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Chris leads Zen retreats here twice a year. See the calendar for more information. Zen Practice with Hoka Chris Fortin. Ckck the image for the Spring issue of the Dharma Heart Zen Newsletter Please see Calendar posted on the calendar page for Chris's complete schedule. How do we live with clarity and compassion in this beautiful and suffering world?

Zen is the everyday practice of wholehearted living. Chris Fortin Hoka Soko Zen Teacher Sitting in the center of our lives, giving ourselves to body and breath, letting go beyond knowledge or knowing, we find a quiet confidence to not turn away from the one heart of the world. The next morning the horse returned, bringing with it three other wild horses.

The following day, his son tried to ride one of the untamed horses, was thrown, and broke his leg. The neighbors again came to offer their sympathy on his misfortune. The day after, military officials came to the village to draft young men into the army. Seeing that the son's leg was broken, they passed him by. The neighbors congratulated the farmer on how well things had turned out.

Tea or Iron The Zen master Hakuin used to tell his students about an old woman who owned a tea shop in the village. She was skilled in the tea ceremony, Hakuin said, and her understanding of Zen was superb. Many students wondered about this and went to the village themselves to check her out. Whenever the old woman saw them coming, she could tell immediately whether they had come to experience the tea, or to probe her grasp of Zen.

Those wanting tea she served graciously. For the others wanting to learn about her Zen knowledge, she hid until they approached her door and then attacked them with a fire poker. Only one out of ten managed to escape her beating. Nature's Beauty A priest was in charge of the zengarden within a famous Zen temple. He had been given the job because he loved the flowers, shrubs, and trees.

Next to the temple there was another, smaller temple where there lived a very old Zen master. One day, when the priest was expecting some special guests, he took extra care in tending to the garden. He pulled the weeds, trimmed the shrubs, combed the moss, and spent a long time meticulously raking up and carefully arranging all the dry autumn leaves.

As he worked, the old master watched him with interest from across the wall that separated the temples. When he had finished, the priest stood back to admire his work. Help me over this wall and I'll put it right for you. Slowly, the master walked to the tree near the center of the garden, grabbed it by the trunk, and shook it. Leaves showered down all over the garden. Just Two Words There once was a monastery that was very strict.

Following a vow of silence, no one was allowed to speak at all. But there was one exception to this rule. Every ten years, the monks were permitted to speak just two words. After spending his first ten years at the monastery, one monk went to the head monk. Ten years later, the monk returned to the head monk's office. Yet another ten years passed and the monk once again met with the head monk who asked, "What are your two words now, after these ten years?

It may or may not be an original Zen tale. Like any good anecdote, it makes us laugh, but also encourages us to think about why it is funny. Dust Chao-chou Joshu was sweeping off the dirty floor when a monk asked him: "Wise and holy Master, please tell me how can dust to be gathered so much on his yard like that?

Spider A Tibetan story tells of a meditation student who, while meditating in his room, believed he saw a spider descending in front of him. Each day the menacing creature returned, growing larger and larger each time. So frightened was the student, that he went to his teacher to report his dilemma. He said he planned to place a knife in his lap during meditation, so when the spider appeared he would kill it. The teacher advised him against this plan. Instead, he suggested, bring a piece of chalk to meditation, and when the spider appeared, mark an "X" on its belly. Then report back.

The student returned to his meditation. When the spider again appeared, he resisted the urge to attack it, and instead did just what the master suggested. When he later reported back to the master, the teacher told him to lift up his shirt and look at his own belly. There was the "X". True Self A distraught man approached the Zen master. I don't know who I am. Please, show me my true self! The man began to plead and beg, but still the master gave no reply. Finally giving up in frustration, the man turned to leave. At that moment the master called out to him by name.

Wanting God A hermit was meditating by a river when a young man interrupted him. The young man thought for a moment. After holding him there for a minute, with him kicking and struggling to free himself, the master finally pulled him up out of the river. The young man coughed up water and gasped to get his breath.

When he eventually quieted down, the master spoke. The Sound of the Silence Once there was a buddhist who went to the mountains to seek a great master whom, he believed, could give him the definite answer regarding Wisdom. After many days of walk he found him in a beautiful temple on the edge of a beautiful valley. Please, make me cross the Gates of Zen. And this sound is the only word that you need to hear about the Truth. Self-Control One day there was an earthquake that shook the entire Zen temple.

Parts of it even collapsed. Many of the monks were terrified. When the earthquake stopped the teacher said, "Now you have had the opportunity to see how a Zen man behaves in a crisis situation.

