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The Zen Studies Podcast

Religion & Spirituality Podcasts

Learn about traditional Zen and Buddhist teachings, practices, and history through episodes recorded specifically for podcast listeners. Host Domyo Burk is a Soto Zen priest and teacher.

Learn about traditional Zen and Buddhist teachings, practices, and history through episodes recorded specifically for podcast listeners. Host Domyo Burk is a Soto Zen priest and teacher.

Location:

United States

Description:

Learn about traditional Zen and Buddhist teachings, practices, and history through episodes recorded specifically for podcast listeners. Host Domyo Burk is a Soto Zen priest and teacher.

Language:

English

Contact:

971-207-1843


Episodes

159 – Active Receptivity in Zazen: Surrounded by a Symphony

1/23/2021
Active receptivity is what we're aiming to cultivate in zazen, and in the rest of our practice. Despite the emphasis on what we’re NOT doing in zazen, it should lively and energetic activity, not passive. Think of putting aside your physical and mental activities in order to become incredibly quiet and receptive. Shhh! What's that? It’s like we’re surrounded by the music of a whole symphony that we usually can’t even hear because of our internal and external chatter.

Duration:00:27:54

158 – Social Strife and the Forgotten Virtue of Decorum

1/15/2021
Recent events show how deep a divide has developed within the United States. Those guilty of crimes need to be held accountable, but how do we repair the social fabric of our nation? It may help to renew cultural respect for the value of decorum: Dignified behavior according to social standards for what demonstrates a basic respect for one another’s humanity and acknowledges our mutual dependence. I discuss the teachings on decorum in Buddhism, and how critical it is to social harmony.

Duration:00:41:49

157 – Bodhicitta: The Critical Importance of Dissatisfaction

1/1/2021
Dissatisfaction can lead to Bodhicitta. Bodhicitta is a Buddhist term literally meaning “awakened mind” that can translated as “the mind that seeks the way.” It’s the part of us which aspires to free ourselves and others from suffering – arising, ironically, from dissatisfaction. We think, “There must be a better way,” or, “There must be more to life than this.” Then we arouse the determination to find out, and this propels us down the path of practice.

Duration:00:28:50

156 – Ebb and Flow in Buddhist Practice: Cycles of Energy, Inspiration, and Focus

12/23/2020
You can expect your Buddhist practice to go through a cycle of ebb and flow in terms of energy, inspiration, and focus. At times, hopefully, you feel motivated and determined, and experience a period of learning and growth. Then there will inevitably be periods where your practice loses momentum. It may feel dull or aimless, or you may fall back into old, not-so-healthy habits. It’s important you don’t give up practice in times of low ebb, but instead recognize this as part of a natural...

Duration:00:35:35

155 - Avatamsaka Sutra - Each One of Us Has Unique Bodhisattva Gifts to Offer - 2

12/8/2020
Part of our bodhisattva path is embracing our uniqueness and finding our own particular, special bodhisattva capacity, talent, and calling. Each of us has our own unique way, or ways, of serving in this world. It just takes some imagination to discover them. Teachings from Avatamsaka Sutra can help stimulate our imaginations in this regard. In this episode I tell five more bodhisattva stories and reflect on how they might manifest in real life.

Duration:00:25:27

154 - Avatamsaka Sutra - Each One of Us Has Unique Bodhisattva Gifts to Offer – Part 1

11/30/2020
Part of our bodhisattva path is embracing our uniqueness and finding our own particular, special bodhisattva capacity, talents, and calling. Each of us has our own unique gifts to offer the world which will determine what kind of service we should devote ourselves to, it just takes some imagination to discover them. A teaching from Avatamsaka Sutra can help stimulate our imaginations in this regard.

Duration:00:39:46

153 - Kshanti, The Perfection of Endurance: Life's Not Always a Bed of Roses

11/18/2020
Kshanti is the Buddhist perfection (paramita) of endurance. Practice can relieve suffering, but it takes work; it isn’t a magic pill that brings instant peace and bliss. An essential part of our practice is learning how to endure - but not in a passive way, but in a determined refusal to be beaten down, defeated, deflated, or stopped in our efforts to relieve suffering for self and other and bring about a better world.

Duration:00:24:53

152 - Lotus Sutra 3: This Means YOU - The Parable of the Lost Son

11/10/2020
The Lotus Sutra parable of the Lost Son perfectly conveys the difference between hinayana and Mahayana practice. Despite what we may think of ourselves, we already have everything we need - including the capacity for great liberation and service. At the same time, we need to practice in order to grow into our inheritance.

Duration:00:22:32

151 - The Emptiness of Self and Why It Matters

10/26/2020
The emptiness of self is a Zen teaching that may seem rather abstract and philosophical, or even kind of nihilistic, depressing, or disorienting. Why does this matter? In brief, knowing the true nature of our self is what liberates us from fear and suffering.

