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Gurdjieff (1866-1949) was a very influential spiritual teacher, and his teaching of the “Fourth Way” was ahead of its time and pre-dated the findings of later neuroscience, especially the “three centres”: the sensorimotor centre, the emotional centre and the cognitive centre and his teaching of multiple self-states. In this talk Elizabeth Barrett, …
 
Welcome home. Literally. This is our home, right here and now.You will not find this home on any map or travel guide. Wherever you travel, you will always arrive where you started - Here and Now.This is why, we have many stories in all the great spiritual traditions of people wandering in search of their home, finally realizing, THIS is their home.…
 
If the image of the Buddha represents the experience of the timeless now, then the image of Janus, the two-headed Roman God of transitions, gateways, beginnings and endings, with one head turned towards what has been, and the other head turned towards what is yet to be, represents our experience of what I call mortal personhood. The smile of the Bu…
 
My teacher's teacher, Joko Beck, was once asked, if she could summarize all her years of practice in one word, what would it be? And she said, kindness. This guided meditation takes us on a journey into the experience of kindness and cultivating kindness. As the heart opens, we become free from our reactions and are able to respond to the world, to…
 
In a way all these guided meditations are kind of like an exploration of our core practice - the practice of just sitting or the koan of just sitting. It's the core practice in Soto Zen. Dogen said zazen is not a meditation technique. It is simply the Dharma gate of joyful ease.It is practicing the realization of the boundless dharma way.Here the o…
 
I am currently reading a book called This Life: Why Mortality Makes us Free by the contemporary Swedish philosopher, Martin Hagglund, who argues against religious faith in favour of what he calls secular faith. He includes Buddhism, along with Christianity, as practicing a form of religious faith where some form of belief in eternity takes preceden…
 
This guided meditation take us on a journey exploring the two dimensions of time. The first quote refers to our normal experience of time as linear. The time that passes by in a flash. Ten, twenty, thirty seconds gone by in a flash. This is time seen from the relative or delusional perspective of the separate self that feels itself to stand-out, ap…
 
In this talk, my teacher, Barry Magid introduces us to the precepts of bearing witness. Barry suggests that the metaphor of bearing witness is more suited to contemporary lay practice in the west, than the metaphor of making a vow.When we bear witness to for example, violence in ourselves, we lay the groundwork for transformation through seeing our…
 
Another expression for Zazen might be, being presence, but when we first sit down we may experience a strong pull away from being presence, almost like being caught in a rip current. Sometimes, it is best not to resist resistance and allow ourselves to be carried away by the rip in the faith that it will naturally come to an end and we will wake up…
 
In our discussion last fortnight, we talked about making friends with death, and finding our home (nirvana) in this world rather than seeking some kind of transcendence of our ordinary self in an afterlife or in a “true” self that is behind, above or higher than our ordinary self, as if there is always something missing in our experience of ordinar…
 
In this talk I want to say something about the importance of accepting our finitude and making friends with death, as if it was our most intimate companion. I contrast the acceptance of finitude with the flight from finitude - towards a quest for permanence or transcendence found in many religious and spiritual teachings including nondual teachings…
 
Zen is a communal practice; it is also a commitment. Zen, ultimately, is a path of service to all beings and to each other, this commitment or vow is expressed in the Four Bodhisattva Vows. Showing up to practice together is an expression of that commitment. In some ways, commitment in Zen is like the Metta or Loving Kindness practice. We start wit…
 
Most of you are familiar with the basic teachings of Buddhism - which you can basically group into two: the wisdom teachings and practices and the compassion teachings and practices. The wisdom teachings and practices are sometimes called the prajna teachings or the “emptiness” teachings and practices such as the Heart Sutra which teaches form is e…
 
So, to begin our meditation – let’s start by letting go of our social identity. We do that by focusing on sensations, feelings. We can’t really feel age, or gender. They are just concepts. However, because we identify with concepts, we can feel hurt if someone insults aspects of our social identity. However, for the purpose of this meditation let’s…
 
This talk was inspired by a recent conversation with an OzZen member. In this conversation the person was concerned with their inability to forgive someone who had hurt them it was a kind of betrayal. Now, my Buddhist friend felt that this was inadequate from a Buddhist perspective, that is, from a Buddhist perspective one should not feel hurt and …
 
In this talk I am going to continue the exploration of the psychological and interpersonal-neurobiological aspects of Zen practice. Given the limitation of time, this will of necessity be a simplified account. In a way, I am basically providing a sketch of how I see our relationship to Zazen playing a similar function to our experience of an intima…
 
The 13th century Zen Master Dogen grew up with the teaching of original enlightenment – enlightenment is inherent in all beings from the beginning – not something that is achieved through effort. We might say it is a Holy world. Original dwelling place is another metaphor that has been used to point towards this ultimate reality that is always goin…
 
Caught in a self-centred dream, only sufferingHolding to self-centred thoughts, exactly the dream.Each moment, life as it is, the only teacherBeing just this moment, compassion’s way.The practice principles are regularly recited in Ordinary Mind Zen Centres around the world. They are a re-working of the classic statements of The Four Noble Truths. …
 
“Come in”, she said, “I’ll give you shelter from the storm”.In this talk I explore the meaning of salvation in Zen, in the context of a world stunned by the effects of disease and death. It begins with an overview of how both religions and relationships have been the main “shelters” of salvation for human beings since the dawn of time. So, what doe…
 
This talk explores the relationship between growing up and waking up. It commences with a reading of the first five verses of the poem Intimations of Immortality by William Wordsworth. I then discuss the distinction made by my teacher Barry Magid between a “top-down practice” and a “bottom-up practice” and outline some of the pitfalls of a top-down…
 
