American Buddhism is a new phenomena, and teachers range from self-appointed gurus to highly qualified masters. With so many teachers and religious centers to choose from, how can you find someone you really trust? The real issue, according to Daido Roshi, is understanding the meaning of spiritual authority. Transmission from a teacher should be based on our own realization as well as the teacher's. It's not just a one-way street where we give up our power; on the contrary, true religious practice is about empowerment. The key is to turn inward, to take the backward step and learn to quiet the mind. We then take our insights and make them real in our lives, manifesting truth with wisdom and compassion.
Zen Buddhism emphasizes zazen, or seated meditation, as the means to study the self and understand who we truly are. Dharma talks are an essential aspect of Zen training and take place in the context of zazen. Said to be "dark to the mind and radiant to the heart", a dharma talk is one of the ways in which a teacher points directly to the heart of the teachings of the Buddha. In our meditation practice, it is easy to get lost in self-doubt, fantasy, numbness, and emotional agitation. Dharma talks help to ground our practice, providing inspiration and an essential recognition of exactly where we find ourselves, so that we can learn to face difficulties and obstacles with a free and flexible mind. This talk was given at Zen Mountain Monastery or the Zen Center of New York City of the Mountains and Rivers Order of Zen Buddhism, founded in 1980 by the late American Zen Master John Daido Loori, Roshi (1931-2009).
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