Walking Naturally Being Unborn with Bankei ​

An Urban Retreat with David Weinstein, Oakland CA
Saturday July 21st 9am – 5pm at Rockridge Meditation Community

“When you are walking along naturally, you are in harmony with the Unborn”
– Bankei Yotaku

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Bankei was the most popular teacher of his era. People trekked from every corner of Japan to hear his talks, and the overflow audiences had to be accommodated in separate shifts. Monks, nuns, and laypersons, high and low, rich and poor, from all schools of zen and all faiths, samurai with their families and retainers, merchants, artisans, farmers, servants, even gamblers and gangsters —all came to hear Bankei. They saw that Bankei did not limit or bind himself to what was called the Zen sect, which in his eyes  was a stereotyped form.

Bankei was notable for the many women who came to hear him, and, cutting against the grain of patriarchy, he encouraged them to full realization: “I understand that women feel very distressed hearing it said in certain texts and from many teachers that they can’t become awake. But it simply isn’t so! How is there any difference between men and women? In the Unborn, there’s no difference whether you’re a man or a woman. Everyone intrinsically possesses the awakened mind.”

To a woman who wondered about any inability to realize awakening due to “women’s heavy karmic burden,” Bankei replied, “From what time did you become a ‘woman’?” And in another context he went even further against prevailing attitudes: “Unlike most men, women are sincere. When you tell a woman that by doing evil you fall into hell, they don’t doubt it … they whole-heartedly resolve to become awake…. That’s why women, being sincere, will realize awakening more readily than men with their phony cleverness.”

I’ve only been able to appreciate Bankei recently. It was Bankei who my teacher in Japan, Yamada Roshi, quoted as he gave me his his condolences for my mother’s death. He said how sorry he was to have heard the news of my mother’s death and he added:

“But, you know, we are never really born so… We never really die.” …

I did not find that helpful at that moment… and since that time I have not found myself inclined to look further into Bankei’s unborn. However, it has opened up into something quite different for me lately. I look forward to spending the day exploring that opening and discovering new things to appreciate, as we sit together naturally, as we walk the path together naturally, in harmony with Bankei and the Unborn.

-David Weinstein Roshi

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​DETAILS: $60 for members and $80 for nonmembers, Individual conversations will be available

7:30 am to 9:00 am and again from 1:00 pm to 2:00 pm
for more information:  email Vickie Miller (mailto:vickieix8@gmail.com)

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