Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Heart Kyol Che

Kyol Che means "tight dharma" or "coming together." In Korea, it is the three month winter and summer periods when monks and nuns do intensive sitting practice in the mountains and temples. The Providence Zen Center holds two Kyol Che retreats each year. Winter Kyol Che starts January 3 and runs through April 1, 2011. Students sit a minimum of one week up to the entire three month period.

Heart Kyol Che will run concurrently with the traditional Kyol Che: it is an opportunity for students who cannot sit the traditional Kyol Che or who can only sit part of it, to participate by doing extra practice at home and practicing together with others as they are able.

There are many ways to participate in Heart Kyol Che. Some people make an extra effort to attend weekly meditation practice with the local sangha. Some people do extra prostrations daily or weekly. Some people do Midnight practice. It was as a Heart Kyol Che practice that a dear dharma friend began his practice of chanting the Great Dharani 108 times a day. One year when feeling overwhelmed, my Heart Kyol Che practice was very simple: in addition to daily mediation practice, I chanted the Heart Sutra in the morning, at noon and in the evening.

By doing Heart Kyol Che together, we strengthen our practices, and provide support to those who are sitting traditional Kyol Che. And we are inspired and energized by their commitment.

Our next Tallgrass Zen retreat February 18, 19, 20 coincides with the Intensive Week of Practice during Winter Kyol Che at Diamond Hill Zen Monastery in Providence. This is an opportunity to practice Heart Kyol Che together. We will be sending out a flyer and registration form for the retreat soon.

If you would like to discuss your ideas for Heart Kyol Che, please contact Christina or Margaret: or 785-537-8713.

We will be having New Year’s Day extended practice with Consulting Interviews from 7:30 am – 9:30 am at the Mercy Hospital Chapel on Saturday January 1, 2011. Afterwards we will have breakfast at a local restaurant. Please join us as we greet the New Year.

May Our Practice Benefit All Beings,

Margaret Wheeler, Secretary
Tallgrass Zen Center
Manhattan, Kansas

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Buddha's Enlightenment Day Events

Saturday December 11, 2010
Deep Creek Community Center

Meditation Retreat 9am-5 pm
$10 fee & bring a sack lunch

Vegetarian Potluck 5pm
Candlelight Kido 6:30 -8:00 pm

Sunday December 12, 2010 11:00 am
Buddha's Enlightenment Day Ceremony
Yoga Connection 321 A Poyntz Avenue
Manhattan, Kansas

For information or directions contact us at 537-8713

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Retreat Photos

Here are some photos from our retreat this weekend. Thanks to everyone who sat with us, especially our teacher, Linc Rhodes, jdpsn.

I forgot my tripod and had to set the camera up on the tailgate of the pickup. Here are a couple of shots I took trying to get the right angle and focal length. The first one is Judy Wright. The second one is Margaret Wheeler.

Gathering the sangha:

Here we all are!

(Back: Richard Brown, Linc Rhodes, Sam Wisely; center: Dick Marston, Tracy Leedstrom, Judy Wright, Rebecca Otte; bottom: James Frager, Margaret Wheeler, Christina Hauck, Jeff Ireland.)

Finally, Linc and Jeff in the world's most spacious interview room:

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Primary Point Magazine online

The latest Primary Point magazine is now available online. Small pdf file:
Large, high-resolution pdf file:

Kwan Um School of Zen Facebook

Memorial Facebook page for Zen Master Seung Sahn:

We hope you enjoy and make use of these opportunities to connect with our many dharma brothers and sisters.

In the dharma,

Your Kwan Um School of Zen
International Office

Friday, July 23, 2010

Greetings from Linc

I got this email from Linc today and thought I'd share it:

     Here is a picture of the wild patch some people claim to be a garden.

     Some of the sunflowers are from Kansas and now on steroids.

     This year there are pole beans climbing up the sunflowers, eliminating some of the poles.

