Dharma Talks given by Nyogen Roshi at the Hazy Moon can be inspired by a koan, a sutra, the writings of our Zen ancestors, modern scientific explorations, a student’s question, or today’s headlines. In every talk, you hear the vitality of the living word, the spontaneous expression of prajna flowing from the awakened mind that cuts through our confusion to encourage and invigorate our practice.
Recent serious illnesses in the sangha prompt Nyogen Roshi to confront us with a fact that we usually prefer to avoid: The basic ground of the egocentric mind is the fear of death. Zen practice, Roshi then reminds us, offers a way out of that trap–and the way is always right in front of us. “You can begin to experience something quite marvelous,” Roshi concludes.
In this excerpt from a wide-ranging talk, Nyogen Roshi emphasizes the importance of continuous practice for the practitioner who aspires to true liberation from suffering. He also cautions us not to see the imperative of “home-leaving” as necessarily involving “shaving our heads and putting on a funny costume.” True home-leaving, he tells us, means freeing ourselves from the “nest” of delusional beliefs, opinions and preferences…
Ego’s job is to make things seem solid and safe, but ego’s sense is always delusional. When we see that whatever ground we hold onto in our delusional mind keeps us separate, then we can enter into this world of oneness. The world of oneness exists here now. It cannot be reached conceptually…
Reflecting on the Hanamatsuri ceremony–when Sangha members offer flowers and bathe the body of a statue representing 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…
Nyogen Roshi reminds us that zazen–Zen meditation–means non-thinking. When we cultivate this non-thinking state, we realize our true nature. “At the heart of the teaching is a practicing Buddha,” Roshi says. “That’s what you are, at the heart.”
In one of the most famous Zen stories, Joshu asks his teacher Nansen, “What is the Way?” Nansen replies, ” Ordinary mind is the Way.” What is ordinary mind? Nyogen Roshi walks us into it. “Get quiet,” he says. “Purify the mind–which means stop talking to yourself. Just sit here in the present moment. What […]
Responding to those who come to Zen practice to pursue a career as a spiritual teacher, or to have a psychedelic experience, Nyogen Roshi offers a corrective to some common misunderstandings. “The hard work of transcending the egocentric self can only be done through sitting practice, through zazen,” Roshi says. “And there’s only one reason […]
A group of newcomers inspires Nyogen Roshi to deliver a barn-burner of talk on Zen and the core teachings of Buddha-dharma. After touching on the importance of the ritual form of Zen practice, the inevitability of suffering in the realm of Samsara and the peace that comes from the cultivation of Samadhi, Roshi concludes by […]
What does it mean to work on a koan? “You’re trying to free yourself from the limitations of your egocentric intellect,” Nyogen Roshi tells us in this excerpt from a recent talk. Seeing beyond these limitations requires focus and determination, but the reward is nothing less than liberation from delusion. “You have to kick out […]
The last line of the “Gatha on Opening the Sutra,” a verse that we all chant before Roshi or anyone else gives a talk, says, “May we completely realize the Tatagatha’s [the Buddha’s] true meaning.” We have included the chanting of the gatha in this excerpt from the beginning of a recent talk because Roshi […]
Inspired by Yamada Roshi’s account of his kensho in the book, “Zen: The Authentic Gate.” Nyogen Roshi encourages us to remember that just as suffering and death are real, enlightenment is also real. “Without enlightenment, there is no Zen Buddhism,” Roshi says. “Yamada wasn’t some mythical character. I met him! He was a remarkable man […]
Drawing on some of Rinzai’s practice instructions—and on his experiences with own teacher—Nyogen Roshi clarifies some common misunderstandings about our Rinzai lineage. He also identifies the reason we struggle in the practice: “What ails you? Lack of faith in yourself! If you begin to see what’s clearly here, it’s you!”