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The Zen Studies Podcast

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31 - Six Realms of Existence Part 3: Hungry Ghost and Human Realms

In this third episode of a 3-part series on the Buddhist teaching of the Six Realms of Existence, I describe the Hungry Ghost and Human Realms. I continue offering a traditional, mythological account of the realms, followed by a section about how to practice with each realm as a particular mind state you might experience in the course of your daily life.

Duration: 00:27:19

30 - Six Realms of Existence Part 2: Asura, Beast, and Hell Realms

In this 2nd episode of a 3-part series, I cover the Asura (fighting demigod), Beast, and Hell Realms. I continue offering a traditional, mythological account of the realms, followed by a section about how to practice with each realm as a particular mind state you might experience in the course of your daily life.

Duration: 00:34:31

29 - Six Realms of Existence Part 1: Introduction and the Heaven Realm

In this episode, part 1 of 3, I explain the Buddhist teaching of the Six Realms of Existence, also known as the Wheel of Life, or the Wheel of Samsara. I share the rich mythology and imagery of this teaching while explaining how it can be a useful teaching for everyday life independent of a belief in literal rebirth. In this first episode I introduce the overall teaching and talk about the Heaven Realm.

Duration: 00:28:52

Labor Day Message

I won't be releasing a new episode today, in honor of Labor Day weekend. I will release one next week! Take care, Domyo

Duration: 00:00:22

28 - Q&A: The Teaching of Rebirth and Too Much Thinking During Zazen

This week’s episode is a Q&A session, based on listener’s questions I’ve received by email. I’ll start out with a series of questions about the Buddhist teaching of rebirth, and end with a question about how to deal with a busy mind during zazen, or seated Zen meditation.

Duration: 00:27:56

27 - The Buddha's Teachings Part 2 – The Four Noble Truths

The Buddha's very first teaching as about the Four Noble Truths: Dukkha, the Origin of Dukkha, the Cessation of Dukkha, and the Path Leading to the Cessation of Dukkha. In this episode I introduce the Four Noble Truths and how the Buddha meant us to practice with them. Then I go through each truth in detail.

Duration: 00:39:52

26 – Work as Spiritual Practice According to Dogen's “Instructions to the Cook” – Part 2

In Part 1, I introduced you to the concept of work practice, how it came to be so important in Zen, the central teachings Dogen gives about it. In this episode I explain five ways you can engage your work as spiritual practice, based on Dogen’s teaching.

Duration: 00:34:27

25 – Work as Spiritual Practice According to Dogen's “Instructions to the Cook” - Part 1

Zen demands that we engage our everyday activities, particularly work, as spiritual practice. Few writings describe Zen work practice as well as Zen master Dogen’s “Tenzokyokun,” or “Instructions to the Tenzo” (a tenzo being the head cook in a monastery), so I’ll use this short text to frame my presentation... its teachings about taking care, serving others, appreciating everything, and becoming one with your work are relevant to everyone, no matter what your work or life circumstances.

Duration: 00:23:32

24 – Deepen Your Zazen by Not Getting Stuck in Satisfaction or Dissatisfaction

It's tempting, particularly in Mahayana Buddhism, to get stuck in a kind of superficial satisfaction with your zazen and practice. Of course, it's possible to get stuck in dissatisfaction as well. In this episode I walk you through four steps to deepen your zazen by using your dissatisfaction as guide for your efforts. I also compare zazen to walking on a tightrope - the instructions are simple, but actually doing it is challenging and requires experience, effort, and attention.

Duration: 00:39:05

23 - How Buddhists Should Behave: Evolution of the Buddhist Precepts Part 2

I continue with the story of the Theravadin precepts - particularly how the Vinaya has affected the ordination of monks and nuns, and how lay people participate in precept practice. Then we move on to China, and I talk about how the Chinese dealt with the question of how to establish an authentic Buddhist lineage while adapting the Vinaya to China, and avoiding the trap of "hinayana" practice that Mahayana sutras warned about (was the Vinaya "hinayana" practice?).

