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Joan Sutherland Roshi

Discussions of Zen stemming from the Sanbyo Kyodan School founded by Yatsutani Roshi.

Joan Sutherland Roshi

Postby Carol on Tue Mar 26, 2013 4:21 pm

I just returned from a 3-day retreat in Sante Fe with Joan ... and was utterly amazed at how she is teaching. She called it "lunar dharma" and it was like thirst-quenching water in the desert for me... someone speaking my language so deeply that it was like hearing my deepest inner self speaking. She works with koans and dreams in a group setting. Deep powerful stuff. Subterranean, not mainstream Buddhism, subversive. Uncompromising in her call to go all in, leave nothing out, embrace the darkness that contains the light, to see what is alive and what lights up for you.

Here is the poem from Ikkyu she gave to us to work with:

only one koan matters

you

you stand inside me naked infinite love

the dawn bell rips my dreaming heart

we're lost where the mind can't find us

utterly lost

~Ikkyu
trans. Stephen Berg


I was profoundly moved and will go back. I offer this to others who may be interested. Awakened Life is the school she founded, about which she says on the website:

Awakened Life is a re-imagining of the Zen koan tradition that is rooted in its original values: life as a process of awakening; meditation, inquiry, imagination, and relationship as ways to discover and deepen that awakening; and creativity and caring for our world as the natural expression of awakening. We believe that Buddha nature is everywhere, and so we value the art and the metaphors, the myths and the landscapes of this time and place. Awakened Life is a constantly evolving field of practice, shaped by the experiences of people right here and now. Enlightenment as a conspiracy of friends.


(I'm putting this in the "Sanbo Kyodan Zen" section because it's a "catch-all" for the various lineages that have come down from Yasutani Roshi and Harada Roshi, who blended Rinzai koan practice with Soto Zen. Joan Sutherland received Dharma transmission from John Tarrant Roshi, who received dharma transmission from Robert Aitken Roshi, who was a student of Yasutani Roshi & received dharma transmission from Yamada Koun Roshi after Yasutani's death.

You can see the various branching streams of the Harada-Yasutani line here.)
Practitioners who cultivate the personal realization of buddha knowledge dwell in the bliss of whatever is present and do not abandon their practice.
~Lankavatara Sutra
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Re: Joan Sutherland Roshi

Postby ed blanco on Tue Mar 26, 2013 5:48 pm

Wow
:O:
IT SPEAKS IN SILENCE
IN SPEECH YOU HEAR ITS SILENCE

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Re: Joan Sutherland Roshi

Postby desert_woodworker on Tue Mar 26, 2013 5:59 pm

Wow, yes!

You've lit up this Astronomer's sky, Carol.

Thank you!

And, welcome home,

--Joe
"The abundance of Nature is not a matter of its 'providing' ". -- William James, c. 1901.

"Least said is soonest disavowed". -- Ambrose Bierce (c. 1900)

"Politeness: noun. The most acceptable hypocrisy." -- Ambrose Bierce, The Devil's Dictionary
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Re: Joan Sutherland Roshi

Postby Pedestrian on Tue Mar 26, 2013 6:02 pm

"Enlightenment as a conspiracy of friends."

You, me, ants, sticks, grizzly bears!

Gassho!
"Buddha, to liberate beings, cultivates practices everywhere." Avatamsaka Sutra.

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Re: Joan Sutherland Roshi

Postby unsui on Tue Mar 26, 2013 6:03 pm

I guess I am slow. I don't see how this jibes with Buddhism at all. Maybe this could be explained?
May we extend This Mind over the whole universe so that we and all beings together may attain maturity in Buddha's wisdom
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Re: Joan Sutherland Roshi

Postby fukasetsu on Tue Mar 26, 2013 6:07 pm

unsui wrote:I guess I am slow. I don't see how this jibes with Buddhism at all. Maybe this could be explained?


Endorfines, euphoria, ze dope of mind :PP:
Differences are never in opposition.
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Re: Joan Sutherland Roshi

Postby Carol on Tue Mar 26, 2013 6:13 pm

unsui wrote:I guess I am slow. I don't see how this jibes with Buddhism at all. Maybe this could be explained?


Probably not. :)

Although she does give some orientation/explanation in an article in the current issue of Buddhadharma -- excerpt here
Practitioners who cultivate the personal realization of buddha knowledge dwell in the bliss of whatever is present and do not abandon their practice.
~Lankavatara Sutra
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Re: Joan Sutherland Roshi

Postby unsui on Tue Mar 26, 2013 6:25 pm

Carol wrote:
unsui wrote:I guess I am slow. I don't see how this jibes with Buddhism at all. Maybe this could be explained?


