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“Be nice to yourself, include yourself in that ancient twisted karma, allow for the inevitability of people just being people and how irritating that is, but then also how beautiful it is too.“ - Jordan Mylet Jordan takes us on a guided tour of our ancient twisted karma - what it is, where it comes from, and what the hell we’re supposed to do with …
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“Westerners like to conquer mountains. Easterners like to contemplate them. As for me, I like to taste them” - Santoka Taneda Henry brings us a highly entertaining poetry hour as we follow the the lives and words of two Buddhist poets; Miyazawa Kenji trying to help the masses one annoyed farmer at a time, and Santoka Kenji picking himself up from a…
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“We are the lonely all together. All together, we’re all alone.” - John Prine Dave indulges us in a little story time while also indulging in some explananing of how koans work with a classic tale of dharma drama, jealous rivalries, and onomatopoetic poetry. What should we ask in practice discussion when we don’t know what to say? Can we find a saf…
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“I've seen too much, man. I know what's out there. And it's not all bad. And it's also not all good.” - Sara Campbell Sara revels in the nightmare of a beautiful spring evening, the fragility of the daffodils, the darkness of the rain, and the five powers that can turn that nightmare into a perfectly present dream. How do we remember to notice the …
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“When the problem is a part of you, there is no problem, because you are the problem itself.” - Shunryu Suzuki Emily brings us a meditation on problems, problem solving, and all the machinations, rationalizations, and somersaults we do to try to prove that our problems are somewhere outside of ourselves, and then what happens when we start to point…
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“It’s not an attainment, it’s a lament.” - Dave Cuomo Dave tries to figure out his purpose and articulate what meaning in Zen is while trying to give a talk in a park with threatening geese and impending rain on a retreat not going entirely to plan. What are the stages of meaning making and how do we rate? Is Dave’s level as off the charts as he cl…
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“The biggest change for me is to stop feeling like I should have it all figured out. And stop believing that anyone else does; and finding it a deep red flag if they claim to.” - Sara Campbell Sara marks her five year anniversary with ACZC by taking stock and admitting how maybe all this goalless practice has changed her for the better, while the s…
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“If somebody is an a-hole, they must be going through something tough. And they’re making it as bad or worse for themselves as they are for anyone they're hurting. So they deserve just as much care as anybody else suffering from the what they're dealing out. That's a hard truth I want to wrestle with. Because I believe it, but I'm not always instin…
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“The winning ticket, the unfortunate truth, is that you have to take a good look at your bullsh*t before you can get to the good stuff.” - Tanya Orlov Tanya brings us some wise warnings about our purported wisdoms with an in depth look at spiritual bypassing; what it is, how to know when we’re doing it, and how it might be holding us back from the …
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“There's no reason sound can't be appreciated wherever you're at. It's always there. We think something has to be dramatic or highly structured, but there's always structures to find in our minds. We have that freedom in our own being to be able to see with what's there, with what's here, with what's happening.” - Robert Holliday Robert explores th…
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“Can we keep the goofy light heartedness of being rebel antagonists, along side the sincerity of really caring? Can we care and be funny at the same time? And you know what I've seen us do? Exactly that. And that delights me. Thank you everybody.” - Dave Cuomo Dave gives us his “See Y’all Soon” address before hungry ghosting us for the Spring with …
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“First, there's ‘the thing that I want to do.’ They strip that away completely. Then when we’re hollow and empty they come back and ask, ‘So now, what do you really, really want?’” - Gyokei Yokoyama Gyokei pulls back the curtain on the rituals and forms of Zen, the true koan of the Soto School, to find out if there's any meaning in the method or ma…
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“In order to learn something new, first you have to be confused about it. If you aren't confused about it, you already know what it is and then you're not learning anything.” - Jitsujo Gauthier Great sangha friend Jitusjo brings us hard won personal tips and tricks for navigating the confusion and fear of the inner world, and the discomfort we migh…
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“Whatever goals you accomplish, you're still the same. There's still that same emptiness - there's still something missing. There's always going to be something missing. And that's okay.” - Pedro Peres Long time sangha friend Pedro Peres regales us with the story of what he’s doing and why he’s here - from early forays into beating koans at their o…
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“Think for yourselves. Be unruly. Challenge what we tell you, Challenge what I think I know about how this place should work. That’s what all the old teachings tell us to do - even if it is kind of inconvenient to have a room full of people thinking for themselves when you’re trying to run a Zen Center.” - Dave Cuomo In the final installment of his…
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“You can't sit motionless for 30 minutes without learning something, and when that happens day after day, we learn and we learn. Like it or not, we learn.” - Heather Ross Heather opens up the Pandora’s Box of zazen and takes a hard and healing look at the hidden aspects of ourselves that inevitably unhide themselves through regular sitting. How do …
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“Liberation means being liberated from the inclination to ignore our flaws - to dismiss them, hide them, divert or disguise them.“ - Gyokei Yokoyama Gyokei unravels the deeper meaning of Dharma Combat on the eve of ACZC’s first ever attempt at such a ceremony. What qualifies someone to be a Zen teacher? Is a vow to liberate all beings actually good…
