Date of Next Retreat:
Saturday, January 26, 2019
8:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. (Central)
I really enjoyed today's session. I'll hopefully be able to participate in the next one as well.
I enjoyed the Song of Zazen and your comments about it.
A concentrated period of applying yourself to your meditation will pay off in increased skill, a quieter mind, reduced karma. A half-day is a small commitment of time and can make a big difference in moving your practice forward. Practice requires practice.
Click on the link below to open the slide presentation from the retreat. This presentation contains the slimmed-down notes on Hakuin's Zazen Wasan
Click on the next link to open the larger commentary by Jack Risk on Hakuin's Zazen Wasan
Click on the link below to open the slides from the retreat on Cultivaging Quiescence that was held in Winnipeg July 21 and 22, 2017.
In this retreat I am well aware that I was presenting a lot of material and that some of it was a bit complicated. However, my attitude was that I might not get another chance to work with the people in Winnipeg and I wanted to leave them with principles that would stand them in good stead.
The section on the benefits of meditation ought to provide you with some motivation. Don’t turn these into goals or you will short circuit your meditation by striving to attain something, i.e. letting your meditation be steered by desire and willfulness. Just keep meditating.
Stability and clarity are the criteria against which to evaluate your meditation. You need both.
The concepts of laxity and excitation provide you with tools to work with in your meditation. Meditation is a matter of balance — as soon as you veer off course in either direction you are in for trouble. Of course, we all do on a regular basis but it doesn’t take much to recognize that this is where we are falling short. If you are able, for a while, to maintain the point of balance between laxity and excitation, you will almost certainly notice the sorts of things that can happen in that meditative state. As well, you will be helped to make quick progress in your practice.
The list of the nine stages of progress in meditation is the work of scholars in a university setting — Buddhist universities in which thousands of students practiced on a daily basis. As such, it is hair-splittingly precise. Please, don’t waste much time trying to fit yourself into the list. But it is good to look it over on an occasional basis to see whether and where you are making progress.
Almost all of what is in our minds is karma — the accumulation of experience and memory. Thoughts and emotions arise on a continual basis and are fuelled by karma. Virtually always, they are problematic and unhelpful. They keep us rooted in the past. The best thing to do is to get out of them. This allows the healing process to take place unfettered. It also permits the underlying goodness of our natures (buddhanature; prevenient grace for Christians) to emerge and for our lives to be changed by it. To get out of thoughts and emotions learn to hold the attention on “sheer awareness and sheer clarity of experience.” Some might call this “nothing in particular.” As the mind begins to settle down and become quieter you will be able to see more clearly the extent to which you can hold the mind in balance. Hold it in balance and pay attention only to the work of keeping it there. This is practice.
Click on the link below to open the slides from the retreat on the Heart Sutra that was held April 29 and 30, 2016 at St. Matthew's West End Commons.
Click on the link below to open the slides from the compassion training workshop/meditation retreat that was held on February 26 and 27, 2016 at St. Matthew's West End Commons.
The linked document provides notes on:
This is a classic written in the seventh century by the Third Patriarch of Chinese Chan Buddhism. You can find an interesting set of materials about the poem at http://www.sacred-texts.com/bud/zen/fm/fm.htm.
You can view the slides for Jack's talks.
Small Group Discussion Sessions
Slides to Guide Discussion
Friday Evening: What do you like best about your meditation practice?
Friday Evening: How has your meditation practice changed you or your life for the better?
Saturday Morning: Share an interesting meditation insight
Saturday Morning: Share a story of healing
Saturday Afternoon: A difficulty in meditation encountered by members of the group
Sunday: Discuss the quotation below in light of your own practice.
It is not necessary to try to discard the mind of a sentient being. And searching for something like “correct” dharma [teaching] is also a big mistake. Simply strive to keep your true self from becoming defiled—that is all. “Seeking” and “discarding” are both mistakes.
Mirror of Zen
Sunday: What changes could you make to your daily life that would aid your meditation practice?
Daily practice is not enough. You need periodic, concentrated practice as well....Group practice provides a safe, focused environment where practitioners can help each other.
Kentville, Nova Scotia, Canada
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