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May '19 Newsletter

Monthly Teaching from Seiso Sensei:
 

EMPTINESS

By: Rev. Seiso Paul Cooper, Sensei

 

I would like to speak about the central Buddhist notion of Sunyata or emptiness. That is what the Heart Sutra is about. Zen is often referred to as the Emptiness School.

 

We don’t actually perceive emptiness. Perceive here meaning we don’t perceive emptiness with our senses because it's a non-sensuous aspect of reality. It is the formless identity of form just as form is the sense appearance of formlessness. We live emptiness. We are emptiness. We intuit emptiness through prajna or intuited wisdom. Sometimes, sunyata is translated as “voidness.” Recently, it has been translated as “boundlessness.” I like the more poetic term: “Infinite Becoming” because it captures the ongoing movement and creative openness and impermanence of lived being. 

 

Here is a basic definition: Emptiness refers to the fact that all phenomena arise dependent on causes and conditions. Nothing exists separately, independently, permanently, or eternally. There is no “own existence,” no essence, no “soul.” No fixed point, no fixed self. Everything rises and falls subject to causes and conditions. We are “empty” of inherently existing self.

 

Zen Buddhists talk about emptiness as suchness, is-ness, “being-as-it is", “that which is it", Zen, tathagatas, Buddha-nature, infinite becoming, pregnant gourd, spaciousness. For example, no fixed self or no fixed point; only the sense of self that rises contextually dependent on causes and conditions. In different contexts the “I-sense” or “me-sense” emerges and functions differently. Right now I am a Zen priest and you relate to me as such and I function as such. I am also husband, brother, father, psychoanalyst, friend and will respond and function as such. When you call Seiso Sensei, I will answer. When my daughter calls “Dad,” I will also respond. I am quite sure that each one of you is called by different names according to the context, and each time you answer “Yes” without fail.  

 

When we chant the Heart Sutra, we speak of the five skandas. They include form, feelings, perceptions, habit formations and consciousnesses. How they come together and function in any given moment creates the causes and conditions of our moment-to-moment identity.

Sekkei Harada Roshi notes that the shifts occur at a rate of 900 times a second!

 

He also notes that: “Just as “mu” (nothingness) is beyond existence and non-existence, we must be careful not to think that “ku” (emptiness) is a description of a condition where something that should exist does not. Neither is it the description of a state that, in dualistic terms, is empty in the sense of being vacant or hollow. It is the emptiness of emptiness, it is the emptiness of the circumstances of any situation, and it is the emptiness of yourself. (The Essence of Zen: The Teachings of Sekkei Harada (p. 97). 

 

Similarly, just as emptiness is beyond existence and non-existence, it is also beyond thinking and not thinking; it is, as Dogen notes: beyond thinking, non-thinking, that which cannot be thought. Think about it. That is why Dogen describes zazen as simultaneous practice/realization. Practice is the form or expression of realization; realization is the emptiness or formlessness of practice. Practice is already the result; the experience of what has arisen subject to causes and conditions; the present, this moment result of the activity of the skandas. Don’t take my word for it. See for yourself! Just keep practicing no matter what!

 

For All Beings

 

Sincerely,

Seiso Sensei

 

🙏🙏

 

Study and Practice with Our Teacher Seiso Sensei
Friday, May 17th evening through Sunday, May 19th noon
@ Lincoln Zen Center


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Announcements


Spring Garage Sale

Saturday, 5/4/19, 8:00 AM

We need donations as well as volunteers. Please email us to arrange donations drop-off or pick-up. The volunteer sign-up sheet is at the center. We need more helpers to clean up after the sale at 4 pm.

Another way to help is by shopping at the sale. We look forward to a successful sale.



Ryaku Fusatsu
Thursday, 5/2/19, 6: 00 PM after meditation

Ryaku Fusatsu, traditionally the Full Moon Bodhisattva Ceremony, is practiced monthly by Zen groups throughout the world. This age-old tradition finds its roots with the historical Buddha Shakyamuni and provides a wonderful occasion to appreciate the precepts in shared group practice. Repentance and renewal of our practice vows are the core themes, which are central and help to keep our practice vital, meaningful and alive.


T-shirts for Sale

We still have a few Lincoln Zen Center t-shirts for sale at the center, $14 each. Available in S, M or L.
 
 
Weekly Schedule

MONDAY
5:30 PM Meditation Instruction (for newcomers and first timers)   
6:00 PM Meditation 

TUESDAY
8:00 PM Meditation  (newcomer instruction available)

WEDNESDAY
1:15 PM Chanting/Meditation (new time)

THURSDAY
6:00 PM Meditation
Monthly Ryaku Fusatsu, repentance and renewal of vows after meditation: May 2nd

FRIDAY
10:30 AM Chanting/Meditation

SUNDAY
10:30 AM Meditation

Dharma Service after meditation: May 26th
 
*First timers & New Comers
If you are unable to attend the beginner's instruction on Monday nights, please email us to arrange an individual instruction session.

Donations

All classes are free and your donations help us continue this service to the community. Suggested donation is $5~$10. 

Cancellations

Due to weather related issues and other reasons, meditation or events (listed in this bulletin) may be canceled occasionally. If you are on our Facebook page, please check for announcements. Additionally, we will attempt to send out a special email ahead of time.
 
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A Welcoming Community
  

DANA [DAH-nah] (Donations)


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RYAKU FUSATSU


Monthly on announced Thursdays, see calendar on webpage
We repent and renew our vows through this monthly traditional Buddhist practice.

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LINCOLN ZEN CENTER
1232 High Street
Lincoln, NE 68502
 www.LincolnZenCenter.org


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