“Kakumyo” Tag

Who Are We?

We put a lot of effort in our Zen Practice into examining who we are. Kakumyo speaks to the balance of knowing who we are, and still being curious to seeing new parts of ourselves. This talk was given Sunday, May 12.

The Art of Patching Leaks

Keeping things dry in an Oregon winter can be tough, but not as difficult as not leaking our practice intention. This Sunday, we’ll explore the process of diverting attention on a few different timescales, and find some tips to keep this from happening. This talk was given Sunday, February 24.

Weaving Precepts and Nehan

Both Shakyamuni Buddha and Eihei Dogen gave their last dharma teaching on the same topic. We’ll look at this teaching, a description of the marks of practice, and why both teachers felt it was so important for their students to remember. This talk was given Sunday, January 20.

Meditation Off-Trail

Kakumyo describes a recent (experimental) sesshin he participated in and some of the lessons learned for trusting and deepening meditation. This talk was given Sunday, October 14.

Turning Up the Vivid

Fall term is in effect and practice is flowing. This Sunday Kakumyo will talk about one way we may notice the effects of contemplative practice, and how to make good use of this phenomenon. Join us this Sunday, September 9, for zazen, sanzen, service, and Kakumyo’s Dharma Talk. Kakumyo and Genko offer sanzen. 8:30am Zazen […]

Chapter Headings

Kakumyo speaks about Dharma Rain’s path as a sangha and institution. What does our trajectory look like, and what are the values and context that are shaping it? This talk was given Sunday, August 26.

The Spectrum of Presence

We recognize that instances of giving and receiving attention are not all equivalent. Sometimes it can feel profound,other times trivial. We’ll explore this range, what it means, and our ability to affect where our behavior lands. This talk was given Sunday, July 29.

Orienting Towards Buddahood

Kakumyo talked about some of the lessons of the last two weeks, pulling threads from the “Juki” chapter of the Shobogenzo, which we studied at Genzoe sesshin last week, and weaving those with themes from the three day pastoral care workshop that happened this week. This talk was given Sunday, July 1.

Varieties of Attentiveness

This Sunday we’ll explore qualities like concentration, focus and receptivity with a Buddhist lens. How do these qualities affect our life, and what contributes to reliably accessing them, both within and beyond formal meditation. This talk was given Sunday, May 27.

The Virtue of Practicing with Sangha

This week we have been on Denkoe Sesshin, with up to 25 people practicing in the zendo in the evenings. Kakumyo explores the value of this in his talk on Sunday. This talk was given Sunday, April 22.

Willingness to Change

Kakumyo looks at how we work with well-established karma and confusion. He consults the Samanaphala Sutra for help. This talk was given Sunday, March 18.

Awe, Insight, Immediacy

As the stream of life flows through awareness, some moments stand out as being more meaningful, impactful, or important. We may assume that it’s because of the content of what we’re aware of, but usually, it’s not. How do we cultivate experiences of awe, insight and immediacy in our daily life? This talk was given […]

Past the Mirror

Beyond the karmic mirror, we find that enlightenment is communal. Kakumyo speaks of preference and renunciation in a spiritual community. This talk was given Sunday, January 28.

The Process of Karma

We often put karmic themes and their resolution in a vague category that adds lots of extra noise and opinion and dilutes the teaching about how to affect change. This Sunday the talk will focus on some specifics about seeing through our afflicted habit patterns. This talk was given Sunday, October 1.

Stretching Awareness

We want to be “more” aware, but doing so is not actually a process of becoming aware of more. It’s more a matter of lessening the obstacles to awareness. As we clarify mind, the play of arising phenomena includes some that were previously submerged. On Sunday we explore this dynamic, and see how it might […]

The Slippery Slope of Enlightenment

A question we often get asked is “what is enlightenment,” followed closely by “how do I get it?” Kakumyo explores this realm in his Sunday talk. Come see whether he actually answers these perennial questions. This talk was given Sunday, July 2.

Devotion to Ango

Kakumyo will talk about the closing of term, the power of intention, and the fraility of intention and how they might relate to each other. This talk was given Sunday, May 28.

