Links to YouTube Lectures

Eihei Koso Hotsuganmon 1 of 4

Posted by on Nov 22, 2020 in YouTube | 0 comments

Eihei Koso Hotsuganmon 1 of 4

Link to YouTube Videos of talks 1 – 4 of Rev. Kinst’s teachings on Eihei Koso Hotsuganmon by Dogen Zenji

Link to talk 1:

Link to talk 2:

Link to talk 3:

Link to talk 4:

George Floyd’s Death and our Sahaworld

Posted by on Jun 3, 2020 in YouTube | 0 comments

Shinshu recently gave a talk (May 30th) on how, as Buddhist, we may practice and respond to George Floyd’s death. Here is a link to Shinshu’s lecture on YouTube.

Entering Another Country

Posted by on Feb 12, 2018 in YouTube | 0 comments

Entering Another Country

“Bodhidharma was going to an unknown country: ordinary beings who value their body and life could never conceive of such a journey.”

Dogen Zenji, Shobogenzo Gyoji, part 2.

Shinshu’s Commentary:

This quotation, on its face, is about Bodhidharma making a sea voyage from India to China to transmit his Buddhist understanding. It is also an acknowledgement of the difficulties of making the leap from a selfish life to compassionate response.

When we let go of our desires to control and include the other, this can seem like entering another country. We have to set aside our fears, set aside our likes and dislikes. This journey can be difficult and perilous. Who knows what the other person will do? Can we trust them? It can be like stepping off the 100 foot pole and we are afraid. Yet, we go forth, we trust in the Buddha, Dharma and Sangha. We place our toe on the edge of the platform. Before the Dharma was transmitted to us, we may not have had this vision, mustered the faith, and taken the leap. Practice takes courage. It’s good to remember that we are doing a difficult thing. Please remember this when facing yourself and facing another. Let us be kind to each other and see each other’s brave effort.

All the best, Shinshu

Erecting a Temple Here

Posted by on Sep 30, 2017 in YouTube | 0 comments

Attention! As the World Honored One was walking with his disciples, he pointed to the ground and said, “It would be good to erect a temple here.” The god Indra took a blade of grass and stuck it in the ground and said, “The temple has been erected.” The World Honored One smiled. [from The Book of Equanimity, trans. by Gerry Shishin Wick]

Shinshu’s Commentary

The Buddha is walking along a familiar path, he points to the ground and says “Why not build a temple here?” Indra, a powerful Hindu god, sticks a blade of grass in the ground and says “Here it is.” Is Indra mocking  the Buddha? Is the Buddha suggesting his donors should get busy and build a grand temple in his name? What exactly is happening here?

A commentarial verse to this koan is “Everywhere life is sufficient in its way – No matter if one is not as clever as the other.” It is often said in Zen that our ability to practice is not predicated upon a dull or sharp mind. We may not be as clever as Indra who was quick to point out that even a common blade of grass, stuck in the ground, right where we are, is a temple. Furthermore, we may not be famous or working to find a cure for cancer.

This very life is sufficient . . . in its way. What is its way? I would suggest it is the way of all beings practicing together in one Buddha field, building a sanctuary called everyday life. This is the Bodhisattva Path. Yet, it doesn’t feel like enough . . . sometimes. In Zen we say “this very life is Buddha.” Our work is a temple, our home is a temple, our mistakes are a temple: everything you can call something is a temple and a teacher. Dogen writes it is the song of the valley stream. Can you hear it? Nothing special. When we can’t hear it, can we still change our view based upon our faith in the truth of practice? Can we make our best effort to nurture, respect, and honor each moment as a temple?

Try to remember this teaching when you are fed up, tired, and feeling shabby. One blade of grass. Has it occurred to you that this one blade of grass might look dried, dead, and limp? Is this a temple? Yup! Please come on in . . . the door is always open.

What Place Could Not Be a Buddha-land?

