“Jiko” Tag

Just Say Yes

There are so many ways that the world will say no to our desires. But we also say no to ourselves and to the world. How do we say yes? In Zen practice, there is a deep affirmation that we can bring to our everyday life as well as our practice. This talk was given […]

What is a Teacher For?

Several people became lay disciples this week. The decision to enter a formal teaching relationship is a serious one. But it’s not magic – teaching takes place both in and out of such a relationship. What does a teacher do? How do we work with the embodiment in front of us? This talk was given […]

Good Friends

The Buddha told us to find good friends, and keep them close. What does this mean to a person of practice? How do we manage relationships? What is intimacy and companionship on the Path? This talk was given Sunday, January 27.

“Bad Students”

It’s easy to get the idea that certain thoughts and feelings are not part of Zen practice. We may think that to be a good student of Zen is to be free of strong emotions or points of view. What is the relationship between powerful and even overwhelming emotions and our practice? What does it […]

Two Ancestors

Every year toward the end of September we celebrate the contribution of Eihei Dogen and Keizan Jokin to the establishment of Soto Zen. Dogen is considered the founder of Soto Zen in Japan, having brought it from China in the 1200s. Keizan, four generations later, popularized it and was instrumental in its spread. This talk […]

When the Ordinary Is Just … Ordinary

There are many stories of awakened life as that of the “everyday,” when our ordinary experiences and the objects we meet take on a luminous quality. But what happens when we look around and find that our ordinary lives are just…ordinary? This talk was given Sunday, August 19.

How to Be Alone

Why do we feel different when we are alone? The self alone changes when it meets others. Is one self more authentic than the other? How do we resolve the tension between solitude and relationship? We will consider the ways that we protect ourselves around other people as well as the ways we fall into […]

Thorough Study

What is the role of study in Zen? We have inherited a tradition “without dependence on words and letters,” and yet books and stories are key parts of our life of practice. How do we balance intellectual work and learning with a focus on meditation and daily activity? This talk was given Sunday, March 11.

The Assembly’s Heart

How we engage in the tasks before us is both a spur for and a measure of our path. As we install a new shuso and enter a new term of practice, we consider what it means to work with the mind of practice. This talk was given Sunday, January 7.

I Have Kept My Wish

In the ordination ceremony, we say, ‘I have changed my form, but kept my wish.’ What does this mean? We carry many wishes into our practice, and the innermost wish is revealed only over time. We each have a gift as well as a wish, and central to our practice is finding a way for […]

Sun Face Buddha, Moon Face Buddha

The Sun Face Buddha lives for 1,800 years. The Moon Face Buddha lives for one day. But the length of the life is not what makes either a Buddha. This talk was given Sunday, August 27.

What We Remember

Memory is unpredictable. Certain events remain vivid; others fade away. Many of us will lose memories as we age. What is it in our practice that is remembered, no matter what? How do we retain wisdom even in forgetfulness? This talk was given Sunday, July 30.

Indra and the Ants

What happens when Indra, King of the Gods, sees a line of ants marching across the floor? A little storytelling about Indra leads us to contemplation of how we all fit together in the big scheme of things. This talk was given Sunday, June 25.

Take Away the Staff

When we begin to practice, we feel a sense of hope and promise. In time, this fades and we feel disappointment again. What does it mean to let go of our expectations and hopes, and really fall into this disappointment? How do we practice when our supports are taken away, one by one? This talk […]

Yes and No

Our practice includes the big “yes” of acceptance and the big “no” of impermanence. Our daily lives also include yes and no, as we choose how to meet conditions. We are in a time of uncertainty, intense emotion and cultural confusion. Many people are wondering how best to respond to the political situation. How does […]

Swallowing the Ocean

Buddhist history is filled with stories of mystical and supernatural power. Dogen said mystical power “is the tea and meals of Buddhists.” What can this mean for our practice today? Are there such things as miracles? This talk was given Sunday, November 13.

“Do Otherwise”

People are sometimes surprised to learn that Buddhism has a long, rich history of confession and repentance. The flavor of this in Buddhism is quite different from what we may have experienced in other religious practices, but we still experience shame, self-hatred and regret as we face up to past mistakes. Dharma Rain will be […]

The Pivotal Opportunity of Human Birth

What is the value of a human birth? We are reminded now and then that to be born a human being is special, of high merit. Why? What does this say about other beings? What does it say about how we should be living our lives? This talk was given Sunday, July 24.

Temple Officers

For more than a thousand years, Zen temples have been administered in particular ways. How do the rules and guidelines put in place so long ago translate to today? What does it mean to step up to leadership at Dharma Rain? Jiko will talk about the temple governance as an essential practical matter, and an […]

The Stone House

Sometimes the troubles of the world overwhelm us, and we sink into despair. We may feel depressed or angry as we see the suffering around us. Despair is actually a crucial experience in practice. How do we work with this state and the accompanying emotions? How do we move forward with compassion to ease suffering […]

Mature Practice

What are the markers of maturity in the practice? How do we define this subjective term? We teach that practice is enlightenment, there are no stages of enlightenment. Yet there are real markers of development in practice, qualities we develop and can recognize over time. One is generosity, giving the self freely. A sense of […]


What does it mean to be dignified? We use the word freely and in many contexts, but may find that a definition is not easy. The Buddhist view of dignity is a little different from the conventional one. Is dignity an inherent quality? What does it mean to act in an undignified manner? Are there […]

