Dharma Talks are offered on Sunday mornings by teachers or senior students. These talks are designed to present some element of a dharmic theme in a way that is accessible to a public audience. Each of our teachers has a different dharma “voice,” sharing their understanding for the benefit of all in a way that is unique to them.  More formal than a teisho (a talk given during a sesshin), and less structured than a class or lecture, Dharma Talks bring a personal, human element to the articulation of zen topics.

Recent Dharma Talks

Date Title & Details Speaker Listen Download
09/12/2021
Caring for Our Past and Future Selves

What is this “self” that seems to move forward through time and how might our Zen practice influence our relationship with it? And why does it carry so much baggage?

Categories: Dharma Talks

Scott Teijin Grim
09/05/2021
Transmission: Positive, Negative and Everyday

What is Transmission and why is it a big deal in Zen? Gyokuko explores the concept with different lenses.

Categories: Dharma Talks

Gyokuko Carlson
08/29/2021
Letting Go and Getting Caught

Kakumyo talked about the opening of term and setting our intention for practice.

Categories: Dharma Talks

Kakumyo Lowe-Charde
08/22/2021
What Do You Love Most About Buddhism?

Shin’yu just spent a week in the hospital. One of her nurses had a lot of questions about Buddhism. The answers are still unfolding.

Categories: Dharma Talks

Shin’yu Vitells
08/08/2021
Form and Function

Zen is sometimes called a “formal” religion or practice. We do have a lot of forms. But what does that mean? What is a form? How do we practice with it? Why do we have them? Genko explores these questions in this talk.

Categories: Dharma Talks

Genko Rainwater
07/25/2021
Old Friends

Rick Hogetsu Mitchell gives his first student talk at Dharma Rain. The talk reflects on the nature of friendships, personal and spiritual, and their role in supporting our practice.

Categories: Dharma Talks

Rick Hogetsu Mitchell
07/18/2021
Taking Care of Business

Some of us find that summer changes our routines, and makes the schedule lighter. And yet, the number of hours in the day are the same, and there are still tasks to be done. What does it mean to take care of business in the summer? What is our true business? How do we know? Genko explores these and other related questions in this Sunday’s Dharma Talk.

Categories: Dharma Talks

Genko Rainwater
07/11/2021
Tipping Points

Sometimes practice flows and we’re carried along by it, sometimes it’s a struggle and we can’t gain any momentum and keep running into setbacks. Although we may prefer the former, there are expressions of Right Effort in each mode. This Sunday, Kakumyo will explore how we relate to this phenomenon and what it signifies.

Categories: Dharma Talks

Kakumyo Lowe-Charde
06/27/2021
Difference and Sameness

Categories: Dharma Talks

Genko Rainwater
06/13/2021
Conjured City

In the Lotus Sutra, the Buddha tells the story of a group of tired travelers who come to a beautiful city where they can rest. He reveals this to be imaginary, the skillful means required to allow them to continue the long journey. What do we conjure for ourselves and for others? When are such resting places useful, and when do we need to shake them off and move on?

Categories: Dharma Talks

Sallie Jiko Tisdale
06/06/2021
Growing Pains

Transformation and spiritual growth tend to be common topics among Zen practitioners. For all that our teachings advise us to sit without a specific goal, often there is some aspiration towards ease and comfort. This path towards ease is not always smooth. We might encounter bumps along the way. How we meet a challenge or difficulty conditions our strategies around meeting the next challenge or the next difficulty. This Sunday, Jyoshin talks about growing pains in spiritual practice, encountering challenges, and drawing strength from that which inspires us.

Categories: Dharma Talks

Jyoshin Clay
05/30/2021
The Dharma of Path

The ordination ceremony contains the phrase: “I have changed my form but kept my wish…” This is an allusion to the continuity of our way-seeking mind, and the variety of particular forms our practice may take over time. This Sunday, Kakumyo will talk about particular ways we realize and display lay and monastic paths of practice.

Categories: Dharma Talks

Kakumyo Lowe-Charde
05/23/2021
Languishing and Flourishing

Recent news articles discuss prevalent mind states of people during the pandemic and now as we emerge. The word “languishing” has come up more than once, along with its opposite, “flourishing.” Languishing suggests becoming faint, feeble, or ill, also suffering from being forced to remain in an unpleasant place or situation. The New York Times adds that it is “a sense of stagnation and emptiness. It feels as if you’re muddling through your days, looking at your life through a foggy windshield.” Flourishing speaks to thriving, growing, and developing rapidly. What has your experience been? Genko will explore these mind states and others along with what Buddhist teachings might have to say about them in her talk this Sunday.

Categories: Dharma Talks

Genko Rainwater
05/16/2021
Come on, Get Happy

In Buddhism, we spend a lot of time talking about suffering and the relief of suffering, but relatively little time talking about happiness or joy. Should we expect to find joy in “objectless” meditation? Is it OK to pursue happiness? Will Zen practice make us happier? Annen considers these and other questions in this week’s talk.

