Angel City Zen Center - Beginners Only Podcast
Leon Sandler - Spinning Plates (What Am I Doing Here??)

Leon Sandler - Spinning Plates (What Am I Doing Here??)

March 4, 2022

“They say there is only suffering. Even happiness is just another form of suffering. And I can see that. But what do you do with that knowledge? Do you still go to birthday parties? Do you go on dates? And what do you say? Do you just say ultimately happiness and unhappiness are just the head and tail of the same snake? I don’t know if there’s a quick and easy solution I can give to that. And if you have one, please hit me up.” - Leon Sandler

 

ACZC’s own Leon Sandler takes the hot seat to tell us the story of what he’s doing and why he’s here. From Denver to Istanbul, spanning continents and lifetimes, Leon spins us a story of the great open question: what does it mean to live a normal life in a practice that deconstructs any such notion into the ridiculousness of oblivion? Find out here!

Gyokei Yokoyama - Spiritual Fermentation (Jukai)

Gyokei Yokoyama - Spiritual Fermentation (Jukai)

February 25, 2022

"Precepts are what humbles us. It's not designed to inflate our imagination. It sobers us. The precepts come with an understanding that we are constantly, in each moment, failing. And that's why we uphold the precepts." - Gyokei Yokoyama

 

Gyokei returns to the hot seat with an in depth and personal look at precepts and Jukai (lay precept ceremony). From the historical and cultural roots, to his own experiences growing up Zen in all its childhood innocence and angry adolescence, this is a story of making friends with your shadow side and tripping over the truth until you finally fall face first into it.

Dave Cuomo - Swooning Buddhas! (Vimalakirti Sutra -ch 2)

Dave Cuomo - Swooning Buddhas! (Vimalakirti Sutra -ch 2)

February 19, 2022

“If we started with the goal of becoming happy and wise enough to attract better people into our lives and making a better world together, now they’re telling us the real liberation is to not need to think like that at all -  to be so free that you’re not worried about what kind of world you live in. In fact if you were truly free, you might just choose to go for the most troublesome people in the lowest places, because your real joy and calling is to be where you’re needed the most.” - Dave Cuomo

 

In our latest installment of Zen Story Time, Dave brings us part 2 of the Vimalakirti Sutra. Here we meet our eponymous hero, Vimalakirti, the enlightened laymen who spends his days at the gambling halls and his nights at the bars and brothels - a bodhisattva so free of attachments that he has no qualms spending his life immersed in them (only for the good of all beings of course…). Will he be able to bring the light of wisdom to the darkest corners of the world? Find out here!

Jordan Mylet - An Unmitigated Good (What Am I Doing Here??)

Jordan Mylet - An Unmitigated Good (What Am I Doing Here??)

February 11, 2022

"The funny thing about zazen is, it can’t be fooled. The funny thing about Zen is I can’t crush it or not crush it. So all I really want to do is be honest and convey something true for a second. And when I remember that, I kinda can" - Jordan Mylet

 

Jordan regales us with a warm and insightful love letter to zazen, as part of our series where long time sangha members (like you!) tell us the story of what they are doing and why they are here. What happens when all you want is to enjoy a nice day at the park, and next thing you know you're on a years long quest to unravel the great mysteries of who and what we are just to be able notice a nice moment sitting under the trees? How do we make peace with the world that's rattling around inside our own heads? Is it possible to become a better shiner you without digging ourselves deeper into the great pits of desire?? Find out here!

Dave Cuomo - Aching Joy (Yogacara - The Afflictions)

Dave Cuomo - Aching Joy (Yogacara - The Afflictions)

February 5, 2022

“When we’re talking about joy, I mean the kind of joy that you might feel at a funeral, a crying aching joy that encompasses everything. It's like, no, this whole thing is beautiful and I'm glad we did this. And I would do it all over again.” - Dave Cuomo

 

Dave brings us an optimistic look at the afflictions - greed, hatred, delusion, anger, guile (a personal favorite), arrogance, laziness, and all the rest. How do me make allies out of our restless shadow sides and finally have a chance at whatever they mean by “free will”? How can we learn to read a room by taking a good hard look in the mirrors of our own minds? And if we really want to be our best selves, should we be going to therapy or doing zazen? (Spoiler alert: the answer is yes!) Find out here!

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!

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