Walk around the hall, March 21st 2018

First ume blossoms at Antaiji, March 15th 2018

Walk around the hall & WEST COAST PREMIERE: ZEN FOR NOTHING, March 8th 2018

BuddhaFest Presents Zen For Nothing

Directed by Werner Penzel (Step Across the Border, Middle of the Moment)

Germany, Japan / 2016 / English, Japanese, and German, with English subtitles / 100 min plus Q&A / Drama

The title may be provocative, but this film is a masterly immersion into life at a Japanese Zen monastery over three seasons of a year. Swiss novice Sabine arrives at Antaiji (the abbot of which is German national Muho Nölke) in autumn, and after a brief welcome, the learning process of the monastery rules begins: how to bow; how to sit in the meditation hall on the pillow in front of the empty wall; how to carry out the individual movements with the chopsticks in connection with the three black painted wooden bowls; how to behave…

There’s more to life in the monastery than meditation and maintenance; there are picnics and music, and Wi-Fi. After the last snow has melted away, the new rice is planted, bamboo shoots are dug up in the forest and young shoots are cut. In May, the nuns and monks travel to Osaka where they recite sutras in front of subway entrances as they solicit offerings in their monk’s robes. Quotes from renowned early 20th century Antaiji abbot Koda Sawaki are interjected throughout.

Simple, and beautifully filmed, this is Into Great Silence meets Enlightenment Guaranteed, with Fred Frith, composer (Rivers and Tides, Before Sunrise), performing the eclectic and elegant score.

Director Werner Penzel will be in attendance for Q&A.

Muho gives talk on Shobogenzo Gyoji (Japanese & English), February 27th 2018

Nishijima translation of the Shobogenzo:

Shasta abbey translation of the Shobogenzo:

There were people who were still going to India after the P’u-t’ung era of the Liang dynasty, and for what? This was foolishness in the extreme. Depending on how their bad karma led them, they wandered about in foreign countries. Step by step, they proceeded down false paths that were an insult to the Dharma; step by step, they were running away from their Father’s True Home. And what, pray, was gained by their going off to India? Nothing but suffering the hardships from crossing great mountains and obstructing waters. Without examining the principle that India had already come to the East, they did not clearly see what the eastern advance of the Buddha Dharma was, so that they futilely wandered about, lost in the labyrinths of India. Although they had a reputation for seeking the Buddha Dharma, they lacked an earnest desire for the Way-seeking Mind, so that they did not meet any genuine Masters in India, and vainly encountered only pedantic
teachers of Scriptures and cerebral scholars. Even though genuine Masters were still present in India, these travelers lacked the true spirit that seeks the True Teaching, and, as a result, the True Teaching did not come within their grasp. Some claimed that they had met a genuine Master upon their arrival in India, but we have yet to hear who those Masters were. Had they met genuine Masters, they would naturally have named names, but there have been no such names mentioned because there were no such encounters.

Further, after our Ancestral Master came from the West, there were many monks in China […]

Muho on Brad Warner’s “The God of Zen”, February 24th 2018

When I’m there, you’re there; when I’m
not, you’re not. If I’m not here I’m
waiting. Try it again: when you’re here,
I’m here too, and when you’re not, then
I’m not. Where am I then, when you’re
not here? I’m nowhere. What am I doing
nowhere ? Waiting. I’m sitting in (what
we’ll call) nowhere, looking into the
dark, and waiting.

I ought to be able to say it better than
that. But how? By not trying? I’ll try not
to try. I’ll try to say it the way it is, the
way i see it. But I won’t try too hard.
Trying too hard gets me off the track.
I know where I am now. I know I can
get some part of it said. I can, if I don’t
try too hard.

(Robert Lax)

Walk around the hall, February 22nd 2018

Walk around the hall, February 18th 2018

Muho wals and talks, February 16th 2018

View from the Antaiji kitchen door & walk around the hall, February 13h 2018

Descending the mountain to pick up the mail, February 6th 2018