Our world is full of words, whether we are listening to others, watching T.V., or talking to ourselves. In a religion like Zen Buddhism, where so much emphasis is placed on silence and meditation, what is the place of words and literature? Zen practice doesn't mean abandoning language, but rather using it to our advantage. The truth isn't found in either words or silence; it encompasses both. Meditation is an essential tool for arriving at this place of truth, teaching us to come home to the present moment and helping us realize our innate wisdom and kindness.
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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