Shakyamuni Gautama was an historical figure who lived in India from approximately 563 to 483 B.C. After his death, Buddhism spread over Asia, and almost 2,500 years later Buddhism has come to the West, where it is more relevant than ever. These four classic talks by John Daido Loori, abbot of Zen Mountain Monastery, offer a clear, comprehensive version of the Buddha's life and teachings, including Buddha's life as a householder, spiritual seeker, and ultimately a teacher. Roshi brings Buddha to life by describing how Buddha's personal struggles led to his search for greater meaning. Like many of us, Buddha felt dissatisfied with the daily routine of life, and he wanted to understand how to live authentically. Buddha's search led to his realization of the Four Noble Truths, which are essentially the awareness of suffering and how to alleviate it. Daido Roshi discusses the Four Noble Truths, and examines how this core Buddhist teaching is relevant to our lives today. He also explores how subsequent teachers carried on the Buddha's teachings, touching particularly on Zen Buddhist masters. These talks form a wonderful introduction for those completely new to Buddhism, while offering important insights to those who are already practicing.
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).