Joan Halifax | Zen Buddhist Teacher Upaya Abbot public
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Upaya Zen Center's Dharma Podcast

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Upaya Zen Center's Dharma Podcast

Joan Halifax | Zen Buddhist Teacher Upaya Abbot

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The Upaya Dharma Podcast features Wednesday evening Dharma Talks and recordings from Upaya’s diverse array of programs. Our podcasts exemplify Upaya’s focus on socially engaged Buddhism, including prison work, end-of-life care, serving the homeless, training in socially engaged practices, peace & nonviolence, compassionate care training, and delivering healthcare in the Himalayas.
 
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Renowned professor of law and mindfulness teacher, Rhonda Magee, speaks to our task today to heal all separations. ‘The separation from our body to this planet, the separation from each other, elitism, borders, fascism, etc.’ We need to heal ourselves so that we can hold ourselves accountable. ‘The courts are not going to save us.’ By bringing inte…
 
In this powerful talk, Sensei and Climate Scientist Kritee Kanko begins by underscoring the importance of addressing trauma for activism. To hear each other we need to be in our comfort zones. ‘Our communities need to have the skills to face and compost trauma… for communities of color, the climate crisis is another layer of threat…lack of action i…
 
In the second talk of the morning session, Dekila Chungyalpa, Director of the Loka Initiative at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, differentiates between eco-anxiety, and solastalgia. She speaks about her work in the Loka Initiative, empowering faith leaders from around the world to take environmental action. She ends her talk by encouraging us …
 
The first talk of the Social & Environmental Justice day long at Upaya, ‘recovering politician’ Heather Mcteer Toney, points to the critical role of identity in climate solutions. Because of this nation’s history, Communities’ of Color’s mistrust has left them out of participating in local and national climate solutions. In response, she recommends…
 
Self-hate is a particularly modern, western phenomenon. Buddhist literature up until the 21st century lacks any notion of self-compassion. Why is that? Compassion garners a large role with the advent of the Mahayana movement, in its capacity to liberate us from the second veil of ignorance, the distinction between self and other, self and world. Go…
 
In this Wednesday night Dharma Talk, Dr. Richard Schwartz starts us off by orienting the audience with the fundamentals of Internal Family Systems. He further expands, by suggesting that we can only be compassionate with others if we learn how to be calm, curious, and compassionate with our internal parts. He ends the discussion with a small practi…
 
Here, Stephanie Kaza braids all the previous talks to present a conceptual lens in showcasing how farming, gardening, and ecology are fundamentally issues of justice. What is the role of an awakened action? How do justice and culture regenerate the soil and human health? How can we reckon with the past, be responsible today and shift our human rela…
 
In this beautiful and eye-opening presentation, Konda Mason speaks about her work with Jubilee Justice in addressing wealth and inequality because of black land loss. To remedy the exploitation and loss of black land, Jubilee Justice’s work focuses on three main spheres: Journeys, the Rice Project, and Potlikker Capital. Journey convenes transforma…
 
Wendy Johnson begins by reminding us of the previous day’s planting of the three sisters in the Upaya garden. The ancient sisters of squash, beans, and corn. In such difficult times, gardening as a practice allows us to not look away from our grief. It is of the utmost importance to stop, not turn away, and look deeply to grieve. For Program/Series…
 
In the first talk of the day, renowned artist, sculptress, and Tewa leader, Roxanne Swentzell, speaks to the incredible journey of re-establishing the pre-European Tewa diet. Through the process of re-encountering mother-salt, re-learning the ancient methods of processing and storing food, and doing it in community, Roxanne shows us how inextricabl…
 
‘First, we braid grasses and play tug of war; then we take turns singing and keeping a kickball in the air. I kick the ball and they sing, they kick and I sing, time is forgotten the hours fly. People passing by point at me and laugh, ‘why are you acting like such a fool’. […]By Joan Halifax | Zen Buddhist Teacher Upaya Abbot
 
