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Subtle Sound: Maurine Stuart

Updated: Sep 22, 2020

Mokuo Nancy Sherwood donated a short book about the life and teachings of Maurine Stuart-roshi to our Sangha library. I have selected three teachings to share:

The Illusion of I

In the first chapter of the book, she looks readers in the "I." The pseudo form that disavows the transitory nature of human existence. This remarkable teaching of Shakyamuni Buddha that becomes a vault of stored assumptions that can be viewed as hoarding or greed. " ...we suffer because we want so much (and) the situation should be different than it is. (p.3)."

It is as if the "I" is a powerful magnet first charged in our early childhood

through the process of "mine. "....only I can fear...and when the ego-shell is cracked the wonderful warmth of the human heart is released (p.6)."

The ease of her writing is lyrical which may go back to her musical background. It is an experience of the dynamic field of energy that is our mind-wave of Mind-Ocean breaking through.

The Circumstance is the Teaching

" ...We sit quietly, intensely, gratefully, joyously experiencing the living aspect of (just) sitting (p.49)." This is what Matsuoka-roshi called being (a) big mountain-sitting. Experiencing the depth of inmo or just being thus. "... sunyata is the Buddhist doctrine of emptiness... from the "I" of thinking, no intentions no belief, this reaches a ground of being and we have a base for our thinking and being (p.54.)"

All ten thousand things are presenting the Dharma their teaching all the time. She goes on to say that this seat of zazen is the base from which we do living, "...hara full, heart full, head cool (p.55).

The Last Word

Roshi Stuart writes"...we must realize that we do not help others when we do too much for them (P.144)."

Upaya or skillful means is how the ten thousand things inform us. Life is none other than the teaching this swirl of changing understanding (you/me/us), breathing the next breath, and taking the next step.

Roshis writes "...No one finishes this training there is no last word...'THIS" is a present-tense word. What is your experience of "THIS (p.146)."

These short chapters are not laden with terms but full of the everyday zen practice of sharing the Dharma. Great is the meaning of life and death...

108 Bow



Be sure to join us September 29 through October 4, 2020, for our Silent Thunder Order Annual Retreat and Board Conference, this year on Zoom. See for more information

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