Angel City Zen Center - Beginners Only Podcast
Brad Warner - It’s Alive!

Brad Warner - It’s Alive!

April 12, 2021

"There are thousands of eyes in the moment before the body. There are thousands of eyes in the moment before the mind. There are thousands of eyes of death in death. There are thousands of eyes of life in life. ...we should know that the entire universe is eyeballs." - Eihei Dogen

What is sentience and is the universe alive? Brad takes on the big life questions with a reading from Dogen's "The Insentient Preach the Dharma." What is the difference between sentience and insentience (not so much...)? Are fish less sentient than plants (depends what you want for dinner)? Are crystals alive (hmmm...)? Is reality an illusion, and where do we find reality when you're lost in a dream?? Find out here!

Emily Eslami - Love Potion ((#)9th Precept - No Giving Way to Anger)

Emily Eslami - Love Potion ((#)9th Precept - No Giving Way to Anger)

April 5, 2021

"When you get mad at yourself, that means you’re mad at another self. Maybe you turn your face and see yourself. Or you see yourself as other. This is very hard...
If you become angry, you don’t stop being Buddha. Anger appears, that’s all." - Kobun Chino

In the latest installment of her ever timely precept series, Emily takes on that molten hot lava of an emotion, anger. What do we experience when we feel it? How can we feel it and not be consumed by it? How can we use it skillfully when we need to? In this inspiring talk she shows how what exists at the bottom of anger is pain. And how sitting with it is to experience the path of the Boddhisatva – and of Zen meditation itself. 

Brad Warner - An Innocent Mind (Choosing Free Will)

Brad Warner - An Innocent Mind (Choosing Free Will)

March 29, 2021

"Your life is predetermined. And to be free, you must first be aware that your life is predetermined, that it is conditioned, that all your responses are more or less the same as those of everybody else throughout the world…

But in going into it very deeply, you will also find that you can be free from all this conditioning…. You can be free from it all. Then you will know what it is to have an innocent mind, and it is only such a mind that can find out what is truth." - J. Krishnamurti

Brad Warner gives us an intricate look at free will in Zen and life in general. Does it exist? Would we notice if it did?? How much can we control and how free are we when we try??? Bonus rounds! Brad may have (or may not, but possibly) found us the quote that knocked Leonard Cohen off his depression. Also, what's the best Rush album?? Find out here!

Dave Cuomo - Fringe Benefit

Dave Cuomo - Fringe Benefit

March 22, 2021

"If you want to make peace with yourself and not hate zazen, it's going to help to like yourself, or at least just accept yourself the way you are. I promise, you're great and you're worth it. And it'll help.

And fringe benefit, you might find yourself a little happier and nicer, your whole life might improve in every way you ever wanted it to. But that's not why we're here, that's not the point of zazen.” - Dave Cuomo

In a wide ranging talk full of surprises and conundrums, Dave delves into Dogen’s Fukanzazengi (Instructions for Zazen) and the older Chinese text that preceded it to answer the question of whether Zen is something that can be taught, or whether it’s something we can only experience. And bonus! In the latter half Dave treats us to his own "What Am I Doing Here" talk as he shares his experience of how he came to Zen and why he's so stuck on it, along with a sincere inquiry into whether it's a practice we can learn or something that has to come and find us when it's ready.

Brad Warner - From Birth to Death

Brad Warner - From Birth to Death

March 16, 2021

"There's a theory that 'knowledge will set you free.' But I don't know. I read all these damn books about it and I still don't know what the hell is going on. But to experience it directly in the here and now, this birth and death going on constantly in this moment, every instant..." - Brad Warner

In honor of his birthday Brad reads us choice selections on birth and death including classic koans, Kodo Sawaki, and Thich Nhat Hanh. Along the way we discuss whether or not we should forget about Buddhist theory entirely or if we’re supposed to learn it first, and then forget it…. Also, bonus round, does Brad fear death?? Find out here!!

