Audio Dharma Talks

3/30/02 SFZC
Prelude to S&D

Darlene Cohen
""The Suffering of Doing Things for A Reason" "

(8.7 MB, 32kbps MP3)

Darlene talks about what she considers a particular and potent kind of suffering: doing things with your eyes on the results. The trouble with thinking this way is that it tends to focus you on the outcome rather than the actual fact of your activity. Looking ahead to the results you donít notice the moment of arrival. The accumulate effects of always looking ahead create a kind of craving that is always onto the next thing, never settling, never resting, never contented, never appreciating. This sets the scene for continual existential dissatisfaction.

3/15/03 San Francisco Zen Center Darlene Cohen
"Taking Social Action"
(9.7 MB, 32kbps MP3)

We must be steadfast and clear in our collective purpose: to embody and exemplify an unambiguous and uplifting heart alternative to the current engagements between fundamentalism and materialism that are threatening the world. We have an ancient tool, our sitting practice. This is our individual responsibility during this intense life and death struggle which makes for such dark and fearful times.

2/9/04 Iron Bell, Sacramento Darlene Cohen
"Pleasure & Its Varieties"
(13 MB, 32kbps MP3)

Though bliss can be distracting, it’s very encouraging to have a goodly amount of pleasure in our lives. Very few of us could continue to be helpful and generous people if our lives were nothing but a constant round of loss and failure. So what is the difference between forever chasing happiness and the pleasure that makes our miserable lives bearable and even useful? What kind of pleasure IS conducive to practice?

6/12/04 Fox Koan Darlene Cohen
"Hundreds and Thousands of Regrets"
(9.5 MB, 32kpps MP3)

Darlene’s comments on the 2nd Case of the Mumonkan: Sometimes we confuse things working well for us with practicing successfully. We tend to think in very simplistic terms: I’m good and virtuous; therefore, I deserve to be rewarded. If you think this way, you’ll never understand causality, for one. But the real tragedy is that your world will remain stunted by this narrow idea of cause and effect as following each other in rigid and moral succession.

8/8/04 Green Gulch Farm Darlene Cohen
"Simultaneous Inclusion: The One Who is Not Busy"
(5.1 MB, 16kbps MP3)

We describe our activity as either “busy” or “not busy,” either productively working or taking a blissful break from working. But actually it is possible to experience both “busy” and “not busy” simultaneously, to reach beyond the labels and connect with our work in a way that is deeply satisfying.
09/20/04 Tony Patchell

(6.6 MB, 24kbps MP3)

Tony speaks about the relevance of old Zen teaching stories to our modern day practice and everyday situations. This one is from the Gateless Barrier, namely Chu-khih Raises One Finger; Chu-khih’s Zen is 1,200 years old and still alive. How can this be so?

8/7/2005  Green Gulch Farm Darlene Cohen
“How Meditation Practice Helps Us Deal with Pain”

(11 MB, 32kbps MP3)

People ask me what to do when pains gets so intense, it interferes with their life; it can’t be ignored in order to continue their agenda of greed, hate and delusion. They have to stop and deal with their suffering, whatever it is. I advise them to turn toward their suffering, which is so hard, it actually requires training in specific skills.

Green Gulch Farm – March 6, 2005 Darlene Cohen
“Lay Practice”

(11MB, 32kbps MP3)

If you abide exclusively in the workaday form world and have no familiarity with nondual awareness, then your entire life is goal-oriented, a series of unending chores and demands. On the other hand, if you hang out in nondual awareness, reveling in sensation and avoiding the everyday world of distinct values, you won’t be able to take care of your life. But if you succeed in “simultaneously including” both states of mind, whether you are slaving away or lying on the beach, you can sit at your desk and prioritize your workday tasks according to their relative urgency. You understand that none of these tasks have any greater or lesser inherent value. You yourself assign them value according to the circumstances of the moment.

Spirit Rock – April 18, 2005 Darlene Cohen
“Dana Paramitta: the Universal Flow”

(7 MB, 32kbps MP3)

How do we maintain interest and joy and compassion and hope and lots of energy in the midst of all this despair and meanness and rancor going on in our world? In order to get from anguish and depression to a life of compassion and joy, we have to do something. That something is to practice dana, an attitude of generosity or perceiving the bounty of our life. It’s breath-based and sense-based, a perceptual flow in which you don’t break up your experience into giving or taking or anything like that; you know that any separating out you do is just temporary, for convenience. So when you practice dana paramita, it’s just living, just being part of the fundamental richness of direct experience. Stuff going into you to sustain you, stuff flowing out of you that you offer to others.

Garrison, NY – May, 2005 Darlene Cohen
“Hsing Hsing Ming (The Mind of Absolute Trust)”
(10 MB, 32kbps MP3)

The most famous first line in Chinese poetry: “The Great Way is not difficult; just cease having preferences.” My own personal translation of the title is: “We have no idea what’s really going on here and probably couldn’t stand it if we did. Vulnerable and bewildered and desperately heartbroken, we find comfort and ease in the freefall itself.” The poem describes the evolution of zen practice from scattered mind to concentrated mind to one mind to no mind, although all these minds are actually simultaneous, not sequential. They’re already within us, waiting for our embrace. They’re waiting for us to cultivate the ability to pay attention to them, to notice them.

