These are the talks that have been transcribed on this site, with brief summaries compiled by Kikan.


Diamond Sutra: Introduction
May 9, 1979 Dharma Talk by Dainin Katagiri Roshi

Katagiri Roshi begins a series of talks on the Diamond Sutra by discussing the fundamental point that it teaches: “A is A, but A is not A, this means A is really A.” He explains the meaning of negation in Buddhism, how it relates to interconnection, and why emptiness means that we have to practice. He also talks about where the sutras originated, and the Indian preference for using huge numbers and concepts to teach about emptiness. In addition, he addresses the question, “If we are sitting in order to help ourselves, should we stop sitting?”


Fukanzazengi: Dogen’s Universal Recommendation for Zazen – Talk 1
June 9, 1979 Dharma Talk by Dainin Katagiri Roshi

Katagiri Roshi begins a series of talks on Fukanzazengi, Zen Master Dogen’s universal recommendations for how to practice zazen (seated meditation), by examining the meaning of the critical line, “For you must know that just there, in zazen, the right dharma is manifesting itself, and that from the first, dullness and distraction are struck aside.” He introduces a six-component system for understanding zazen from a physical and psychological standpoint, and discusses how important it is to arrange circumstances and let go. He also talks about life at Eiheiji monastery.


Fukanzazengi: Dogen’s Universal Recommendation for Zazen – Talk 2
June 10, 1979 Dharma Talk by Dainin Katagiri Roshi

Katagiri Roshi expands on the six-component system for understanding zazen that he introduced in the previous talk. He further discusses the relationship between regulation of body and mind, samadhi (one-pointedness), egolessness, “no design on having a reward”, and shikantaza (just sitting). The distinction between “religious zazen” and philosophical or psychological zazen is explored. There is an extended question and answer period.


Fukanzazengi: Dogen’s Universal Recommendation for Zazen – Talk 3
June 11, 1979 Dharma Talk by Dainin Katagiri Roshi

Katagiri Roshi examines the meaning of the line “from the first, dullness and distraction are struck aside” from another angle. He talks about three different kinds of zazen (sitting meditation), and why shikantaza is not a means to an end. He also explains what it means to accumulate merit and virtue, how to understand and work with past karma, and why we have to aim at the life after next life. There is a story about a commando who visited the Zen Center. Also: what to do when death taps your back.


Fukanzazengi: Dogen’s Universal Recommendation for Zazen – Talk 4
June 12, 1979 Dharma Talk by Dainin Katagiri Roshi

What does it mean to die sitting in zazen? Katagiri Roshi discusses the meaning of the line, “In surveying the past, we find that transcendence of both un-enlightenment and enlightenment, and dying while either sitting or standing, have all depended entirely on the strength of zazen,” in relation to Blue Cliff Record Case 46, “Ching Ch’ing’s Sound of Raindrops”. He talks about life and death, and how to “cease fire” in zazen. There is a story about a machine that reads brain waves, and he discusses whether there are any real Zen teachers in the United States.


Fukanzazengi: Dogen’s Universal Recommendation for Zazen – Talk 5
June 13, 1979 Dharma Talk by Dainin Katagiri Roshi

Katagiri Roshi talks about the difference between zazen itself and seeing zazen before zazen or after zazen, using the example of Gensha Shibi in “One Bright Pearl.” In an extended question and answer period, he explains the difference between physical and psychological exhaustion, how to work with the “vomit” of the mind, and why we should do zazen for future generations. Does the world disappear during zazen? Are there techniques in Zen? And is Zen the simplest, most “pure” way?


Fukanzazengi: Dogen’s Universal Recommendation for Zazen – Talk 6
June 14, 1979 Dharma Talk by Dainin Katagiri Roshi

Katagiri Roshi talks about body and mind dropping off from a psychological point of view. This talk focuses on samskara, which is usually translated as impulses, one of the five skandhas or aggregates. Here he discusses samskara as the “together-maker,” and also as a sort of a bridge or door which enables you to take mind to either the dualistic world or the non-dualistic world, because samskara itself is completely free. In relation to this, he explains a key line from Dogen’s Genjokoan: “Oneness is not like moon reflected in the water; when one is bright, the other one is dark.” He also discusses the lines from Fukanzazengi, “It cannot be fully known by the practicing or realizing of supernatural power either,” and “Is it not the principle that is prior to knowledge and perceptions?” During a challenging discussion on the “forces” of prāpti and aprāpti, he tells a story about the 1948 Fukui earthquake in Japan.


Fukanzazengi: Dogen’s Universal Recommendation for Zazen – Talk 7
June 15, 1979 Dharma Talk by Dainin Katagiri Roshi

The conclusion to the series of talks on Fukanzazengi takes place during a dramatic thunderstorm, the sounds of which Katagiri Roshi integrates into the talk. The Buddha does zazen during a thunderstorm, but he is not disturbed by the sound of the thunder. Katagiri Roshi discusses why the purpose of zazen is not to reach a state of no consciousness, and the meaning of the term jijuyu (usually translated as “self-fulfillment”) in Bendowa. Also: How to play guitar with two hands and two feet. A Rinzai Zen Master plays a Bach concerto in the zendo. And what does Manjushri do, anyway?


