The Cedar Rapids Zen Center, and its community of peaceful members, stand in solidarity with the brave and sturdy citizens of Ukraine – and with their democratically elected government. The illegal, immoral, brutal and reprehensible invasion of Ukraine by Russian forces is being condemned by a vast majority of the world’s countries. Therefore, we stand with the world, and in our daily sittings, we send out peaceful energy for those innocents suffering so much right now in beautiful Ukraine.
The calendar has been updated for 2023. Please check it for events that you may want to attend.
Fan and Wind
In Genjōkōan Dōgen tells the story of the 8th century Chinese master Baoche and his fan.
It must have been hot, because Baoche was fanning himself. A monk came by and asked “If the nature of wind is ever-present and it reaches everywhere, why are you fanning yourself?”
Baoche replied, “Although you understand that the nature of wind is ever-present, you don’t understand it’s reaching everywhere.”
“What is the meaning of its reaching everywhere?” the monk asked. Baoche just fanned himself.
Dōgen likes to illustrate his points with images and metaphors, and this story is a metaphor for our relationship with buddha nature. Buddha nature – being awake – is everywhere, all the time. It’s in us. Hearing this, we’re tempted to ask “If I already have realization in me, why do I have to practice?” Baoche waves his fan. The wind is here but he has to do something to make it a breeze. If he just sits there, he boils in his layers of robes in the August heat. Baoche, being a practical man, actualizes the cooling power of the wind with his fan.
It’s the same for us. Realization pervades everywhere constantly, but it does us no good until we use it. Until we practice. When we begin noticing our self-referential ideas, seeing them for what they are, and putting them aside to see reality intimately, we begin practicing. We pick up the “fan” and bring the coolness of realization into being. Just as wind has no cooling power without being moved about, realization doesn’t really work in the world without our doing practice/realization.
Dōgen says further that because buddha nature is ever-present “the wind of the Buddha’s house brings forth the gold of the earth and makes fragrant the cream of the long river.”
Our practice changes things. The world becomes valuable and beautiful when we practice, and this permeates everywhere. The long river of our lives becomes fragrant and nourishing, both to ourselves and others. Nishiari Roshi comments “The radiance of our original nature manifests only when we practice and actualize the buddha nature.”
Bringing forth gold and making rivers into cream sounds perhaps impossible. However, it’s nothing special. It’s our coffee and toast at breakfast. It’s taking the trash cans to the alley on the evening before trash pickup day.
Photo – Japanese fan. Sumi-e by Tsugen Narasaki Roshi – calligraphy “dharma wind.”
You can read more in Dōgen’s Genjōkōan: Three Commentaries (Berkeley: Counterpoint Press, 2011).
November — Monday Night dharma discussion 7:00 pm to 8:00 pm –on Zoom – email us for the link
November 26 – Sangha Meeting, following Dharma Talk
December 1-3 – Sesshin (Rohatsu)– 7:00 pm Friday to 5:15 pm Sunday—please register
Tuesday, Wednesday, and Friday
12:15 – 12:55 zazen
Wednesday and Thursday evenings
6:30 – 7:10 zazen
Sunday zazen – by Zoom
9:00 – 9:40 sitting
9:45 – 10:15 dharma talk
10:15 – 11:00 check in and discussion
Quote of the week
Zen Is Right Here: Teaching Stories and Anecdotes of Shunryu Suzuki, author of Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind
by Shunryu Suzuki,
Edited by David Chadwick,