Zen Buddhist Temple of Chicago

April 2018 Newsletter
founded 1949 by Soyu Matsuoka, Roshi
608 Dempster
Evanston, IL  -


View this email in your browser
The Zen Buddhist Temple of Chicago was founded by Soyu Matsuoka, Roshi in 1949.  We relocated from Chicago's Lincoln Park to Evanston in 1988 and we have been offering Soto Zen Meditation instruction in the Chicago area for 69 years.

The Zen Buddhist Temple of Chicago is a Soto Zen Center dedicated to helping practitioners realize their true nature through Zazen, seated meditation.

Zen holds that all living beings are pure Buddha nature that seems to be obscured by the workings of the discursive mind, fueled by the pressures of modern life. Through daily practice of seated meditation, we allow the discursive mind to settle, and let this true nature be expressed in our daily life. 

Buddhism is non-theistic. The historical Buddha is not worshipped as a deity, but rather serves as an example of the realization that is expressed through our Zazen practice. Practitioners of other faiths may cultivate themselves through Zazen, supplementing their existing spiritual practice.


The Zen Buddhist Temple of Chicago has been offering Zazen instruction since 1949 and we are one of the oldest continuously operating Soto Zen centers in the US.  We are dependent solely on your generosity to help us continue.  If your circumstances permit, please help us [we are a 501c3 non profit organization and donations to us are tax deductible].

Donate Here

Also, Amazon has a program wherein .05% of your purchases thru their program benefit us.  Click AmazonSmile log on to your account and specify the Zen Buddhist Temple of Chicago as the organization you are supporting.

A collection of audio talks by our late abbot Kongo Langlois, Roshi is now available at Northwestern University Libraries

We are here and it is now.  Further than that, all human knowledge is moonshine.

H. L Mencken

Jim Matson

However innumerable my delusions are, I vow to extinguish them all.
That’s a vow.  A Buddhist bodhisattva vow.  A very serious undertaking.  Chanted at our temple at every service.  But have you ever given attention to it?  It’s one thing to recite and repeat very sincerely one’s intention to extinguish, to obliterate, to overcome one’s delusions.  And of course this vow seems to demand a great deal of serious effort – grit your teeth and battle type of effort.  It can certainly attract ego.  It can attract that tool that we have that allows us to struggle, to overcome - to get beyond.  Which of course is measuring, comparing & labeling.  And as a species, we humans are very very good at using that tool.

But what is delusion?

It’s rather odd.  Because the first rule of delusion is that I can’t be aware of it.  The minute there is an awareness of delusion, it’s not a delusion.  So if I can’t be aware of my delusions, how am I to extinguish them?

I can certainly see other people’s delusions.  It’s quite easy and evident.  If I’m a Democrat, those Republicans are deluded.  Obviously.  No doubt about it.  So seeing other’s delusions is a piece of cake.

And I can pull up the past and say “Oh yeah, back then I believed in Santa Claus – I was deluded.”  The fact that that delusion was supported by my parents, by my culture, by my society doesn’t matter.  I was deluded.

But is it possible to see my actual delusion in the present moment?  My delusion, not the other guys?  Now, not in the past?

A man who takes rainbows to be real – to be independently solid and real – we can say that that man is deluded.  We can say that.  But he can’t.  To him he’s not deluded.  To him that rainbow is there.  He can see it and point it out to others.  “How can you tell me I’m deluded?  There it is.” 

So if I am that person.  If that is how I view rainbows.  How am I to extinguish a delusion that I do not see as a delusion but as an independent reality? 

It must begin with doubt. 

As long as I don’t question that conclusion then that’s the end of it.  It’s not so much as my being attached to my view, as that I don’t see that view as a view.  I see it as an independent reality not open to question.  That rainbow has nothing to do with viewpoints or ideas or thoughts.  It’s entirely independent of me. 

So where does doubt come from?

