Angel City Zen Center - Beginners Only Podcast
Emily Eslami - Brightness

Emily Eslami - Brightness

January 29, 2022

"To that voice who's saying, ‘Are we good enough?’ This is saying we exist. And that's enough" - Emily Eslami

 

Emily shares with us Dogen's bright and clear treatise on fundamental self worth, "Brightness." What does Zen mean with woo woo sounding words like 'Buddha's light?' and how is that supposed to apply to us? And where does the light go when everything looks dark?? Find out here!

Sara Campbell - Playtime

Sara Campbell - Playtime

January 21, 2022

“The most important thing you can be doing is just to be doing it, and that's doing it right. You don't have to be perfect. You just have to be there.” - Sara Campbell

Sara shares her experiences with Master Clown (yes, that’s a thing!) Moshe Cohen’s “Levity of Pause” workshop, all about the intersection of Zen and clown. Join us as she helps us bring a little humor to our stodgy old zazen and, if we're lucky, maybe poke a few holes in the ridiculousness of the absurd certainties we call life.

Dave Cuomo - A New Normal (Yogacara - Beneficial Factors)

Dave Cuomo - A New Normal (Yogacara - Beneficial Factors)

January 14, 2022

“Slowly, over time, you might get used to not feeling crappy about yourself. You might get used to not hating everyone you disagree with. And then when some of that old negativity does come back up it can seem like a big problem. But that’s a good sign. Don’t turn back when you notice how crappy of a person you can be. When the afflictions become a noticeable anomaly, that’s great because it just means you’ve established a new normal.” - Dave Cuomo

 

In an in depth and personal look at one of Yoagacara’s infamously nerdy lists, Dave brings us a talk of sweet cringey goodness and all the things we love to hate, aka The Beneficial Factors. How do we convince a cynical mind to open up and see the light (patiently…)? And what is happiness really (pure empty space!)? Find out here!

Dave Cuomo - What’s Happening? (You! (The Time Being))

Dave Cuomo - What’s Happening? (You! (The Time Being))

January 7, 2022

“You are what's happening, what's happening is you. What else could you be? Even when what's happening is that you're doubting what's happening, that's still what's happening.” - Dave Cuomo

 

In a totally timely New Year’s talk, Dave brings us a dramatic reading of “The Time Being,” Dogen’s classic treatise on time and reality and where exactly we fit into all that. What is time (us!)? What does it mean (everything!)?? And what are we supposed to do with it in practice (keep doing that...)??? Also, bonus! Special sangha and center announcements toward the end of the talk.

Erik Andersen - Beautiful and Savage

Erik Andersen - Beautiful and Savage

January 1, 2022

"What are we liberating ourselves from? It's about being able to do the things that you want to do and not getting hung up about smaller things

This is emotional liberation, emotional freedom. People get discouraged in Zen for not getting things or not understanding it. A lot of people think that they just don't get it and move on to other things.

You have to be okay with sometimes not getting it. That’s a good thing here." - Erik Andersen

 

In an embodiment of true Zen wisdom, Erik regales us with a koan that he can’t answer, and answers it with a talk on how to answer the unanswerable. Is the world a place of good or a place of evil? Does the joy outweigh the suffering? Is there an answer to such a question, and how are we supposed to respond if there isn’t? Find out here!

Dave Cuomo - ”Are We Entertained?” (Vimalakirti Sutra pt 1)

Dave Cuomo - ”Are We Entertained?” (Vimalakirti Sutra pt 1)

December 17, 2021

“Every religion at some point asks the question, ‘Why do bad things happen to good people?’ And there is rarely a satisfying answer. But this sutra is going to try to answer that by showing us how to accept the full crappiness of the world, while also knowing it as a jewel encrusted paradise at the same time.” - Dave Cuomo

Dave dives into some sangha story time with The Vimalakirti Sutra in part 1 of a new chapter by chapter series on this most entertaining of Sutras. In pt 1 we take a hard honest look at two questions; how did Buddha turn the world into an enlightened paradise, and how can Buddha call this messed up world an enlightened paradise? What do we do with toxic relationships and why do we find them so entertaining? Are we ultimately at fault for all the crap in the world? And who do we ultimately get to blame for everything? Find out here!

Dave Cuomo - A Low Rumble (Happy Rohatsu!)

Dave Cuomo - A Low Rumble (Happy Rohatsu!)

December 11, 2021

"Last night, this mountain monk unintentionally stepped on a dried turd and it jumped up and covered heaven and earth. This mountain monk unintentionally stepped on it again, and it introduced itself, saying, “My name is Sakyamuni.” Then, this mountain monk unintentionally stepped on his chest, and immediately he went and sat on the vajra seat, saw the morning star, bit through the traps and snares of conditioned birth, and cast away his old nest from the past." Eihei Dogen

 

In a special Rohatsu evening talk, Dave celebrates with a little story time, bringing us accounts of Buddha’s enlightenment from the mystical, to the stary eyed, to the time Dogen stepped on a turd named Sakyamuni Buddha and all was revealed. Why does Buddha think his enlightenment included us, and why should his nice little moment still matter to us now?  Find out here!

Emily Eslami - May The Real Buddha Please Stand Up (Linji‘s ”Kill the Buddha”)

Emily Eslami - May The Real Buddha Please Stand Up (Linji‘s ”Kill the Buddha”)

December 4, 2021

“To live in the realm of Buddha nature means to die as a small being, moment after moment. When we lose our balance we die, but at the same time we also develop ourselves, we grow. Whatever we see is changing, losing its balance. The reason everything looks beautiful is because it is out of balance, but its background is always in perfect harmony.” - Shunryu Suzuki

 

Kill your idols! Kill the Buddha. In a timely and highly inspiring talk, Emily takes on the case of the late great master Linji’s advice to “Kill the Buddha, kill the patriarchs, kill your parents and attain liberation!” It’s the great Zen-Punk exhortation to let go of everything you know about what we’re doing and who we’re doing it for. Who can we have faith in when there is no self and no one outside the self? Who are we ultimately doing any of this for?? Find out here!

Dave Cuomo - How Much Do You Want to Know? (Yogacara - Five Omnipresent Factors)

Dave Cuomo - How Much Do You Want to Know? (Yogacara - Five Omnipresent Factors)

November 27, 2021

“This is the answer key to zazen, the answer key to Buddhism. It’s actually the answer key to enlightenment too. It might not seem like it, it might seem pretty boring. But, when they don't tell you the answers in Zen, this is what they’re not saying.“ - Dave Cuomo

 

Dave walks us through Yogacara’s “Five Omnipresent Factors” - the theoretical underpinning to all of Zen’s deceptively simple instructions for “just sitting,” and just maybe, to reality itself. When we stop worrying about our thoughts and “just pay attention,” what do we end up seeing with all that attention? How do our selves and reality construct themselves at every given moment? Also, bonus round! Should we let our mosquito friends bite us in zazen? And can we do Zen for simple self improvement without accidentally stripping away the illusion of reality as we know it? Find out here!

Sara Campbell - World‘s Created, World‘s Destroyed

Sara Campbell - World‘s Created, World‘s Destroyed

November 19, 2021

"I love the idea of worlds creating and worlds destroying. Each moment being new makes the good times sweeter. And being aware of how much you love something when it's happening makes harder times bearable. It's that awareness that everything is being made up and torn down constantly." - Sara Campbell

 

Live from Mt Baldy, Sara brings us a personal exploration of this year's retreat theme, "World's Created, World's Destroyed," including everyone's favorite koan on the end of the world and what to do about it, plus a lovely reading from Charlotte Joko Beck on the great coal furnace of zazen.

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