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  • Dharma Talk with Kanho Chris Burkhart : Precepts and the Path

Dharma Talk with Kanho Chris Burkhart : Precepts and the Path

  • Sunday, July 09, 2023
  • 6:30 PM - 8:30 PM
  • Zoom Zendo

Kanho Chris Burkhart discusses the power of precept practice in working with the most difficult aspects of our life. She shared powerfully about the practice of Tony Long who passed away a few months after receiving jukai.

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Talk Notes

Good morning friends

I am happy to see you. I hope that you are having a great summer. It is warm outside, the ice cream truck jingles by the house every once n a while and during the day all the windows and doors are open. It looks like I will have a bumper crop of apples and some asian pears too. I am grateful to share this day of plenty. I am grateful to be alive.

Today I won't start out with a poem, but with a brief quote from Genjokoan: “As all things are buddha-dharma, there is delusion and realization, practice, birth and death, and there are buddhas and sentient beings. As the myriad things are without an abiding self, there is no delusion, no realization, no buddha, no sentient being, no birth and death. The buddha way is, basically, leaping clear of the many and the one; thus there are birth and death, delusion and realization, sentient beings and buddhas. Yet, in attachment blossoms fall, and in aversion weeds spread.”

Yet, in attachment blossoms fall, and in aversion weeds spread. Loss and gain come and go in this landscape of continuous change. I would like to tell you a little about a remarkable person and dharma friend, Kanhon Heido, completely rooted, peaceful way, Tony Long.

Tony signed up for the precepts class in 2022 which took place on zoom. I logged on early to greet everyone as they were showing up. Tony was the first. He told me his name. Then he said “I'm here because I don't have long to live. I'm dying. And I want to study the precepts before I go.” Tony participated fully in the class and the members of his small study group cherished him. He contributed much food for thought and discussion.

Tony took the precepts in a jukai ceremony in his home in Yakima. I guess he would have loved to come to Red Cedar for it, however, travel was difficult and very exhausting for him. So Hannah and I traveled to Yakima for it. It truly warmed my heart that when we brought up the zoom screen, so many from the Red Cedar sangha were there.

Tony and his amazing wife Rosemary told us stories from their life, how they met and courted. Tony told us of his years as a teacher and his efforts to help people. Both Tony and Rosemary showed their big hearts. Well, maybe it's time for a poem after all.

Peaceful Life by Dainin Katagiri Roshi

Being told that it is impossible

One believes, in despair, "Is that so?"

Being told that it is possible,

One believes, in excitement, "That's right."

But, whichever is chosen,

It does not fit one's heart neatly.

Being asked, "What is unfitting?"

I don't know what it is.

But my heart knows somehow.

I feel irrestistible desire to know.

What a mystery a "human" is!

As to this mystery:


Knowing how to live,

Knowing how to talk with people,

Demonstrating and teaching,

This is the Buddha.

From my human eyes,

I feel it's really impossible to become Buddha.

But this "I", regarding what the Buddha does,

Vows to practice,

To aspire,

To be resolute,

And tells myself, "Yes, I will."

Just practice right here now,

And achieve continuity,



This is living in vow.

Herein is one's peaceful life found.

Herein is one's peaceful life found. Yes: just practice right here now. That's it. Tony passed away yesterday. Rosemary sent me the sad email. But she also said how much jukai had meant for Tony. So, Tony, benefactor of the sangha, thank you for sharing your big heart with us for a while. His life was rooted in service to under-resourced populations and he will be missed. Tony did he let the myriad things come forth and experience themselves. And in spite of long severe sickness, he delighted in that.

Continuing with Genjokoan: “To carry yourself forward and experience myriad things is delusion. That myriad things come forth and experience themselves is awakening. Those who have great realization of delusion are buddhas; those who are greatly deluded about realization are sentient beings. Further, there are those who continue realizing beyond realization, who are in delusion throughout delusion. When buddhas are truly buddhas they do not necessarily notice that they are buddhas. However, they are actualized buddhas, who go on actualizing buddhas.” Thank you for listening to these remembered snippets.

Blue Cliff Record‚ case 55 “Daowu’s Condolence Call.” adapted from the Thomas Cleary translation.

Daowu and his disciple Jianyuan went to a house to make a condolence call.

This is in the 8th century, by the way. In order to express sympathy in those days, Zen monks did not do funeral services. They just went to visit the family to acknowledge the deceased.

Jianyuan hit the coffin and said, “Alive or dead?”

Jianyuan brought up the great question.

Daowu said, “I won’t say alive, and I won’t say dead.”

Jianyuan said, “Why won’t you say?”

Daowu said, “I won’t say.”

Halfway back, as they were returning, Jianyuan said, “Tell me right away, Teacher; if you don’t tell me, I’ll hit you.”

Daowu said, “ You may hit me, but I won’t say.” So Jianyuan hit him.

In time, Daowu died, and Jianyuan went to study with Master Shishuang. He told Shishuang about his exchange with Daowu and asked about his point of view.

Shishuang said, “I won’t say alive, and I won’t say dead.”

Jianyuan said, “Why won’t you say?”

Shishuang just said, “I won’t say, I won’t say.”

At these words Jianyuan had an insight.

Later, Jianyuan, carrying a hoe, went up and down in the lecture hall as if he were searching for something. Shishuang said, “What are you doing?”

Jianyuan said, “I’m searching for the spiritual remains of our dead teacher.”

Shishuang said, “Limitless expanse of mighty roaring waves; foaming waves wash the sky. What relic of the deceased teacher do you seek?

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