Posted by on Jul 17, 2017 in YouTube | 0 comments

“What place could not be a Buddha-land? Therefore, when we want to circulate the truth of the Buddhist ancestors, it is not always necessary to select a perfect place or to wait for fortunate circumstances. Shall we just consider today to be a starting point?” Dogen Zenji, the Founder of Japanese Soto Zen

Shinshu Commentary:

Every place is a Buddha-land. Buddha-lands are places where Buddha’s live. Who is a Buddha? We are all the embodiment of a Buddha’s nature, although we may not always respond as such. Dogen is encouraging us to remember that in this Buddha-land, filled with our joys and sorrows, practice happens here. It happens wherever you are standing, sitting, walking or lying down. Moment-by-moment we say “why not start now?” Even thought we might resist practice, we make our best effort.

One day Zen Master Dogen asked his students: “Shall we just consider today to be a starting point?”

“Yes!” the assembly responded.

Dogen held up his whisk, making a circle in the air.



Practicing In A World of Suffering

Posted by on Jun 19, 2017 in YouTube | 0 comments

“When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, “Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.” Fred Rodgers of Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood

Shinshu’s Commentary

This inspiring quotation has gone viral, so you’ve probably read it or heard about it. Anthony Breznican, who writes for Entertainment Weekly, repeated Fred Rodgers’ comments after the suicide bombing in Manchester.

In our school, the question arises: “If we all have buddha nature, why do people do evil things to each other?” Unfortunately, our Buddha-nature is often obscured by our delusion, much as a rain cloud blocks our view of the blue sky. Also, we live in the buddha-field of Shakyamuni Buddha and a characteristic of our world is suffering-delusion. It is this very suffering and delusion that encourages us to wake up and realize our inherent Buddha-nature. In our world one does not come without the other. This is why the Buddha said, “There is suffering” and called it the First Noble Truth. It is the premise from which we begin practice.

So the question becomes “what is it,” rather than “why is it.” Once we come around to how things are, we can begin to find an appropriate response. The Helpers are the people who look around and ask themselves “what can I do?” and act. This “what can I do?” must also be combined with “what is needed?” regardless of the “why” of a situation. In Buddhism we call these people Bodhisattvas. They are the first responders.

We are inspired by the helpers and our attention becomes redirected from our discouragement, bewilderment, helplessness and anger. It is our Buddhist practice, to be both encouraged and encouraging. Practice-realization is the action of the helper-bodhisattva-first responder. May we all be inspired to follow the path of these bodhisattvas.

Just This World

Posted by on Jun 19, 2017 in YouTube | 0 comments

The zazen I speak of is not learning meditation. It is simply the Dharma-gate of repose and bliss. It is the practice-realization of totally culminated enlightenment. It is things as they are in suchness. Eihei Dōgen Fukanzazengi: Universal Promotion of the Principles of Zazen

Shinshu’s Commentary:
As we clear away the cares and concerns of human relationships, what can be heard? Sitting zazen, listening to the sounds of the world, we immerse ourselves in Buddha’s Way. Buddha’s Way is just this world in harmony, knowing connection and response. Living-dying we hear a bird, living-dying we feel a breeze and we know it is our world, just-this-moment-all-being. We don’t have to rush out to meet it, we just have to stop and let it come forward.

I Am the Most Honored One

Posted by on Apr 10, 2017 in YouTube | 0 comments

Thus have I heard, that one day as the queen was strolling through the Garden of Lumbini, “she leaned on the limb of an Asoka tree which dropped down because of the weight of its flowers. At that moment, the Bodhisattva was born, suddenly and yet peacefully. Immediately after birth, he took seven steps in each of the four directions and proclaimed, ‘In heaven above and on earth below, I am the most honored one, I shall dispel the suffering that fills the world.'” His name was Siddhartha which means One Whose Goal is Achieved. [This version of the Buddha’s Birth is from a Chinese translation of the Sanskrit sutra, Lalita-vistara Sutra (The Extensive Play: meaning Buddha’s life was a display to benefit all beings)]

