All posts by Lien Shutt

Impermanence: We are transitioning….

We are transitioning …. to

Please click HERE to go to our new website!

The other two of The 3 Marks of Existence are:

Not-Self: Awake-in-Life‘s aim is to provide better access to practice AND for you to join us in building a COMMUNITY knowing and manifesting our Awakened Nature.

Dukkha/Dis-ease: Both of these websites are still in the works during this transition so we thank you for your patience!

Awake-in-Life Program: Zen & Crafting a Life Fully Lived in 2017

Tall Tree w Sunlight

Awake-in-Life: Zen & Crafting a Life Fully Lived

8 or 9-months Practice Program for House-holders
beginning January 2017

AccesToZen invites you to participate in a program which emphasizes practices geared especially for those who live and work outside of temple or monastic settings! This program will give you the container in which to frame how you can live fully, manifesting and sharing what’s important to you with your loved ones, your community, and the planet.

How it’s geared for you:

Currently, most United States practice programs have generally emphasized meditation to practitioners. This may be due to how Zen has been promoted in Western convert practice settings. It’s been a very useful way. Yet, now, with the maturing of practices in the US, it’s time to reclaim how the laity — called “house-holders” in the Buddha’s time — was a large and important aspect of Buddhism and Buddhist practices.

Therefore, the revitalizing of this term for the laity is fitting in our current times as AccessToZen seeks to make accessible the teachings and practices which traditionally have been offered first and foremost to ALL practitioners: studies and engagement with the precepts.

Awake-in Program Format:

AccessToZen is pleased to make the studies of the precepts / values-enactments more accessible with the Awake-in-Life Program by offering 2-tracks: Engaged-Studies or Jukai (Lay Initiation/Ordination Ceremony).

The teachings are FREE. Depending on meeting-space rental and retreats site, each track will have different requirements and costs. Meetings are both in-person and remote/web-access available.

Engagement with precepts, or values-enactments, has long been part of the practice to manifest an awakened life within the tradition of Buddhism. The traditional framing of the 16 Bodhisattva Precepts are a container in which you’ll be able to practice with and transform to fit your life. With this program, you’ll be introduced to teachings on the specific precepts via readings and Dharma talks on the topic. Then you’ll be able to engage in monthly practice intentions (value-enactments) which you get to frame yourself; in the midst of what’s happening with you in real and current ways. We’ll then meet for reflections and discussions. Through this framing, the precepts become lived experiences and not simply as “rules” or “should’s”. For example, the precept of “I vow not to kill” is currently framed for me as “I vow to live in connection; to live from remembering that we are all connected and want the best for each other.”

Soto Zen’s 16 Bodhisattva Precepts are essentially a set of values which, in the engagement with them, acts as guides for us to see how we can live more fully.

For full details on how to Awake-in-Life, click:  HERE


SquareB LEAN


Aware that for me, and many others, it has felt like our world is like the building in this picture: akiltered 

One of the most unbelievable happening in U.S. history for many of us. There’s so much that can’t be put into words….And yet we have to say something.

Why?….. Because we DO need to keep going….

So, I’m reminded by this talk I gave awhile back. I’ve kept the title and context of the talk as is. AND do know that it is about how, thru causes and conditions, things come about.

“Because of this, that appears.”

Interdependent Origination. Dependent Co-Arising.

May this be helpful and useful to you/us as we endeavor to find our way forward. “May we all be free from suffering and the causes of suffering.”

Evil from a Buddhist Perspective: Buddha & Mara
  EBMC People of Color Sangha, January 8, 2015
After a conversation w/ a sangha member and by the Charlie Hebdo shootings this week:

We hope this talk has been of benefit to you. Your generosity will support us to continue to share the teachings with others .
Suggested donation: $5 -10


“Metta for Refugees” Meditation


71st Anniversary of the United Nations 

October 23, 2016

I was honored to be asked to be one of five faith leaders for this event  — and the only woman, at that!

The theme was “People in Motion: Giving Refugees a Sense of Place” so I offered a Metta meditation, using three categories:

  1. Self: Because when each one of us know goodwill and inner & outer safety for ourselves, it’s easier to be able to know what you’re wishing for others. The sense of the truth of it is deeper.
  2. Refugee: A specific individual or a group.
  3. All beings: We are not separate.

Thank you to UN-USA, SF Chapter Director Mary Steiner for the invitation. And, to Deb for her support and this video as it was quite a challenge from the back of the hall!

“May all beings know unconditional friendliness.
Let all beings know inner & outer safety all the days of our lives”

Wisdom is a Choice

Manjusri in Garden Altar

Wisdom is a Choice

On an altar at Tassajara, the Bodhisattva of Wisdom Manjusri is using a sword to cut through delusion/ignorance. The “sword” of wisdom is available to us all. How, where, when and on what is up to us; choice.

A talk from the A2Z Sitting Group on Monday nights. Enjoy!

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We hope this talk have been of benefit to you. Your generosity will support us to continue to share the teachings with others .
Suggested donation: $5 -10/ play

In These Troubling Times

B-Stars Close

“May each and everyone of us be free from suffering and the causes of suffering.”

