This is a series of talks given by R. Leon on the fundamental ideas of Buddhism and how they relate to our Zen practice. These talks used the book called Basic Buddhist Concepts by Kogen Mizuno as beginning point. (The book is available at many sites online.) The talks were given at our usual Wednesday evening meetings from the fall 2012 to the winter of 2013.

The Three Treasures 9/26/12, 35 min

This evening we talked about why we consider Buddhism to be a spiritual or religious practice and not just an ethical or philosophical system. We also talked about the character of practicing within the Three Treasures of Buddha, Dharma (what the Buddha taught) and Sangha (those who practice what the Buddha taught) .

Causality and the Four Signs or Marks of Existence 10/3/12, 42 min

Here we explore the importance of causality and the four marks or characteristics of existence which are: impermanence, the absence of an abiding separate self, suffering, and the possibility of Awakening.

Practical Dependent Origination 10/10/12.

We begin the section on Dependent Origination and look at some ways to approach that teaching from a practical point of view. As an example we talked about the problem on inadequacy.

Dependent Origination Continued 10/17/12.

We continue the section on Dependent Origination and explore how we might receive negative consequences for an action which might be considered to be a good action.

The Path Of Faith, 11/7/12, 44 min.

In this talk we look into the connection between letting go and the practice of faith.

The Religious Spirit, 11/14/12, 42 min.

We talk more about faith and the Mind That Seeks The Way or Bodhicitta.

The Effects Of Karma And Responsibility, 11/29/2012, 41 min.

In this talk we look a little more closely into what is meant by the term karma and about cleansing karmic effects that we find in our minds and experience. We also talk about responsibility as the ability to respond to the conditions of our lives from a place that is not swayed by the various distortions that we might have.

Bodhidharma’s Four Practices, 12/12/21, 35 min.

Here we talk about how Bodhidharma’s four practices, acceptance of suffering, sitting unmoved, the seeking of nothing, enlightenment proved, are expressive of how we put the Four Noble Truths into practice.

The Eightfold Path: Right View or Understanding and Right Thought 1/16/13, 29 min.

In this talk we discuss what “Right” means and the importance of not holding on to views.

The Eightfold Path: Right Speech, Right Action and Right Livelihood 1/23/13, 40 min.

Here we begin to explore the idea of living directly from our basic experience and how that helps us to be in harmony with Buddha nature.

The Eightfold Path: Right Effort, Right Mindfulness, and Right Concentration 1/30/13, 43 min.

This group is classically associated with the practice of meditation and we talk about how to understand these in the context of zazen practice. As an example we talk about how right concentration is concentration on no particular thing.

The Threefold Learning: Precepts and Meditation 2/6/13, 38min.

The Threefold Learning is comprised of meditation, precepts and wisdom and is a way of looking at the study and practice of Buddhism from a mahayana perspective.

The Threefold Learning: Wisdom 2/13/13, 36min.

In this final talk of the series, we talk about a few of the aspects of the practice of Wisdom. Wisdom, or prajna in Sanskrit, is seeing things clearly, as they actually are from the place “before knowledge” (one of the meanings of the component parts of the word prajna is literally, before knowledge – pra – pre or before, jna – knowledge). This includes seeing clearly and accepting the causal reasons for our present circumstances.