Duration: 00:36:36

22 - How Buddhists Should Behave: Evolution of the Buddhist Precepts Part 1

Many people are unaware that, from the beginning, Buddhism has said as much about how you should behave in your daily life as it does about meditation or study. In this episode, I cover the first Buddhist teachings about moral conduct, and then talk about the evolution of the Buddhist precepts, including the code of discipline for fully ordained monks and nuns.

Duration: 00:37:52

21 – Sesshin: 24-7 Silent Meditation Retreats

Buddhists all over the world regularly gather for silent meditation retreats with a 24-7 schedule. In this episode I describe a Zen retreat, or sesshin, including what a typical day is like, and the challenges and rewards of maintaining silence and meditating for 6-10 hours a day.

Duration: 00:34:31

20 - The Heart Sutra Part 2: Line by Line Explanation, Continued

In this episode I complete my line-by-line exploration of the Heart Sutra. I cover what the sutra means when its says "there is no" such-and-such, why it proceeds through such long lists of things that don't exist the way we conceive of them (and what those lists refer to), and the significance of the mantra presented at the end.

Duration: 00:42:46

19 - The Heart Sutra Part 1: Introduction to the Most Common Mahayana Text

The Heart Sutra is probably the best-known Buddhist text in the world. It's less than 250 words long and considered to present the essence of Mahayana Buddhism. However, its meaning – and its attraction to Buddhists – may not be immediately evident! I first recite the Heart Sutra for you, then give you a brief overview of its history to provide you with a little context. Then I start working my way through the text line by line, offering definitions of terms, explaining references, and...

Duration: 00:35:01

18 - Zen Forms (Customs and Rituals) and Why They Matter

In traditional Zen practice, we have a lot of what we call “forms.” Forms are the established ways we enact our practice with our bodies… including the ways we move in the meditation hall, sit in the meditation posture, place our shoes outside the door, chant and offer incense, show respect for one another, etc. Why do we have so many forms instead of just going with the flow and letting people do things the way they want to?

Duration: 00:23:19

Life of Shakyamuni Buddha Part 3: First Sermons and Students, and the Early Sangha

In this first of two episodes about the Buddha's 45-year teaching career and the early Buddhist community, I’ll talk about the Buddha’s first sermons, the enlightenment of the first disciples, the first lay students of the Buddha and how lay practice figures into early Buddhism, and the initial formation of the ordained Sangha and how they practiced on a daily basis.

Duration: 00:38:39

Sangha: The Joys, Challenges, and Value of Practicing in a Buddhist Community

Is it really necessary to participate in a Sangha, or Buddhist community? What are the benefits, joys, and challenges of doing so? You may be surprised by some of the aspects of Sangha practice I talk about in this episode (it's not all about enjoying the pleasant company of enlightened people!).

Duration: 00:35:10

To Study Buddhism Is to Study the Self (and Why That’s Not Selfish)

Liberation from self-concern is central to all forms of Buddhism, although the methods used to achieve that liberation differ widely. In this episode, I present a classic Zen teaching on not-self: Zen Master Dogen’s statement that “To study Buddhism is to study the self.” The Zen take on the self definitely grows out of, and depends on, the older Buddhist teaching of anatta I presented in the last episode, so you might want to listen to that one first if you haven't already (The Three...

Duration: 00:33:18

Buddha's Teachings Part 1: The Three Marks and the Teaching of Not-Self (Anatta)

From the beginning, the Buddha's teachings featured the Three Characteristics of Existence: anicca (impermanence), dukkha (dissatisfactoriness), and anatta (not-self). This episode introduces the Three Characteristics and then goes into the teaching of not-self in detail - what it means and doesn't mean. For example, did you know the Buddha did not teach that we have no self?

Duration: 00:31:52

What Zen “Acceptance” and “Non-Attachment” Really Are

The practices of acceptance and non-attachment are critical to Zen and Buddhist practice, but they are easily misunderstood. It can sound like we're being asked not to care about things, or not to try to change things for the better. Fortunately, this is not what Zen means by acceptance or non-attachment, because 1) it's impossible (or psychologically and spiritually damaging) not to care, and 2) trying to change things for the better is the bodhisattva path itself!

Duration: 00:32:58

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