“Kyogen” Tag

The Liturgical Calendar

At this week’s Dharma Talk, we played a recording of a talk given by Kyogen. He discussed our liturgical calendar, and the seasons and teachings associated with each part of it. He then focused specifically on the upcoming Denkoe retreat, and the study of the Denkoroku. This very special Dharma Talk allowed us to hear […]

Saying Yes to What Is Ours to Do

A recurring theme in Kyogen’s Dharma Talks was finding or discovering what is ours to do. This Sunday David Choten Robinson will present a student talk on how his practice and work with this theme informed his ability to meet opportunities and challenges while living in Uganda in 2012. This talk was given January 31.

Anniversary Commemoration of Kyogen’s Death

Plans are shaping up for an anniversary commemoration of Kyogen’s death on Saturday, September 19. We will have a brief ceremony at 3pm, followed by music, and then break for barbecue and softball practice (no actual diamond, but playing catch, etc.). It will probably go to around 7pm or whenever it gets dark. You would […]

49-Day Memorial for Houn Kyogen Carlson

On November 6, 2014, we held a 49-Day Memorial for Kyogen Carlson. More than 300 people, including out-of-state special guest teachers, attended this event in downtown Portland at the First Unitarian Church.           A table in the front showed some of Kyogen’s Dharma Implements. Left, Kakumyo began the ceremony with a brief […]

Birth, Death, and the Bardo Plane

by Kyogen Carlson Editor’s Note: This is an edited transcription of the first talk given after we moved from the southeast Madison St location to meeting at the Jason Lee Elementary School cafeteria June 15, 2014. Kyogen died suddenly September 18, 2014. Transcribed by Jeff Stookey, and edited by Genko Rainwater. We have many people […]

Kyogen’s 49-Day Memorial Ceremony

On Thursday, November 6, at 7pm, we will do the 49-Day Memorial Service for Abbot Kyogen Carlson. This will be at the First Unitarian Church downtown at 1211 SW Main St. There is limited street parking, but there are pay lots across the street and nearby. We encourage carpools and alternative transportation when possible. Many […]

Kyogen’s Funeral

On Sunday, September 21, morning service attracted well over 100 people (we usually have about 40-50). Kyogen did his last Shosan ceremony, with the answers in silence. For the afternoon Memorial Ceremony, the guest book recorded more than 150 names, and best estimates were that 200 people came. The ceremony, even though none of us […]

In Memoriam

Our beloved Abbot Kyogen Carlson passed away about 9am Thursday, September 18 from a massive heart attack. Several teachers, disciples, and members held vigil at the hospital most of yesterday. People are welcome to come by the 85th St house (3155 NE 85th Avenue) to share stories, food, or just sit as needed. This Sunday, […]

Is Nothing Sacred?

    What is “sacred?” Why have we human beings, throughout our existence on this earth, nearly universally created rituals and images invoking the sacred? How do we use the word today, and just what does it really mean? What then, if anything, fits that definition? Does Buddhism, specifically Zen, point us toward the sacred? What […]

This Old Heap

A “being,” according to the Buddha, is made up of “aggregates,” or “heaps.” These, of course, are common translations for the Buddhist term “skandha,” which originally could refer to a “mass,” “heap,” “pile,” “gathering,” “bundle” or even “tree trunk.” So, we are an amalgamation of changeable things, in five layers from “form,” the body, to […]

Birth, Death, and the Bardo Plane

We had our first Sunday morning service at Jason Lee Elementary School on June 15. This week marked the first Sunday completely moved out of where we have been practicing for decades. We are in temporary spaces waiting construction of our new home, which is well on its way. The sometimes-chaotic process of moving out […]

Denkoe Dharma Talk

A Talk by Kyogen Carlson on Koun Ejo and the Denkoroku Note: Dharma Talks during the Denkoe Sesshin are usually reserved for those attending the retreat. This year the Wednesday talk was open to anyone who wished to attend, and Kyogen included information on Keizan and the context for the creation of the Denkoroku. On […]

God Help Us! Part Two

On April 6, 2014, Gyokuko spoke about prayer and devotion in Zen Buddhism. On April 13, Kyogen continued that theme with more on prayer, and also on faith, trust, belief, and other elements of spiritual life. He drew on his conversation with Evangelicals and other Christians about what non-theistic religion can look like. Listen to […]

Dharma Talk – Who Knows?

