On Sunday, January 13, Dharma School students, teachers and parents surprised Gyokuko, arriving at her back door to sing Dharma School songs and offer flowers. A small way to say “Thank you for Dharma School!” Wednesday’s work party brought out several people who braved the windy and cold, but mostly dry weather to do winter […]
More than 150 people showed up to wish Gyokuko (in gold kesa, center) well on her retirement. The group photo shows a portion of those who gathered for a photo after the ceremony. The ceremony was brief and dignified, and after that everyone in the hall got to say thanks in whatever way they wished […]
On Sunday, January 6, Gyokuko will officially retire as co-abbot of Dharma Rain Zen Center after more than four decades of service. She and her husband Kyogen co-founded Dharma Rain Zen Center in 1974. A special ceremony will mark the occasion of her retirement formally, in place of the Dharma Talk, and a party following […]
The teachings of Zen tell us that all living beings have Buddha Nature. We do our practices to uncover that which always there. Gyokuko explores some of what we experience in the practice of uncovering and discovering our true nature. This talk was given Sunday, August 5.
Shinshu Roberts recently blessed us with readings from her book, Being-Time, and shared some important points about understanding Dogen’s chapter on Being-Time. In this talk Gyokuko shares some of her personal musings on the practice of being one with time. This talk was given Sunday, July 8.
Gyokuko has been working in her yard, like a lot of other people. On July 17, she talked about finding the right tool for the right job.
We all have high expectations. In the workplace, in our social lives, in our Zen practice. The idea that we ourselves or others in whom we are invested can meet those expectations often creates anxiety when the idea comes up against reality. Come share your thoughts as Gyokuko shares some of hers. This talk was […]
As he swallowed the cup of poison hemlock, Socrates said the unexamined life is not worth living. Our practice encourages us to know the self, but also to drop the self. When is self-examination self-indulgence? When is dropping the self avoiding the facts? This talk was given Sunday, January 21.
As we struggle to get by and overcome obstacles, we can get confused, angry, and sad. As we develop our practice and self-awareness, subtle changes in outlook have the capacity to transform our view of life and suffering in radical ways. This talk was given Sunday, October 8.
The source of respect is the unlimited heart of Buddha Nature. Jealousy and envy arise when we entertain the anxiety that there is not enough of something for us. Starting from the Buddha’s generous predictions of Buddhahood for his disciples, Gyokuko will explore our practice of giving and receiving respect. This talk was given Sunday, […]
Three of the aspects of the Enlightened Mind are not achieved through will, intention and rational thought, and yet they are not achieved without good will, good intentions and clear reasoning. Gyokuko will play with the interplay during her Dharma Talk this Sunday. This talk was given Sunday, July 9.
Gyokuko works with the image of an eclipse, particularly at the stage of totality. As we find what is ours to do, searching for wholeness, we need to align both spatially and temporally in order to actualize it. This talk was given Sunday, April 9.
Ango has begun again and so the bell rings for zazen. We are all called to intensify our practice and go deeper. How do we answer the call? Dip a toe? Dive in headfirst? Pretend deafness? This talk was given Sunday, March 5.
When we were children we made wishes on the first star, on a few lighted candles on a birthday cake, and on the “wish-bone” of the Thanksgiving turkey. There is usually a sweet innocent selfishness to childhood wishes. Now as adults, what do we wish for? How do we improve and broaden our hopes and […]
Zazen teaches us to let go of thoughts feelings and distractions that interfere with being present and aware of this very moment. Some of the commitments we make in our everyday lives – marriage, children, jobs, friendships – require us to stay engaged focused and even tenacious. What does zazen teach us about dealing with […]
Dharma Rain has many programs and many ways to serve and be served, but ultimately, Dharma Rain is a Zen temple. The strength of Zen is that it brings zazen and other practices and tools to help us transform the obstacles in our own minds. Gyokuko will talk about the significance of Zen and the […]
Finding our way through life decisions and the spiritual quest means clarifying our ideals and aspirations. Rarely can we see very far into the future but we can find inner and outer guidance. This talk was given on Sunday, July 3.
