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  • 11 Nov 2023 12:14 PM | Genpo Roshi (Administrator)


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    This teaching never ever ceases to blow my mind. If we really stay active and we keep wanting to go deeper and going deeper, not that we're searching for something, we're just interested in going deeper. You know, we're just aware of looking at life in a deeper, more profound way.

    We don't even have to be yearning for something. We just have that bodhi-mind, the bodhi-mind that seeks the way, along with the bodhi-mind that is the way, along with the bodhi-mind that wants to rescue or liberate all sentient beings. But they're all three important, and we have a tendency to ignore one or the other or both, two out of three.

  • 10 Nov 2023 12:08 PM | Genpo Roshi (Administrator)


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    Sitting is the most perfect expression of the human form, the human being. Sitting is really the only place we truly manifest who we are. And then how do we bring that into our daily life?

    But if we don't sit, what do we bring into our daily life? The same chaos, the same insanity, the same craziness, the same self-centeredness, the same jealousy, the same envy, the same crap that's running this world.

    If we don't take care of it within ourselves, we're not going to take care of it out there.

  • 3 Nov 2023 12:20 PM | Genpo Roshi (Administrator)

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    What I found is, for myself, I get very stuck in wanting to do something for others. That whole Bodhisattva vow is a wonderful vow, don't get me wrong, but the other side of the vow is we're very busy doing something. And we're not really at peace because there's always somebody suffering. So it's okay for one side of our triangle to be a Bodhisattva, but at the other side, be an Arhat. Make your life happier. Focus on yourself.

    Do what makes you happy also. Don't only do for others, also do for oneself. Now that's almost blasphemy in Zen, but it's true. And it's why so many Zen masters have died early and young, because we go too far into wanting to do for others. Nothing wrong with it. Our life is about serving others. But completely serving, and when we're not serving, completely relaxing. We don't have to be in gear all the time, going, going, going.

  • 1 Oct 2023 12:28 PM | Genpo Roshi (Administrator)


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    There's always the two aspects, that which is beyond time and space, and that which is within time and space. The self is within time and space, no-self is outside of time and space. They're both true, both realities are true, the real reality and the apparent reality, but they're both true, absolute and apparent. But they're both reality and together they're a whole reality, not incomplete, not half-assed.

    And we have to really want to persevere, to keep going. We stop somewhere, we get a good understanding, it works for me, it fulfills all my ideas and notions of what Zen is, and I want to do that, and it feels good, and it works, and I want to hang on to that. And man, we are so stuck, oh my god, and we can't pierce that veil.

  • 1 Oct 2023 12:27 PM | Genpo Roshi (Administrator)


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    We've got to go through it. We've got to give it all up and we are not willing to and then we can't   then we complain. We can't complain.

    Nobody is doing anything to us. We are both the creator and that which is created in our life.

    If you look behind the scenes, you're the puppeteer, you're not the puppet. We act like we're the puppet, but we don't accept that we're the puppet, we think we're the puppeteer. No, we are the puppeteer. We are the one pulling the strings.

    We are the one creating karma, and we are the result of the karma. We are all of it. We create our karma, and we are the result, we are the karma. Nothing is happening from any place else. There is no else. There is no other.

  • 1 Oct 2023 12:16 PM | Genpo Roshi (Administrator)


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    I'm more and more convinced that we all know what we put up is a façade, a false self, one that gives people what we hope for, to see us in the light that we want to be seen. So we are dishonest in that way if we try to hide just who we are. Whatever it is, the moment we're trying to hide that, the moment we're not honest and direct, the moment we're not truthful, where we are and who we are, we're already putting up this façade. And kind of like the Wizard of Oz, we have to look behind the façade. And there is the real self, the genuine self. It's not that far away. It's just behind this veil or façade of a self.  

