Dear Friends, Delaware Valley Zen Center has resumed in person practice at the New Ark United Church of Christ, 300 E Main St, Newark, DE 19711. Practice night is now, Wednesdays at 6:30pm. We will continue an online practice the 3rd Wednesday of each month and have Kong-an interviews on that night. Updates regarding the in-person practice will be sent to the current mailing list. If you wish to be added to the practice schedule email list, send an email to DVZCinfo@gmail.com and request to be added to the weekly practice update list. ”

For Newcomers 

Everyone is welcome to practice with us. 

There is no need to let us know in advance before attending regular practice. If you do, we’ll be sure to expect and welcome you. Comfortable clothing is recommended, as many of us sit on cushions on the floor. This is not required – other members prefer to sit in chairs. 

There is nothing special to know before attending. You do not need to have practiced zen or even meditated before. We can give some simple instructions before practice if anyone needs them. 

There is no charge for our regular meditation practice. We have a donation link where you may leave an anonymous donation. 

We look forward to meeting you and hope we can be helpful in some way.

 

 The Kwan Um School's Zen Centers are conducting many online  practice offerings.

Follow this link to see all of the  Kwan Um Online Practice Offerings

Zen and Kwan Um School Teaching

Great Effort

At the River Clarion

1.

I don’t know who God is exactly.

But I’ll tell you this.

I was sitting in the river named Clarion, on a

    water splashed stone

and all afternoon I listened to the voices

    of the river talking.

Whenever the water struck the stone it had

    something to say,

and the water itself, and even the mosses trailing

    under the water.

And slowly, very slowly, it became clear to me

    what they were saying.

Said the river: I am part of holiness.

And I too, said the stone. And I too, whispered

    the moss beneath the water. I’d been to the river before, a few times.

Don’t blame the river that nothing happened quickly.

You don’t hear such voices in an hour or a day.

You don’t hear them at all if selfhood has stuffed your ears.

And it’s difficult to hear anything anyway, through

    all the traffic, and ambition.

 

Oliver, Mary. Evidence . Beacon Press. 

Joni Mitchell Zen Mind

By Barry Briggs, JDPSN

Two Questions

“Zen Master Seung Sahn said there are two central questions for every human being.

Number one: What are you doing right now?

Number two: Why do that?

These two questions point to how we live our life, moment to moment, and our great vow.”

By Zen Master Dae Kwang

In the quote above, these two questions essentially ask the great question of “What am I?” This question helps to keep our mind clear. We call this our ‘inside work’.

But there are two kinds of work: Inside work and outside work. Inside work is keeping a clear mind. Outside work is cutting off selfish desires and helping others. This is Zen.

Being concerned only about inside work is not correct Zen practice. Focusing only on inside work means trying to find peace of mind only for me.

Including outside work into our individual practice means living with a direction for others and not only for myself. How can we help others? What can each one of us do that is of service?

 

Loving-Kindness Of The Bodhisattva

Real kindness is not a sentiment that arises depending on the situation and the people we are dealing with. Nor is it a reciprocity with which we show our affection to those who are sympathetic to us. Nor is it a mood that is sometimes there and sometimes not there. Kindness is a fundamental attitude in life that is based on letting go. That means, even if I have opinions, judgments, and feelings, I do not hold on to them. The truth is, whenever this I-my-me loses its focus, the connection with all beings that is already there is expressed in kindness. 

The first vow of four great vows in Zen reads: “Sentient beings are numberless, we vow to save them all.” Oddly enough, we often need to save innumerable living beings from our own ideas, opinions, and judgments rather than from their own misery. Seen in this way, the work of saving sentient beings begins with becoming aware of our own delusions. 

Retreats help us to become aware of the cause of our inadequacy in this world, which is rooted in our self-centered belief that we are separate. In a retreat, all alone in seclusion from the world and undisturbed by everyday life, we have the opportunity to touch the deeply hidden layer of our being, which we call “don’t know.” This don’t know reveals the fundamental unity of all beings in every moment of what is. And so, it unveils the hidden wonder and the mystery of being alive in this world.

“Don’t know” is kindness, and from “don’t know” the loving-kindness of the bodhisattva is born: “How can I help you?” 


Excerpt from "Are You Kind? A Story from a Solo Retreat" by Zen Master Gu Ja
Primary Point Spring 2022, Volume 39, Number
1

By Zen Master Seung Sahn

Dreams of Harada Roshi

In life we have dreams, we have hopes, we have ideals. But what does it mean to have a dream? Everything in this world is in flux. No matter how real we may think things are, everything passes. We all think our life is special, but no matter how happy we are or how much we achieve, we all die.