In this talk I discuss the relationship between student and teacher which is at the core of our tradition and practice. This talk answers the question what is involved in becoming a student? What is a zen student? How do I become a zen student? What does it mean to practice in a non-monastic setting? The talk also discusses my experience of the stu…
 
I have sometimes heard people say “I have wasted my life” and are full of regrets for the life they did not lead. This is a common form of suffering. A critical part disparages the life we have led as not being "good enough" or "successful" enough because we did not follow our authentic calling and opted for a safer option. For example, a character…
 
In this talk Andrew gives his interpretation of the traditional “four seals” as discussed in the classic book by Uchiyama on Soto Zen: Opening the Hand of Thought. The four seals are:1. Life is suffering.2. Impermanence.3. No substantial self (interdependence).4. Nirvana (the end of suffering).The four seals are the essentials for a teaching to be …
 
This is a classic enlightenment poem, attributed to the third ancestor of Chan, Seng Ts’an. The title is sometimes translated as Faith in Mind, but I prefer realising mind because the poem is a guide for practice and teaches us how to align ourselves with our Buddha mind. “True faith in mind is the belief grounded in realisation that we have (are) …
 
What are the barriers that prevent us from awakening? From appreciating this presence that we are and always have been. Usually our preoccupation with “me”. Also, important to focus on post-enlightenment practice. Awakening doesn’t mean we are not going to have ups and downs. This path doesn’t offer a pot of gold. But it offers eternity – which is …
 
This was a talk given by a student, Phil Pisanu, at the recent retreat. "My Zen journey has 3 entangled threads – the idea of Zen, my interest in the natural world, and my lifelong pastime of surfing... Mind, body and spirit.All good journeys have a beginning, a middle and end..."By Andrew Tootell
 
Our original enlightenment or inherent completeness is obscured by our self-centred dream, trauma and conditioning. Awakening to presence, although necessary, is often not enough to heal our addiction to the self-centre, and our traumatic deficiency stories (beliefs) and body memories. We need to ensure that presence can meet the conditioning that …
 
Silence is the gateway into ordinary mind. In our Ordinary Mind Zen School, we have two basic practices that work in tandem: just sitting or resting in presence (no-gain) and inquiry (I would also include guided meditation as a form of inquiry). Inquiry and guided meditation are necessary to embody our awakening. Inquiry investigates the mind and e…
 
It is free of suffering, arising, cessation, and path.This talk reflects on human suffering from the perspective of the Heart Sutra. Most of our suffering originates from rejecting this moment in the form of clinging or resisting. This moment is never it. The separate self is the activity of endlessly seeking something other than just this! Sufferi…
 
In this talk I begin with the reasons why a psychologically minded zen practice needs to be a trauma-informed zen practice: firstly, to ensure that zen practice doesn’t inadvertently retraumatise people; and secondly, zen practice can facilitate the healing process of trauma survivors. I then define trauma and discuss how the symptoms of trauma are…
 
This is a famous koan which our Zen school is named after. In the story the student is asking the teacher what is the Tao, what is the Buddha way? Basically, how do I practice? The way is basically our life. The whole of our life is our practice. In this talk I introduce the metaphor of “falling in love with life” as a way of understanding the proc…
 
This talk is on the need for both wisdom and compassion to be always working together, like the two wings of a bird enabling us to fly to go with the flow of the reality of this moment.We can err on either side of the equation – we can get stuck in the wisdom of oneness or we can get burnt-out by putting others needs before our own.Rather, wisdom (…
 
This was the second talk given at the Yarrawarra Aboriginal Cultural Centre during our Autumn sesshin. This talk focused on the great matter of life-death from the Absolute or Wisdom beyond Wisdom teachings perspective. It draws from the essay called Genjo Koan written by the 13th century Japanese Zen Master, Eihei Dogen. It points to how enlighten…
 
In this meditation I guide participants in objectless awareness, or awareness of awareness. This is the practice of “just sitting” in our tradition. We rest our attention in awareness itself, nonabiding in any object. This is the direct experience of freedom in impermanence, nirvana in samsara – the dharma gate of ease and joy.…
 
This was the first talk given at the Yarrawarra Aboriginal Cultural Centre during our Autumn sesshin. This talk focused on the relative dimension of life-death. Looking from the human perspective, we must confront our awareness of the inevitably and finality of death. The talk focuses how death, like life, can be a great teacher. Don’t wait for you…
 
This talk is a commentary on the chapter “The Razor’s Edge” by Joko Beck. It distinguishes the activity of the self-centred self, which is the attempt to control and resist impermanence in order to avoid feeling emotional pain from what Joko called embeddedness in life. When we are embedded in life there is no separation and hence no problem. We al…
 
This talk commences with some words on the act of terrorism that had just occurred in New Zealand on the previous Friday. I then share some of my reflections on the chapter True Suffering and False Suffering from Everyday Zen. It begins with a discussion of the absolute and the relative together as it relates to suffering. I then discuss the basic …
 
In this talk I give a commentary on Barry Magid’s dharma poem "I am my body". I think Barry's writing is addressing two basic issues:1) the tendency in religion/spirituality to seek to transcend the impermanence of our body (our incarnation) and seek permanence somewhere else other than where we are; and2) to transcend the Cartesian mind/body duali…
 
This talk reflects on the nature of the observing self as described by Joko Beck. The observing self is distinguished from the conceptual or personal self. In a sense it is a knowing or awareness that is embodied. We are aware of being aware. This is the miracle. This body is aware. We can see and describe our body as object, but we cannot describe…
 
Do you know your core fears? Fear can alert is to our patterns of attachment to the apparent separate self. In this talk I explore how we practice with our fears on the level of the mind (thoughts/core beliefs) and the body (the memory or residues of past fears that have accumulated over our lives).Recorded 20.05.18.If you found Andrew’s talks or m…
 
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