    There's no self back there. There's just no self back there. So whenever we have a self or I'm this, or I'm that, or this is what I want, this is what I don't like, all that is coming from I, I, I, I, I, self, self, self, self, self. The moment we return to our original — whatever we call it, no self, mind, mind only — the moment we return to that and drop the façade, we're free. And when we're free, we're free to be ourself. I mean, it's not like it's gone. We still have a self, like Buddha said, we still have a self, but it's not the true self. It's just a false self.

    And we have that. And we're not going to become like Huang-po or something.  If we have no self everything is just extra, extra, extra. So we do bring up a self. That's part of the practice. That's the fourth, fifth stage. We have to have a self and we have to have some kind of image, but it doesn't have to be a façade. It can be honest. It can be truthful. It can be direct.

    And we don't lose anything. But we're afraid that people are going to see us. We're afraid that we're going to be revealed. We're going to be seen. Like, oh my God, they're going to see I’m this or that. We all see it! The only one that doesn't see it is oneself. Because we don't have a mirror. And the teacher is that mirror. We just don't have a mirror. So the role of the teacher is to reflect that, to let us see what's behind, what's there first, and then there's something behind that is indescribable and unknowable and ungraspable. But it's there.

    That's what we call the true self, which is no self. It's not a self.  It's that which is behind the self.

  • 22 Aug 2023 1:47 PM | Genpo Roshi (Administrator)

    Jane Koerner This extraordinary exchange between Genpo Roshi and Jane Koerner
    occurred during the Mahayana Sesshin, Salt Lake City, June, 2023

                      See the Video

    When Genpo Roshi asked me what her name was, she spoke right up. “Agnes.”

    “How old is she?”


    I hadn’t heard from her in a long time. And, oh boy, did she have a lot to say! She was but one of the voices who kept me company throughout childhood and into middle age in response to some very painful experiences. I kept these aspects of myself hidden even though my father had the same tendency. He would sit in his easy chair and chatter away with his imaginary companions, who seemed to comfort him a great deal.

    When I was 15, my then-19 year old sister, my only sibling, was diagnosed with schizophrenia and institutionalized for the rest of her life. That was when I buried my own tendencies even deeper. No psychiatrist was going to lock me up and throw away the key. I went to college, earned a history degree, got married.

    In my late thirties the voices I would later come to understand as disowned voices, such as fear and rage, took over and blew up my entire life—my marriage, my prospects for a career, for happiness. Two hospitalizations, medication, years of therapy followed. I didn’t know what was harder to swallow. The diagnosis—schizotypal personality disorder. Or the prognosis—“if you really commit to your therapy, maybe you can hold a part-time job someday.”

    With therapy, despite some occasional relapses, I did get a job and a graduate degree and some much-needed relationship skills. But along the way another box was created—an identity constructed around mental illness, or Crazy Jane.   When I first encountered the Big Mind Process in the early 2000s, it came naturally to me even though it was different from what I had experienced before. This time the voices I had been hearing for much of my life were asked to speak.  And both Genpo Roshi and the sangha were interested in what each one of them had to say.

    I kept practicing with other sanghas for a while, attended various retreats, then quit altogether for a few years. The death of my entire family and the pandemic prompted a return to practice this past year via Kanzeon and the Big Mind process, and led to this exchange with Genpo Roshi during the retreat in June of this year.

    Finally, the biggest secret of all revealed itself, and it was fine.

    You know what’s crazy? Burying all these beautiful aspects of yourself in the cemetery of your unconscious mind and sleep-walking through your life like a zombie.

    Jane Koerner

  • 21 Apr 2023 12:33 PM | Genpo Roshi (Administrator)

    I feel you need to have a daily sitting practice.  If you don't already have one, then you really need to take one on.  And if you're going to go anywhere with the practice, it probably needs to be at least one hour a day, but ideally a minimum one hour, up to a couple, two, three hours.  What you have time for.

