Andrew Tootell's OzZen Podcast
About this podcast
From Australian Zen teacher Dr Andrew Tootell.
About this podcast
From Australian Zen teacher Dr Andrew Tootell.
Andrew Tootell's OzZen Podcast
The Direct Path is the path of nonduality. It is found in all religious traditions. In Hinduism it is found as Advaita-Vedanta or Kashmir Shaivism; In Islam it is found as the way of the Sufi; in Christianity it is found in mystics like Meister Eckhart; in Buddhism it is found in Chan/Zen and Mahamudra and Dzogchen. We can say, it is simply being.
Meditation: Letting Go of Structure, by Dr Rhys Price-Robertson
This meditation considers the wisdom of relatively unstructured meditation practices, as are taught in the Ordinary Mind tradition. How do we show up when there is no obvious goal, when there are no detailed guidelines, and when there is no clear right or wrong way of doing things? How do we configure ourselves in an unstructured space? This meditation explores how unstructured practice ultimately leaves us with nothing but a mirror reflecting our own image.
Interview with Elisabeth Barrett on Gurdjieff and Joko Beck
This interview continues the exploration of the common ground between the teachings of Gurdjieff and Joko Beck. It begins with a brief biography of Elisabeth’s journey with the Gurdjieff teachings. The interview then stays on practice issues such as waking up through self-observation and self-remembering and non-identification. It also clarifies the meaning of no-self and Self in Zen teaching.
Meditation: Be Still, Know I Am
Joko Beck often quoted an expression from the Hebrew Bible: “Be still, know I am”. It describes our practice of just sitting or silent illumination. Silence is the stillness – it is the anchor, the stabiliser that naturally allows clear seeing to arise. The light that illuminates all phenomena is awareness. The Buddha said be a light unto yourself. You are the light. Recognise yourself as the light of knowing. This awareness is who we are. To “know I am” is to recognise who we truly are. We hold the body still and the light of awareness illuminates impermanence – the cosmic dance.
Meditation: Heart Sutra
The Heart Sutra is a condensed version of much longer Heart Sutras. It really contains all we need. It teaches the direct path: seeing directly into our true nature. We can let go of all identities by coming this moment. The meditation then focuses on Consciousness. The mantra coming at the end of the Sutra can be seen as a summary of the whole sutra. Then during the final 10 minutes of the guided meditation I introduce the “Ah Mantra”. Pronounced as Ah, it can be chanted out loud as the ultimate teaching of freedom, liberating all beings. Finally, as Bernie Glassman teaches, “even the Ah is unnecessary, for this very moment is the Wisdom Literature; this very moment is the perfection of wisdom”.
Meditation: What Are We Doing Here, by Dr Jed Blore
This guided meditation presented by Dr Jed Blore invites an exploration of three interrelated questions: 'what are we doing?’, ‘why are we doing it? (or: 'why does it matter?)’, and, 'what are we hoping to gain?’. The exploration continues with an invitation to connect with a spacious, open awareness that is accepting of our ‘gaining ideas’ alongside the rest of our experience (thinking, feeling, sensing). The meditation ends with a reading of the poem ‘Relax’ by Ellen Bass, which reinforces the reality of suffering whilst highlighting the joy that is available to us in our daily lives.
This talk begins with bearing witness to Anzac Day in the light of the Ten Precepts, starting with the first precept of bearing witness to the reality of violence and abuse, in myself and in the world. I then give an historical overview of how Anzac Day has evolved over the years since the 1920’s. I then explore what and who does Anzac Day currently exclude and fail to bear witness too? For example, the horror of war – how violence and abuse traumatise people; how not every war is a legitimate war and the exclusion of our First Nations warriors from Anzac Day and the National War Memorial. I conclude by reflecting on the relationship between bearing witness and denial, and suggest that we need to be careful not to value bearing witness at the expense of denigrating denial. As my colleague Rhys Price-Robertson suggested in his guided meditation last week, maybe we need to find ways of making room for and understanding resistance, while, at the same time, empowering ourselves as best we can to bear witness. Finally, I want to leave you all with a question: are we ready as a nation to take steps towards making Anzac Day more inclusive? And if we are not yet ready, what needs to be done to prepare this nation to be more inclusive?
Meditation: Supporting Resistance, by Dr Rhys Price-Robertson
We all resist parts of our experience. This meditation draws on the psychotherapeutic idea of supporting resistance, exploring how at times the path through resistance involves fully embracing it. When resistance is supported, sometimes it can be released.
Meditation: Resting in Sensations
This meditation is a continuation of a series of meditations inspired by the Heart Sutra. The topic today is resting in sensations. Simply resting in our senses. As Joko Beck says in her book Nothing Special Living Zen: “Without awareness of our sensations, we are not fully alive” (p. 159). In this meditation we will be meditating on the first and second skandhas and the six sense realms, which are referenced in the Heart Sutra. Our tendency is to become caught in the fourth skandha (emotional reactions based on the past), by bringing our attention to the first and second skandhas – basically the level of basic sensations and feelings – we can free ourselves from self-centred reactivity.
Why I am a Buddhist, by Barry Magid
This topic that I have asked Barry to speak on continues our exploration of Buddhist modernism and is also deeply personal, as we reflect on the question of whether or not we wish to identify ourselves as Buddhists. I just want to preface Barry’s talk and our discussion by referring to our OzZen constitution. The relevant parts read: OzZen is established to transmit and maintain the teachings of the Ordinary Mind Zen School lineage of Zen in a form accessible and relevant to the present everyday lives of people living in Australia and other parts of the world and the purpose of the OMZS is set out in the Mission Statement: to manifest and support the practice of the Awakened Way – there is no affiliation with other Zen groups or religious denominations; however, membership in this school does not preclude individual affiliation with other groups – the awakened way is universal. So, I hope it is clear that one does not have to identify as a Buddhist to become a member of OzZen. All that is necessary is an interest in manifesting and maintaining the teachings of the OMZS.