Categories: Dharma Talks

Jeanna Annen Moyer
05/02/2021
Poison Arrows

Concern with how our karma developed is sometimes compared to being shot with a poison arrow. Don’t ask who shot it or how it was made, just get it out. But practice pushes us to confront past events and how they shape us. How do we look at the past in a wholesome way?

Categories: Dharma Talks

Sallie Jiko Tisdale
05/02/2021
Wesak

In celebrating Wesak, and contemplating the miraculous story of the Buddha’s birth, we may not find our own circumstances quite so auspicious. Kakumyo will talk about a Zen approach to noticing miracles in our practice.

Categories: Dharma Talks

Kakumyo Lowe-Charde
04/18/2021
Liberating Investigation

This week we welcome a guest teacher, Ryushin Hart. Ryushin’s talk will explore a pervasive and pernicious obstacle to wholeheartedly living our spiritual path and the steps to decrease its impact.

Categories: Dharma Talks

Kakumyo Lowe-Charde
04/04/2021
A Walk in the Park

Kakumyo talks about discovering the absolute within the relative.

Categories: Dharma Talks

Kakumyo Lowe-Charde
03/28/2021
Faith, Hope, and Charity

There’s a Christian song that starts “Have Faith, Hope, and Charity; that’s the way to live successfully.” These somewhat old-fashioned words, Biblical words, words in a song, speak of values we cherish in Buddhism as well, though we may express it somewhat differently.

What are these three virtues, and how do they manifest in our lives? What does it mean to have faith, to have hope, to have charity? Genko explores these questions and more in her Dharma Talk.

Categories: Dharma Talks

Genko Rainwater
03/21/2021
Ripple Effects

Sometimes the dharma rain seeps in and nourishes us in the way we’re hoping. Other times it seems to bounce off like a spring hail. Perhaps there’s no obvious button to push to change things. When we’re caught like this, we’re probably narrowing the range of our experience so the specific insult takes up more space than is warranted. This Sunday, Kakumyo will speak about how our basic relationship to emptiness subtly impacts virtually every other dharmic and life decision and perception. When we can make a little pivot in a very deep, central part of our experience, the effect can ripple through many different aspects of our life.

Categories: Dharma Talks

Kakumyo Lowe-Charde
03/14/2021
Identity Injury

All the qualities of our identity are empty of self-nature, especially the qualities of the body. Yet such things as skin color and gender are often treated as “real” – as permanent, fixed, and conveying value. Suffering is the result. The talk this week will focus on this ‘injury of identity,’ particularly in regard to gender, and what it means to ally on behalf of such identifiers even as we reject them as true identity. Why do we recite a women’s lineage? Why do we point out gender as a characteristic when the Dharma tells us all such characteristics are empty?

Categories: Dharma Talks

Sallie Jiko Tisdale
03/07/2021
How Not to Zen

One of the barriers many people experience in meditation practice, and especially in the Zen tradition, are concerns about whether we are going to do it wrong. This shows up in many distinct flavors, sharing a common theme of anxiety. This Sunday Kakumyo will talk about how we meet this barrier and how it relates to sangha treasure and the ongoing, lifelong practice of awareness.

Categories: Dharma Talks

Kakumyo Lowe-Charde
02/28/2021
New Beginnings

A sense of spring is vibrating toward manifesting. Frogs are singing a symphony each night at Siskiyou Square. We spotted crocuses coming up in the garden, and there’s a hint of color in the plum grove. In spite of the recent ice and snow, and the fact that we could still get more cold weather, even snow, during the next couple of months, there’s a definite feeling of spring in the air. With new beginnings, it’s sometimes tempting to forget about the past and just forge ahead as if it never happened. Certainly I’ve seen a lot of people want to expunge 2020 from memory. It’s been almost a year since we closed the temple for a time during the first Covid lockdown. What have we learned during the past year to carry forward positively into these new beginnings?

Categories: Dharma Talks

Genko Rainwater
02/14/2021
A Zen Valentine

Valentine’s Day, a day to profess romantic love to your special someone. Chocolate, cards, flowers, coziness, making that extra effort to show you care. What might this look like in a Zen context? Rather than making an extra effort for that special someone, what if you expressed your love for everyone? What if you cultivated compassion not only on one calendar day, but all days? What would that take?

Categories: Dharma Talks

Jyoshin Clay
02/07/2021
Living Practice

This Sunday we commemorate the Buddha’s death. In the sutra that details his final teachings, there’s a discussion of the mind that seeks the way. We will look at the discovery, expression, and honing of this mind, and see why it is so pivotal in Zen practice.

Categories: Dharma Talks

Kakumyo Lowe-Charde
01/31/2021
Sustainable Bodhisattva Practice in a World on Fire (missing audio)

What is sustainable bodhisattva practice when the world is (often literally) on fire? How do we enact our bodhisattva vows in the face of all of this suffering – caused by racism, the global pandemic, the breakdown of earth’s natural life support systems, and global heating, among so many other things? Our vow is to “save all beings” but – at least in terms of an individual’s goal – that’s impossible. Domyo will offer a three-ingredient approach to honoring our bodhisattva vow in a tangible, rewarding, and sustainble way, as opposed to it being a largely irrelevant ideal.