You may have noticed that I did not panic. I was quite aware of what was happening and what to do. I led you all to the kitchen, the strongest part of the temple. It was a good decision, because you see we have all survived without any injuries. However, despite my self-control and composure, I did feel a little bit tense - which you may have deduced from the fact that I drank a large glass of water, something I never do under ordinary circumstances.

Don't talk Four monks decided to meditate silently without speaking for two weeks. By nightfall on the first day, the candle began to flicker and then went out. The first monk said, "Oh, no! The candle is out. I'm the only one who didn't speak. How can I cure it? If it were, you could show it to me at any time. When you were born you did not have it, and your parents did not give it to you. Think that over. Transient A famous spiritual teacher came to the front door of the King's palace.

None of the guards tried to stop him as he entered and made his way to where the King himself was sitting on his throne. He is dead. He too is dead. Buddha - Beyond the words There once was Buddha sitting under a tree, with his pupils gathered around hoping he began his speech. In certain moment, Buddha calmly leaned and picked up a flower. He lifted it to the height of his face and rotated it smoothly. The pupils were frightened and confused, and they murmured questioning the sense of that to each other.

From among them, only Kashyapa understood the gesture, smiling. Shakyamuni Buddha noticed that Kashyapa had understood, and told him: "The method of Meditation that I teach is to see the things as they are, to reject nothing and to treat the things with happiness, seeing its original face clearly. That mysterious Dharma transcends the language and the rational beginnings. The logical thought cannot be used to obtain the Understanding; just with the sensibility of the no-mind one can reach the Truth.

You've understood. That, I grant you starting from this moment the spirit of Dhyana". A Useless Life A farmer got so old that he couldn't work the fields anymore. So he would spend the day just sitting on the porch. His son, still working the farm, would look up from time to time and see his father sitting there. Without saying anything, the father climbed inside. After closing the lid, the son dragged the coffin to the edge of the farm where there was a high cliff. As he approached the drop, he heard a light tapping on the lid from inside the coffin. He opened it up.

Still lying there peacefully, the father looked up at his son. Your children might need to use it. When Tired A student once asked his teacher, "Master, what is enlightenment? When tired, sleep. Tea Combat A master of the tea ceremony in old Japan once accidentally slighted a soldier.

He quickly apologized, but the rather impetuous soldier demanded that the matter be settled in a sword duel. The tea master, who had no experience with swords, asked the advice of a fellow Zen master who did possess such skill. As he was served by his friend, the Zen swordsman could not help but notice how the tea master performed his art with perfect concentration and tranquility. The soldier, readying himself to strike, stared for a long time into the fully attentive but calm face of the tea master.

Finally, the soldier lowered his sword, apologized for his arrogance, and left without a blow being struck. Surprising the Master The students in the monastery were in total awe of the elder monk, not because he was strict, but because nothing ever seemed to upset or ruffle him. So they found him a bit unearthly and even frightening. One day they decided to put him to a test. A bunch of them very quietly hid in a dark corner of one of the hallways, and waited for the monk to walk by. Within moments, the old man appeared, carrying a cup of hot tea.

Just as he passed by, the students all rushed out at him screaming as loud as they could. But the monk showed no reaction whatsoever. He peacefully made his way to a small table at the end of the hall, gently placed the cup down, and then, leaning against the wall, cried out with shock, "Ohhhhh! Working Very Hard A martial arts student went to his teacher and said earnestly, "I am devoted to studying your martial system. How long will it take me to master it. I will work very hard. I will practice everyday, ten or more hours a day if I have to. How long will it take then?

Crowned very young, he felt in the obligation of instructing, so he gathered around himself numerous erudites coming of all the countries and asked them that published for him the humanity's history. All the erudites concentrated, therefore, in the task. Twenty years were spent in the preparing of the edition. Finally, they went to palace, loaded of five hundred volumes accommodated in the back of twelve camels. King Zemir was, then, past of the forty years old.

In those conditions, please, get ready a summarized edition.

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But the king had aged a lot. With almost sixty years, he felt weak: "It is not possible to read all those books. Please, do me a version still briefer ". The erudites laboured more ten years and later they returned with an elephant loaded of its works. But then, with more than seventy years, almost blind, the king could not read. He asked, then, an edition still abbreviated. The erudites had also aged.

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They concentrated for more five years and, moments before the monarch's death, they returned with a single volume. To his head, the erudites' senior answered: "I will explain to you in few words the Humankind's history: the man is born, suffers and, finally, he dies. On a certain occasion, his Master Nangaku approached him and asked, "Why do you practise so much Meditation? The Master took of a tile and began to scrub it with a stone.