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“There's a freedom, a pit, a dropping off into something you don't know and don't necessarily trust… It takes a strange kind of trust to let go of everything you’ve known as you.” - Dave Cuomo Dave celebrates the year of the wood dragon with evocative writings on dragons, frogs, and earthworms singing through the hollow trees of you and me. What ca…
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“There's some discomfort there, and there's some comfort there. And when you let that go… it's quite a revolution.” - Gyokei Yokoyama Gyokei gives us fully fleshed out, bare bones official Soto Zen explanations and instructions for zazen - body, breath, and mind. How does it work? How much should it hurt? Are Westerners doing it right? Is Japan doi…
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“Probably the best we can train for is to get a seat at the table where our decisions are made; which is not where we're usually hanging out. Usually we’re hanging out after the fact writing propaganda to justify what we just did.” - Dave Cuomo In the penultimate episode to our paramita series, Dave takes on the big one for Zen - meditation (aka Ze…
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“There ain't no answer. There ain't going to be any answer. There never has been an answer. That's the answer” - Gertrude Stein Patrick brings us the timeless tale of a Catholic kid trading his faith for the freedom of not quite knowing what the h*ll he’s doing. Along the way we get 30 years worth of ironic wisdom bombs, gleaned from a myriad of li…
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“It includes everything, no matter what. Even being depressed is part of it. That's why I don’t backslide like I used to anymore; because even if I do, I now know for certain that has weight and that's important too.” - Dave Cuomo Dave takes an honest look at energy, the much lauded and lamented fourth paramita, along with all the reasons such thin…
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“It’s less, yes it must be this way, and more, let's go this way together.” - Sara Campbell Sara reflects on the holidays and turns the page on a new year with a simple but endless question, how do we live when we know we’re going to die? Also, what to do when you suddenly realize you’ve gone from wacky aunt to wacky family matriarch without even h…
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“All the philosophies I grew up on were always trying to take me toward the light - be a good person, know what's going on, know how to handle things… It was always about happiness and positivity. Thats what led me here. That was the problem.” - Dave Cuomo Dave rings in the New Year with an unflinching dive into darkness - what it means in Zen, why…
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“Maybe we don’t need take everything as gospel, or maybe taking things as gospel doesn’t always mean what we want it to mean” - Dave Cuomo Dave brings us a special podcast exclusive Holiday Story Time, with a dramatic reading of a somewhat bananas Buddhist folktale about a young king and his flying elephant trying to get good at giving. It’s a stor…
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“A person with cloudy eyes is a person of fundamental enlightenment, a person of subtle enlightenment.” - Dogen Jason dives into Dogen’s treatise on the flowery delights of delusion - ‘Space Flowers,’ while discussing the inspiration behind his recent benefit print for ACZC. Along the way we get a bonus peek behind the creative curtain and a conste…
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“If you’re not at least a little uncomfortable, you probably haven’t found whatever it is you really need to make peace with yet.” - Dave Cuomo Dave dives back into the paramitas to learn about patience and finds out that Buddha apparently agrees with Sartre, hell is other people. Along the way we get some personal stories about the time Dave funde…
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“The spring has no particular shape, and yet spring manifests naturally. Or like the moon, it just emerges, versatile and free. When something happens, nobody can really say who did it. That's why we get frustrated. Nobody can know how it happened because everybody contributed.” - Gyokei Yokoyama In our final retreat wrap up, Gyokei gives us an on …
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"The more you start to learn about what you are, which is absolutely completely interdependent and just a fractal of what everyone else is, the more it starts to break down. I can't hate myself. It just doesn't make sense.” - Sara Campbell Following up on our retreat theme of compassion and the five skandas, Sara gives us a raw and revealing look a…
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“We don't downplay it. We don't sit here and say, ‘what I'm feeling isn't real and doesn't matter.’ It's this weird technique where it's like, no, no, go all in on it and take it very, very seriously with an enormous grain of salt.” - Dave Cuomo Dave gives a pep talk for the deep practice of retreat (and in general) while introducing our theme for …
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“If Zen's teaching me that I have inherent value just for existing, part of that whole deal is that I'm going to be doing mantras or some other wacky sh*t that I come across in six months. And I'm okay with that.” - Sara Campbell After finding benefits in affirmative mantra practices, Sara looks back on Zen emptiness teachings to find out if there …
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“You see the problems with the system, problems with teachers, and problems with yourself and realize, none of us can quite live up to what we're teaching here. But if I want do something actually good in the world, I can't think of anything more beneficial than providing a quiet empty room where everyone can do whatever they need to do to find som…
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“Zen isn't there to sugarcoat things and cuddle you. We're not talking about being mean, we're talking about, how do we slap someone's face in the most compassionate way? (…metaphorically of course)” - Gyokei Yokoyama Gyokei talks us through the spirit (and specifics) of… ‘Dhaaarmaaa Commbaaat!’ from the lion’s roar, to the three foot long venomous…
