The physical New York Zendo is closed until after labor day. Daily and Saturday sitting on Zoom remains the same, all periods are covered there.
Who are you, What are you doing, What's happening - Are they three questions or one?
Barry MagidApril 1st 2017
The enlightenment of Shakyamuni was said to be insight into the emptiness and interconnectedness of all things. The original Sangha that grew around the Buddha and his teaching was said to live a life that expressed that truth. They were homeless. They had no fixed abode, no possessions. They would be dependent on begging. They way they lived their life would reflect impermanence and interconnectedness. Dogen also taught a ritualized life that enacted the basic truths of Buddhism. Who they were was inseparable from what they did. The danger is that identity devolves into rule following. It is one of the important functions of April Fool's day and Carnival in the broader sense, that every now and then, ritually, the rules are turned upside down. All the things we usually do to define ourselves get violated or played with. It's a nice guard against becoming precious and rigid about the forms of practice. And a disciplined way of expressing the fact that you don't have to do anything to receive these basic truths about impermanence and interconnectedness.
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Once there was an old jew living in a small town in Poland. His name was Boruch Magid. He was the town carpenter. And he got along well with his neighbors in the village. And they all valued his work. But as such things go, time came when the government decreed that all the Jews in Poland must either convert to Catholicism, be expelled from the country, or worse.
The villagers didn't want to lose old Boruch, so the priest came to him and said, "Boruch, you're our friend, you've lived here for many years, you've been a carpenter, you've helped everyone out. We want you to be able to stay. So I beseech you, please, convert to Catholicism and stay here among your friends."
Boruch thinks about it and says, "Well what do I have to do to become a Catholic."
The priest says, "First, you have to accept Jesus Christ as your savior, and then as a Catholic there are certain things you have to do. Every Sunday we expect you to show up in church and on Fridays you're not allowed to eat meat, you have to have fish, things like that. Can you do it?"
Boruch thinks and says, "All right, I'll become a Catholic."
The priest is very happy, he makes the sign of the cross over Boruch's head and he says, "All right, today I give you the new name Barry and now you're a Catholic."
So time goes on and everything seems to be working out very well. Barry shows up in church every Sunday, doesn't seem to be any problem. But the priest one day decides just to make sure, he'll pay him a visit on Friday night.
He knocks on the door and Barry invites him in. Dinner is about to be put on the table and the priest sniffs and is very suspicious. It certainly smells like there's a big side of beef being cooked. And sure enough, Barry opens the oven and out comes this big roast and puts it in the middle of the table and invites the priest to sit down.
The priest says, "But Barry, you know as a Catholic you're supposed to eat fish on Friday night."
Barry nods, makes the sign of the cross over the beef and says, "Now it's a fish."
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