Meditation: Nothing Broken, Nothing Fixed, by Dr Jed Blore
This meditation focuses on one of the core teachings of the Ordinary Mind Zen School: that there is nothing that is, or can be, broken with you as a person. Thus, there is nothing to be fixed. Often, and understandably, we get caught in concepts and judgements of good/bad. As an example, when experiencing emotional states that are painful or unpleasant, like anger, sadness, agitation, boredom, we want to say (and society/culture often supports us in doing so) that this is bad, and therefore we need to get rid of it. The opposite is also true: when experiencing pleasant states like joy, happiness, excitement, contentment, we want to say these are good, and we want to hold onto them for as long as possible. This leads us down a slippery slope to viewing ourselves as deficient, needing fixing, and thus unacceptable. This is to do violence against the self. We end this suffering by seeing clearly how we lay the concept of good/bad on top of ourselves, and thus seeing clearly, we free ourselves.
In this guided meditation I explore the heart of the Heart Sutra: Boundlessness. The Heart Sutra is the most important teaching in the Zen Buddhist world. I want to emphasise that this sutra is all about enlightenment as a verb – enlightening. The realisation of emptiness or boundlessness is freeing – it lightens us up and fills us with great joy!
Introduction to the Heart Sutra, Part One
In this talk I am going to discuss the Heart Sutra, the most important teaching in the Zen Buddhist world. I want to emphasise that this sutra is all about enlightenment as a verb – enlightening. The realisation of emptiness or boundlessness is freeing – it lightens us up and fills us with great joy! First, I will once again situate ourselves within Modern Buddhism. I will then give some brief historical and philosophical background to the sutra. Then I will give a line-by-line commentary, which is the body of the talk. Then if I have time, I will discuss differing ways of interpreting or understanding the sutra and how to practice the sutra. My main sources for today’s talk are Dogen, Shohaku Okumura, Jay Garfield and Barry Magid.
Meditation: Three Zones of Awareness
This guided mediation explores awareness as a central aspect of both Zen and gestalt therapy. Drawing on Fritz Perls’ concept of the “three zones of awareness,” it leads meditators through different aspects of their awareness, encouraging focus on both the content of awareness (e.g., sensations, sounds), as well as the process of awareness itself.
This talk continues the discussion from last fortnight, about moving from traditional Buddhism, what I called the salvation model, to modern Buddhism, or what I called the human flourishing model. In this talk, I will review, how modern Buddhism is reinterpreting some traditional core Buddhist beliefs. Traditional Buddhism was embedded in Indian philosophy and religion. The salvation model was appropriate for the people living in those times. In the same way that we take it for granted, that the earth revolves around the sun, they would have taken rebirth for granted. It would not have been questioned. The following beliefs from the salvation model are therefore given a new interpretation in the modern Buddhist paradigm, developed for people living in our times. We will be revising the following traditional beliefs: a. Rebirth and Karma. b. Anatman and Nirvana (Anatman is the negation of atman which means Self; anatman therefore means No-Self). c. Attitudes towards Impermanence, Beauty and Sensuality.
Meditation: Remembering to Be, by Dr Jed Blore
Zazen can be considered as the practice of ‘being’. Sitting, doing nothing, we reveal ourselves to ourselves. We reveal the no-separation between us and life itself. We reveal the paradox of constant change. We reveal the impossibility of not being this moment, of not being ourselves. Robert Rosenbaum, in ‘Zen and the Heart of Psychotherapy’ puts it this way: “practicing Zazen we practice just being alive and just dying; these are the basic activities of being human, the rest is superstructure. Discovering that ultimately there is nothing between our selves and our experience”.
Meditation: Cultivating Joy
The topic for this guided meditation is Embracing your Life: Cultivating Joy. It fits withing the Modern Buddhist Ethical framework of cultivating Happiness in This Life. Its okay to enjoy practice! The introduction discusses The Three Gates of Zen Practice – from a dharma talk by Barry Magid on 04/09/2010. The three gates of Zen practice are suffering, joy and compassion. Last weeks guided meditation was on the gateway of suffering, so today we will be entering the gateway of joy. The guided meditation introduces three practices that help us to cultivate joy: savouring positive experiences; gratefulness for the gift of being alive and the “good” life we are already living; and self-appreciation of positive qualities we can identify in ourselves.
From salvation to human flourishing
In this talk Andrew locates our on-going discussion about Buddhist ethics in the context of Buddhist modernism in the West. He makes a distinction between the traditional salvation model of Buddhism and contrasts that with the eudaimonic or Human Flourishing model, which he argues is more congruent with our culture in this time and place. Andrew also suggests that Zen Buddhism since its beginnings in China has always been a life affirming, emphasising awakening in this life. There is also a discussion how the four noble truths provide the framework for Buddhist ethics and the importance of how the truths are interpreted. We conclude how Buddhist Ethics is about both personal and social transformation.
Meditation: Dukkha, by Dr Rhys Price-Robertson
This guided mediation focuses on embracing dukkha as part of zen practice. Drawing on the “paradoxical theory of change” from gestalt therapy, it explores how growth, healing, and change are possible not when we try to modify ourselves, but rather when we fully become ourselves and our suffering.