practice and inspirational guidance for our behavior, but the most critical part of Dharma Study is challenging the ideas and views we already hold, not acquiring new ones. The teachings describe Reality-with-a-Capital-R and invite us to investigate and verify the truth for ourselves. We don’t seek to acquire insight into Reality for its own sake, but because it is liberating and transformative.

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269 – Making a Vow of Inner Nonviolence and Complete Acceptance

We all have negative aspects of ourselves we want to fix, disown, or even expunge completely from our being, but even with practice some things are extremely hard to change. As we strive to break free of our less-than-helpful aspects of self, we typically employ violent means, ranging from subtle rejection to vicious and debilitating self-loathing that may even manifest physically. Regardless of the severity of the violence, it causes damage. Much more transformative than our typical approaches to change is to clearly see and accept whatever manifests within us, making a vow of complete, unconditional, inner nonviolence.

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268 – Teisho, An Encouragement Talk During Zazen

Last week I led a sesshin, or silent Zen retreat. Participants participated in a 24-hour schedule of zazen, chanting, silent work, formal meals, and rest. Once or twice a day, I offered a "teisho" during zazen. "Tei" means to offer or put forth, and "sho" means to recite or proclaim. Teisho are sometimes called "encouragement talks," and they are meant to help listeners connect with the Dharma in spaciousness and silence of zazen. Teisho are not about explanations or the imparting of information, and they generally not recorded. They are offered spontaneously, just for the moment, just for those listening. Although you may not be sitting zazen while you listen to this episode, I thought I would offer you a teisho as if you are.

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