Archival Talks

Dear Ancient Dragon folk:

These are challenging times. We are facing a pandemic that does not care about our place of birth, our ethnicity, our gender, or what we do for a living. It is a good time for us to support each other, and embrace our deep connection and responsibility to this earth. How we respond now to this challenge can be a gift to future generations and to ourselves.
As Ancient Dragon Zen Gate activates as an online sangha for an undetermined amount of time, we will be providing selections of podcasts to all on a weekly basis to provide dharma steadily. We are never actually alone. In addition to livestreams of Sunday morning Dharma talks, we are offering Ancient Dragon talks from our deep archive. Please enjoy these talks.
Taigen Dan Leighton, Ancient Dragon Zen Gate guiding teacher

Week Six - Multidirectional and Living Nature of Time

This week’s selection of archival dharma talks is focused on the multidirectional and living nature of time. Zen Priest and Author, Ruth Ozeki, visited Ancient Dragon Zen Gate and DePaul University in November of 2016 to talk about her celebrated novel, A Tale for the Time Being, and we present here the two talks she gave on her process of writing and the ability of creative action to radically dismantle structures that separate us across time and space. At this time, our nation continues to face the karma of systemic racism, and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s creative action moves through time and occupies our present with us. Taigen Dan Leighton spoke on the work of Dr. King in January, 2020, for the federal holiday observed in his honor, and gave focus to Dr. King’s strong anti-war stance. These anti-war efforts are supported by the themes of Ruth Ozeki’s brilliant work, which includes revelations about Japan’s role in World War II, expanded in her talks presented here.

Week Five - Dismantling Racism

This week’s selection of archival dharma talks is focused on the personal and community project of dismantling racism. Dedicating our lives to making possible Black liberation in the United States is a deep expression of bodhisattva principles. This freedom project asks white folks to be honest and challenge themselves to inquire into the baggage of racism they carry as a result of living in the United States, a country that for centuries has depended on the exploitation and abuse of Black lives to fund its economy. The freedom project asks all of us — How do we listen to truth? How do we express it? How do we care for ourselves, for all beings, and for our friends? How do we make friends that bring out the best in us?
Please enjoy these dharma talks as an opportunity to reflect on these questions and any true inquiry that arises for you. It is a good time to do just this.
Taigen Dan Leighton 6/1/20 (ADZG 802) – Sangha and the Karma of Our Racism
Taigen Dan Leighton 1/20/20 (ADZG 782) – Martin Luther King Jr., US Military Policy & Loving Your Enemies

Week Four - Aspects of Teaching Patience

These new archival dharma talks are connected by the historical influence of their themes in the Mahayana tradition, their teaching aspects, and their relevance to our current situation. Described by Eishin, Maitreya Bodhisattva embodying the future Buddha is patiently waiting for the right time. And here we are, waiting together.
The study of the mind, as expressed by the figure of Maitreya Bodhisattva, was a foundational influence on the Yogacara teachings, developed by figures such as Vasubandhu. Ben Connelly joyfully explores these teachings in his talk based on his book, Inside Vasubandhu’s Yogacara. As Connelly shows, although these teachings are almost 2,000 years old, they continue to be a rich storehouse of practice opportunities for us.
Finally, Taigen’s talk from the last day of Rohatsu Sesshin in December 2019 explores the poem The Jewel Mirror Samadhi as a koan text that synthesizes into a single brief poem a variety of awakening conversations and images from thousands of years of practice. This poem, attributed to Caodong lineage founder Dongshan, helps gives us time to study ourselves, grow peace, and patiently observe the changes as we wait. The Jewel Mirror Samadhi demonstrates the Chinese Caodong practice spirit and philosophy, which transformed into the Japanese Soto practice, and is now, in some form, American Soto Zen. These teachings are a helping hand outstretched across time.


Week Three - Unfolding Wise Hope

Week Two - Learning To Be At Home

For our second trip through the Ancient Dragon Zen Gate podcast archives we have a theme of “Learning to Be At Home.” In addition to a talk given by one of Ancient Dragon’s priests and retired Urban Conservation Director at Chicago’s Field Museum, Gyoshin Laurel Ross, we would also like to share talks given by Tenshin Reb Anderson, senior Dharma teacher at San Francisco Zen Center and at Green Gulch Farm Zen Center (as well as Taigen’s teacher), and Joanna Macy, an esteemed environmental activist, author, scholar of Buddhism, general systems theory, and deep ecology. A new book just out about Joanna’s work, “A Wild Love for the World: Joanna Macy and the Work of Our Time” (Shambhala) includes a chapter by Taigen, “Buddhist Being Time and Joanna Macy’s Deep Time.”


Week One - Responsibility We Share to the Earth

Our first archival selection includes a theme of the responsibility we share to the earth. In addition to a talk by our Guiding Teacher Taigen Dan Leighton, we have guest teacher talks by renowned writer Rebecca Solnit, who was a student of Blanche Hartman at S.F. Zen Center, and also by Florence Caplow, Zen priest in Suzuki Roshi’s lineage, Unitarian Universalist minister in Champaign, IL, and also a trained conservationist.