Water is often used as a metaphor for Dharma. The choice to immerse ourselves completely or have a sip now and then is a personal one. How do we choose? How do we honor our own choice and the different choices others make? This talk was given on Sunday, June 26.
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 […]
Beloved Sangha and Friends, In difficult times like these, it is important that we stand together in compassion, dignity and respect for all people. I invite you to march with me and others from Dharma Rain Zen Center in Portland’s LGBTQ Pride Parade on Sunday, June 19. (More information is below.) Let us gather in […]
Looking at Prajna Paramita (Great Perfect Wisdom) requires that we look at the difference between an acquired knowledge of ideas vs a dynamic knowledge of that which is. This talk was given on Sunday, May 22.
Gyokuko explores the sacred and the mundane, and pays homage to Spring in this Sunday’s talk. This talk was given on Sunday, March 27, 2016.
Editor’s Note: Gyokuko sent this letter to the governing councils. I’d like to give some advance notice to the temple leadership regarding the next step in our sangha’s process of succession. It’s a long and involved process which is part of how we ensure the spiritual vitality, social harmony and institutional longevity of our sangha. […]
Gyokuko is finding a new way to look at frugality. This talk was given Sunday, November 29.
Keeping the Precepts can be challenging when decisions need to be made and disagreements arise, whether in the world of work or here in the temple. As the temple has grown, more and more of the needed work is done in meetings in committees. How do we apply Right Speech to our work? To what […]
The Eihei Shingi, rules for the monastery at Eiheiji formulated by Dogen centuries ago, outlines six temple officers. We follow Dogen’s example, with some modifications. Gyokuko emphasizes the interconnected web of respect and responsibility that makes it all work here for us. Come and find out something about Dharma Rain’s unique flavor. This talk was […]
Gyokuko talked about the booklet, “Zen Training in Community.” How do we live in sangha together? What is my responsibility to seniors and/or juniors? What happens if I think someone is out of line? This talk was given Sunday, May 10.
Our annual Nehan Festival commemorates the parinirvana of the Buddha and his final teaching. This involves a special service in place of Full Morning Service. This year, Gyokuko gave the Dharma Talk associated with Nehan on February 8.
Sekkei Harada gives this advice in his lectures in a new book Unfathomable Depths, Drawing Wisdom for Today from a Classical Zen Poem. Let’s see if Gyokuko can draw any wisdom from that. This talk was given Sunday, January 11.
On October 12, Abbot Gyokuko Carlson took on a Zen koan that goes like this: Dogo and Zen-gen went to a house to show sympathy. Zen-gen hit the coffin and asked, “Alive or dead?” Dogo replied, “I won’t say alive, I won’t say dead.” Zen-gen demanded, “Why won’t you say?” Dogo repeated, “I won’t say.” […]
What does Buddhism have to offer us on this turning of the seasons? Solstice is very significant in ancient cultures and earth based spirituality, but is it irrelevant to the followers of the Noble Eightfold Path? Gyokuko will explore the natural phenomena of solstice, equinox and the changing physical environment and how this fits the […]
On April 6, 2014, co-abbot Gyokuko Carlson took a Dharmic look at the subject of prayer and how Zen Buddhists work with it. Listen to this talk.
From our Still Point Archives, February 1996 – by Gyokuko Carlson I wanted to share with you this morning a phrase that I picked up earlier this month. A very small phrase: ‘A person of practice.’ It just hit my ear, and I wanted to bring it here, and give you some of my thoughts. Of course, as […]
The Buddha famously told Ananda that good spiritual friends are the whole of the holy life. Sangha includes teachers, friends and supporters, and also those who challenge us in many ways. Co-Abbot Gyokuko Carlson speaks about Sangha as refuge, and the various ways that manifests. To hear this talk, click here.