A Four-part Telecourse with Taigen Dan Leighton

Hosted by Diane Musho Hamilton Sensei

May 6, 13, 20 & 27, 2017

9:00 - 10:30 am MT via Zoom


Two Arrows Zen Sangha is honored to be joined for our fifth telecourse with Taigen Leighton. He teaches with a profound depth of practice and scholarship that truly enriches and enlivens our Zen study and practice together. Welcome again, Taigen!


The Dynamics of Hongzhi's Silent Illumination Practice will explore the serene illumination meditation practice of Hongzhi (1091-1157) the Chinese predecessor to Dogen in the Soto (Chinese: Caodong) tradition who subtly articulated its meditation practice. Hongzhi often used poetic nature metaphors and elaborated the dynamics of practice. We will explore basic issues in his teaching, and discuss many of his holographic practice instructions that look at this teaching from varied perspectives.



$75 TAZ Members, (also SZBA, WPA, and Ancient Dragon Zen Gate Affiliates)


$100 Non-members


I. May 6: Introduction

We will explore the historical and Dharmic context of Hongzhi’s teaching, including defining fundamental polarities of meditation and koan practice, serenity and illumination, wisdom and compassion, and ultimate and phenomenal realities. We will discuss the omnipresent ever available luminous field, and our obstructions to it. Readings we will study will include “The Bright, Boundless Field”, “The Practice of True Reality”, “How to Contemplate Buddha”, “The Amazing Living Beings”, and “Guidepost of Silent Illumination."

II. May 13: Objectless Meditation and the Natural Rhythm of Practice.

Hongzhi’s meditation practice is not dependent on any particular object of concentration and is not aimed at any limited objective. The awareness Hongzhi describes is familiar from the rhythms of the natural world, which he poetically evokes to help convey the teaching. Readings we will study will include “Forgetting About Merit is Fulfillment”, “Simply Drop Off Everything”, "Spectacular Images of Clouds and Dragons”, “The Clouds’ Fascination and the Moon’s Cherishing”, “The Solitary Beacon and the Single Road”, “All Beings are Your Ancestors."

III. May 20: Diane Musho Hamilton will lead a review and integration session.

IV. May 27: Practical Response, Graciously Sharing Yourself.
Hongzhi clarifies again and again that the point of serene illumination is not merely realization of some personal exalted state, but to share this awareness with beings in the world, and he discusses the textures of this helpful response. Readings we will study will include “Drop Off Your Skin and Accept Your Function”, “Investigating Wonder”, “The Family Business”, “Perfect Wandering”, Positive and Appropriate Activity”, "Graciously Share Yourself”.
The course study guide will be provided with registration.
Taigen’s hosts for the series are Diane Musho Hamilton Sensei and Michael Mugaku Zimmerman Sensei, whose love of the Dharma, Buddha, and Sangha have inspired this offering.
The class meets on four successive Saturday mornings for 90-minute sessions and will include the opportunity for questions and dialog with Taigen Leighton. MP3 course recordings will be sent to all participants during the week, in time for review before the next class meeting.

Taigen Dan Leighton is a Soto Zen priest and teacher, scholar, and author. He is an authorized lineage holder and Zen teacher in the tradition of Shunryu Suzuki, and a dharma heir of Tenshin Reb Anderson. He is the founder and Guiding Teacher of Ancient Dragon Zen Gate in Chicago, Illinois. 

Leighton is an adjunct professor at the Institute of Buddhist Studies of the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley and has taught widely elsewhere, including at the University of Chicago, the California Institute of Integral Studies, Loyola University, the University of San Francisco, and Otani University in Kyoto. He is the author or translator of numerous academic books on Zen, along with others that straddle the line between scholarly and popular, most prominent among which is his Faces of Compassion: Classic Bodhisattva Archetypes and Their Modern Expression.