ACZC Happenings, 1/26 - 2/3
“What would be so bad if I wasn’t the best?” - Emily Eslami
Yep, sorry (not sorry), we’re still hung up on that black water rabbit that according to Lunar Calendar Astrology is the mascot for the year. “Take it easy y’all!” is what we imagine that rabbit would be saying if it was in the mood to get up and make an inspiring speech. Which it doesn’t appear to be at the moment. So we’re just going to go ahead and try to follow its lead as much as the year allows.
But first, some very exciting news - as part of our long standing mission to make ACZC a truly community led collaborative affair, starting this week our regular koan night will begin being hosted and facilitated by rotating members of our insightful and inspiring crew of speakers. And this Wednesday at 7:30pm (zoom only) we’re starting with a bang, as sangha favorite Corey Warner leads us in a deep dive discussion on Zhaozhou’s (in)famous Mu! So come on out and show your support for your fearless facilitators, lend us your voice, your confusions, and all the innate burning wisdoms hiding right where you least expect it to help us figure out what the heck these old masters are talking about, and what the heck we want to be talking about.
Also we’ve had a request to start posting the koan for the week in advance to give y’all a chance to stew it over beforehand, so in a new weekly feature, you can find this week’s koan posted below.
And if you’re looking for more opportunities to explore the nature of your own Buddha hood, long time sangha member Danielle Sanchez, now a Religious Studies Ethnographer at the University of Virginia, is conducting a study on how psychotherapy has changed the nature of Zen retreats and she (along with the whole dharma realm) would be very grateful if you have a few minutes to fill out a quick survey about your practice, conveniently posted up for you here.
And speaking of finding your far flung sangha closer than you’d think, tomorrow (Saturday 1/28) we have our spin off series, Salon 17 at 7pm at Misty’s Magical Garden (**off site - 1922 Baxter st, not at ACZC) where sangha friend Raymond Singh will be leading a discussion on Complex Play - from circuses to circuitry, the creative to the systemic, we’ll be delving deep on the imaginative complexity of nature. Join us around the fire pit for a garden party of conversational delight.
But hey, speaking of magical moonlit moments of mundane mystery, this week on the podcast we are very excited to bring you Emily Eslami w/ Nothing Special. Emily regales us with the story of a young girl growing up wanting to think she was something special, only to find herself one of eight billion people thinking much the same thing. Reading from Shunryu Suzuki’s classic Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind, this is the real life story of realizing all the anxiety and effort it takes to keep an ego afloat, and then learning to wield a wonderful power that is nothing special at all. Why does it have to feel frustrating watching our friends succeed? If Buddha said we were so perfect just the way we are, why does Zen always seem to be telling us we’re doing it wrong? And if we’re not out there trying to be the best, will we still be any good?? Find out here!
Up now at http://aczc.org/aczcpodcast or on all your favorite podcast platforms
And hey, here’s a koan for the week. Do with it what you will:
A monk asked Zhaozhou, “Do dogs have Buddha Nature??”
Zhaozhou said, “They do.”
The monk said, “If so, then why are they in that body?”
Zhaozhou said, “It’s a knowing mistake.”
Another monk asked, “Do dogs have Buddha Nature?”
Zhaozhou said, “They don’t.”
The monk said, “If everything has buddha nature, then why not dogs?”
Zhaozhou said, “A dog’s gotta chase its karma.”*
*(ok, he actually said “Because they live in karma consciousness” but forgive us for not being able to forgo the pun…)
This Week in Zen! All sessions hosted in person and on Zoom unless otherwise marked (email us for quick and easy Zoom access info):
Saturday - 1/28 at 10am
Sit & Discussion w/ Sara Campbell - “If you don’t understand the way right before you, how will you know the path as you walk??” (Good question, Shitou!) Two half hour rounds of zazen, one walking meditation in the middle, and then Sara takes the hot seat with tips and tricks for how to keep walking forward once you finally admit you have no idea where this is going. See y’all there!
Saturday - 1/28 at 7pm**
Salon 17 w/ Raymond Singh - (**Off site at 1922 Baxter St (in the garden around back)) Join us around the fire pit as sangha friend Raymond regales us with a discussion on “Complex Play,” from circuses to circuitry, viewing nature in all of its imaginative complexities. All are welcome!
Monday - 1/30 at 7:30pm
Sit & Talk w/ Gyokei Yokoyama - One half hour of sweet sweet zazen and then our favorite supporting teacher returns with some follow up hot takes, stories, and insights on this “Nothing Special” theme that’s going around. Join us!
Wednesday - 2/1 at 7:30pm (Zoom Only)
Sit & Koan Discussion w/ Corey Warner- This week - The cow says… Mu! (pretty sure we got that right…) Join us as Corey leads the group through the original, some say the Ur koan itself, Zhaozhou’s Mu. Does a dog have Buddha Nature?? What the heck is Buddha Nature? Would we still want it if we knew??? Let’s discuss.
Thursday - 2/3 at 7pm (Zoom Only)
Yoga & Zazen w/ Nina Snow - Nina returns for one hour of her patented blend of Slow Flow Zen Yoga (™) followed by one half hour of sweet sweet zazen. Join us!
Friday - 2/4 at 8am
Heart Sutra Chanting Service - This week! We chant the Heart Sutra in English followed by Sengcan’s choice words on the super simple short cut around life’s hard choices (spoiler alert: don't trust them), the Trusting the Mind Inscription! Poetry for the ages. Come on out and lend us your voice.
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!