Categories: Dharma Talks

Domyo Burk
01/24/2021
Light

The long nights of winter are slowly giving way to our long days of spring and summer. Light has many meanings, and many functions. How do we experience the shift from shadow to light? What happens when there is so much light that we can see all the detail in the world?

Categories: Dharma Talks

Sallie Jiko Tisdale
01/17/2021
Asking the Question

It can be said that Zen Buddhism, rather than being a system of belief, is a practice of exploration and self-discovery. Built on the teachings of the Buddha, Zen asks us to look deeply into our lives, habits, and relationships and learn to transform unwholesome action to wholesome action. Experiences of questions and answers have flavored Buddhism since its inception and have been carried onward throughout the millennia. Yet, sometimes we can get caught in a sense of uncertainty when it comes to asking spiritual questions. What do I say? Is this appropriate? Am I being nosy? I bet everyone knows this but me…

Categories: Dharma Talks

Jyoshin Clay
01/10/2021
Practicing with Personal Transitions

We all face many transitions, both big and small, during our lives. Some we choose and some seem to fall on us with an unwelcome thud. In either case it’s ours to meet these transitions in such a way that we can grow with them. In this dharma talk, Gyoshi will address various aspects of practicing with transition: how and why we often try to block change, how we know what is ours to do, embracing impermanence, forgiveness of self and others, and how we relate to our roles and responsibilities.

Categories: Dharma Talks

Mike Gyoshi Kaplan
01/03/2021
A Bright Shiny New Year

Now we have this new year full of hope and promise. With the turn of the calendar and the magic of new numbers we can imagine that we are living in a different, better world. And of course things continue to change. Many people’s thoughts turn to aligning their lives more closely with their true aspirations, and make resolutions to shape up in various ways. How can we do this skillfully, so that real change is likely, and likely to tend in the direction we intend? Genko addresses this and more in her talk this Sunday.

Categories: Dharma Talks

Genko Rainwater
12/20/2020
Darkness

As we meet the longest night of the year, how do we enter into darkness? The dark is a rich image in Zen. Let us talk about those meanings, and the real dark and the real night of this winter.

Categories: Dharma Talks

Sallie Jiko Tisdale
12/06/2020
Dharma Talk

Join us this Sunday as Kakumyo gives us a head start on Rohatsu. This retreat is where put all of the energy we have cultivated over the past year.

Categories: Dharma Talks

Kakumyo Lowe-Charde
11/29/2020
The Dharma as PPE

Last week, Annen spoke of dukka, the First Noble Truth, and the effects of the pandemic on dharma practice. In this week’s talk, Jyoshin will look at Dharma as PPE (personal protective equipment). This talk topic was suggested by a Buddhist chaplain and the talk is dedicated to healthcare workers and staff, as well as to all dharma practitioners everywhere.

Categories: Dharma Talks

Jyoshin Clay
11/22/2020
The more things change…

“Life is suffering.” This is a common translation of the first noble truth of Buddhism and during this pandemic, suffering and sorrow seem even more visible and tangible than usual. This week, Annen considers suffering (Pali: dukka) in its pre-pandemic and pandemic forms, and the silver lining that lies hidden in plain sight

Categories: Dharma Talks

Jeanna Annen Moyer
11/15/2020
Clarity, Equanimity, and Balance in Difficult Times

We have been talking about karma and recognizing the harm we have caused and how we can heal. This Sunday, let us step back a bit and talk about the experience of being hurt in the first place. How do we hold our traumas, alone and as a community?

Categories: Dharma Talks

Sallie Jiko Tisdale
10/25/2020
Clarity, Equanimity, and Balance

This week’s dharma talk is Clarity, Equanimity, and Balance in Difficult Times, a recording of a talk given by Kyogen Carlson, one of our founders, on October 12, 2008. Kyogen talks about the circumstances surrounding his and Gyokuko’s break from Shasta Abbey, the highly charged 2008 presidential election, and the transformation that can occur when all that supports us seems to be crumbling.

Categories: Dharma Talks

Kyogen Carlson
10/11/2020
A Watched Pot Never Boils

Categories: Dharma Talks

Jyoshin Clay
10/04/2020
Proving Dharma

One impediment to making good use of our meditation practice and the teachings of Buddhism is a lack of confidence that they apply to an actual situation or that they will be effective. On Sunday, Kakumyo will explore some of these concerns and discuss the Buddha’s answer to this question.

Categories: Dharma Talks

Kakumyo Lowe-Charde
09/27/2020
Emptiness Upon Emptiness

In honor of the Two Ancestors, Dogen and Keizan, celebrated this week, we will consider the story of the Buddha holding up a flower, and ask ourselves, when is a flower just a flower?

Categories: Dharma Talks

Sallie Jiko Tisdale
09/20/2020
Commitment and Vigor

Kakumyo speaks about the difficulty of staying available for practice. How do we continue to show up for difficult, transformative work over time?

Categories: Dharma Talks

Kakumyo Lowe-Charde
Date Title & Details Speaker Listen Download

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