Diamond Sutra: Provisional Being
July 25, 1979 Dharma Talk by Dainin Katagiri Roshi

Why should we not be disappointed with this world, if there seems to be nothing to help us? To answer this question, Katagiri Roshi examines the aspect of Buddhist teaching that is no perception of self and no perception of object. Going further, he explains why we shouldn’t attach to either a perception of an object or perception of no-object. This leads to an explanation of provisional being, and also empathy, which is universal consciousness. This is how we can relate warmly to self and object. Does the morning sun have a mind? The answer may surprise you. Also: What to do if some king insists on chopping you to bits.


Diamond Sutra: Emptiness
August 1, 1979 Dharma Talk by Dainin Katagiri Roshi

What is a buddha, and what does a buddha experience? Katagiri Roshi describes three kinds of enlightenment: kaku (awareness), satori, and shō (realization or verification). He explains three aspects of the utmost, right, perfect enlightenment from the Diamond Sutra: the marklessness of all things, the marklessness of their emptiness, and the marklessness of their suchness. Also: Why we exist, how to experience spiritual security, and why we shouldn’t get too caught up in Buddhist psychology.


Diamond Sutra: Giving and Non-Covetousness
August 8, 1979 Dharma Talk by Dainin Katagiri Roshi

Why is the perfection of generosity the most important quality in Mahayana Buddhism? What is true generosity, and true love? Katagiri Roshi explains how generosity relates to emptiness, or vastness, by sharing a poem from the Duino Elegies by Rainer Maria Rilke. Embracing the words of the poem, he says that human destiny is not something that forces us to be always “face to face,” trying to “get” something from each-other, but that we can also know a different way to live, to sit side by side in peace and harmony. Illustrating the problems we create when we are “face to face,” he tells a story about adult children living with their parents in Japan, and a story about his own experience attending Hiroshima Day in Omaha, Nebraska.


Diamond Sutra: Dharma / Not Dharma / Dharma
August 15, 1979 Dharma Talk by Dainin Katagiri Roshi

If, as the Diamond Sutra says, there is no dharma which the Buddha Shakyamuni has experienced, no dharma which the Buddha Shakyamuni has preached, then how does the Buddha experience and preach the dharma? Katagiri Roshi addresses this question in relation to the practice of giving. He begins by discussing seven ways we can be giving, even if we don’t have the ability to give a material gift or preach the dharma. To explain how the ungraspable can be taught, he talks about the three divisions of the Buddha body: nirmanakaya, sambhogakaya, and dharmakaya. This helps explain the role of virtue and merit, and also knowledge, in Buddhism. (Those looking for an explanation of Bodhidharma’s famous statement of “no merit” would be wise to refer to this talk, in conjunction with the next two.) There is more about the Rilke poem, and why we have to experience a “big shock” to realize the dharma. Also: is enlightenment forgetfulness?


Blue Cliff Record Case 1: The Highest Meaning of the Holy Truths, Talk 1
November 17, 1979 Dharma Talk by Dainin Katagiri Roshi

Katagiri Roshi introduces a long-running series of talks on the Blue Cliff Record, a renowned collection of one hundred koans (or “public cases”) in the Zen tradition. The first case is the famous story of Bodhidharma’s encounter with Emperor Wu. In Talk 1 of 2 on this case, Katagiri Roshi focuses on the pointer (or introduction). To explain it, he tells some stories about his training as the anja or jisha (attendant) at Eiheiji monastery, where the “everyday food and drink” of a monk is to pay attention to everything and flow with events like a stream of water. This is a way of “cutting off the myriad streams,” so that a harmonious, wonderful life can bloom. If there is anything “showy” about it, if there is something to be gained, it is not the real practice of Zen. But say, at just this moment – whose actions are these?


Blue Cliff Record Case 1: The Highest Meaning of the Holy Truths, Talk 2
November 18, 1979 Dharma Talk by Dainin Katagiri Roshi

Why is there “no merit”? Katagiri Roshi covers one of the most famous stories in Zen Buddhism: Bodhidharma’s meeting with Emperor Wu. Along the way, he explains tanpankan (a “board carrying fellow”), the meaning of the inscription on Ranier Maria Rilke’s grave, and the space between silence and speech. He says that we may find the spirit of Zen, pointing directly beyond words and language, by studying the Blue Cliff Record. He concludes by saying that we have to understand our practice in terms of general Buddhism, beyond Mahayana and Theravada, and beyond the Rinzai and Soto denominations.