Probably not. :)

Oh well. :cry:
May we extend This Mind over the whole universe so that we and all beings together may attain maturity in Buddha's wisdom
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Re: Joan Sutherland Roshi

Postby unsui on Tue Mar 26, 2013 6:28 pm

Carol wrote:Although she does give some orientation/explanation in an article in the current issue of Buddhadharma -- excerpt here

Thank-you.
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Re: Joan Sutherland Roshi

Postby Carol on Tue Mar 26, 2013 6:36 pm

Unsui -- You know the koan about the teaching runs upside down? Turning things inside out, upside down, is essential to the practice as Joan is teaching it.

One of the many remarkable things she talked about in her Dharma talks was the conversation between Bodhidharma and Emperor Wu -- "the Buddha Heart Emperor." She said it is very important to see it from the perspective of the Buddha Heart Emperor as well. It's not just a one-sided conversation. We usually just focus on what Bodhidharma said: "Vast Emptiness, nothing holy" ... "no merit" ... "don't know." But, she said that the emperor's question is essential for all of us and that essentially he is asking "What do we do?" How can we embrace the vast broken heart of the world with our practice? She says it's like the Chinese character of the heart with 2 doors -- one to the vast emptiness and one to the world of particular things ... not two.
Practitioners who cultivate the personal realization of buddha knowledge dwell in the bliss of whatever is present and do not abandon their practice.
~Lankavatara Sutra
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Re: Joan Sutherland Roshi

Postby ed blanco on Tue Mar 26, 2013 7:03 pm

This might be a Rinzai dialogue, but very stimulating.
Now Bodhidharma also said "direct transmission" which seems to place that dialogue right in the Buddhist path.
Joan roshi here is remarkable.
Just saying.
:O:
IT SPEAKS IN SILENCE
IN SPEECH YOU HEAR ITS SILENCE

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Re: Joan Sutherland Roshi

Postby Carol on Tue Mar 26, 2013 7:20 pm

She gave us three other koans as well:

You can't light a lamp -- there's no oil in the house.
It's a shame to want a light.
I have a way to bless this poverty
Just feel your way along the wall.


~Yinyuan Longqi

In the dark, darken further.

~Daodejing

When Qiyuan Xinggang had a prfound opening, her teacher asked, "What was it like when you were gestating the spiritual embryo?"
She replied, "It solidified, deep and solitary."
When you gave birth, what was it like?"
"Being stripped completely bare."
"What about when you met the Ancestor?"
"I met the Ancestor face to face."
Practitioners who cultivate the personal realization of buddha knowledge dwell in the bliss of whatever is present and do not abandon their practice.
~Lankavatara Sutra
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Re: Joan Sutherland Roshi

Postby desert_woodworker on Tue Mar 26, 2013 7:25 pm

Carol,

Yow!

That's my (non-Chinese) comment. ;-)

--Joe

PS Truly lovely and visceral lines. Thank you, thank you.

Carol wrote:She gave us three other koans as well:

"The abundance of Nature is not a matter of its 'providing' ". -- William James, c. 1901.

"Least said is soonest disavowed". -- Ambrose Bierce (c. 1900)

"Politeness: noun. The most acceptable hypocrisy." -- Ambrose Bierce, The Devil's Dictionary
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Re: Joan Sutherland Roshi

Postby Carol on Tue Mar 26, 2013 7:39 pm

unsui wrote:
Carol wrote:Although she does give some orientation/explanation in an article in the current issue of Buddhadharma -- excerpt here

Thank-you.


You are welcome. I can't say anything more about it. I need to sit with it and I have work to do. But wanted to call attention to this amazing teacher for those who might benefit. Here is the letter/invitation that went out for this retreat. (This was Joan's return to teaching after several months of debilitating illness.)

Joan Sutherland wrote:Dear Companions :

There are times in our lives of almost profligate vitality, when pretty much
anything seems possible. There are others when limitation arrives, and suddenly
not much at all seems possible, but out of the stripping away and the fierce
discipline of such a time can come a great gift : a turn of necessity, born of limits,
toward allegiance to the most beloved thing.

This retreat at the vernal equinox in the year of the snake marks such a turn
in our practice of the Way. Having dreamed and made manifest so much in the
last five years, having created such an abundant and powerful field of practice
together, we enter a new time : time for us to concentrate our energies in the
transformative depths and to keep faith with what we find there, where our
individual vows meet and match the universe’s vow. This is the promise of our
tradition and has always been walking toward us; now those of us who wish to
will commit to walking out, alone and together, to meet it. Nothing more,
nothing extra … and nothing less.