Shinshu Commentary:

Who is this ‘I’  who saves all beings? One interpretation is that the ‘I’ to which Siddhartha referred is the universal ‘I’ of all being/beings. This ‘I’ resonates throughout space and time, as the person known as Siddhartha and as the mandala of totality. Who awakens? How does awakening become and express? There is no awakening without the affirmation of all beings simultaneously practicing and affirming. At the moment of ‘I’ awakening is all of spring bursting forth. The flowers of the Asoka tree, the women in Maya’s assembly. It is the robin on your lawn and your own arising this morning. Nothing is left out, no time is not present. In delusion we strive to awaken. In realization we express ‘I’ and save all beings. This is our true face, one spring, every spring, springing springs endlessly expressing.

Practicing When Distracted

Posted by on Dec 12, 2016 in YouTube | 0 comments

“If you can practice when distracted, you are well trained.”

Slogan 22 of the Root Text of the Seven Points of Training the Mind compiled by Chekawa Yeshi Dorje.

This is one of the major teaching in Buddhism: continuing to practice skillfully in the midst of difficulties. Of course, we cannot expect ourselves to immediately be able to practice when we are beset with distracting worries and troubles. In order to do that we must make effort continuously with small problems and worries. This builds our practice muscles which in turn enables up to pick up the heavy load of major difficulties.

When we work very diligently with problems that are within our current abilities we can feel satisfaction and encouragement over our successes. We are also able to better discern what is actually happening in our life as we work with the issues that are directly in front of us. What this means, for example,  is that we work on becoming a patient and compassionate driver of our car. Or we focus on becoming better listeners. We practice our skillful means with strangers as well as our family and friends.

Practicing with family and friends can sometimes feel more difficult because we are deeply invested in the outcome of our actions and theirs. So, this can be harder than practicing in public arenas. On the other hand, it is sometimes easier to be selfish when we think we don’t know anyone and there will be no repercussion for our misdeeds. Either way we have to make our  best effort.

We are now experiencing social and political upheaval that is quite distracting and difficult. We may be afraid or angry about our current circumstances. Or we might be happy and disconcerted by the reaction of people around us. In either case, we have to double down and practice even harder. Start small, keep at it, be curious, rejoice when you are successful, and atone when you fail.


A Quiet Temple in the White Dew

Posted by on Apr 11, 2016 in YouTube | 0 comments

Time passes, spring to autumn; the temple is quiet, white dew dense, Through crickets near the window run their looms, they do not add ne thread for this poor monk.

 By Zen Master Ryokan from Sky Above, Great Wind: the Life and Poetry of Zen Master Ryokan. Kazuaki Tanahashi

Shinshu’s Commentary:

It’s not so hard to imagine Ryokan in the quiet autumn dusk listening to the crickets. His temple is surrounded by hoary frost in a still cocoon. In his poem, Ryokan refers to the first koan in the koan collection Book of Serenity “The World Honored One Ascends the Seat.” In this koan the Buddha takes the teaching seat while Manjusri makes a rather grandiose introduction. The Buddha immediately gets off the seat and leaves the room. The commentary points out that Manjusri rather states the obvious and that the Buddha’s very life itself is the teaching. The verse that accompanies the koan’s commentary is: The unique breeze of reality—do you see? Continuously creation runs her loom and shuttle, Weaving the ancient brocade, incorporating the forms of spring, But nothing can be done about Manjusri’s leaking.

Crickets running their loom, a temple in the mist, and a monk in attendance are all each one thing or one being’s activity. Yet, that activity is the totality of our world. Time passing, seasons turning, and in midst of this is our continuous activity. The cricket’s loom produces the same ancient brocade woven by Creation. Each and every thing is running the loam of reality. The “poor monk” is not in need of a single thing. To mention the added thread is like Manjusri’s leaking. Manjusri states what is already apparent to those who can see. We live in the world of form and leaking is the human condition. We say it is enough, and yet….and yet? Not one threat can be added.

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