Sensei Kathie Fischer explores the core tenets of Mahayana Buddhism, inviting us into deeper dialogue regarding the principles of non-duality, form, emptiness, and self. She brings us into the depth of Vilmalakirti’s thunderous silence, reminding us that it penetrates our lives and that it is close at hand when we drop the preferential mind. She [……
 
Wendy Johnson discusses the Vimalakirti sutra and connects this text and its teachings with the living teacher Thích Nhất Hạnh. She explains that Vimalakirti is a wounded healer boddhisatva, “dangerous to settled life in every way and alive with the feral vow to benefit all beings.” She shares with us that bodhisattvas become sick due […]…
 
Monshin Nannette Overley weaves together the talks we’ve heard during the Fall Practice Period on emptiness and compassion, while exploring the difference between sentimental compassion and true compassion. She calls us to remember the true gift of having a practice, in this world, to wake up. She reminds us that our practice is a treasure which [……
 
Matthew Kozan Palevsky delves into Chapter 5 of the Vimalakirti sutra. He begins by reminding us how sickness can open up the possibility for connection and healing, saying “In illness we can feel uniquely undefended, unpretentious, unmitigated, unquestioning, undone. At times this can feel like overwhelming intimacy with whomever is with us, or wi…
 
Reigetsu Susan Moon reviews chapter 7 of Vimalakirti, The Goddess. She shares the story of the Goddess and Shariputra and illuminates insights from the sutra involving non-duality, opposites being necessary and complementary, gender as a social construct, and body as an illusory form. She encourages us to put ourselves in other people shoes in orde…
 
Robert Thurman reads from his translation of The Holy Teaching of Vimalakirti, summarizing this sutra as a text of discovering inconceivable liberation through direct realization of the interconnectedness of all beings. He reminds us that to understand this text is to understand that we are buddha, and to realize this we have to go beyond dualistic…
 
Sensei Shinzan Palma speaks to us of the importance of practice to wake up. He teaches us that whether we are monastic or lay practitioners, the dharma is available to us in every aspect of our lives. He reminds us that we have the opportunity in every moment to realize the dharma despite the conditions […]…
 
Zenshin Florence Caplow and Reigetsu Sue Moon offer us the wisdom of Zen Crones through storytelling and reference of their collaboration The Hidden Lamp: Stories from Twenty-Five Centuries of Awakened Women. They encourage Zen practice and teaching as medicine for the anxieties of the 21st century. They encourage us to turn to Zen crones who hold …
 
Heather McTeer Toney speaks on recovery from climate disasters as a pathway to building resilient communities. She reminds us that people of color know this pathway well and have been engaged in the fight for climate justice long before today. She encourages us to take collective action that follows the lead of community organizers who […]…
 
In this classic Dharma Talk with Venerable Pannavati Bikkhuni from the Heartwood Refuge in North Carolina, we are reminded of the deep interconnectedness of generosity and gratitude, and ultimately, equanimity, and how this timeless practice of meditation and ethics can help us navigate in the modern world.…
 
Frank Ostaseski invites us back into the body to experience the fullness of life, in order to lean into the mystery of life and death. He invites us to look at life and death through the lens of the elements, and into the realization of the interconnectedness of all things.By Joan Halifax | Zen Buddhist Teacher Upaya Abbot
 
Sensei Sara Jisho Siebert shares her journey as a Zen practitioner and the ways she has learned from the experiences in her life to stay with the unpleasant feelings and suffering that can arise in order to expand our capacity for empathy. She shares that the practice of being with our own suffering can lead […]…
 
Osho Zenju Earthlyn Manuel and Roshi Joan Halifax engage in a dialogue to discuss the shamanic practice that is zen. She invites us into seeing za zen as a daily ceremony, a ceremonial elixir that is devoid of the clutter of the world. She invites us to see this ritual that we can re-engage with […]By Joan Halifax | Zen Buddhist Teacher Upaya Abbot
 
In this wholly contemporary talk that is also deeply rooted in the Buddhist contemplative tradition, Rhonda Magee brings us into the classic practice of Satipatthana – mindfulness of body, feeling, thought, and phenomena, to help work with identity-based suffering. She shares how the Four Establishments of Mindfulness remind us that to be alive is …
 
