ACZC Happenings, 9/23 - 9/29
“She asked, ‘How are you?’ And I said, ‘…good.’ But it was like nothing, like plain rice, like oatmeal without sugar and you forgot to even put the dash of salt - like original flavor.” - Jitsujo Gauthier
So our graphics department have been telling us for awhile that they recently found out that Guanyin, the Bodhisattva of Compassion herself, is traditionally accompanied by a cockatoo, and if we could find any excuse for them to get to draw this bird and her compassionate friend they would be highly appreciative. And as luck would have it, our good sangha friend Jitsujo (on the podcast this week, details below!) gave us the perfect inspiration in her talk. We’ll give you a small excerpt and let Jitsujo explain:
“What does it mean to be compassionate? What does it mean to develop equal compassion and wisdom? What does it mean to serve yourself, to be kind to yourself (all your selves)? What does it mean to be really gentle and not a jerk to yourself? What does it mean when you're sitting zazen and you feel at ease and open like there's no barrier between you and the rest of the world? What does it mean in this moment to not be just in this room, but in the neighborhood, in Los Angeles, including all the folks on Skid Row, and the wars that are happening on the earth, the animals and the insects, the trees that are being cut down, the people who are working in restaurants...? What does it mean to embody all of that, to include all of that, and be really open to all of that, and to feel at one with all the kids that are in the hospital dying of cancer right now, and all the people that are in the bars drinking, and all the women who are giving birth to babies right now, all the people who are having sex right now. To just feel completely open to all of that, porous to all that’s happening right here, like there's no barrier. What does that mean to you?
If you have too much compassion, then you're basically just a good hearted fool. If you have too much wisdom, then you're just a cold hearted intellect (or just super boring). You can't be one side or the other. You have to have a balance.”
And so speaking of rousing reveries that float freely between temple and taboo, this week on the podcast we are very pleased to bring you Baseline (Finding Balance) w/ Jitsujo Gauthier. University of the West Buddhist Chaplaincy department Chair, resident priest and preceptor at Zen Center of Los Angeles, and long time friend of the sangha Jitsujo, generously joins us for a raw and revealing talk about rage, compassion, wisdom, the limitations of each of those grand notions, and finding the balance in the baseline that underlines it all. What causes good teachers to go bad? What do we do with our rage and where does it go when it goes away? How do we ask for help from heavenly beings when we’re not fully sold on believing in them in the first place? Find out here!
Up now at http://aczc.org/aczcpodcast or on all your favorite podcast platforms!
And don’t forget registration is now up for our Fall Retreat (November 10th - 13th at Mount Baldy Zen Center) all the info is up on the website and we would be delighted to see you there.
And hey, here’s the koan for the week:
Case in point:
Caoshan asked senior monk De, “The Buddha’s true dharma body is like empty space. It reveals itself as an echo, like the moon in water. How would you explain the basic nature of this echo?”
De said, “It’s like an ass looking in a well.”
Caoshan, “You said so much so well, but you only got 80% of it.”
De said, “What would you say?”
Caoshan said, “It’s like a well looking up at an ass.”
This Week in Zen! All times posted in Pacific time zone, all sessions hosted in person and on Zoom unless otherwise marked (email us for quick and easy Zoom access info):
Saturday - 9/23 at 10am
Sit & Discussion w/ Emily Eslami - Our biggest day of the week! Two half hour rounds of sweet sweet zazen, one walking meditation in the middle and then Emily returns to the hot seat for talk & tea with another thrilling installment in her series on Shunryu Suzuki’s ever timely Zen Mind Beginner’s Mind. This month! “Limiting Your Activity.” Do less wholeheartedly, as they say. Join us!
Monday - 9/25 at 7:30pm
Sit & Talk w/ Gyokei Yokoyama - One half hour of zazen and then our favorite supporting teacher is back from his far flung travels spreading the dharma seeds up north. And rumor has it he’s got a story to tell. We’ll see y’all there.
Wednesday - 9/27 at 7:30pm (Zoom Only)
Sit & Koan Discussion - This week! We take a big long look in the long dark mirror. But if we wink at the void, does the void wink back? One way to find out. The truth is down there, but it’s up to us to lap it up. Let’s discuss!
Thursday - 9/28 at 7pm (Zoom Only)
Yoga & Zazen w/ Nina Snow - And our favorite yoga director returns for a perfect evening of yoga & zazen with one full hour of stretching out and laying about before one half hour of sitting around listening to the silence shout (it’s like that’s great stillness, we get it, now turn it down). See y’all there.
Friday - 9/29 at 8am
Chanting & Zen Breakfast - This week! We chant the Heart Sutra in English followed by Shitou’s ever trendy ode to finding the vast empty expanses in the cluttered corners of a humble tiny home, the Straw Hut Song. Poetry for the ages! And then stick around for ACZC’s fresh hot take on traditional Zen breakfast (house milled multi grain porridge - now with apples! mmm…). A nutritious (and delicious) part of this complete practice. Let’s dig in.
Tuesday - Friday, 7am - 8am
Morning Sit - One simple hour of what we do best - just sitting. Optional five minute stretch break offered in the middle.
See y’all soon!