Blue Cliff Record Case 2: The Ultimate Path Is Without Difficulty, Talk 1
January 19, 1980 Dharma Talk by Dainin Katagiri Roshi

Katagiri Roshi introduces Case 2 of the Blue Cliff Record, “The Ultimate Path Is Without Difficulty,” with an examination of the pointer to the koan. Engo Kokugon (Chinese: Yuanwu Keqin) expresses the Ultimate Path in terms of “the task of the fundamental vehicle of transcendence.” What is the nature of truth, and how do we realize it? To express it, Katagiri Roshi uses an analogy of “grabbing the bar” in gymnastics and “getting one hundred percent” – not ninety, not ninety-nine, only one hundred or zero. He also uses the example of turning on a TV set instead of intellectually studying the TV set. How do we have faith when there is nothing to depend on? How did Chinese monks keep Buddhism alive when institutional Buddhism was dismantled? What did Gempo Yamamoto Roshi say to a practicioner who wanted to “save all beings”? Also: dragging yourself in muddy water like a sewer rat chased by a cat.


Blue Cliff Record Case 2: The Ultimate Path Is Without Difficulty, Talk 2
January 20, 1980 Dharma Talk by Dainin Katagiri Roshi

Katagiri Roshi reviews Zen Master Jōshū’s dharma encounter with a monk regarding the Ultimate Path. The truth is always with us; yet in order to be one with the truth, we have to manifest ourselves as people who are not tossed away by picking and choosing thoughts and ideas. A problem is, if we try to avoid picking and choosing, we create more picking and choosing. Through study, we have to deeply understand the structure of our understanding, and then we can find the way of avoiding picking and choosing. There are three ways to understand something: perception, consciousness, and wisdom. (Those three could perhaps also be labelled as emotion, intellect, and deep understanding.) The third way is the Ultimate Path; however, this third way integrates the first two ways, it does not dismiss them. Finally, Katagiri Roshi says, what we do is very simple: practice, which is called shikantaza. But this simplicity is not simple as we usually understand it: this simplicity is to do something with no choice, on the edge of life and death.


Save All Sentient Beings
March 15, 1980 Dharma Talk by Dainin Katagiri Roshi

Katagiri Roshi explains the meaning of Buddhist terms such as “save all sentient beings” and “all dharmas,” clarifying what all means. It may not mean what we usually think. In Buddhism, all means something which is closely connected with our individual life. Ultimately, we have to dive into the ocean of karma, which is samskaras.


Blue Cliff Record Case 3: Master Ma Is Unwell, Talk 1
April 19, 1980 Dharma Talk by Dainin Katagiri Roshi

What is the meaning of “Sun Face Buddha, Moon Face Buddha”? What is the feeling of Zen Master Baso, who is about to die? In the universal perspective, life is eternal. But on the other hand, in order to express eternal life, we have to have a human body, a human mind, which is fleeting, ephemeral. What is the opportunity of this human body and mind? How can we communicate human life to each other, in order to enter a peaceful world? Even though body and mind are going on in the rhythm of the universe, we are always poking our head into a hole, like a cat. Do we need to stay in the hole, turning it into a den? Katagiri Roshi discusses what is right, in the sense of Right Thought and Right View in Buddha’s Noble Eightfold Path. He also discusses how we should relate to modern civilization, and there is a story about his brother learning to swim in the Navy.


Blue Cliff Record Case 3: Master Ma Is Unwell, Talk 2
April 20, 1980 Dharma Talk by Dainin Katagiri Roshi

Katagiri Roshi examines the notes and verse for the “Sun Face Buddha, Moon Face Buddha” koan. If the Buddhas and ancestors dwell in nirvana, in eternity, then why do they have to die? Why do we have to practice hard, even if our practice is less than a drop in an ocean? Why do we have to continue even if there is no one who we can talk to about our suffering? Katagiri Roshi says that compassion is not something given by Buddhas or Buddhist teachings; compassion comes from us. We must have clear eyes to make it alive in our daily living. Also: What is the difference between zazen and taking marijuana?


Blue Cliff Record Case 4: Te Shan Carrying His Bundle, Talk 1
May 8, 1980 Dharma Talk by Dainin Katagiri Roshi

Katagiri Roshi comments on the famous dharma encounter between Te Shan and Kuei Shan. Te Shan is a former academic master of the Diamond Sutra, now an earnest seeker of the Way, just trying to work through his arrogance issues and perhaps have some dumplings. Kuei Shan is the abbot the monastery, founder of one of the schools of Zen, who won’t accept any “dregs” in the bottom of the bottle of enlightenment. Their encounter “under the blue sky, in the bright sunlight” still leaves us pointing out this and that.


Blue Cliff Record Case 4: Te Shan Carrying His Bundle, Talk 2
May 18, 1980 Dharma Talk by Dainin Katagiri Roshi

Katagiri Roshi examines Engo Zen Master’s notes on the meeting of Te Shan and Kuei Shan, and the dynamics between process itself and doings as a result. The wild fox spirit and the board-carrying fellow live right next door to each other. “Wrong” and “sure enough.” Check!


Karma: Two Aspects
June 30, 1980 Dharma Talk by Dainin Katagiri Roshi

Katagiri Roshi introduces a series of talks on karma. What is karma? Why is it important to study karma? Is karma only for Buddhist people? Is Buddhism itself only an aspect of Eastern culture? Can thinking about karma drive you crazy? Also: How to reconcile aiming for the long range with no goal in zazen.