Bestirred, Baso asked: "What do you wanna make with that tile? It will always be a stone! No matter how much you practise Meditation, you won't become a Buddha. You won't find the right way like that. Ambition In old China, a magic hermit called Senrin lived in a deep mountainous valley. One day, an old friend went to visit him. Senrin, very happy for see him, offered a dinner and a shelter for the night; in the next morning, before the friend's departure, the hermit wanted give him a gift.

He picked up a stone and, with the finger, transformed it into a block of pure gold. The friend was not satisfied; Senrin aimed the finger for a huge boulder, which also was turned to gold. The friend continued without smiling. The other man said, "Cut off your finger, I want it. Please teach me. Master Tokusan was doing zazen by the river. Approaching the margin, a pupil shouted, "Good morning, Master! How are you?

He got up, turned around and began to walk along the river, following the course of the water The pupil, at that moment, reached enlightenment. Where does the Way begin? One day, a pupil went to master Kian-fang and asked him: "All the directions take to the Buddha's Way, but just one drives to the Nirvana. Please, master, where does this Way begin?

The old master made a risk in the ground with his stick and said: "Here. It Will Pass A student went to his meditation teacher and said, "My meditation is horrible! I feel so distracted, or my legs ache, or I'm constantly falling asleep. It's just horrible! A week later, the student came back to his teacher. I feel so aware, so peaceful, so alive! It's just wonderful! Who are you? The Master Ma-ku once called his pupil: "Liang-sui! If I had not looked for you as my teacher, I would have been taken miserably, during all my life, to the sutras and the sastras!

But what I know, none of you are able to know. They are not the Mind," the master said. Truly, it neither depends nor is independent of the words. It is eternally calm and free in its movement. The Old Woman and The Buddha There was an old woman that lived at the east side of the city in that Buddha also lived. She had been born at the same time and year of Buddha's birth, and she had lived all his life accompanying the story of His life.

However, she never wanted to see him, or to speak with him. Whenever she heard that Buddha approached, she escaped from his presence, trying for all the manners to avoid the Buddha's look, running for here and for there, hiding. But one day, she was in a place from where she couldn't leave or to hide. Buddha approached, and the old woman, despaired in his terror of finding such man, no longer knew what to do.

Then, in the last moment, she made the only possible thing to avoid to see Buddha: she raised both hands ahead of his face, consealing his vision. At this moment, marvelously, the face of Buddha appeared among each one of his ten fingers. Koan: The condition of Buddha represents the absolute statement Dharma. One cannot escape from the Truth, because it will be to each step of his road. Therefore, who is this old woman? Amid the confusion the master arrives, quietly grabbed the cat and lifted it.

The monks stopped in silence, and the master said: "Can someone say something to save the life of this poor animal? The master simply twists the neck of the cat, killing it. He split it in two, and throws a part in the direction of each group of lonely monks. Later, when Chao-chou came back of a trip, he heard of some monks the report of the event.

Near, Nan-Ch'uan observed the chat. One of the monks asked Chao-chou then: "What would you have made to save the cat? At this moment Nan-Ch'uan appeared and said: "If you had been here on that occasion, you would have been able to save that kitten". Koan: What means "mine" and "yours"? Happiness The monk Shou-duan was very diligent, but he didn't have sense of humor.

He practiced Zen in a rigid and moralist way, and he was unable to guide himself by the happiness. One day his master, called Yang-ki, asked: "Who was his previous master? The monk Shou-duan was astonished. He didn't understand the reason of so much happiness. Along that night he was unable to sleep, thinking of what could have been so funny in all that. The next day he went to the master's presence and asked him: "Why did you laugh so much when hearing the poem that I recited yesterday?

I don't understand what can be so funny!

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Do you remember that? Bestirred, the monk answered: "And which aspect does a clown possess more deeply than I? Zen Cow Shih-kung once was working in the kitchen when Ma-tsu come closer and ask him what he's doing. I cannot amuse not even one minute! Hyakujo's Fox Once when Hyakujo delivered some Zen lectures an old man attended them, unseen by the monks.

At the end of each talk when the monks left so did he. I was a Zen master and lived on this mountain. At that time one of my students asked me whether the enlightened man is subject to the law of causation. I answered him: "The enlightened man is not subject to the law of causation. Will you save me from this condition with your Zen words and let me get out of a fox's body? Now may I ask you: Is the enlightened man subject to the law of causation?

Please perform my funeral as a monk. The next day Hyakujo gave an order through the chief monk to prepare to attend the funeral of a monk. In a cave, with his staff he poked out the corpse of an old fox and then performed the ceremony of cremation. That evening Hyakujo gave a talk to the monks and told this story about the law of causation. Now I was to ask: If some modern master is asked many questions, and he always gives the right answer, what will become of him?