     Lots of basil and tomatoes. Summer is ripe.  Love Linc

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Retreat & Precepts Ceremony

Thanks to all who participated in our retreat last weekend. Congratulations to our preceptees, James Frager, Jeff Ireland, and Dick Marston.

Back row, left to right: Christina Hauck, Audrey Bosley, Sam Wisely, Rebecca Otte, Dick Marston.
Center row: Snehal Monteiro, James Frager, Bob Huff, Linc Rhodes, JDPSN.
Seated: Dennis Bosley, Jeff Ireland, Margaret Wheeler

Top row, left to right: James Frager, Jeff Ireland, Dick Marston, Audrey Bosley, Linda Marston, Brooke Marston.
Center row: Christina Hauck, Rebecca Otte, Linc Rhodes, JDPSN, Margaret Wheeler
Seated: Snehal Monteiro, Sam Wisely, Bob Huff, Dennis Bosley

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Motivations for Practice

Our dharma brother Dick Marston will be taking ten precepts at a ceremony this Sunday at the Deep Creek Community Center, thereby becoming a Dharma Teacher in Training. As part of his preparation for this important step, he wrote a short essay called, "Motivation for Practice." With his permission, I am sharing it with all of you.

The ceremony will begin at 11 am on Sunday May 23: all are invited!

We practice Zen through at least six forms of meditation: 1) keeping a question, 2) mantra practice, 3) kong-an practice, 4) chanting, 5) prostrations, and 6) clear-mind meditation.  The overall purpose is to develop clear thinking, moment to moment, creating awareness in everything we do.  When we practice, our direction becomes “clear like space.”  Kwan-Um teachings have shown that practice is not intended to produce a trance-like state, but rather one where we perceive situations truthfully, are more alert, and are calmly focused on the present.

The first form of practice, keeping a question, such as “what am I?” helps us to let go of thinking, opinions, and desires.  The second form of practice, mantra practice, also helps with clear-mind meditation.  Watching my breath and silently thinking “clear mind” when inhaling and “don’t know” when exhaling helps me to create a clear thinking mind, replacing the “garbage truck” full of anguish and delusions that I collected during the rest of the day.  The third form of practice, kong-an practice, involves a question and answer session with our guiding teacher, designed to create a “before-thinking mind.”  This form of practice has proved especially difficult for me, given my deeply-engrained academic background as a student and professor.  The fourth form of practice, chanting, is an energetic form of meditation.  Chanting “Kwan Seum Bosal” repeatedly is useful when focusing on the suffering of others.  I am still learning the meaning of other chants. The fifth form of practice, prostrations, constitute a physical action that shows reverence for the Buddha, dharma, and sangha.  The sixth form of practice, clear-mind meditation, involves sitting still and quiet on a cushion, as well as standing and walking meditation.   In my experience, chanting, bowing, and clear-mind meditation are particular powerful and inspiring when conducted with the sangha.

The ultimate motivation for practice is to save all sentient beings.  Life can be full of joy and bliss, but for most it is difficult and challenging…full of anguish, suffering, and delusions. Life is difficult because we crave satisfaction in ways that are inherently dissatisfying.  All things are transitory…all things change and are impermanent.  Some of the ways that suffering occurs are listed below:

Greed: attachment to money and material possessions; displeasure when we don’t have them; attachment to pleasurable sense objects (sights, sounds, smells, tastes, tactile objects); displeasure when encountering unpleasant sense objects.

Ego: attachment to praise, approval, ego-pleasing words; displeasure when we are criticized;  attachment to having a good reputation and image; displeasure when they are tainted; failure to realize we are all “playing in the sandbox together” and are interdependent for our health and well-being; and

Anger: caused by resentment toward other people or events, or by the displeasures described above.
These emotions are human.  One cannot make them disappear, nor is it desirable to turn them inward.  Instead, we practice to recognize and acknowledge these poisons, then release them…“put them all down.”