July 1, 1980 Dharma Talk by Dainin Katagiri Roshi

Katagiri Roshi completely explains the The Twelve-Linked Chain of Causation… presumably, but the audio is lost. However, there is substantial review of the topic in the talks following this one.


Karma: Where Karma Originates
July 2, 1980 Dharma Talk by Dainin Katagiri Roshi

Katagiri Roshi explains how karma is the source of our lives. He reviews the Twelve-Linked Chain of Causation, noting that karma is samskara (link two) and bhava (link ten). So karma originates from the first link: avidyā (ignorance). This means that avidyā is really vitality – it is how we get into the human world of the present moment. Our karma cannot be understood intellectually; the way to understand karma is to return to the source, which is to do zazen (sitting meditation). That is how we can look at who we are and where we are, and experience real joy. Katagiri Roshi describes four stages of zazen and five related consciousnesses; in particular, the descriptions of prīti and sukha may be helpful in understanding what is meant when we see the words joy and happiness in English translations of Buddhist texts. In the fourth stage of zazen, we are exactly one in the realm of source, which is karma. Then we can see what karma is.


Karma: Unmanifested Karma
July 3, 1980 Dharma Talk by Dainin Katagiri Roshi

Katagiri Roshi explains unmanifested karma and why we need to understand it. Unmanifested karma is the reason why we have to take responsibility for our individual behavior, because it is like an impression left behind by our actions, as opposed to manifested karma, which appears in one moment and disappears in the next. In terms of the Twelve-Linked Chain of Causation, unmanifested karma is samskaras. (It is also related to alayavijnana, storehouse consciousness.) Despite its role in morality, unmanifested karma itself is completely neutral in nature. If you get a taste of this karma, then you can turn over a new leaf, because karma is nothing but energy: it is the wellspring of creative vitality.


Karma: Taking Care of Karma
July 4, 1980 Dharma Talk by Dainin Katagiri Roshi

Katagiri Roshi further outlines dhyāna (meditation) as the way to study karma, which is the same as studying ourselves. He describes zazen in the triple world of desire, form, and formlessness, and further explains some key concepts in Buddhist psychology. Even if you reach the state of formless samadhi, still perception remains, because body and mind still exist. This body and mind are given to us as karma; we need to take care of them with compassion. And through karma, we can share our lives with others. The Suzuki Method for music education is given as an example of how to share our lives with others, particularly with regard to vedanā (feeling).


Karma: Karmic Retribution in Present Life
July 10, 1980 Dharma Talk by Dainin Katagiri Roshi

Katagiri Roshi discusses karma in terms of Dogen’s teaching, including three main points: continuation of karma, karma as energy or emptiness, and Buddha’s karma. He explains why Dogen Zenji focuses on practice over study or even realization. Karma does not mean simple cause and effect or action, as one popular understanding goes, but includes unmanifested karma, the impression left behind by our actions. Karmic retribution is illustrated by a story about a talking bear and a shockingly antisocial woodcutter. There is also a surprising explanation of the line “learn the backward step that turns your light inwardly to illuminate your self” from Fukanzazengi. All of this relates to eko – giving away the merit from our actions – which is viewed as the fundamental attitude toward studying the Buddha Way. Also: Be the turtle.


Karma: Karma as Energy/Emptiness
July 11, 1980 Dharma Talk by Dainin Katagiri Roshi

Karma is not a psychological entity: karma is consciousness, but also karma is really the human body, closely related. So if we want to know karma, we have to know the human body; and if we want to know the human body, we have to know consciousness. According to Twelvefold Causation, the base of our existence as karma is ignorance; but this ignorance is really vitality, allowing us to enter the gate of the human world. We should appreciate this. But we can’t just appreciate it without making any effort, because we carry many kinds of karma, stored at the bottom of human body and mind. This karma comes up only when time is right and conditions are arranged, so it is important that we arrange good conditions. We can do so because karma is a great source of energy, which we call emptiness. That means we can think in terms of possibility, and “dream the impossible dream” of helping all beings. Also: how to work with emotions in zazen.


Karma: Conclusion
July 12, 1980 Dharma Talk by Dainin Katagiri Roshi

Katagiri Roshi further addresses the seeming contradiction that karma is both our property or inheritance and also is emptiness, freedom. This returns us to the reality of Buddha’s karma. We can reflect on ourselves and our actions without being stuck in the “ghost” of karma. Time and occasion and conditions are completely free, so day by day we can move toward the future, in order deepen our lives and help all beings. That is Right Effort. Also: Grace is not something that comes from heaven.


Diamond Sutra: Emptiness and Mind
July 16, 1980 Dharma Talk by Dainin Katagiri Roshi

How do we teach Buddhism? Molding life into ideas or philosophy is backwards; the words must come from our own life, or they won’t connect with people. Our understanding of the world based on causation is empty, but the world itself is not; that is why the Prajnaparamita Sutra says “emptiness is form.” We should digest the teachings thoroughly in our life, and then the words to explain will come naturally. Happiness and peace cannot be found by rushing to the destination.


