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Every day we are faced with moral decisions, and it's often difficult to know how to act. If there's a snake in our garden, do we kill it? If our co-worker is stealing from the company, is it our obligation to speak up? What if we tell our children not to lie, then the phone rings and we ask them to say we're not home? In this compelling talk, Roshi explores the role of morality and ethics in our lives.
Many people think that Zen Buddhism is not concerned with ethics, but, in fact, 16 moral precepts form the core of Zen practice. These precepts differ from precepts in Western religions, and include statements such as "Affirm life: do not kill" and "Manifest truth: do not lie". Roshi stresses that these precepts are not regulations, but are in fact creative; we need to develop a flexibility that allows us to respond to life's challenges as they arise. He offers advice on overcoming the blocks created by our own thinking and grasping, thereby allowing us to live our lives in a fresh way without causing harm to ourselves or others.
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).