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Awake In This Moment

Aug 31, 2023 When you fall asleep, your conditioning runs the show. You just play things out the way conditioning would play it out. It’s only through being alive, aware, and awake in the moment that we are in, that there’s a possibility to change that. In Buddhist terminology, we say if you fall asleep then your karma, your conditioning, runs the show. But the only time you can change your conditioning is now. In your thoughts about the past or even your hopes for the future cannot change a thing. But right in this moment, you can choose. We’r...

The Great Way Is Not Difficult

teaching Aug 17, 2023 If you think you are going to give up likes and dislikes, you’ll be very disappointed. But, the fundamental teaching of Zen is if you stay in your likes and dislikes, you’ll create heaven and hell. Let go of your likes and dislikes, paradise is right here. The great way is not difficult for those who don’t make distinctions. But we’re all making distinctions all the time. It’s a matter of attachment, it’s a matter of holding. It’s a natural thing to prefer one thing to another. But craving after what you like and pushing a...

Fundraiser 2023

Dear Friends of Empty Gate Zen Center, Thank you so much for all of your ongoing support. Whether you’re a long-time member of Empty Gate Zen Center, or recently connected to one of our Zen Centers, we value all of your personal and financial contributions. The pandemic and its effects have been challenging for many people over the past 4 years. Because EGZC was already online before the pandemic began, we were well situated to meet the needs of the moment. Our online presence has connected our practice locations in a way we never could have im...

Letting Go Of Attachment

teaching Aug 03, 2023 Letting go of that attachment means that we can be in the real and what’s true. We build this capacity to stay present or we find the capacity we already have. The more we let go of attachment to self, the more we find freedom. We practice to find that place before “Self”. What I am suggesting is the more we stay with what’s true and not get caught up in "I", then we already have it. It’s not some distant fantasy. It’s already here. By Zen Master Bon Soeng

Stability And Clarity In Your Life

Jul 27, 2023 If I can connect with what I am doing, I can stay grounded and pay attention to those reactions, see them and not get carried away with them. It doesn’t mean I don’t enjoy the good times or despair the bad times. But if I stay grounded, connected with something beyond my likes and dislikes, then there is some stability and clarity in my life because I am not jumping all around getting lost in my reactions. If somebody calls me something that I don’t like and that raises my anger, I then start acting out of my anger and lose any cla...

Let Go The Dream Of "I"

teaching Jul 20, 2023 What practice offers us in a very simple way, is to connect to the moment. Put aside that dream of I, my, me and act, not making a big deal about it. Then go on moment to moment, meeting these moments. The more we stay in the dream of who we think we are, the less able we are to connect with what is actually happening in front of us and find some simple, fresh and alive way to respond to the moment. I think in a lot of ways, the simple way of Zen practice is a revolutionary act, because it alters a structure of what “we th...

Direction for Zen Practice

teaching Jul 13, 2023 Like or dislike is what creates a prison that we live in. So if you only practice when you want to practice and then don’t practice when you don’t want to practice, that’s a fundamental problem. You are following the winds of your desire, and that’s what leads to suffering. The Buddha’s teaching is very simple. We suffer because of our desire, our anger, and our ignorance. So if our practice is based on desire, all it does is lead us to more suffering. Keep your direction clear. There is something that moves you to practic...

The Buddha Lost Enlightenment

teaching Jul 06, 2023 The Buddha saw a star and got enlightenment. That's the myth of the Buddha, that's the story that's been told for over 2,500 years. Buddha had this experience. Zen Master Man Gong said, "I saw a star too and I lost enlightenment." Everybody thinks "Got Enlightenment" is what we want. But Man Gong says he lost enlightenment. What does that mean? If you think about it, is enlightenment something you get? Or lose? How do you get it? How do you lose it? We don't know. So already, we're starting to wonder what is this thing we ...

The Buddha Lost Enlightenment

teaching Jul 06, 2023 The Buddha saw a star and got enlightenment. That's the myth of the Buddha, that's the story that's been told for over 2,500 years. Buddha had this experience. Zen Master Man Gong said, "I saw a star too and I lost enlightenment." Everybody thinks "Got Enlightenment" is what we want. But Man Gong says he lost enlightenment. What does that mean? If you think about it, is enlightenment something you get? Or lose? How do you get it? How do you lose it? We don't know. So already, we're starting to wonder what is this thing we ...

Manifesting Buddha Nature

teaching Jun 29, 2023 We talk about the Buddhist teaching, but the talk is to help us actualize the teaching, the practice, and our own true nature in the very moment of our lives. In many ways, this is a pretty radical teaching because everybody can do it. It's not like you have to attain some special knowledge, or some special state of being and then you can do it in your life. You can show up and your Buddha nature can be manifested. Buddha nature can be expressed in this very moment of our lives. But much of Buddhist teaching makes you feel...