Emily Eslami - My Missing Piece (8th Precept - No Coveting)

Emily Eslami - My Missing Piece (8th Precept - No Coveting)

March 9, 2021

"When you go to the mountain, and see a flower blooming, pick it, break it, and make it yours - this is attachment. If you let it be there for everything and everyone - this is 'no attachment.'

Even your self does not belong to you. You are everything." - Kobun Chino

In the latest installment of Emily’s ever timely precept series, she takes on the eighth precept, "no coveting," ie craving – what it looks like, why we do it, whether we can stop ourselves, and how it turns out that coveting and stinginess are two sides of the same coin after all. What exactly are clinging to when we grasp after those desires, states, and people? And (maybe more concerning) if there is no self, what is there even to cling in the first place?  

Dave Cuomo - A Functional Fantasy Land

Dave Cuomo - A Functional Fantasy Land

March 2, 2021

"To love the mountains is not to know about mountains, but to climb mountains and to live and die continuously with them.

The best way to realize the true beauty of Mount Fuji is to actually go climb it. If you do that, the beauty of Mount Fuji as you have known it will disappear. But this does not mean that the true beauty of Mount Fuji has disappeared. The beauty of Mount Fuji is eternal and unchanging. 

When we live with Mount Fuji and breathe with Mount Fuji, we can experience the deep taste of being at one with Mount Fuji. We are already beyond the realm of 'trying to understand.'” - Dainin Katagiri

Dave celebrates the return of in person discussions with reading and commentary on a beautiful piece from Dainin Katagiri on Dogen's "Instructions to the Cook," where Katagiri gives us his unvarnished impressions on his adopted American homeland and why our nation of problems and possibility is such fertile ground for practice. 

Brad Warner - The Whole D@#^ Business of Reality

Brad Warner - The Whole D@#^ Business of Reality

February 23, 2021

"The thinking mind can do incredible stuff. So it gets very full of itself and decides it can figure out a thought that will that will sum up the whole damn business of reality. 

And maybe one of these days there will be a theory of everything. But you'll still be left with, "I just read a thing. And that doesn't help me with my sadness..." - Brad Warner

Riffing off a remark from his conversation with Stephen Batchelor, Brad tackles the question of whether Buddhism is a form of materialism, idealism, or something else entirely. With a deep dive into Western Philosophy and a little help from Dogen, the Lankavatara Sutra, and Kobun Chino, Brad looks at how and what we humans think about the world and whether all this thinking is actually doing us any good.

Brad Warner & Stephen Batchelor - Buddhism, Reality, Zen, & God

Brad Warner & Stephen Batchelor - Buddhism, Reality, Zen, & God

February 16, 2021

“The world is incredibly weird and magnificent and wondrous. And I find that meditation practice, particularly a practice rooted in inquiry – you know, ‘what is this?’, opens me up not just intellectually, but emotionally, to the sheer wonder and grandeur of this universe.” - Stephen Batchelor

Two men enter, two men...have a lively debate over the concept of God as it relates to Zen Buddhism! By popular demand, we bring you the discussion between Brad Warner and Stephen Batchelor hosted by Gaia House earlier this month; one full hour hour packed with questions, more questions, and maybe even a few answers from two of modern Buddhism’s most iconoclastic thinkers about what “it” is and how "it" is finding its own forms and rhythms here in the West. 

Dave Cuomo - Karma Happens

Dave Cuomo - Karma Happens

February 9, 2021

"Sometimes I walk by a pile of poo and think "What jerk did that? I hate that guy. This is why we can't have nice things." And then I go around telling everyone about this jerk, and we all get upset and probably sound like a bunch of jerks.

And sometimes I walk by and think, "Huh, look at that poo." Maybe I have to scrape some poo off my shoe, and then I walk on, smelling it for a minute, and then smelling flowers on the next block. I'm guessing things go better for everyone when that happens, but I wouldn't really know because I'm not dwelling on it." - Dave Cuomo

 In a podcast exclusive, Dave takes a deep dive into the steaming pile of confusion that is karma. Is the universe a fair place? Is there such a thing as cosmic justice?? And if not should we even bother trying to be good people??? And if someone does poop in the road and no one is there to smell it, what will those flies even greet on their return??? Find out here!

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