Spring 2003

North Carolina Zen Center                                             919-542-7411
390 Ironwood Road                                                         http://www.nczencenter.org/
Pittsboro, NC 27312-6754                                             info@nczencenter.org

Speaking on the 32 section of the Diamond Sutra which concludes:
As stars, a fault of vision, as a lamp,
A mock show, dew drops, or a bubble,
A dream, a lightning flash, or cloud,
So should one view what is conditioned.
Sandy said (in slightly edited form):

What is meant by " conditioned" is all that we consider to exist including our consideration.  This  verse is a poetic way of saying these things come and go . Such as the idea of myself.  You might wake up in the morning and say oh I am so tired. I donıt want to go to work today. Iım kinda grumpy. But then my wife brings a beautiful breakfast. I forget grumpy. Oh, mango. So even though at the time I felt such a solidity of grumpiness, it was just like a bubble in a stream. It goes Œpop!ı   

So should we view all conditioned things. This is a technical  phrase  in Buddhism. Thereıs nothing that exists that does not have its conditions and causes for its existence. Ah, I had the grumpy self. Wonder what that came from. Wonder what that was about? Checking into the causes and conditions of any existent thing , whether material, like a mango, or immaterial, like a thought or mood.  This self of ours can objectify our experience in this way and we consider  The verse is a famous poetical description of Buddhist impermanence.  In the culture of Buddhaıs time  there  had developed a very solid concept of  a nearly permanent self  called Atman, which would eventually merge with Brahman,  the absolute being. This would effect the disappearance of this individual atman, or self. Lifetime after lifetime there was this atman. If my performance is good, I go to the higher level. If itıs not, I go back to  the  cockroach level.  

Though  I havenıt studied it carefully, this idea  seems real similar to the idea of the soul in Christianity. We have an individual, particular soul that God created and at some point it entered into this body.  So I have this soul and it goes on and  when I die the soul is going to go some place, either up or down, and in our Christian  view , this only happens once. Itıs not repeated although I hear that in early Christian times , rebirth was commonly  accepted. Nowadays, we just have one shot, so make it a good shot.  Otherwise youıll  be a cockroach forever and cook.

This is kind of solidity of soul, or atman, or self.

One of the  major  revolutionary concepts that Shakyamuni  proposed  was ³Itıs not like that. Itıs like this. Impermanent.  And not only atman, but all conditioned things.²   Even if you go to hell, it is not forever.

OK?  That was a long answer to no question.

Please check the web site or call the Center for a complete current schedule.
Tuesday and Thursday mornings 6-7.30 sitting with interviews with Sandy available.
Thursday evenings 7-9 chanting, sitting, interviews, and Dharma talks.
Sunday mornings 10-12 chanting, sitting, interviews, and Dharma talks followed by tea.
The Dharma talks are currently on the Mummonkan.

Sandy will be the resident teacher at Southern Dharma Retreat  Center from June 27-July 4. For more information they can be contacted at 828  622-7112  or  info@southerndharma.org.

On May 31 Joe Kenlan, a long time sangha member and stonemason, will give a workshop at the Center on  laying stone. For more information contact Joe at 919 542-5667 .

Contributions have been received from Woody Setzer, Melody Ivins, Kathleen Jardine/Jim Cameron, Tim Sussman, Kalo Baron, Roxanne Henderson/Michael Brown, Aline Kala, John Iler, Barbara Gordon, Matt/Kim Young, Catherine Boston, Stacey Emerick, Jason Dowdle, Be Gardiner, Linda Campany, Walter Pharr, Jennifer Armstrong, Sharon Love/Preston Boggess, Harold Younger, Dennis Lennox, Caroline Gardiner, Walter Powers, David Dyer, Richard Kelley, Jerry Humphreys, Carol Hewitt and Leila Webster.
All donors who sent checks by mail have been thanked. (Thank you again!) If you have not been thanked and you sent a contribution, it  may be that your check was stolen from our rural mail box. Please check it out.

The week of  Zazenkai was attended by three sitters swelling to nine for the weekend then back to three during the final days.

During the work weekend Matt Young coordinated and assisted the efforts of Roxanne Henderson, Michael Brown, Bill Stephens, John Iler, Jennifer Armstrong, and Be Gardiner. The exterior of the apartment end of the Multi-purpose building was stuccoed while the interior was plastered. Kim Young kept the meals and ikkyus coming.
Those of us present were especially grateful for the new fiberglass ladder donated by John Iler as well as the sight of the rickety old wooden one burning in a brush pile.

The multi-purpose building is now under two building permits thanks to the perseverance  and negotiating skills of Matt Young and the support he has received from Tom Gardner of the fire engineering firm of  Gage-Babcock & Assoc., Inc., in  Atlanta. This means that an occupancy certificate can be issued for the apartment even though the rest of the building is unfinished. As soon as the deck, a retaining wall, the final electrical, painting, and gas lines are done the Youngs will be able to move into larger quarters.

On April 6 we celebrated the Buddha's birthday with the ritual bathing of the Buddha, washing away our evil karma.  Following the birthday celebration, Timothy Sussman received  the dharma name Mu Gon and the Five Precepts. All present were thus enabled to renew their own acceptance of these practices.

The Saturday afternoon chanting at the May Flat Top retreat was dedicated to Joan Berman who died earlier that day. She was a long time practitioner in the Blue Ridge Zen Group and at Squirrel Mountain.  A memorial service will be held for her here at Brooks Branch on June 22 at eleven in the morning.

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