We live in a dream, in delusion. We can see the beautiful flowers and hear the birds’ lovely songs, but we don’t see what is alive inside that experience. We see a superficial layer of the world and acknowledge that as important. We don’t see that it’s all transient, a dream of a dream. Instead of realizing that we are living a dream, we take the superficial to be real and permanent. But in Buddhism we recognize it all as a dream and awaken to what is real.

It is not bad to have a dream. Because we dream, we can achieve things. But have humans become any better for all the things that have been discovered and created? Have our values improved? Is the world any more at peace? We chase dreams, but we forget to realize ourselves. We have to see the reality and value of who is alive right here and now. When we awaken to the splendid value of each person, we no longer need to depend on dreams and hopes and ideals. Instead, we can depend on our own life right at our very own feet.”

Seed Of Compassion And Wisdom

I don’t really think of Zen students or Zen teachers. I think of Zen practitioners. We are all practitioners, whether we practice a lot or a little. Whether as a student or a teacher, our job is to practice. For those of us who are laypeople, we will sometimes be able to practice a lot, and sometimes only a little. But we need to keep practicing. As students, that is the biggest gift we can give our sangha. As teachers, that is the bone of teaching. But how do we encourage each other?

I was going through the Kwan Um website and came across a letter that Zen Master Soeng Hyang (Barbara Rhodes) wrote to her sister in 1978, a year after receiving inka but long before she was Zen Master Soeng Hyang. She was about to sit a 100-day retreat, and her sister wanted to know why. Bobby wrote, “The world is full of suffering. How can it be stopped? Every human being has a seed of compassion and wisdom that must be very carefully nurtured. It is our responsibility to find this seed and do everything we can to make it grow.

“First, you must believe that you have this seed. Then you must ask yourself with all the strength you have, ‘What is this seed?’ If you truly search for it, you will understand that everyone is just like you. Everyone has it. You will have no more desire for yourself; you will only want to teach everyone how to find their seed.

“Enlightenment is believing in yourself. Enlightenment is finding your seed. But your job is not over yet. Your mind must become strong enough to be totally wise and compassionate moment to moment in any situation.”

So that’s what we need to do: find that seed and nourish it to flower into compassion. To see this seed in others so that, without our having to say anything directly, their own seed is encouraged to flower.

That’s what Zen Master Seung Sahn was like. He didn’t have to say it directly, but it was clear that he really believed in us. And that’s what we have to offer each other: to really believe in each other. To believe in our don’t-know mind, our strong center, our direction. To believe in our Buddha nature: yours, mine, everyone’s. To me, that’s the essence of being a Zen student: practicing and nourishing that seed in ourselves and in everyone else

By Zen Master Bon Hae

 

Imbalance is our world’s sickness: how can we cure it? Balance means understanding the truth. If you have no wisdom, you cannot become balanced. It is very important for everyone to find their human nature. That is why we sit Zen, to find our true human nature. So we are in a very important position, sitting in meditation. We must find our human nature, then together help each other become world peace. As human beings, we are all equal. We all have the same love mind. We must find the primary cause of this world’s sickness, and remove it.

Zen Master Seung Sahn

Breathe by Becky Hemsley

Controlling Our Karma

 

Since most people are not aware of their karma, they cannot connect the dots between cause and effect. Only sometimes, when results happen immediately after the cause—for example, when we put our finger into boiling water—are we able to connect those dots and learn the lesson. With karma, we only have a choice: either karma is controlling us, or we are controlling our karma. We practice to be in charge of our lives and help others: I control my karma; my karma does not control me.

When we control our karma, we can change it. Most karma is lingering karma, “leftover” karma. This lingering karma is the most difficult to fix, because it is created by very small, insignificant actions repeated every day. We keep repeating and repeating some actions or thoughts over a long time, and in the end, we get the big result of those actions. Surprise! If we really look closely, we will see that big karmic results were created by some kind of lingering karma. So it’s important to be aware of our daily, small habits.

If we want to change our karma, we’ve got to understand our habits first. The next step is to attain that understanding. Being aware that we have some negative habits is the first step, but it is not enough. Understanding can’t help. Attaining the habit means this understanding has some energy. Only then are we able to decide, “I’m going to change it!” After we make a strong decision, we need to have a method of how to change it.