In her timely talk, Roshi Enkyo O’Hara invites us to sing along with Tina Turner, “What’s Time Got To Do With It?” and explores the process of overwhelm overwhelming overwhelm in Dogen’s fascicle Time-Being. Roshi Enkyo translates Dogen into modern idiom, relating that “FOMO (fear of missing out) is a universal fear that can trigger a […]…
 
When you Greet Me I Bow, Roshi Norman Fischer’s latest book came about differently from his past writing endeavors. For Norman, and his editor, the past four decades of writing can be condensed into four main themes: A) Relationships; B) Buddhist Emptiness teachings; C) Culture & its Shapings, and D) Engagement. As a precursor to […]…
 
Rhonda Myozan V Magee leads us in the inquiry of how the racist mind takes seed in all of us. She reminds us that we need to turn towards the legacy of racism and colonization in order to face the harm and impact in our communities. Rhonda invites us to look at how we embody […]By Joan Halifax | Zen Buddhist Teacher Upaya Abbot
 
In today’s talk Stephanie Kaza explores moral injury: We can be morally injured by the damage done to the environment. The moral injury leaves us feeling ashamed, guilty, and helpless, and ‘…threatens our belief in our society.’ Looking at other traditions like the ancient Christians and the Navajo, their wisdom demonstrates that we must ‘…take res…
 
Hoshi Kozan Palevsky asks us: What has this pandemic given you and what has it allowed you to let go of? He asks us to look at this upheaval through the lens of a Jubilee, the Biblical practice of letting go of debt and other forms of bondage during a year of renewal. Kozan ends […]By Joan Halifax | Zen Buddhist Teacher Upaya Abbot
 
Episode Description: Sensei Wendy Johnson begins by reminding us of the previous day’s planting of the Three Sisters in the Upaya garden. The ancient sisters of squash, beans, and corn. In such difficult times gardening as a practice allows us to not look away at our grief. The importance of stopping, not turning away, in order […]…
 
In The Poetry of Awareness on an Ordinary Day, Fushin James Bristol explores the profound practice of awareness in our day to day life–“…doing what I’m supposed to be doing now.” Awareness arises from the tangled thoughts during Zazen and moves into our life and activities in the world, where what happens each day–from the stark moments to […]…
 
Episode Description: Sensei Wendy Johnson begins her talk by drawing our attention to the many challenges confronting us today: the extreme climate swings around the world, the death and despair from the global pandemic, the 100 year anniversary of the Tulsa Massacre, and the legacy of genocide and racism in the USA. ‘Old zen…,’ Wendy […]…
 
In this powerful talk, Breeshia Wade, author of the recently released Grieving While Black, explores how the underlying truth of impermanence relates to states of grief and loss, and that if we wish to bring about change in an unjust system, for example to deal with racial inequality, then we must accept that this change will […]…
 
As a prelude to the resident sesshin on Dogen which started later that night, Matthew Kozan Palevsky delves into Dogen’s language of suchness, and how we can “micro-dose” moments of meditation to realize the heart of Dogen’s teaching.By Joan Halifax | Zen Buddhist Teacher Upaya Abbot
 
Episode Description: In his talk on Enacting Hope, the philosopher Evan Thompson reviews Gabriel Marcel’s view on Hope through his differentiation between a conditioned, and an unconditioned hope. Given our historic situation, unconditioned hope acts as an antidote to despair by requiring an inner creative process of transformation, rooted in the s…
 
Episode Description: In this Wednesday night, and SEBT Dharma Talk, Dr. Larry Ward speaks on sorrow and grief. Trauma, Dr. Ward points out, is a normal human occurrence rooted in the biology of the human being. Being inundated by trauma triggers, how are we able to transform grief and sorrow into love? How can we […]…
 