San Francisco Zen Center – February 26, 2005 Darlene Cohen

(8MB, 32 kbps MP3)

I think a lot of healing has to do with moving despair, bitterness and physical pain through our bodies. Don’t ask me to explain how this works – I know it from experience with hundreds of clients and students over the years, and my own body – I think the best thing you can do with unbearable feelings is feel them thoroughly and respectfully, chew on them, get all the meat off, and then move them on through and out. It’s stuck despair that destroys us: stuck anger that embitters us and breaks down our body tissue. This is why I think creativity is such an antidote to pain. The focus on self-expression moves universal energy through the organism.

San Francisco Zen Center – November 9, 2005 Tony Patchell
“Joshu – Just Wash Your Bowl”

(7 MB, 32 kbps MP3)

Joshu experiences the universe in everyday activity;
how about you?

Zen Mountain Center Carmel Valley, CA
July 27th, 2006
Darlene Cohen Dharma Talk
The Samadhi of Nourishment.

(4 MB, 16 kbps MP3)
(recording volume is low, please turn up volume if you cannot hear)

What steadies us when things become difficult? Out body-to-body connection with others ca be a source of trust which is deeply reassuring. And, through such teachings as the Jewel Mirror Samadhi, Soto Zen points toward staying connected with our own greed, hate and delusion. This radical teaching opens a path where we can find out who we are, rather than escaping who we are. When you can look in the mirror without flinching, you stabilize and you open to everything.

Green Gulch Farms, Sausalito, CA
August 13th, 2006

Darlene Cohen "Zazen as a Basis for Social Action"
(4.5 MB, 16kbps MP3)

Why sit zazen when the world is going to hell, and fast?  Well, anything of value is learned from a state of suffering.  And we have a great opportunity right now to study how humans behave when we're frightened or threatened.  By cultivating a still mind, we may develop the courage for true equanimity, where there is a willingness to have our heart broke again and again.  This is a huge gift to the world: the offering of a mind that initiates intimacy, cultivates respect for all, and is able to appreciate the relativity of our opinions.

Green Gulch Farm,
Sausalito, CA
February 5th, 2006
Darlene Cohen "Shimmering Suchness"
(5.8 MB, 16kkbps MP3)

Beyond the push-pull of preference, the mundane - closely observed - becomes shimmering and vivid. Not a mystical trick, the myriad beings and things come forward in shining uniqueness. Right now, suchness arises. But how do we get here, now? Darlene explores this through the deeply healing world of body awareness - raw sensations, sense impressions, thoughts, feelings. Awareness of body sensations is the basic mindfulness practice; practice develops our stability to trust this direct experience. Beyond understanding, we can change not what we do, but be changed by the doing.

Iron Bell Zendo, Sacramento, CA March 26th, 2007 Darlene Cohen "Working People's Samadhi"
(7.3 MB, 16kkbps MP3)

American Zen offers a bold experiment, where we find the unprecedented dharmic realm of working in a the world, raising children, and practicing. This is primo terrain for actualizing the Bodhisattva ideal. We get to play with our particular way of developing skillful means: meeting what arises with, well, what arises. What is in your mind during work? What is in your body during work? We find the liberation from our suffering right in the middle of our suffering.

April 18th, 2005
Darlene Cohen "Dana Paramita Part I"
(6.8 MB, 32Kbps MP3)

Darlene Cohen " Dana Paramita Part II"
(6.5 MB, 32Kbps MP3)

Sacramento, CA
January 22nd, 2006
Darlene Cohen "Body 2 Body Practice: Part I"
(10.3 MB, 32Kbps MP3)

Darlene Cohen "Body 2 Body Practice: Part II"
(1.1 MB, 32Kbps MP3)

January 20th, 2004
Darlene Cohen "Lay Practice Samadhi"
(7.3 MB, 32Kbps MP3)

May 14 and 15th 2004
Darlene Cohen "Practicing With Emotions: 5-14-04 Part I "
(10.1 MB, 32Kbps MP3)

Darlene Cohen "Practicing With Emotions: 5-14-04 Part II "
(10.1 MB, 32Kbps MP3)

Darlene Cohen "Practicing With Emotions: 5-15-04 Part II "
(10.1 MB, 32Kbps MP3)

Darlene Cohen "Practicing With Emotions: 5-15-04 Part II "
(10.1 MB, 32Kbps MP3)

January 1st, 2009
Darlene Cohen "Hsin Hsin Ming: Part I "
(7.1 MB, 32Kbps MP3)

Darlene Cohen "Hsin Hsin Ming: Part II "
(4.7 MB, 32Kbps MP3)

June 18th, 2004
Darlene Cohen "Shin Shin Ming "
(7.6 MB, 32Kbps MP3)

May 2005
Darlene Cohen "Spring Sesshin "
(9.8 MB, 32Kbps MP3)

June 22nd, 2006
Darlene Cohen "Tassajara-In Praise of Zazen-Zendo "
(9.8 MB, 32Kbps MP3)

July 27th, 2006
Darlene Cohen "Tassajara Zendo Talk "
(7.7 MB, 32Kbps MP3)

January 18th, 2004
Darlene Cohen "Wanting to be Someone Else: Part I "
(6 MB, 32Kbps MP3)

Darlene Cohen "Wanting to be Someone Else: Part II "
(4 MB, 32Kbps MP3)

Crystal Springs Sangha, CA
March 8th, 2007
Darlene Cohen "Cancer Is Not Hard"
(10 MB, 32Kbps MP3)