The skillful way to start the whole process is to create what Charles Duhigg calls a “keystone habit.” This one new habit can start a domino effect of changing not only one but many habits over time. Don’t worry about the rest of our karma— only do that one thing. If we try to change too many things at once, we fail. For the Zen student, nothing could be a better keystone habit than the habit of meditating first thing in the morning. In the morning, everyone’s willpower is the strongest. While sitting still and by simply breathing with the lower belly, we can recharge our willpower battery. There is no way to change ourselves if we have a weak center, that is, if our willpower battery is depleted.

So let’s start our day with some practice, just 10 minutes every morning. Over time, this one small habit of 10 minutes meditation every morning will trigger a domino effect of positive changes in our life. Zen Master Ko Bong used to say, “Don’t worry about your karma; just make a habit of strong practicing.”


By Andrzej Stec JDPSN

 

About DVZC:

Founded in 1999, Delaware Valley Zen Center (DVZC) offers to the community an environment for Zen practice. Our weekly practice includes chanting, sitting meditation and walking meditation. DVZC is one of more than sixty centers and groups worldwide affiliated with the Kwan Um School of Zen, an international organization founded by Zen Master Seung Sahn. Our guiding teacher is José Ramírez, JDPSN, who received Inka in April 2009. The Delaware Valley Zen Center (DVZC) is a 501(c)3 non-profit religious corporation of the State of Delaware. All donations are tax deductible to the full extent allowed by law. DVZC is supported, administered and maintained by its members.                                                                                                                         

About the Kwan Um School: 

Seung Sahn & The Kwan Um School of Zen: A brief introduction   

 

Statement Regarding 

Racial Justice and Equality


The Kwan Um School of Zen, an international community of Zen Buddhists, condemns police violence targeted at African-Americans and the larger, systemic racism that engenders this violence. As Buddhists, we are called to wake up to the reality of our world and to be of service to all beings. We support the goal of racial equality and affirm that we will work within our own organization and with others everywhere to create a more just and egalitarian nation and world. 

Our school is named for the Buddhist bodhisattva of compassion, Kwan Se Um Bosal, whose name means “one who hears the cries of the world.” It is time for all of us to listen more closely to the voices the victims of racism and state violence. For those of us born to white privilege, it is time to recognize that much of the “progress” our country has made toward racial and economic equality has been a delusion. 

In listening, let our actions be led by those whose cries have gone unheard and unheeded for centuries. Our enlightenment is the world’s enlightenment, and it must shine everywhere. The Australian activist Lilla Watson said “If you have come to help me, you’re wasting your time; but if you recognize that your liberation and mine are bound up together, we can walk together.”

One action is worth a thousand words. That one action of a white police officer murdering with impunity, a black man, George Floyd, by placing his knee on George Floyd’s neck for eight minutes and forty seconds is just the tip of the iceberg. Can our practice lead us to compassionate engagement with our communities? Can it help us to step out of our comfortable white social bubble and see that we have been complicit and added to racial injustice just by not seeing or hearing the cries of our brothers and sisters?

Without quoting the Buddha or the Bodhisattvas, what is our path? How do we open up to our innate compassion and wisdom? How do we stop all thoughts of self and other and enter into JUST THIS? The only true way we can be in a clear relationship with this planet and all of its many manifestations is to be willing to break the wall of self and other, and see things just as they are. Let us use our sadness and confusion as fuel and take a deeper look at our responsibility to each other. There’s never been a better time than right now!


In the dharma,

Zen Master Soeng Hyang (Bobby Rhodes)
Zen Master Wu Kwang (Richard Shrobe)
Zen Master Jok Um (Ken Kessel)
Kwan Haeng Sunim
Garret Condon

 

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Practice Schedule

Practice is held every Wednesday evening at the New Ark United Church of Christ, 300 E. Main St, Newark, DE 19711.

Practice begins at 6:30pm with a short orientation for beginners, followed by chanting. We then have two 25 minute periods of sitting meditation with a 10 minute period of walking meditation in between.

Free Meditation Instruction sessions will be scheduled as requested. Send an email to DVZCinfo@gmail.com and ask to be added to the next instruction class. 

There is no fee to attend our practice, you do not have to be a member.

Monkey Mind Zen,

is a  DVZC satellite.

The group meets in Philadelphia.

For information about their practice visit:

http://www.mmzen.org/