The Four Noble Truths, one of Buddhism’s basic foundational teachings, is all about suffering. This can sound dreary, even grim, not very inviting. It’s important to focus on suffering, but also important not to forget the possibility of joy. What is Nirvana, and how is it possible? This talk was given Sunday, October 15.
This Sunday we celebrate the Two Ancestors Memorial, honoring Eihei Dogen and Keizan Jokin. As part of that, we chant the “Life Span Chapter” of the Lotus Sutra, which describes the Buddha enlightened since the remote past, or the eternal Buddha. As the seasons change, time passes, people are born, sicken, and die, and yet […]
Genko tackles the topic of Time: what is it? how do we work with it? some of the many aspects of time as something that exists, or maybe not. Are we moving forward? What about developmental stages? What about how much time we’ve had in practice? And of course, Dogen’s fascicle, “Uji,” addressing existence-time, has […]
Our list of grave Precepts begins, like those of most religions, with Do Not Kill. The commentary says “holding no thought of killing is the Precept of Not Killing.” What are these thoughts, and what does it mean to hold them? Genko explores some of the ways this Precept applies to us all. This talk […]
Before we turn completely toward spring, it seems useful to pay attention to the winter just past to see what it has taught us. Genko looks back at the challenging weather, illness, and darkness with curiosity, and is also interested in hearing from others what they have learned. This talk was given Sunday, March 12.
Dharma Rain’s Sewing Master Genko Rainwater shares some of the research that has contributed to the Zen Sewing Study Group meeting on Tuesday nights. There’s a lot of interesting history behind the various kinds of robes that we wear. Beyond that, she will look at the practice of wearing robes (including rakusus and wagessas), the […]
This Sunday, Genko explores bodhicitta, or Way-Seeking Mind. A few months ago, someone asked where it comes from, which brings to mind the old koan: “Which came first, the chicken or the egg?” What is bodhicitta? Is it something we cultivate? Something that just happens if we sit still long enough? Where is it, and […]
“When I joined Dharma Rain it immediately felt like home. Homitsu was precentor in those days, and I knew I wanted to learn to do that. As my practice in zazen deepened, I found a wealth of tools to help me through hard times. I was blessed to be Kyogen’s formal student for 11 years. […]
Many of us find a sense of identity in being part of a group, a family, a tribe. But sometimes conflict arises when we want our own independent identity and distrust the tendency to succumb to group-think. This conflict leads right to the central koan that we all grapple with – Who Am I? To […]
This last Sunday, in addition to our regular Sunday program, several people marched in the annual Pride Parade downtown. It was scheduled to step off at 11am, but because we were so far back in line, we didn’t actually start moving until 1:20pm, so people were able to come join us who had participated in […]
How do we live with the universality of suffering? Genko follows Kyogen’s path in working with the Buddhacarita, a mythical retelling of the Buddha’s life story and enlightenment. We’ll talk about myth and read some of the story and explore how we work with the facts of sickness, old age, and death. This talk was […]
Genko takes up racial justice, and struggles to fit it within Dharma practice. What exactly IS political activism? How can it be effective? Is it important? Why or why not? How do we find what is uniquely ours to do about this and other social justice issues? How DOES it relate to our practice within […]
We say that we begin practice as a way of addressing our own suffering. We continue practice for the sake of others. Over time, our practice evolves, so that it becomes for the sake of the Dharma itself. How does this work, and what does it look like? Genko explores these questions and more. This […]
A Theravadin teaching talks of four stages in the path to Nirvana: stream-enterer, once-returner, non-returner, and arhat. Even though we don’t usually talk about the path this way in Zen, there is some value in looking at this very old teaching as it relates to our practice. What sign posts can we find on the […]
We all endure many things small and large, from summer heat to the death of loved ones. Kshanti, a Sanskrit term sometimes translated as Patience, is one of the six Paramitas, or Perfections in Buddhism. Sometimes patience gets a bad rap for being passive. How can it lead us to perfection? How does it relate […]
Many Zen masters speak of “Don’t Know Mind.” What is this Don’t Know? What do we know, how do we know it, and does it matter? This talk was given Sunday, June 21.
A few years ago Kyogen and Getsushin led a conversation about our prison program as a Dharma Talk. It’s time for an update, as the program has been growing through significant changes since then. It is a program that operates largely unseen by most of the sangha other than those volunteers directly involved with it. […]
We sometimes use the phrase “the edge of my practice.” What does this mean? What kinds of edges do we face? And what about plateaus, ledges, mountains, and other geographical features of our practice? Genko will trek through some of these in this Sunday’s talk. This talk was given Sunday, January 18.
Genko has been working with a new Buddhist approach to recovery from addiction, called Refuge Recovery. Using the Three Refuges, Four Noble Truths, and the Noble Eightfold Path, the approach takes the strengths of the 12-step movement, replaces the Steps with the Path, and increases the emphasis on meditation as a tool for recovery. Through […]
On Sunday, September 28, we did our annual Two Ancestors memorial service to honor Eihei Dogen and Keizan Jokin. Genko talked about honoring our ancestors, and of course this included some talk of Kyogen as he takes his place in the ancestral line. Who are our ancestors? How do we honor them? Why do we […]
What is the balance between holding things lightly and being serious about our lives and practice? What is the place of humor in Zen practice? Genko raises these questions and is hoping that we can explore them together. This talk was given on Sunday, July 13.
Part of the gay subculture, Drag and Camp have a long history. In the wider culture, we find a similarly long history involving carnival, clowns, fools, theater performances, masked balls, and the like. On a more mundane level, we all have various roles to play in the world, and find ourselves donning various costumes / […]
As we start up again on our regular schedule, we sometimes find that we can look back at holiday excesses and have remorse, vowing to do differently. How can we take vows in a skillful way? Genko shares something of her own struggle with addictive behavior and how she is finding ways through it with […]
By Genko Rainwater (from August 28, 2010) On Saturday afternoon of the Cultivating the Way sesshin I went to sit in the Zendo before the scheduled evening sitting, and was rewarded this way. dancing leaves shadows play a symphony in light on bare zendo floor Seido lighting lamps weaving in and out around provides counterpoint […]