The Great Matter

Birth and death are moments in time – and yet the fact of our birth and death is called the Great Matter. How do we contemplate our own extinction from this life? The Buddha addressed his death directly. We will talk about the simple, profound questions of dying, caregiving, grieving, and planning for the inevitable. […]

Still Here

We approach Big Mind with our small minds; we find our greater selves through the vehicle of the small self. But much of the time, we live and experience the world within that small self. How do we keep going when it seems like nothing changes? What is the meaning of “still” and “here” when […]

Cecil and the Circles of Compassion

When Cecil the lion was killed recently, there was an outcry around the world. Why are we sometimes able to feel compassion for a creature so distant from our daily lives? Why are we sometimes unable to summon up compassion for our next-door neighbor? This talk will explore how a widening circle of compassion grows […]

Wholesome Companions

The Buddha encouraged his followers to choose wholesome companionship, and to stay away from unwholesome people. What does this mean? The people with whom we spend our time will always have an influence on us – but we can’t always choose them. How do we navigate family and work environments? How do we bow to […]

The Work of This Moment

Jiko talked about the 10,000-year clock, the problem of nuclear waste, why we plant trees and what it means to let go of goals in this talk about time, effort, and the future. This talk was on Sunday, June 28.

Invisible Beings

There are many beings in our lives who remain invisible. This past week, we have been sitting sesshin in honor of our ancestral lineage – invisible beings whose importance to us is sometimes difficult to understand. How do we explain and explore – and pay homage to – the unseen forces around us? This talk […]


Sallie Jiko Tisdale[/caption]The first precept we learn is “Cease from evil.” If Buddhism teaches us not to make dualistic concepts, why does it set up the pair of good and evil? What is evil in Buddhism? What does it mean to cease from it? This challenging word pushes us to explore many aspects of behavior, […]

Fools, Secrets, and Hosts

What does it mean to “function secretly, like a fool”? The final lines of one of our daily scriptures is packed with important teaching, in the simplest of language. The Zen fool is different from the conventional meaning of this world. So is a secret – and so is the host. We will look at […]


The World-Honored One ascended the seat and Manjusri announces, “Clearly observe the Dharma of the King of Dharma; the Dharma of the King of Dharma is thus.” Then the World Honored One descended from the seat.” What is this mysterious and unspoken wisdom? How do we find it? Dogen called it “brightness,” and said we […]

The Fearful Thing

Kate Wolf sang, “Give yourself to love, if love is what you’re after.” Why is it so hard to give ourselves to each other? What holds us back from real intimacy? As individuals and as a community, we carry many patterns of fear and withdrawal, but we also have the opportunity to see and be […]

The Prediction

Everything is always changing; on what can we rely? All passes away. Where is our ground? We seek for something and it is pulled away. The Buddha repeatedly predicted perfect enlightenment – Buddhahood – for all beings; how can this be true if everything is conditioned and dependent and changing? The word sometimes used for […]

No One Listening

The Canadian wilderness guide Carl Rustrum used to look forward to solitary winter camping, because he enjoyed being where “you can holler for help and not be heard.” The Japanese word for trust can also mean confidence. What does it mean to have trust? Sometimes we need to trust ourselves and find a deep self-reliance. […]

New Shuso at Hood River

On Sunday, June 22, Kyri Kengan Treiman was installed as the shuso at the Hood River / Columbia Gorge Zen sitting group, under her teacher Jiko Tisdale. The audience included members from the Sandy Sitting Group and the Portland sangha, and Abbots Gyokuko and Kyogen Carlson. Kakumyo Lowe-Charde, the primary teacher in Hood River, served […]

Jiko’s Memory

We asked people to share their memories of the places where we practiced for a quaarter-century in southeast Portland. You can find these posts using the “MemoryBook” tag. by Sallie Jiko Tisdale The year I was shuso, we had several regular visitors who liked to sit in the back steps off the front doors. It […]

To Study The Self

Sallie Jiko Tisdale – from April 1997 Keep your eye on the fierce lion up on the altar. Today I’m going to talk about what it means to study the self. I’ll begin with two quotes to bear in mind. The first is from William Wordsworth in 1807, a poem: “The world is too much […]

All My Karma

Many of us carry burdens of regret, guilt or shame about past events. When we recite the confession verse, what does it mean to acknowledge “All my past and harmful karma”? How can we take responsibility for all of it? What is mine? This talk explored the different ways we experience repentance and atonement in […]

A New Light in Asia

Buddhism flourished for a thousand years and more after the Buddha died. By then Buddhism had spread to many countries and languages. For many reasons, Buddhism then began to decline and virtually died out in India altogether until very recently. The Dharma talk for the celebration of Nehan will explore the final teachings of the […]

Postcards From Roseapple Island*

Jiko’s Pilgrimage Journal Entries from India Note: Center members Sallie Jiko Tisdale and Thomas Koshin Bruner have been in India from several weeks, visiting Buddhist sites, but also other placers of cultural and historical interest. *Jambudvipa, the ancient name for India used in Sutras. Jan. 9 in Varanasi: We walked to the northern end of […]

Alone, Together

The Buddha told his followers to “walk alone like a rhinoceros” – but he told this to people living intimately in community. What does it mean to stand alone? How do we do this together? What is true solitude? We live so close to others that it can be hard to know what one truly […]

The Pillar

An Open Letter from Sallie Jiko Tisdale “Most people today mistakenly think that constructing buddha-images and building stupas helps the buddha-dharma flourish,” wrote Dogen in September of 1235. “Even though we might erect huge temples adorned with polished jewels and gold, we cannot attain the Way by these works. To learn even a single phrase of the […]