A self-examination of my past reveals I have suffered from these three poisons (and still do) and have caused pain to others over the years through exhibiting anger, greed, and ignorance.  So one motivation for practice is to recognize the anger, greed, and ignorance in my own behavior and strive for 10,000 years nonstop to eliminate it…seek to develop  compassion,  generosity, and a feeling of interdependence.  However, our practice cannot be for just ourselves.  We must recognize the suffering in others and ultimately it is this suffering from which we wish to save all sentient beings. 

In practicing Zen, I strive to follow the eight-fold path for reducing greed, ego and ignorance:

Right View: knowing yourself and others; avoid delusions about yourself and others; let go of ego and selfishness
Right Intentions: love, kindness, empathy, compassion; do not harm others

Right Speech: try to say the “right” thing; speak the truth; speak kindly; do not use hurtful language; avoid ego; don’t gossip
Right Action: try to do the “right” thing; treat others as you wish to be treated; cherish all forms of life, help others; employ a skillful balance of endurance, energy, enthusiasm, grace, dignity, patience, self-discipline, consistency, courage; refrain from killing, lying, stealing, sexual misconduct, intoxicants
Right Livelihood: try to earn your living in the “right” way; integrate spirituality in your everyday activities; make a life, not just a living; be skilled, efficient, energetic, earnest and learned in your profession; have virtuous, trustworthy, faithful friends; have spiritual aspirations, live within your means; avoid the five hindrances (craving, ill will, torpor, restlessness, doubt)

Right Effort: pay attention, moment to moment, during the course of the day
Right Mindfulness: awareness during everything you do in your life; the discipline to perceive truthfully; be alert and calmly focused on the present; avoid distractions
Right Concentration: take the time to “step into yourself” and be aware of the workings of your mind and body; the discipline to still your mind; complete focusing of the mind

In my roles as a husband, father, and professor I have observed and experienced a great deal of suffering as well as joy.  I practice to remind myself of why marriage and parenting can be full of bliss but also affected by the three poisons.  As an academic, I observe greed, ego and anger to a degree that is truly shocking.  When problems arise, practice reminds me to 1) stop and recognize the behavior and the root cause of it, and  2) consider my own role in creating the problem.  Without practicing Zen, I feel certain I would have failed by now as a husband, father, and university department head.  Challenges remain.

As a professor, I have taught and conducted research on separating the effects of human activities on rivers and mountains from changes that occur naturally.  This effort has involved studies of the effects of mining, wildfires, deforestation and reforestation, grazing, agriculture, river regulation, and military maneuvers on landform stability in France, Brazil, Mexico, the Himalaya of Nepal-India-Pakistan, and in the American West and Great Plains.  I am seen abject poverty, political oppression, and environmental devastation in some of these areas, which has fostered a sense of interdependence and wanting to help…also a sense of frustration that I cannot do more as an individual and as a citizen of a rich nation.  Zen practice has led me to be mindful of the underlying causes of environmental change and the impacts that these changes exert on sentient beings.  In many cases, my trained instinct to find a cause-and-effect link has been tempered by a “don’t know mind,” a realization that sometimes the world is too complex to be understood in terms that are simple, ordered, unified, and harmonious.

--Dick Marston (Poep An)

Monday, April 26, 2010

Reflection on the Teachings of Man Gong

"To attain the result of your practice, you must extinguish the small “I”. You must stop checking and become like a rotten stump, then you can get rid of the “I” that thinks it exists.” The Teachings of Zen Master Man Gong

To become like a rotten stump means first of all to become like a tree that has been cut down. A tree that has been cut down is completely stripped of its trunk, branches and leaves. It can no longer take in energy from the sun. So this means to cut off whatever gives energy to your small self.

Sometimes you see a tree stump in the forest with new branches and leaves growing from it. This is because the roots are alive and continuing to draw nourishment from the soil. So if you want to attain your true self, you must become like a rotten stump, which means to let your roots die so that you stop feeding your small self.