Receiving Buddha Nature

Sometimes it can be hard to receive a significant gift graciously. We squirm, we deflect, we point out pitfalls, we imagine inadequacies, both in the gift, and in our worthiness. The teachings of the third turning of the wheel that describe our buddha nature, are one of these significant gifts. Kakumyo explores this symptom and […]

Recognizing Impermanence

Kakumyo offers a preview of one of the themes of the upcoming Prajnaparamita (perfection of wisdom) seminary class. He looks at the core Buddhist teaching that everything is changing, the process of coming to deeper appreciation of this fact, and what it means for navigating the world. This talk was given Sunday, February 5.


On December 18, 2016, Kakumyo ended his kessei term with a Jodo ceremony. It began with a procession from Uji to the Sodo.     Once at the Sodo, Kakumyo took off his regular gold kesa, and put on a new brown one. The hall was filled with sangha members, lay disciples, DRZC lay and […]

Kessei Jodo Ceremony

This Sunday marks the end of Kakumyo’s Kessei term, the year of “abbot-with-training-wheels.” As with the shuso term, it ends with a testing ceremony, like Ko’in did last week. He will present several verses, and then those in attendance have an opportunity to ask a question. If Kakumyo passes, he is then qualified to become […]

Meeting Ill-Will

This Sunday, Kakumyo will explore how we can look at the election in dharmic terms. Who are we now? Personally and collectively we are challenged to respond with clarity and integrity. What support, direction and perspective does Buddhism offer at this time? What might apply to us as individuals, as a temple, as members of […]

Turmoil from Election

I’ve been asked many times in the last couple of days how Buddhists (should, could, and do) respond to political and social traumas. I’d like to respond while this issue is fresh because I think the answer will be different a month from now. Buddhists tend to get the difference between pain (ouch) and suffering […]


At last weeks Sangha Forum, members requested an opportunity to talk more about succession, the abbot’s role, how this might look and why it matters. This week, Kakumyo will speak briefly about his perspective here, and then invite questions. This talk was given on Sunday, October 23.

Zen Meditation, Part 4

Zazen is widely recognized as our core practice, but a small percentage of available teaching minutes are allocated to how-to instruction. Why is that, how do we answer the questions we have about meditation, and what questions do we need to have about meditation? Come Sunday to find out. This talk was given Sunday, September […]


We are on Genzo-e Sesshin this week, studying Dogen’s fascicle Avalokiteshvara. In this talk, Kakumyo explores the interplay of witnessing and immediacy – how close do we get to our own experience? How many kinds of closeness are there? This talk was given Sunday, July 31.

Gyokuko and Others to March in Pride Parade

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 […]

Wise Discernment and Other May Sit Events

We encounter lots of subtle puzzles in practice and complex problems in life. We want clarity about how to navigate these skillfully. When we do, it’s deeply rewarding. Wise discernment is how we get there. On Sunday, we’ll explore what questions are helpful, who asks them, and how to appreciate the asking. Join us this […]

One Teacher, Many Traditions

Last month, Maitripa held an event that featured Thubten Chodron (a Tibetan teacher) and Bhante Seelawimala (a Theravadin teacher). A dialogue on Sunday morning was facilitated by Kakumyo Lowe-Charde (our very own Zen teacher). It was videotaped, and, as Kakumyo says, “this portion contains the juicy parts.” Check out the video.

Ascending the Mountain Ceremony

On February 7, 2016, Kakumyo Lowe-Charde was installed as Co-Abbot Pro Tem. This begins his kessei term, where he serves as co-abbot, training his own shuso, for a period of 11 months, when he will be tested. More than 80 people witnessed at least some part of this ceremony, many participating in it in various […]

Shin San Shiki – Ascending the Mountain

This Sunday, February 7, a special ceremony will take the place of the usual Sunday service and Dharma Talk. It includes a procession where the incoming Co-Abbot Pro Tem arrives at the temple, doing bows, intoning dharma phrases, and is greeted by the sangha amidst much ceremonial. The procession includes temple officers and representatives from […]

The Palette of Practice

This Sunday Kakumyo will speak about his upcoming kessei term as part of the preparation for becoming co-abbot. His taking up this challenge suggests a question for all of us: How do we blend the depth of insight and the routine of integrity with the complexities and inadequacies of our embodied lives? Drawing beauty from […]

Founders Day

Once a year we hold an all-night vigil in honor of our founders Keido Chisan and Jiyu Kennet, both of whom died during the first week of November. This year, for the first time, we will hold this vigil in the Sodo, as we carry their work forward. Morning service on Sunday will be a […]