We have what we need : We have the ancestors, and each other, and
trustworthy ways to enter those deep places and recognize the most beloved. All
we have to do is make the commitment to see it through — not simply for our
own benefit, but to find out what the bodhisattva vow becomes when our faces
are turned toward the vastness.

If something in what I’m saying speaks to you and you want to find out more,
please join me for this spring retreat, a ceremony of renewal held on an ancient
platform. All the elements we’re familiar with — meditation koans dreaming
dharma talks landscape ceremony conversation silence — will come
together in both customary and fresh ways to open this new time.
(If it all sounds a bit scary, great : that means it matters. Add some breath and
see if anxiety becomes excitement, or at least cautious curiosity.)

I’d like as many people as possible to participate so that we can begin
together and move quickly ahead, as I honestly don’t know how much future
stretches in front of us. The only limit on participation is how many people can
fit into the space, and costs will be kept to a minimum. Please bring yr own
lunch on Saturday, and the teachings will be provided for dana. Inexpensive
overnight accommodations are available at Mountain Cloud, and we welcome
out-of-towners. Everyone needs to attend full-time.

What I most deeply want to offer — the most beloved thing — has become
all that I’m able to offer. Nothing more, nothing extra, and nothing less. I hope
you’ll join me, and we continue to walk this Way together.

Warm blessings in a cold season

Joan Sutherland
Practitioners who cultivate the personal realization of buddha knowledge dwell in the bliss of whatever is present and do not abandon their practice.
~Lankavatara Sutra
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Re: Joan Sutherland Roshi

Postby unsui on Tue Mar 26, 2013 9:00 pm

Most certainly a moving invitation. I would be honored if you share reflections as they show up, if they aren't too personal.
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Re: Joan Sutherland Roshi

Postby littletsu on Wed Mar 27, 2013 1:58 am

What is the meaning of the Ancestor?
合うは別れの始めだ。
有燈就有人。
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Re: Joan Sutherland Roshi

Postby Carol on Wed Mar 27, 2013 2:00 am

littletsu wrote:What is the meaning of the Ancestor?


The Buddha.
Practitioners who cultivate the personal realization of buddha knowledge dwell in the bliss of whatever is present and do not abandon their practice.
~Lankavatara Sutra
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Re: Joan Sutherland Roshi

Postby another_being on Wed Mar 27, 2013 2:43 am

Very interesting!

In the dark, darken further.

~Daodejing


I've never come across this before. I'm curious about the translation.

Thank you, Carol.

:Namaste:
"Some people think they are enlightened, some people think they are not enlightened." -- Denko
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Re: Joan Sutherland Roshi

Postby ed blanco on Wed Mar 27, 2013 5:42 pm

only one koan matters

you

you stand inside me naked infinite love

the dawn bell rips my dreaming heart

we're lost where the mind can't find us

utterly lost

~Ikkyu

This has been on my mind since I saw it yesterday.
At first it was tension in me, my absolute vs my relative; from an individual perspective, I am the koan: "infinite naked love" does stand in me constantly and many dawns have ripped my "dreaming heart' into cold reality. It is what I want. Not a romatic any longer. Intimate, self contained.
It will have to remain that way.
It has to now since I copied and pasted to various friends not all of which are romantics.
One answered "sexyyyy".
I said whoaaa. My teacher might not "get" this.
:hide:
IT SPEAKS IN SILENCE
IN SPEECH YOU HEAR ITS SILENCE

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Re: Joan Sutherland Roshi

Postby Carol on Wed Mar 27, 2013 6:36 pm

ed blanco wrote:only one koan matters

you

you stand inside me naked infinite love

the dawn bell rips my dreaming heart

we're lost where the mind can't find us

utterly lost

~Ikkyu

This has been on my mind since I saw it yesterday.
At first it was tension in me, my absolute vs my relative; from an individual perspective, I am the koan: "infinite naked love" does stand in me constantly and many dawns have ripped my "dreaming heart' into cold reality. It is what I want. Not a romatic any longer. Intimate, self contained.
It will have to remain that way.
It has to now since I copied and pasted to various friends not all of which are romantics.
One answered "sexyyyy".
I said whoaaa. My teacher might not "get" this.
:hide:


Who is the "you" in the koan? "You stand inside me naked infinite love."
Practitioners who cultivate the personal realization of buddha knowledge dwell in the bliss of whatever is present and do not abandon their practice.
~Lankavatara Sutra
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