Diamond Sutra: Final Lecture
July 23, 1980 Dharma Talk by Dainin Katagiri Roshi

Katagiri Roshi concludes his series of talks on the Diamond Sutra by examining the famous verse at the end, which tells us to view the conditioned world “as stars, a fault of vision, a lamp, a mock show, dew drops, a bubble, a dream, a lightning flash, a cloud.” The nine perspectives in the verse reveal different aspects of our experience. Overall, it means that we should respect the law of causation, our past life and its consequences, without being stuck in it. While still being humble, we can move bravely toward the future, toward a beautiful ideal image of human life.


Blue Cliff Record Case 18: National Teacher Chung’s Seamless Monument
July 18, 1981 Dharma Talk by Dainin Katagiri Roshi

What will we need after we die? What is the meaning of keeping silent? Keeping silent means to take off the “clothes” of our concepts, such as success and failure, pleasure and suffering, life and death. But you cannot stay with the silence; you have to know the person completely unfolded behind the silence. This is how to “light the candle” of human culture. Also: There is no discrimination between the four kinds of horses, which are us. Still, at some point, you need a whip. And then, you can run.


Blue Cliff Record Case 25: The Hermit of Lotus Flower Peak Holds Up His Staff, Talk 1
November 21, 1981 Dharma Talk by Dainin Katagiri Roshi

What happens when we unexpectedly come face-to-face with real life, such as being paralyzed, or having cancer? Katagiri Roshi discusses “the big trap,” “one-finger Zen,” Jean-Jacques Rousseau and Sun-Moon-Light Tathagata, Adam and Eve, and how to educate children. Also: “Please, sit down.”


Blue Cliff Record Case 25: The Hermit of Lotus Flower Peak Holds Up His Staff, Talk 2
November 22, 1981 Dharma Talk by Dainin Katagiri Roshi

Katagiri Roshi discusses the pointer to this case. What is our potential? What is the rhythm of life? What does it mean to be a “smoked dry fish,” and how can we avoid it? Should we look for a “flashy” enlightenment? Should we become a Zen bank robber? Also: How to cook puffer fish. How to lose money in San Francisco. And: wherever you may go, you can feel pain.


Blue Cliff Record Case 34: Yang Shan Asks “Where Have You Come From?”
November 17, 1982 Dharma Talk by Dainin Katagiri Roshi

Katagiri Roshi examines Case 34 of the Blue Cliff Record, which appears to be an ordinary conversation, but is actually an ordinary conversation in the broad scale of human life, which is beyond ordinary or not-ordinary. He explains the importance of paying attention to daily routine, and why we should get up in the morning. Also: How to practice compassion with emotions, how to be an actor, and how to be a not-actor.


Blue Cliff Record Case 35: The Dialogue of Manjusri and Wu Cho
November 24, 1982 Dharma Talk by Dainin Katagiri Roshi

Katagiri Roshi discusses Case 35 of the Blue Cliff Record, in which an obscure monk has a spiritual discussion with the Bodhisattva of Wisdom. Can we settle our uncertainties? Can we accept our lives in terms of infinity? Or will we be like a lion running around in a cage? If we find ourselves in a cage, how should we practice? Also: Does it matter how many people come to our Zen Center?


Blue Cliff Record Case 36: Ch’ang Sha Wandering in the Mountains, Talk 1
December 1, 1982 Dharma Talk by Dainin Katagiri Roshi

Wandering in the mountains, life flowing freely: how very like the sense of springtime. Katagiri Roshi discusses seeking for the truth, and returning following the falling flowers. What is total communication between you and the mountain? Sages and ordinary people are the same, but what is beyond sage or ordinary person? Movement and practice responding to the rhythm of life. Also: how to get fired from a job in the human world. The caution against falling into the weeds is ironic commentary.


Blue Cliff Record Case 36: Ch’ang Sha Wandering in the Mountains, Talk 2
December 8, 1982 Dharma Talk by Dainin Katagiri Roshi

Katagiri Roshi further expounds on “Ch’ang Sha Wandering in the Mountains,” focusing on the verse. He especially focuses on the first line, “The earth is clear of any dust.” This is Buddha’s world, which is identical with the original nature of existence. But also, “A mad monkey cries on the ancient terrace”: this is us looking through the telescope of our karmic perceptions. Buddhist practice is not to destroy all human delusions and then you can have Buddha’s world; we need both. Good or bad are nothing but time, but time is not good or bad. A monk walks in the snow without leaving a trace.