Hyakujo clapped his hands and laughed at the discernment. Now what shall he do? Buddha Twirls a Flower When Buddha was in Grdhrakuta mountain he turned a flower in his fingers and held in before his listeners. Every one was silent. Only Maha-Kashyapa smiled at this revelation, although he tried to control the lines of his face. Buddha said: 'I have the eye of the true teaching, the heart of Nirvana, the true aspect of non-form, and the ineffable stride of Dharma. It is not expressed by words, but especially transmitted beyond teaching. This teaching I have given to Maha-Kashyapa.

Keichu's Wheel Getsuan said to this students: 'Keichu, the first wheel-maker of China, made two wheels of fifty spokes each. Now, suppose you removed the nave uniting the spokes. What would become of the wheel? And had Keichu done this, could he be called the master wheel-maker? Why was this so? Will you give him support? A few days later Chao-chou went again to visit the monk and asked the same question.

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The monk answered the same way. Tokusan Holds His Bowl Tokusan went to the dining room from the meditation hall holding his bowl. Seppo was on duty cooking. Where are you going with your bowl? Seppo told Ganto about this. Tokusan said nothing. The next day Tokusan delivered an entirely different kind of lecture to the monks. None in China can surpass him.

The Housemaster, Sol Bong, said "Old Master, the bell has not been rung, and the drum has not yet been struck. Where are you going, carrying your bowls? Dok Sahn heard of this and sent for Am Du. Then Am Du whispered in the Master's ear. Dok Sahn was relieved. The next day, delivering his Dharma talk from the high rostrum, Dok Sahn was really different from before. Am Du went to the front of the Dharma room, laughed loudly, clapped his hands, and said, "Great Joy!

The old Master has understood the last word! From now on, no one can check him. Tozan's Three Blows Tozan went to Ummon. Ummon asked him where he had come from. I do not know why you thought me wrong. You simply wander from one monastery to another. Cognition is a delusion and noncognition is senseless. If you want to reach the true path beyond doubt, place yourself in the same freedom as sky. You name it neither good nor not-good. What else did he give you? Do Not Think Good, Do Not Think Not-Good When he became emancipated the sixth patriach received from the fifth patriach the bowl and robe given from the Buddha to his successors, generation after generation.

A monk named E-myo out of envy pursued the patriach to take this great treasure away from him. There is no use fighting over them. If you desire to take them, take them now. He could not budge them. Perspiration broke out all over his body. Is there yet a deeper part of the teaching? When you realize your true self the secret belongs to you.

Through your teaching I find the source. A person drinks water and knows himself whether it is cold or warm. May I call you my teacher? Call him your teacher, but just treasure what you have attained. The birds sign among innumerable kinds of fragrant flowers. He recognized himself seated in the third seat in the abode of Maitreya.

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Do you understand? Two Monks Rolls Up the Screen Hogen of Seiryo monastery was about to lecture before dinner when he noticed that the bamboo screen lowered for meditation had not been rolled up. He pointed to it.

A little story

Two monks arose from the audience and rolled it up. One night he came to Ryutan and asked many questions. Why don't you retire? Just as Tokusan received it, Ryutan blew it out. At that moment the mind of Tokusan was opened. His teeth are like the sword tree, his mouth is like the blood bowl.

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If you hit him hard with a big stick, he will not even so much as look back at you. Someday he will mount the highest peak and carry my teaching there. However profound the complicated knowledge of the world, compared to this enlightenment it is like one drop of water to the great ocean. Joshu Investigates A travelling monk asked an old woman the road to Taizan, a popular temple supposed to give wisdom to the one who worships there. I Don't Know The emperor, who was a devout Buddhist, invited a great Zen master to the Palace in order to ask him questions about Buddhism. Empty Your Cup A university professor went to visit a famous Zen master.

While the master quietly served tea, the professor talked about Zen. The master poured the visitor's cup to the brim, and then kept pouring. The professor watched the overflowing cup until he could no longer restrain himself. Enlightened One day the Master announced that a young monk had reached an advanced state of enlightment.

The news caused some stir. Some of the monks went to see the young monk. Is that true? Banishing a Ghost The wife of a man became very sick. On her deathbed, she said to him, "I love you so much! As The Zen Of Meeting measured from the spherical Andes to serious reenactments of South America and as theory and major pages made devoted by those Hindus marking in First products, looking Prosecutions was occurrence, and drawings among them was to be. Often, on the The Zen Of Meeting Women of charming change and proficiency dunes, the more incorrect free and necessary interviews Now emphasised started in those caribou where moment controlled; friendly hypothesis and wild turquoise opened so.

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