In this Wednesday night Dharma Talk, Lama Rod Owens speaks on the importance of recognizing and being intimate with one’s own grief. This is how we can bloom to be lotuses, and serve others. Nevertheless, blossoming from mud to lotus is dirty, messy, and complex work, ‘…if you aren’t willing to get messy with complexity, you aren’t […]…
 
In the final Dharma Talk of the Spring Practice Period, and Sesshin, Sensei Kathie Fischer speaks on the last two chapters of the Bodhicaryavatara: Wisdom and Dedication. Sensei brings up notions of beginner’s mind, interdependent co-arising, and buddha-nature. She ends with Dedication and requests we write our own verses of inspiration and benefit…
 
On this day 5 of the Spring Sesshin, Hoshi’s Kigaku Noah Rossetter and Matthew Kozan Palevsky tag team to speak on Prajna Paramita, or the Perfection of Wisdom in the Bodhicaryavatara. Kigaku does an ‘unprecedented’ slide show, depicting how concepts reduce our perceptions of a rainbow’s panoply of colors to mere dozens. Similarly, our distinct exp…
 
In this dharma talk, Zenshin Florence Caplow highlights the value and depth found with lay practice. She points to Shantideva’s sparse attention given to meditation in his chapter, The Perfection of Meditation, and asks us to inquire, what has Shantideva chosen to speak about? How does it speak to us about our meditation practice? Also, Zenshin add…
 
On day three of the Spring 2021 sesshin, Sensei Al Kaszniak presents his views on chapter 8 of the Bodhicaryavatara, the Perfection of Meditation. He brings in parallels from Dogen’s Fukanzazengi, Bendowa, and the Genjokoan, in the importance of stabilizing concentration and renunciation of discursive thought. The importance of a curious open-heart…
 
In this Dharma Talk, Sensei Irene Kaigetsu Bakker explores chapter 7 of the Bodhicaryavatara, the Perfection of Zeal. She tracks Shantideva’s progression from a fear-based warning against unwholesome deeds to an insight-based joy that arises from wholesome deeds. It is exactly through finding the joy in wholesome deeds that zeal is perfected. This …
 
In this day one Sesshin Dharma Talk, Sensei Jose Shinzan De Palma speaks on Chapter 6 of the Bodhicaryavatara, The Perfection of Patience. He points out how Shantideva doesn’t directly speak about Patience, or its cultivation but rather emphasizes its enemies and difficulties. Through the transformation of anger, jealousy, envy, hate, and pride we …
 
In this Dharma talk, Hoshi Matthew Kozan Palevsky looks at Chapter 5 of the Bodhicaryavatara through a contemporary problematic. Shantideva warns and implore’s us to maintain the mind’s awareness for it is the basis of all other vows and practices. Not doing so leads us to the realm of the “Avicii Hell.” In a contemporary […]…
 
Episode Description: In this Dharma Talk on Chapter 5 of the Bodhicaryavatara, John Dunne suggests the guarding of meta-awareness, better aptly describes the practice Shantideva recommends. A non-dual awareness which is non-objectifying and quotidian. He provides us with helpful aphorisms from the text we can use for moments when we go astray. Ulti…
 
In this Dharma Talk, Monshin Nannette Overley speaks on Chapter 4 of the Bodhicaryavatavara, Attending to the Spirit of Awakening. Specifically, on the necessity of attentiveness in peacemaking for its capacity to tend to the spirit of service, its treasure as a guardian in keeping us from repeating mistakes, and support in continuously showing up.…
 
In this beautiful Dharma talk on chapter 3 of the Bodhicaryavatara, Sensei Sokaku Kathie Fischer speaks on longing and heartbreak as the opening for connection, for the spirit of awakening. For Program/Series description and to access the entire series, please click on the link below: Upaya Podcast Series: Spring Practice Period 2021: The Way of [……
 
Episode Description: Going over the second chapter, The Confession of Sin, of the Bodhicaryvatara, Roshi Enkyo O’Hara looks at the importance and function of confession for the service of all beings. Through atonement, powerful energies of healing are released which cure not only individuals but whole societies as well. For Program/Series descripti…
 
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