Blue Cliff Record Case 37: P’an Shan’s There Is Nothing in the World
December 15, 1982 Dharma Talk by Dainin Katagiri Roshi

If there is nothing that can be pinned down in the vast expanse of the universe, then where is the mind? Where is the mind is a question, but also it is already an answer: the answer of what the real state of human life is. The essence is raising (sic), just like a spring of water coming up. The continuation of flow makes a rhythm, or music; a concert, an orchestra. If we pay attention, and make ourselves simple and open, we can learn from this tune. Examining this case and verse, Katagiri Roshi shares the meaning of such poetry as, “When the rain has passed, the autumn water is deep in the evening pond,” and, “The moon’s brightness shines, revealing the night traveller.” Poetry and art are a shadow, but without them, we cannot approach the truth.


Blue Cliff Record Case 38: Feng Hsueh’s Workings of the Iron Ox, Talk 1
December 22, 1982 Dharma Talk by Dainin Katagiri Roshi

Is the Iron Ox dead or alive? Katagiri Roshi discusses the sudden and the gradual in Zen. We need both, accepting Buddha Nature in the midst of the bustling marketplace. In order to hold, you have to let go. What is the Buddhist Law, and what is the Law of Kings, and why are they the same thing? The old pond: a frog jumps in. Plop!


Blue Cliff Record Case 38: Feng Hsueh’s Workings of the Iron Ox, Talk 2
January 5, 1983 Dharma Talk by Dainin Katagiri Roshi

The ancestors all convey Buddha Mind – magnanimous mind, compassionate mind, and joyful mind – to the next generation. This is why Feng Hsueh Zen Master explains Buddha Mind as being just like an Iron Ox. Katagiri Roshi further examines this case. Should we add our own ideas to Buddhism?


Blue Cliff Record Case 39: Yun Men’s Flowering Hedge, Talk 1
January 12, 1983 Dharma Talk by Dainin Katagiri Roshi

Katagiri Roshi discusses the Pointer to case Thirty-Nine of the Blue Cliff Record, “Yun Men’s Flowering Hedge”. To “observe times and seasons, causes and conditions” does not mean we should observe from a distance; we must observe closely, settling ourself in the self. “Times and seasons” means our life in the stream of the time process, and “causes and conditions” means the spacious dimension of our existence. Our life is in the pivot position, where time and space are working constantly in dynamism, whether we know it or not.


Blue Cliff Record Case 39: Yun Men’s Flowering Hedge, Talk 2
January 19, 1983 Dharma Talk by Dainin Katagiri Roshi

Katagiri Roshi discusses the Verse to Case 39 of the Blue Cliff Record, “Yun Men’s Flowering Hedge”. What is the real picture of a flower? There is an interesting statement of what samsara is, which is related to Sandokai (The Harmony of Difference and Sameness). The marks on the scale are on the balance arm, not on the pan. The rhythm of being means including all sentient beings.


Blue Cliff Record Case 40: Nan Ch’uan’s It’s Like a Dream, Talk 1
January 26, 1983 Dharma Talk by Dainin Katagiri Roshi

Cease and desist. Why does Nan Ch’uan say we may see a flower as a kind of dream? Why do we need a push from the top of a one hundred foot pole? Also: is Buddhist community like army training?


Blue Cliff Record Case 40: Nan Ch’uan’s It’s Like a Dream, Talk 2
February 2, 1983 Dharma Talk by Dainin Katagiri Roshi

Katagiri Roshi discusses the verse to Case 40 of the Blue Cliff Record. Genjokoan is mentioned. What is the dharma stage?


Blue Cliff Record Case 42: Layman P’ang’s Good Snowflakes, Talk 1
March 2, 1983 Dharma Talk by Dainin Katagiri Roshi

Katagiri Roshi explores Case 42 of the Blue Cliff Record, in which Layman P’ang says, “Good snowflakes—they don’t fall in any other place.” As it says in the Song of the Jewel Mirror Samadhi, “Inquiry and response come up together.” If we really devote ourselves to doing zazen beyond our evaluation, accepting totally, we manifest ourselves in a totally appropriate way, and very naturally, everything will respond. We must jump into the realm of silence so that our life springs forth. Even if we don’t say anything with our mouth, our whole body speaks volumes. Buddha is not something divine, apart from us; Buddha has to go down to the human world and work.


Blue Cliff Record Case 42: Layman P’ang’s Good Snowflakes, Talk 2
March 9, 1983 Dharma Talk by Dainin Katagiri Roshi

Katagiri Roshi discusses the rhythm of causation, which is not falling into cause and effect and not ignoring cause and effect. Representing cause and effect is Layman P’ang; representing freedom from cause and effect or emptiness is the monk Ch’uan. If you understand emptiness, you can become sick of emptiness. To avoid Zen sickness, offer a turning word. Also: Teaching without doing is not a good deal.


Blue Cliff Record Case 43: Tung Shan’s No Cold or Heat, Talk 1
March 16, 1983 Dharma Talk by Dainin Katagiri Roshi

Summary not yet available.


Blue Cliff Record Case 43 Talk 2: The Five Ranks
April 6, 1983 Dharma Talk by Dainin Katagiri Roshi

Katagiri Roshi explains the Five Ranks, a fundamental teaching of Zen Buddhism. (Warning: the archive audio cuts out before the explanation of the fifth rank.)