If I begin to act based on my understanding.  If I begin to walk toward that rainbow to see what’s at the end of it, I begin to notice that I don’t seem to be getting anywhere.  The rainbow keeps receding, slipping from my grasp.  I can conclude that I’m just not moving fast enough and begin to run towards it or get in a plane.  Or I can conclude that the world, that others, are preventing me from reaching my goal.  So my inability to grasp that thing turns out to be very frustrating.  And at a certain point I might begin to use that scientific tool that humans are adept at.  I might begin to give very careful attention to that thing out there.  Analyzing and carefully measuring my experience of that thing.  And at a certain point I get an insight – an Ah Ha point.  I realize that that rainbow is not independently solid and real as I thought but is based on photons and raindrops and the angle of my eye in relation to those photons and raindrops.  At that point I label my previous understanding as “delusion” and go about my business with a new enlightened understanding of rainbows.  All done, “delusion” extinguished.


What about raindrops?  And photons?  And eyes?  Are they independently solid and real?

Right now we are in Evanston, Illinois.  No question about that.  Except where is Evanston?  Five hundred years ago I’m not sure what people called this place but I’m pretty sure it wasn’t Evanston.  And five hundred years from now I’m not sure what people will call this place.  But at some point some folks sat down and drew lines on a piece of paper and said “This is Evanston”.  And that’s fine.  Because we need to pave the streets and collect the garbage.  So calling this place Evanston is helpful.  It helps us organize ourselves as a community. But the birds don’t know that this is Evanston.  Birds never know where they are – but they are never lost.

The difficulty comes when we take Evanston to be separate and distinct and independent.  When we start viewing Evanston like we used to view rainbows or Santa Claus.  With that understanding we begin to distrust those folks from Skokie.  “Something wrong with those people.”  We may have to get some weapons “Just in case…”  Of course those people in Skokie are operating from a similar understanding.

So Evanston really exists.  Rainbows really exist.  Except not as we think.  Or rather exactly as we think.  Our thinking is involved in all of this.  All of this external reality that we take to be independent and apart.  Each of us together create this world.

The last verse of the Diamond Sutra –
"So I say to you.  This is how to contemplate our conditioned existence in this fleeting world:"
"Like a tiny drop of dew, or a bubble floating in a stream;
Like a flash of lightning in a summer cloud,
Or a flickering lamp, an illusion, a phantom, or a dream."



Regular Services

Three Regularly Scheduled Services are held in Evanston each week.

All are welcome to attend our regular Zen Meditation Services.  Instructions are given at each.
10:00AM to 12:00PM
2:00PM to 4:00PM
7:00PM to 9:00PM

June 2nd
July 7th
August 4th

One Day Zen Meditation Retreat in Evanston
We invite you to join us for a one day intensive Zen Meditation retreat.  We begin at 12:30PM and finish at 10:30PM with breaks for mindful work and supper.  While we encourage you to join us for the entire day, we welcome you for whatever portion your schedule allows.  A donation of $50 for the entire day is suggested.  Pre-registration is not required.
Sunday 2PM to 4PM
June 17th
July 15th

Introduction to Zen Meditation Workshop

While we welcome newcomers to all of our regular services, and instructions are given at each, once every month [typically the 3rd Sunday] we offer a introductory workshop for those who prefer a more structured exposition of our practice.  All Are welcome. 
A donation of $20.00 is suggested..

Thursday June 21st 

Sunday June 24th

4 Day Meditation Retreat
Schaumburg, IL


A Meditation Retreat [Sesshin] is an excellent opportunity to deepen your meditation practice.  We invite and encourage you to take advantage of this opportunity to practice Zen meditation in a peaceful and quiet atmosphere.

Meals are provided.  Please bring a bedroll or sleeping bag.  A donation of $100.00 is suggested..
Copyright © 2018 Zen Buddhist Temple of Chicago, All rights reserved.

Want to change how you receive these emails?
You can update your preferences or unsubscribe from this list

Email Marketing Powered by Mailchimp