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The 10 Verses of Unfathomable Depth

The poetic forms of Chan teachings are both incisive and interpretable, both direct and indirect. They offer a window into a form of Buddhism that offers clear insights into the immediacy of the moment, and that elucidates the moment’s timelessness. In these teachings we will encounter the themes of right effort, transmission of the Dharma, and the roles of study and koan practice.

The “Ten Verses of Unfathomable Depth” is a classical poem by 10th Century Chan Master Tong’an Changcha. This six week class will explore commentary on the verses and their themes by Zen Master Dogen and contemporary Master Sekkei Harada. It will also explore the roots of these teachings as they are described in the early Buddhist Nikayas.

 

HOUSEKEEPING

The class syllabus is below. Additional reflection questions, reading assignments, and weekly pre-recorded lectures will be added as we proceed. The optional group discussion meetings will take place on Tuesdays from 5:00 pm to 6:15 pm Pacific time, utilizing Zoom video meeting technology. The class is offered by donation. Everyone is welcome, regardless of practice experience.

 
 
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Week 1: The Masters and Their Stories

Gateless is the Great Tao;

There are thousands of ways to it.

If you pass through this barrier,

You may walk freely in the universe.

~ Mumon 12th Century Chan Master and compiler of the Mumonkan koan collection

Required Reading: “Unfathomable Depths: Drawing Wisdom for Today from a Classical Zen Poem” by Sekkei Harada, pages 3 through 52 (the 10 Verses and the Introductory sections)

Optional Supplemental Reading: “The Gateless Barrier: Zen Comments on the Mumonkan” by Zenkei Shibayama, pages 9 and 14 - 15 (brief comments on how to practice with koans)


Week 2: Prologue and Verses 1 and 2

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Week 3: Verses 3 and 4

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Week 4: Verses 5 and 6

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Week 5: Verses 7 and 8

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Week 6: Verses 9 and 10

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