The Possibility of Ease

In zen practice we often try ‘to come back to center,’ or ‘to calm down,’ or ‘to open up,’ because if we’re in such a state then our thought, speech and action causes less problems. These kinds of shorthands refer to varieties of experience that we’ve learned to trust. But isn’t that conditioning? A subtle […]

The Trouble with Equanimity

Buddha saw that attachment led to suffering, and taught equanimity as an antidote. He was deeply committed to this effort. It’s easy to lose the deep commitment when we’re trying to lose the attachment. On Sunday we’ll look at how we relate to and practice equanimity, and how the likely mistakes and appropriate corrections look […]

What’s Before

We all share a yearning to feel harmony within ourselves, with our relations, and with the situation around us. We find as we try to express this yearning that the sense of congruence and alignment comes and goes. Stepping onto this path of practice we notice and gradually shift behaviors so that that congruence happens […]

What’s the Formula?

When we’ve tasted the benefits of something that we care about, it’s normal to want to get more of it or make it work better. In the practice sphere, this impulse can show up as trying to figure out the right way to practice: What are the key ingredients to produce compassion, wisdom, equanimity? (And […]

Mirrors, Mirages and Dreams

Many Zen metaphors point to the insubstantiality of reality and our attempts to fix it. Zen practice offers a kind of clarity and centeredness to one’s life that comes from a lots of determined looking at what is. But all that looking doesn’t tell us what it is, in fact, it does quite the opposite. […]

Birth, Death, and Cold Feet

Now that we’re sitting on-site, sometimes the zendo is cold in the mornings. Discomfort arises. What then? Buddhism has a long history of mining this dilemma. We’ll look at some of these approaches and how this applies to the rest of life. This talk was given on Sunday, April 12.

Optimism and Emptiness

Last Sunday we celebrated our annual Nehan Festival, and Gyokuko gave the Dharma Talk. This week Kakumyo picks up two themes that Gyokuko talked about, and explores them further. This talk was given Sunday, February 15.

What is Trust?

One of the fruits of spiritual practice is that we trust those around us. It’s not that we become gullible, but we see more layers. It’s important to look at trust because we tend to undervalue its place in our lives. This talk explored who trusts, and where that trust lands, rather than how we […]

Novelty, Familiarity and This

If you watch your mind with any regularity, you’ve noticed that awareness is heightened when we realize that things are not as we expect, and is lowered when we perceive things as routine. But, like all generalizations, there are exceptions. Understanding these provides some useful handholds for practice. This talk was given on Sunday, November […]

Just Over the Next Ridge

People often use the metaphor of climbing a mountain when describing spiritual practice. For example: “there are many paths but they lead up the same mountain.” There are number of problems with this view. The main one is that spiritual attainment has many different facets, and we confuse ourselves by rolling them together. “Mountain” might […]


This Dharma Talk is about Gratitude. Kakumyo finds much to be thankful for. The talk was given on Sunday, August 10.

Recognizing Responsibility

Holding awareness that “This is not mine. This is not my self. This is not what I am” is a classic meditation on anatta, the lack of an independent self. Gradually we learn to hold the self more lightly. But without a self, where does responsibility or integrity land? We’ll explore how agency and choice […]

Being a Good Lamp

Shakyamuni encouraged all of us to be a lamp unto ourselves; to steadily notice what is wholesome, and how we are affected, as we try to walk this spiritual path. How does this advice intertwine with Buddhism’s reliance on those who have gone before to point the way? We’re confronted with the choice to engage […]

Founders’ Day Talk

On Sunday November 3rd, our Founders’ Day Festival, Kakumyo Lowe-Charde spoke about the three figures honored on our Founder’s shrine, exploring the particular juxtaposition of confidence and humility in their lives and practice as well as in our relation to them as individuals and archetypes. Those three are Keido Chisan Koho Zenji, Houn Jiyu Kennet Roshi, and Nyogen […]

DharmaTalk – The Awesome Presence of Active Buddhas

We are on silent retreat this week, studying the Dogen Shobogenzo fascicle “Gyobutso Yuigi,” the Awesome Presence of Active Buddhas. The focus of the sesshin is to sustain practice during an intensive period, acting out our Buddhahood in the meditation, disciplines and rituals of a traditional Zen retreat. Sesshin gathers our intention in a resolute […]