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“The benefit of you existing is you get to figure out what that means for yourself. And then you can come back and teach the rest of us about that. That is a generosity.” - Dave Cuomo Dave gifts us with a deep dive into generosity in the first on a new series on the paramitas, aka the six perfections, aka the six things that all good Buddhas have g…
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“Joy is not a failing. It’s not irresponsible. It’s not deluded. True joy is the birthright of every being. It's a normal thing.” - Curtis Fabens Founding ACZC resident Curtis gives us an impassioned exhortation to the recipe for a life well lived - clarity, purpose, & joy. Is clarity really the path of least resistance and if so, why is it so ofte…
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“You burn the whole forest once. And what comes back is the same forest - the same aspiration, the same desires, the same dreams… But there's this indescribable difference. And that's what makes all the difference.” - Gyokei Yokoyama Gyokei discusses alignment, blockages, and the prickliness that comes from trying to put our own ideals on a world t…
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“We don't need you to regurgitate our answers. We need you to go figure out who the hell you are. That's your contribution.” - Dave Cuomo Dave shares a favorite legend about a cocky young monk crossing a river and a moment of self confidence so powerful we’re still talking about it a thousand years later. In a practice that glorifies not knowing, h…
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“She asked, ‘How are you?’ And I said, ‘…good.’ But it was like nothing, like plain rice, like oatmeal without sugar and you forgot to even put the dash of salt - like original flavor.” - Jitsujo Gauthier Jitsujo, University of the West Buddhist Chaplaincy department Chair, resident priest and preceptor at Zen Center of Los Angeles, and long time f…
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“I never feel freer then when I realize I'm the schmuck I've been trying not to be this whole time. If I'm the asshole, I can't judge anybody else. And then I'm free of all of us.” - Dave Cuomo Dave returns with another practical probe into Buddhist basics - this week, the Five Skandhas, aka Buddha’s classic formulation of what makes us us and real…
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“Zazen is always kind of great, even when it's awful. When I don't understand what I'm doing, I can always sit Zazen.” - Ish Lipman Long time sangha friend Ish brings us the story of what he’s doing and why he’s here while we just maybe learn something about those things for ourselves. From atheist upbringings as a skater kid in the city to becomin…
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“What was really liberating for me was finding out who I am when leaving or getting kicked out aren’t an option for anyone. When not I’m worried about my own survival or earning my place in the community, when you can't fire or cancel people or really even get away from them…. It was like, oh hey, we're actually family now.” - Dave Cuomo Dave gets …
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“Really question what you perceive or know and don’t draw many conclusions from it. Also don't think you know nothing. You do know something, and if you abandon what you know to be true you've missed it altogether.” - Sara Campbell Sara sends us a dispatch from her post Zen Center exploits and dabbles in some serious storytelling with The Original …
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“If you don't have the perception of a self, you’re probably not going to get angry. But… we can discuss whether maybe sometimes it's okay to get angry if someone chops off your arms and legs…” - Jason Dodge In a flash, Subhuti understands everything, and in a flash Buddha pulls the rug out from him (and us!) and frees him from his own enlightenmen…
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“Learning to love the a-hole is the way you fix the problem, not getting rid of the a-hole.” - Dave Cuomo Dave takes a practical look at desire and how to work with it in real world terms, while also trying to figure out why people started treating monks as ceremonial objects, whether or not they warranted it, and why group chanting is such great f…
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“If we do not have stress, we will not be healthy enough to survive. We have to be in this. We have to be with our enemies. Even enemies make us healthy.” - Shumyo Kojima Special guest Reverend Shumyo Kojima, Abbot of Zenshuji Temple (North America’s oldest Zen temple (100 years and counting!)) joins us for a talk about learning to love your stress…
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“Conditions can be perfectly aligned for you to do the right thing, but you have to meet that with a strength of will that comes from failing over, and over, and over again. And that's not easy.” - Henry Zander Tasked with helming ACZC for the summer practice period, Henry boards a train and heads west for his date with destiny. Does Zen center lif…
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“The world of Zen is so full of sh*t, something beautiful is bound to bloom.” - Anonymous Our long wandering resident priest returns from his stint in Japan with tales of monkly mayhem in the monastery. Did they really beat the self out of him, or just grind it deeper? Is traditional monastic training a test of enlightenment or merely endurance? Is…
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“I’ve definitely angrily swept the floor, definitely not been stoked. But I think the constraints are good for you, like in the way that creative constraints can be really helpful. On some level its a privilege and an honor to have a community relying on you. And on some level its like goddamn it, they’ve got me.” - Sara Campbell Sara bids farewell…
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“Capitalism does suck, but you shouldn’t let that make you a bad worker” - Helena Harvilicz Helena tells stories of Zen, parenting, multitasking, and a history of being half assed at work until a job came along where failure was no longer an option. Along the way we get choice selections from Dogen about the Three Minds of a good cook. Does our wor…
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“Never think you’re better than the show. It’s not pleasant to work with, and it doesn’t make the work any easier.” - Emily Eslami Emily gets brass tacks practical with a walk through Dogen’s best advice for all the working stiffs out there on not only how to get through your work day, but maybe even finding the joyful, nurturing, magnanimous mind …
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