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Courage and Letting Go: Soten Sends us a Message from Sogenji

Halfway done here and I confess I've been counting! Awakening is of great importance at Sogenji; it's why people are here. I don't have experiential context to make meaning of this word, but I can say that when I leave sanzen (which is 1-4x a day) something feels possible. Sila (the precepts) is not a teaching here, though I feel it expressed in Roshi's teishos.


Are You Afraid of This Happiness?

Every November, we host a weeklong silent meditation retreat themed on generosity and gratitude. In this spirit, we do not charge a fixed rate for the retreat, but instead ask for donations of food. The cook then only uses the food that is given to craft the meals for the week. A container woven together from the generosity of the Sangha, we enter the retreat aware of and opened to the dance of giver, receiver and gift, somehow sitting on the apex of each.


Gratitude and Good Bye From Myoyu Haley Voekel

I have run in terror through the woods. The grounds have been watered with my tears. I have bolted from the Zendo, the Oryoki table, Closing Circle and Sunday lunch.

            Not a runner but hoping to run forever. To move faster than thought. To outrun my tormented past and unknowable future.


The Hungry Heart

Calling all you Hungry Hearts

Everywhere through endless time.

“Feel the restlessness” Hogen Roshi guides, “I want food. I want comfort. I want to be loved. I want to check out. I want to be right. I want to know. I want to be cared for. I want to be happy. I want wisdom. I want clarity. I want peace. I want…I want…I want.”

You who wander, you who thirst


Relying on the Heart's Aspiration by Chozen Roshi


Ever-deepening Intimacy


To study and practice Dharma, and not really know what is going on underneath the robe, is cause for the greatest pain.


“Look intimately at your direct experience,” Hogen Roshi instructs. “Look at the floor,” at seeing, at breath, at body, at space, vast and timeless, complete and whole—“everything is reaching out to you.”



Practicing in the World, as the World

Xiushan said, "What can you do about the world?"

Dizang said, "What do you call the world?"


What brings us to the Dharma? Inspiration? Aspiration? Personal Transformation? Freedom?  Love? Vow? A call from the world?



Bright Clarity Appears Before You

It came about slowly, almost imperceptible—an absence that is less seen or heard, but felt. Like how the swallows' nests nestled around the perimeter of the monastery one day, stopped singing. And the bustle of keeping the garden and grounds watered, dissolved into the cool shadows of an ever-darkening earth.


Silent and serene, forgetting words, bright clarity appears before you



All Inclusive Heart

This is Samsara. This is Nirvana. Exactly as it is.

The sun blazing open clear blue sky, as afternoon heat tenderizes the body, easing the remaining rough edges of self. Or maybe its the other way around, the penetrating heat of a heart opened through Loving Kindness and Compassion clarifies the sky, allowing the Summer Sun to blaze forth unhindered.


How do you help someone?

How do you help someone?

It’s Sunday Program at the monastery. Residents and community members have been sitting alone together in the stillness of zazen. As the sun gently enlightened the meditation hall, and a soft breeze kissed each face. Hogen posses this question to the group—