Manifesting Buddha Nature

teaching Jun 29, 2023 We talk about the Buddhist teaching, but the talk is to help us actualize the teaching, the practice, and our own true nature in the very moment of our lives. In many ways, this is a pretty radical teaching because everybody can do it. It's not like you have to attain some special knowledge, or some special state of being and then you can do it in your life. You can show up and your Buddha nature can be manifested. Buddha nature can be expressed in this very moment of our lives. But much of Buddhist teaching makes you feel...

Right View is No View

teaching Jun 22, 2023 The first of the Buddha’s Eightfold Path is clear view, or right view. Right view means clarity. Right view means letting go of "my" view to be able to perceive the moment. We all know what this is like. There are times we are involved in an argument, and in the middle of it we start laughing because we realize how stupid it is. In that moment we can see clearly. To see clearly, we have to let go of our own perspective, our own opinion of right and wrong, what I should do and what you should do. If we can let go of that, t...

Believe in Yourself 100%

teaching Jun 15, 2023 Zen Master Seung Sahn, our founding teacher, with his stick, used to poke us right here (pointing the stick at navel). He'd poke us and say, "Make your center Stronger....Stronger! Stronger! You must believe in yourself 100%!" But what does that mean, believe in yourself? Make your center stronger and believe in your own true nature 100%. Not your idea of who you think you are. But that who you are, before the concept of yourself even arises. What I am talking about is that we make a self concept, "I am this, or I am that....

Zen is Not Self Improvement

teaching Jun 08, 2023 Mind makes everything. If we don't get underneath that, it's all playing with the branches and the leaves. We can have a better life, but not really getting to the base of it. Our teaching is keep a great question. The great question in Zen practice is "What Am I?". "What Am I?", you could say, is "What Is Mind?" Then bring that doubt to this very moment. We often say Zen is not really about self improvement. What is the self that you want to improve? Who are you really? That's the fundamental point. And until we really de...

Great Faith

teaching Jun 01, 2023 Faith is a tricky word. For me, I have to bring Great Question to the word faith, because it's not, traditionally in Western religion when we think of faith, like faith in God, faith in some supernatural thing, or experience outside of ourselves. Faith in Buddhism has nothing to do with anything outside of ourselves. It does not necessarily have to do with something supernatural or esoteric. In a sense, it's faith in our own true nature. It's faith in a sense that if I can be willing to let go of that certainty. And if I a...

How To Reach The "Zen State"

jason quinn jdpsn teaching May 25, 2023 Many people who start practicing Zen want all the bad thoughts and feelings to go away and only want to keep the good ones. There is nothing wrong with that, and that is what can lead us to practice. If we stick with it and practice correctly, we see the struggles we are experiencing as less about the thoughts and feelings themselves, but rather, how we relate to them. There is a very simple and important meditation instruction, which is to not push away thinking and feeling but don’t hold on either. The ...

Awake In The Moment

teaching May 18, 2023 When you fall asleep, your conditioning runs the show. You just play things out the way conditioning would play it out. It’s only through being alive, aware, and awake in the moment that we are in, that there’s a possibility to change that. In Buddhist terminology, we say if you fall asleep then your karma, your conditioning, runs the show. But the only time you can change your conditioning is now. In your thoughts about the past or even your hopes for the future cannot change a thing. But right in this moment, you can cho...

Clear Seeing

teaching May 04, 2023 Correct is not conventionally correct, because it’s not about right versus wrong. The Buddha talked about Clear Seeing, being able to perceive the moment as it is. When we talk about correct situation, we’re talking about perceiving the moment as it is, without adding to it our own particular view or our own particular idea. Just seeing clearly. We call that correct. When we talk about correct relationship, we talk about what is actually the relationships present in the moment, not colored by my desire, not colored by my p...

Zen Practice Prison

teaching Apr 20, 2023 Like or dislike is what creates a prison that we live in. So if you only practice when you want to practice and then don’t practice when you don’t want to practice, that’s a fundamental problem. You are following the winds of your desire, and that’s what leads to suffering. The Buddha’s teaching is very simple. We suffer because of our desire, our anger, and our ignorance. So if our practice is based on desire, all it does is lead us to more suffering. By Zen Master Bon Soeng

You Are Buddha

teaching Apr 13, 2023 The Diamond Sutra says that all formations are always appearing and disappearing. If you view all appearances as non-appearances, then you can see Buddha. If you want to see Buddha, Buddha has already disappeared. If you don't want to see Buddha, then seeing, hearing, smelling, touching, tasting - everything is Buddha. The flower is red, the tree is green, the sky is blue. You and these things are never separate. Then you are Buddha. By Zen Master Seung Sahn

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