Our ordinary point of view divides the world in two. Me and you, right and wrong, success and failure, life and death, practically all of our daily encounters are about divisions. We separate ourselves from the world around us, and this separation is the cause of our pain and suffering. In order to be free and live joyfully, we need to be able to transcend these categories and emerge into a fresh point of view. Meditation allows us to get to the place where these divisions merge, and this experience changes our definition of who we are and how we experience the world. This new point of view clears away the obstructions in our lives and allows us to live with grace and harmony.
Zen Buddhism emphasizes zazen, or seated meditation, as the means to study the self and understand who we truly are. Dharma talks are an essential aspect of Zen training and take place in the context of zazen. Said to be "dark to the mind and radiant to the heart", a dharma talk is one of the ways in which a teacher points directly to the heart of the teachings of the Buddha. In our meditation practice, it is easy to get lost in self-doubt, fantasy, numbness, and emotional agitation. Dharma talks help to ground our practice, providing inspiration and an essential recognition of exactly where we find ourselves, so that we can learn to face difficulties and obstacles with a free and flexible mind. This talk was given at Zen Mountain Monastery or the Zen Center of New York City of the Mountains and Rivers Order of Zen Buddhism, founded in 1980 by the late American Zen Master John Daido Loori, Roshi (1931-2009).