Blue Cliff Record Case 44: Ho Shan’s Knowing How to Beat the Drum, Talk 1
April 20, 1983 Dharma Talk by Dainin Katagiri Roshi

Summary not yet available.


Blue Cliff Record Case 44: Ho Shan’s Knowing How to Beat the Drum, Talk 2
April 27, 1983 Dharma Talk by Dainin Katagiri Roshi

Summary not yet available.


Mindfulness – Talk 1
March 21, 1984 Dharma Talk by Dainin Katagiri Roshi

Katagiri Roshi discusses the Four Foundations of Mindfulness, focusing on the first foundation: contemplation of the body. This series of talks examines the “Thirty-Seven Elements of Bodhi” (Sanjūshichi-bon-bodai-bunpō) chapter of Zen Master Dogen’s Shobogenzo, which explains traditional Buddhist teachings in Mahayana terms. In this talk, he introduces the topic of why we must go beyond the idea of purity or impurity of the body. He discusses how samatha (tranquility) and vipassana (insight) function together, and weighs in on the practice of meditating on the decomposition of human corpses. Also, the meaning of “facing the wall,” and why the word Zen is overused.


Mindfulness – Talk 2
March 22, 1984 Dharma Talk by Dainin Katagiri Roshi

The body is total dynamic working, and total dynamic working is like a maple leaf falling, showing its front and back. And also, the maple leaf is sucked into a black hole. Failure is really development and growth. There is more discussion of shamata and vipassana, the intersection of time and space, and the meaning of mind only.


Mindfulness – Talk 3
March 23, 1984 Dharma Talk by Dainin Katagiri Roshi

If you observe the body, the body observes you; there is no one-way traffic. And then, all sentient beings support your observation. Liberation comes from action, but that action must come from emptiness, or liberation itself. First we have to have a very deep faith that all sentient beings have the-same-and-one-nature; and then we have to establish the state of our mind that is like a wall, which is emptiness. Also: Translating Shobogenzo into English is hard.


The Awakening of Faith: Two Kinds of Nowness
May 14, 1984 Dharma Talk by Dainin Katagiri Roshi

Summary not yet available.


Introduction to Buddhism
June 22, 1985 Dharma Talk by Dainin Katagiri Roshi

An alternative title for this talk might have been, “What Is Buddhist Faith?” What does faith mean in Buddhism, where the central philosophy is emptiness? Buddhist faith is intimacy with total dynamic working. Katagiri Roshi discusses how “the way we should practice within the intimacy between our lives and emptiness” is “to bear up, to enjoy, to desire, and to be limpid and clear.” Along the way, he talks about quarks, and driving on the freeway in Los Angeles. And he answers the question, “What does this have to do with zazen?”


Lay Ordination Lecture 1 of 7: Significance of Ordination
February 22, 1986 Dharma Talk by Dainin Katagiri Roshi

Katagiri Roshi introduces a series of lectures on Jukai, lay ordination. In this first talk, he explains the goal of lay ordination as three points. The first point is realization of the truth, that all beings are Buddha. Second: the profound and steadfast aspiration to live our lives with all beings in peace and harmony. And third: helping all beings. For the first point, realization of the truth, he explains three kinds of knowing: knowledge in the ordinary sense, knowing something in the world of impermanence, and supreme knowledge. This ties into a discussion of what it means to help all beings. The ceremony of lay ordination is an opportunity to realize these three points. Even if we don’t understand them, we can still take action to enter this world of the Buddha.


Lay Ordination Lecture 2 of 7: Three Aspects of Repentance
March 1, 1986 Dharma Talk by Dainin Katagiri Roshi

Katagiri Roshi explains repentance in Buddhism, which is sometimes called formless atonement. Repentance is not a ritual of trying to get forgiveness from someone; rather, repentance is to be present right in the middle of peace and harmony. He describes three aspects or conditions of repentance. The first aspect is that we should realize the world of compassion and heart, to accept and forgive all, without exception. This is to realize “the world prior to germination of any subtle ideas” – which is called Buddha. The second aspect is that we should accept this Buddha’s compassion with readiness; this is sometimes called samadhi, or egolessness. The third aspect is ritual, which is “interacting communion between you and the universe.” To illustrate these points, Katagiri Roshi discusses the role of the doan in Zen, the meaning of the word Shakyamuni in Chinese, and the poem “How To Make A Portrait Of A Bird” by Jacques Prévert.


Lay Ordination Lecture 3 of 7: Triple Treasure, Lecture 1
March 8, 1986 Dharma Talk by Dainin Katagiri Roshi

Taking refuge in the Triple Treasure – buddha, dharma, and sangha – is the foundation of the Buddhist Precepts and Buddhist practice. Buddha is the universe, dharma is the teaching from the universe, and sangha is the community that makes the universe and its teaching alive in their lives. Taking refuge is spiritual communion with Buddha, which is interactive appeal and response with the universe. We need to awaken to the depth of existence, and transmit that awakening to future generations. To do this, we must accept others’ lives as the content of our lives. The nature of prayer and the meaning of legendary Bodhisattvas is also discussed, with reference to the Lotus Sutra. Also, there is some clarification of what ritual means in Buddhism.