Finally, a rotten stump nourishes the whole forest. Insects, reptiles and small mammals take refuge in it, and they feed each other and the birds and other animals. As the stump slowly decomposes it releases all the nutrients that were bound up in it and those leech through the earth enriching the soil, helping other plants to grow. This means that your practice is no longer for yourself but rather for all beings without discrimination.


Thursday, April 22, 2010

April 24 Morning Practice Canceled

Due to the Midwest Sangha Weekend events in Chicago, we are canceling Saturday Morning Practice on April 24, 2010. We will resume our regular schedule on Tuesday Evening April 27th.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

PBS Documentary BUDDHA April 7, 2010 @ 7:00 pm

Dick Marston sent this via e-mail:

On Wednesday, April 7, 2010, at 8:00 p.m. ET (7:00pm in Kansas), PBS will bring to life Siddhartha and his journey in THE BUDDHA, a two-hour documentary directed by award-winning filmmaker David Grubin.

“Buddhism is growing more and more popular in America,” said David Grubin. “But the Buddha himself remains a mysterious, exotic figure, the founder of a religion in a different key. The Buddha never claimed to be God, or his emissary on earth. He said only that in a world of unavoidable pain and suffering, he had found a serenity which others could find too. In our own bewildering times of violent change and spiritual confusion, the Buddha’s teachings have particular relevance.”

The film, narrated by actor Richard Gere, is undertaken in conjunction with Asia Society Museum, which has organized an exhibition entitled Pilgrimage and Buddhist Art, the first-ever exhibition examining artistic production inspired by sacred sites and the practice of Buddhist pilgrimage in Asia.

Grubin, who directed the critically acclaimed series of films on American presidents including “LBJ,” “FDR” and “Truman” as well as other award-winning series such as THE JEWISH AMERICANS, THE SECRET LIFE OF THE BRAIN and NAPOLEON, tells the story of the Buddha through ancient artwork that depicts the various stages of Siddhartha’s journey, contemporary animation that vividly portrays the legends surrounding the Buddha and contemporary footage of northern India, where many of the religious rituals from the Buddha’s time are still practiced today.

Experts on the Buddha, representing a variety of disciplines, relate the key episodes of the Buddha’s life and reflect on what his journey means for us today. They include His Holiness the Dalai Lama; poets Jane Hirshfield and W.S. Merwin; scholars Robert Thurman, Kevin Trainor and Dr. Max Moerman; astrophysicist Trinh Xuan Thuan; and psychiatrist Mark Epstein, as well as practicing Buddhist monastics.

“By continuing our exploration of the world’s religions, we are delighted to participate in broadening people’s understanding of Buddhism today with David Grubin’s moving portrait of the life of the Buddha,” said John F. Wilson, PBS senior vice president and chief TV programming executive. “This film exposes not just the man, but also his rich teachings, which we hope will spark a larger conversation about religion and spirituality.”

Monday, February 22, 2010

Am I in a Cult? (Part 1)

I've spent some time over the past couple of days--too much time, probably--reading around at the Forum maintained by a guy named Rick Ross, a prominent anti-cultist. I started reading because Margaret said that there was quite a bit of negative information about Zen Master Seung Sahn (you can read it from start to finish here). I noticed pretty quickly that a member who calls himself "The Anti-Cult" was especially driven to attack ZMSS, but that much of what he said was unfactual or a massive distortion of the facts. I've written a response to him, but  after reading a thread started by someone calling himself "Dr Logic," I realized that there's no point in trying to reason with "The Anti-Cult"--or anyone on the Forum. Most of the posters seem locked into a very rigid perspective in which any disagreement with them constitutes an effort to manipulate, even brainwash them.

It was especially unnerving to watch the Forum members begin attacking "Dr Logic," whose protests were then construed as attacks for which he was eventually banned from the Forum. There were lots of other instances where the Forum members, especially The Anti-Cult, would accuse Dr Logic of doing exactly the thing they themselves were doing. It was kind of like watching a microcosm of American political discourse--but somehow sadder.