When we announced the Dharma Talk for Sunday March 2nd, Co-abbot Kyogen Carlson was pondering several topics. One was, literally “Who Knows?” After some deliberation, he stuck with that subject, using the koan, “Dizang’s Not Knowing is Most Intimate” and other stories from The Book of Serenity.” To listen to this Dharma Talk, click here.

Personal Koans

Transcript of a Dharma Talk by Kyogen Carlson “Koan” is the Japanese pronunciation of the Chinese word “kung-an,” which means public record. This was a Chinese legal term that referred to records of cases that set precedent, like “case law.” In the Zen tradition, koans are records of particular events such as an exchange between master […]

Precepts as Path

Kyogen Carlson Note: the following has been used as a hand-out for Precept classes at Dharma Rain Zen Center for a number of years In the linage tradition handed down to me from Jiyu Kennett Roshi and Chisan Koho Zenji, the Sixteen Bodhisattva Precepts are more than just a foundation for practice. They are complete […]

Intelligence or Lack of It is Not an Issue

Kyogen Carlson (This Dharma talk, transcribed by Jill Bukkai Washburn, was given in March, 1999.) Homage to the Buddha, Homage to the Dharma, Homage to the Sangha. As some of you know, at least those of you who are familiar with my talks, I can’t go too long without using either an animal story or […]

Dongshan is Unwell

Case 94 in the Book of Serenity tells of a time when Master Dongshan (Tozan Ryokai) was very ill. A monk came to him and asked, “Is there someone who does not get ill?” Donshan answered, “There is,” and the dialog goes on from there. Does this contradict the First Noble Truth? What’s going on […]

Thanksgiving Remembrance

Kyogen Carlson I realized the other day that Thanksgiving this year is also the 18th anniversary of my mother’s passing. It’s odd that I don’t recall that she died so close to Thanksgiving. The holiday had been five days before that year, and I have no memory of it at all. In looking for old […]

The Precious Mirror Samadhi

Part of our regular Sunday morning chanting service, “The Precious Mirror Samadhi” by Dongshan Liangjie (Tozan Ryokai) is compelling, beautiful, and most find it utterly mysterious. With imagery like “a silver bowl filled with snow,” and references to “the Illumination hexagram,” it is an utterly Chinese expression of Dharma. Related to and developed from the […]

On Segaki

From our Archives – an article printed years ago, and used as a handout – By Kyogen Carlson Next to Jukai, which comes every spring, Segaki is the most important festival on our calendar. The name “Segaki” means “feeding the hungry ghosts,” and the rituals and practices done for this festival contain a great deal […]

A Quantum Theory of Dharmas

From our Archives: an article by Kyogen  Carlson Based on a Dharma Talk Kyogen gave at Dharma Rain  Zen Center August 15, 2010 and published in Still Point May 2011. I had a conversation with a sangha member a few years ago. He said he had been looking at his life, at all his difficulties […]

Standing Up To Coal

Last Monday, September 23rd, a group from the Lummi Tribe on the Washington coast came through Portland with totem pole 22 feet high carved by elder Jewell Praying Wolf James, who is accompanying it on a journey from eastern Montana to Vancouver BC. Some years ago the Lummi started a tradition of taking poles to places […]

The Meaning of Life

No, this is not a Monty Python sketch, or anything like that, although bringing up the issue, these days, is taken as absurd. Not long ago I found myself telling someone that you can, in fact, discover the meaning of life, or at least your deeper purpose. However, when you do you will find it […]