Lay Ordination Lecture 4 of 7: Triple Treasure, Lecture 2
March 15, 1986 Dharma Talk by Dainin Katagiri Roshi

The Triple Treasure – buddha, dharma, and sangha – is the sublime goal in life. We must take refuge in the Three Treasures in terms of the whole situation of our lives: intellectual, emotional, and spiritual. To this end, Katagiri Roshi looks at the Three Treasures in terms of philosophical worth, virtue or characteristics, and functioning. The teaching of “The Three Thousand Worlds in a Moment / Thought” from the Lotus Sutra means that there are buddhas and bodhisattvas even in hell, so there are ample opportunities to take refuge. Also: how Gandhi dealt with events and circumstances.


Lay Ordination Lecture 5 of 7: Receiving the Precepts
April 12, 1986 Dharma Talk by Dainin Katagiri Roshi

Summary not yet available.


Lay Ordination Lecture 6 of 7: Three Collective Pure Precepts
April 26, 1986 Dharma Talk by Dainin Katagiri Roshi

Summary not yet available.


Lay Ordination Lecture 7 of 7: Ten Grave Prohibitory Precepts
May 3, 1986 Dharma Talk by Dainin Katagiri Roshi

Summary not yet available.


Turning the Three Poisons into Wheels
June 28, 1986 Dharma Talk by Dainin Katagiri Roshi

Summary not yet available.


Karma in Buddhism
June 6, 1987 Dharma Talk by Dainin Katagiri Roshi

Katagiri Roshi summarizes the origins and development of the concept of karma, and then explores both its deeper meaning and its practical application. Karma is related both to the problem of whether there is a world after death, and how we should live in the present world. Practically, we can feel karma in our lives through whole personality. This is connected with the Buddhist concept of vedanā (feeling). After we feel our life and other’s lives, we judge and make distinctions, limiting our view. First, we should understand how narrow our intellectual understanding of the world is, and we should work day-by-day to understand the human world in the broader perspective, through meditation. Second, there is no way to find a perfect understanding of life and death, so we must simply entrust ourselves to our life as it really is. But that doesn’t mean just to accept; karma includes dynamic energy to make our life productive. We have to develop our individual character, and simultaneously the global character of human beings, in order to build up a peaceful world.


Genjokoan: Talk 1 (Egolessness)
June 6, 1987 Dharma Talk by Dainin Katagiri Roshi

Summary not yet available.


Genjokoan: Talk 2 (Consciousness)
June 6, 1987 Dharma Talk by Dainin Katagiri Roshi

Summary not yet available.


Genjokoan: Talk 3 (Flow)
June 7, 1987 Dharma Talk by Dainin Katagiri Roshi

Summary not yet available.


Genjokoan: Manas: Spontaneous, Perpetual, Homogeneous
June 20, 1987 Dharma Talk by Dainin Katagiri Roshi

Summary not yet available.


Genjokoan: A, B, and C Worlds
June 27, 1987 Dharma Talk by Dainin Katagiri Roshi

Summary not yet available.


Review and Renew: Buddhism for the Twenty-First Century
October 5, 1988 Dharma Talk by Dainin Katagiri Roshi

Summary not yet available.


Devotion: Walking Alone with Open Heart
December 24, 1988 Dharma Talk by Dainin Katagiri Roshi

Katagiri Roshi discusses how and why we should devote ourselves to dharma. He says that in Japanese, devotion is kie or kimyo, which mean to return to something true or ultimate, which is universal life. Devotion must be practiced in terms of two points: one is that you have to walk alone, realizing the simplest expression of existence, and the other is that you must be compassionate, open to everything. He relates this to Shakyamuni Buddha’s statement that “you should rely on the self; you should rely on the dharma,” and to passages from Muni Sutta, Khaggavisana Sutta, and Mettā Sutta. And he discusses how to deal with problems in the community while standing in the dharma.


Dealing with Death, Dealing with Life
January 7, 1989 Dharma Talk by Dainin Katagiri Roshi

Katagiri Roshi discusses how we should practice with those who are ill or dying. We have to deeply understand human suffering and pain. There shouldn’t be an expectation that there is a certain way to die; lots of emotions come up, and we should be right there with it. Also, we should practice a feeling of togetherness with those who are ill or dying, because there is no separation between us and them. We need to practice this in our day-to-day lives, or we will not be ready to offer compassion in difficult times. This everyday practice may seem to be small, trifling things, but it is very important for us; it makes our personality mature. It includes expressing emotions in appropriate ways and times, not recklessly. We need oneness, and also oneness needs us. We have to receive oneness, and deal with it, and make it alive. To illustrate the Japanese word ki, Katagiri Roshi talks about his love of the American television show Bewitched.