Duration:00:31:40

150 - Zazen as the Dharma Gate of Joyful Ease

10/17/2020
In this episode I focus on how zazen is the dharma gate of joyful ease, because experiencing it as such is so profoundly restorative at a time when our lives tend to be stressful in many ways. I also think it’s necessary to explore the way in which zazen is the dharma gate of joyful ease because that dharma gate is subtle and can be elusive because to enter it we have to let go of all of our normal ways of operating.

Duration:00:30:13

149 - Understanding People's Actions Through the Six Realms Teaching

10/8/2020
Understanding people's actions can be difficult. Sometimes we can't help but feel disbelief, judgment, or disgust toward people based on how they respond to the suffering of others. The Buddhist teaching about the Six Realms of existence can help us understand people's mind states and motivations, hopefully leading us to greater patience, less judgment, and – most importantly – insight into what might work best to get through to people and help them change.

Duration:00:42:54

148 – Three Ingredients for a Generous Life in a Crazy World

9/30/2020
Bearing Witness, Taking Care, and Taking Action: A skillful balance of these ingredients helps you sustain energy, motivation, positivity, and equanimity even when so many things are falling apart, corrupt, unjust, discouraging, even frightening. It helps you maintain compassion and take responsibility as a citizen of the world without being overwhelmed and disheartened by the scale of the suffering, and helps you take joy in your precious life without denying or ignoring suffering and...

Duration:00:32:22

147 - Loving-Kindness (Metta) Practice as an Antidote to Fear and Anxiety

9/19/2020
When we call suffering beings to mind and extend metta - or loving-kindness - it might seem like we'd be opening up to more suffering and thereby increase our own fear and anxiety, but this is not the case. In fact, metta helps us face reality while aligned with our deeper nature. This alignment results in a sense of sufficiency and strength as we perform an act of generosity, give up our self-centered concerns, and become anchored in our boundless self.

Duration:00:32:46

146 - Respect Even for Terrible People: What Does It Mean?

9/11/2020
Buddhism, like other religions, teaches we should treat each and every human being with respect, regardless of their behavior or off-putting manifestation. What does this really mean? Sometimes people are hateful, manipulative, cruel, selfish, irresponsible, or downright violent and destructive. Surely, in being asked to respect such people, we’re not being asked to ignore or condone their behavior, so how does respect for them actually look? And why is it important to cultivate this...

Duration:00:28:06

145 - No Matter What Happens to You, You Have Choice in the Matter

8/26/2020
Buddhism teaches that no matter what happens to us, we always have some degree of choice about how we respond, and what we do next. At those critical, precious moments when your perspective widens and you become more aware of yourself, you can act in accordance with your aspiration to relieve suffering for self and other. This is what practice is: Taking advantage of our moments of choice, which arise countless times throughout the day and night, never losing faith that each of those little...

Duration:00:31:50

144 - Lotus Sutra 2: Wake Up! The Parable of the Burning House

8/12/2020
The Parable of the Burning House is one of five main parables of the Lotus Sutra, a classic Mahayana Buddhist text. I go through the parable paragraph by paragraph, stopping to reflect on each part of the story along the way and encouraging you to imagine yourself within the story as if it were a dream. I finish up by discussing the relevance of this teaching for our everyday lives and practice.

Duration:00:34:40

143 - The Experience of Enlightenment and Why It’s for All of Us

8/3/2020
Whether you are personally intrigued by the concept of enlightenment or not, it is absolutely central to Buddhism. However, enlightenment – to use a kind of corny phrase – is not what you think. I discuss sudden and gradual experiences of enlightenment, the changes such experiences bring about in us, and why it’s important for all of us to seek enlightenment.

Duration:00:34:15

142 - Direct Experience Is Liberation: When There Are No Stories, There Is No "You"

7/24/2020
Humans evolved to make sense of their experience by explaining with a story, or narrative. Although our stories help us communicate and navigate our lives, they also can preoccupy and burden us. Sometimes they are distressing, depressing, or exhausting to maintain. This is why the Buddha said to train ourselves such that “in the sensed, there is only the sensed, in the cognized, only the cognized.” That is, we should train ourselves to experience things without our stories.

Duration:00:31:18

141 - The Practice of Vow 2: Choosing the Direction We Want Our Lives to Take

7/15/2020
The practice of vow is central in Buddhism, as I’ve discussed before. Vows – alternatively aspirations, intentions, or commitments, formal or informal – are a conscious choice we make about the kind of life we want to live, and the kind of person we want to be. Clarifying the vows we are already living, and the vows we still want to take on, can help give direction and meaning to our lives.

Duration:00:28:41

140 – Sustainable Buddhist Practice: Creating Form But Keeping It Flexible

7/4/2020
How do we create a strong and sustainable Buddhist practice outside of a monastery? We create structure for ourselves and build good habits, but then the circumstances of our lives change. There are many competing demands on our attention and time. We have to mostly rely on our own self-discipline instead of social support. The key is giving our practice form but also accepting that it will constantly change, like learning to shape clay on a potter’s wheel.

Duration:00:39:52