These meditations and talks are offered to assist you in finding grounding in the midst of these especially troubling times.

Wholeness Meditation
30 minutes

This meditation was given before the Dharma talk on December 18, 2014 at EBMC’s People of Color Sangha. I wanted to offer teachings which could support and encourage POC’s around BlackLivesMatter. There’s also a similar talk for a mixed group. Find them both at:  The Heart Sutra — Buddha’s Enlightenment Means BlackLivesMatter

Compassion / Karuna Meditation
20 minutes

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Love & Compassion: Where’s Selma Here & Now?
A Dharm talk given at SFZC’s City Center 

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We hope these talks & meditations have been of benefit to you. Your generosity will support us to continue to share the teachings with others .
Suggested donation: $5 -10/ play

We Are Orlando

We Are Orlando1

“We Are Orlando”

As part of our The 7 Factors of Enlightenment series. Factor 2 is Investigation of dharmas; specifically of the 3 Marks of Existence:

  • Impermanence / Change
  • Not-self / Not-selfing
  • Suffering / Dis-ease

A Dharma talk framing how our reactions to the shooting in Orlando on Sunday, June 12th, may cause more suffering/harm if we don’t bring awareness to our difficulties with these laws of our existence:

Here are links to the posts mentioned in the talk:

RedState , ThinkProgress and to the List of names for those who died (including the shooter)

Discussions after the talk is off-line for privacy …. And, we did talk about anger as a response. While there is no one “right” answer on what to “do” about anger, I would say that caring for what we might call “the inside” (our own strong emotions and our habitual tendencies at such moments) and what we might call “the outside” (the impact of any speech or behavior) both need to be remembered.

May this Dharma talk, this post, all our practices, and our interactions with each other be for the benefit of all beings.

We Are Orlando 2

Photos: At Civic Center in SF after we marched thru the streets from the rally in the Castro on June 12th. One of many events around the world in response.

“May all beings be free from suffering and the causes of suffering.”

Injustice — And Possible Responses

Peace Bell Rays

Injustice — And Possible Responses

A sentencing by Santa Clara County Superior Court Judge Aaron Persky of only 6 months to ex- Stanford swimmer Brock Turner, who had been convicted of three counts of sexual assault for the attack on an unconscious woman in January 2015.

A sangha member writes (and has given their permission to have it on this site):  

Anger. Recently I had posted a message on FB (ooooohhhhhh the FB…such a mine field for so many emotions)…about Judge Aaron Persky being up for re-election, thinking it was possible to vote him out (now I know is not possible since he’s unopposed). Background for anyone not familiar with Judge Aaron Persky, he is the judge who ruled on the Stanford rape case, in which a student raped an unconscious woman. I felt the sentencing was lenient and felt justice was not served. I was angry. Now that that initial reaction has worn off and my FB feed is flooded more angry posts, I have mixed emotions. Zen Buddhists believe there are consequences for actions and I felt like he was somehow escaping consequences for his actions. Now, the anger feels unproductive and the consequences for Brock Turner’s (the rapist) actions surely stretch beyond that of a cell. Also this anger doesn’t serve the survivor. Have any of you followed/read about this case? How do you feel about it?

My response:

I agree with you how it seems very lenient as a consequence! I also go to thoughts of, “If he was poor and a person of color…..!” AND, I want to say that in Buddhism we don’t shun or think we “shouldn’t” have anger — especially when we see what we deem to be injustice. A few thoughts/ideas I’ll offer to be with such strong emotions which may be useful:

1) Just that….What is the emotion which you’re dealing with? Can you be with it completely….AND also care for it in yourself.

2) Similar to when we are strong with our “own” (as in a personal/historical emotions), endeavor to look at and be with the PROCESS that’s happening (wanting to “mouth off,” or “collapse,” or “rage,” etc.

3) After being with it for awhile, can we then bring in wisdom by reflecting upon possible consequences for what WE/I do if I…….(perhaps, continue to “mouth off,” or “collapse,” or “rage,” etc.) Or

4) Where might my energy (especially this one that’s arising from this anger) be BEST place to be useful/appropriate? Either for the “cause” (such as, justice around violence against women — like signing a petition) or for myself in the moment (such as, running a mile to get rid of the comfortableness of anger; or joining a rape crisis center, or…) Those are my thoughts at this moment. May they be useful to you….And, for the ending of suffering for all beings.

PS: Persky was re-elected because he had no challengers on the ballot. However, he can be recalled. Here are a few petitions you’re invited to sign if you choose:

Zenkei Blanche Hartman (1926-2016)


Zenkei Blanche Hartman (1926-2016)

In the Soto Zen tradition, Zen masters compose a death poem:

Breathing in, receiving life
from the entire universe.

Breathing out, returning
the gift with gratitude.

Dearest Hojo-San / Root Teacher,

Thank you for your teachings on devotion to zazen and gratitude — manifested through your own practice which I witnessed these 14 years! And for your lovingkindness: to me and to so many; indeed, to all beings! Your body has gone. Your presence and teachings will go beyond.
Cranes made by Access to Zen sitting group members ….Burnt, along with flower petals, at her cremation this week.