    Now, I think a lot of us make the excuse we don't have time.  I question that attitude.  We always have time, we just have to take it from something else.  It’s where we put our priorities.  And our priorities, I think, should be at the core of our life.  The core of our life is what we call Zen — that is Zen — the core of our life, the heart of our life.

    Maezumi Roshi used to say very often, it's like having an apple.  If it has a rotten spot or two, even three or four, you cut them out.  But if the core is rotten, you have to throw the whole apple out.  And it's the same with our life.

    It's crude to put it this way, but it's that important, to realize the core of our life is our spiritual practice.  And everything emanates from the core.

    The core of our life is our reality.  That is the oneness we're all really coming from.  Like aspen trees, above the ground they appear to be different, independent trees.  But of course, at the root, it's all one tree, one aspen tree. It's one tree.

    We're one Mind.  And to facilitate that and understand that you need to sit as the one Mind.  And the more you sit as the one Mind, the more empowered you are to actually share it with others.  Without sharing it with others, you actually do not learn the skills that you need both for your own practice, but also as a teacher or a coach or a counselor or just as someone who wants to help others.

    So I feel it's very important to have a sitting practice.

    -- from a talk for the Big Mind Facilitation Training, April 2023

  • 23 Jan 2023 3:44 PM | Genpo Roshi (Administrator)

    When we take full responsibility for action and reaction, for cause and effect, which is karma, when we take full responsibility for it and we don’t ever project it out there on anything or anybody else— not on God, not on Buddha, not on our husband or our wife, not on our friends, not on our circumstances — we take one hundred percent responsibility for everything, there’s no fear.

    Because fear comes from the fact that anything could happen.  We’re in fear because we feel that we are out of control.  “I ran into a car.  That jerk pulled out in front of me, and I ran into his car, and it’s his fault!”  Right?  And then I’m always worried: ‘That car’s going to hit me!.’  ‘I’m going to get run over!’  You see what I’m talking about?

    But when I take full responsibility, I don’t put it out there.  So I don’t have any fear, because it’s my life.  You could say I’m in control, or I’m the master, or I’m the boss of my life, in full control.  It’s not about controlling somebody else; it’s about controlling my own self, my own person — and there’s no fear.

    So there’s only fear when I’m being irresponsible.  I don’t feel irresponsible just because I blame somebody for running into me, but it’s still not taking full responsibility, hundred percent responsibility for cause and effect, for action and reaction.  It’s so simple.

  • 12 Dec 2022 9:00 AM | Genpo Roshi (Administrator)

    One of the things that I think is so obvious, but maybe we miss it, and certainly we miss it growing up, is that basically everything we do, every decision we make to protect ourself from pain is a way that we distance ourself from the pain. We encapsulate, or imprison, ourselves in our sense of our self, all to avoid — not accepting, but being one with our pain.

    That’s the cause of suffering.  Suffering is not caused because there’s pain, it’s caused because we try to escape the pain, or get away from the pain.  That’s where the suffering comes into effect.

    So what Buddhism teaches is the cause of suffering is our self.  We form this self, this primary self, whatever you want to call it, this façade, in order to protect our self, this ego self.  What Zen says is you don’t have to do all those steps, the Four Noble Truths, the Eightfold Path and so on; you can do it all at once: be one with your pain.

    So all the first koans are about being one with.  “How do you stop the sound of the distant temple bell?”  How do you stop the suffering of your pain?  Well, you be it, just like with the distant temple bell you go ‘bong bong bong,’ you be the sound, you be the pain.  And when you’re the pain there’s no suffering, because there’s no self.

    The self is created exactly by trying to escape from the pain.  This goes for everything — attachments, addictions — all of it is just the desire to escape what is, which is pain.  It’s painful.

     And the joy comes when we allow ourself to just be one with the pain.  There’s joy in the pain, because there’s no self.  When there’s a self, it’s not joy.  When there’s no self, then there’s joy.  It’s really quite simple, but somehow it takes us forever to figure it out.  I mean there’s the whole Buddhist teaching right there.

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