Sangha Sunday Talks

Hear talks by Shiro, sangha members and other special guests.

Not Sick.

How do we define, describe, restrict and confine ourselves and others? What labels, what names, what judgments, what distinctions. Shiro and the sangha have a rich discussion, starting with Case 94 of the Book of Equanimity, “Tozan’s Illness,” and it reels out from there.

Shiro Burrier – 9.26.21
No time to waste

Shiro and the Sangha discuss Case 17 of the Book of Equanimity, “Hogen’s Hair’s-Breadth,” how to be the end of suffering, how to be, how to live a fully expressed joyful life.

Shiro Burrier – 9.5.21
On this the fourth day of mother’s passing

In this bare and intimate talk, Shiro talks about the death of his mother, Marilyn Burrier (June 17, 1939 – August 26, 2021) just four days earlier, reflecting on his own actions and reactions, on suffering and the end of suffering, and on our own creation of heavens and hells that may bind us eternally. Will we choose to be the end of suffering?

Shiro Burrier – 8.29.21
Drunken Steps and Crazy Songs

How can the home be made peaceful? Honoring our parents, teachers, ancestors. Declaring independence in the midst of interdependence. Celebrating, appreciating our lives. A talk on all of this and Case 73 of the Book of Equanimity, “Sozan’s Requited Filial Piety.”

Shiro Burrier – 8.22.21
What to do with less than perfect

Horses swinging fence posts at the end of the lead. Climate changing. Strife and conflict in Afghanistan. The gyres. Dogen tells us how to cook with less than perfect ingredients, the dangers of judging quality, and how to keep the ancestors alive. A look at the guidance of the Tenzo Kyokun.

Shiro Burrier – 8.15.21
Where does the mountain begin?

Case 68 of the Book of Equanimity, “Kassan’s Slashing Sword.” A talk about techniques and principles, expedients and fundamental points. Where do you find Zen? Where are you looking? Where does it begin and where does it begin? Shiro and the sangha dive in.

Shiro Burrier – 8.8.21
To sleep or not to sleep

Founding senior student, Melissa Kazumi Mueller, talks about the science of sleep, how to get more and better of it, how Zen and Zazen look in the brain and how it all connects for a more rested, joyful and productive life.

Kazumi Mueller – 8.1.21
The fuzzy line in-between

What is the line between dreaming and being awake, between conscious and unconscious, subconsious and what, as Zen students, do we make of it? We look at Case 40 of the Blue Cliff Record, “Nansen’s Peony,” and go on a journey from Santa Monica to Ranchi, India to astral planes far beyond.

Shiro Burrier – 7.25.21
Zen and growth mindset

After two weeks of teaching at the Holdsworth Center in Austin, TX, via his collaboration with the Mentora Institute, Shiro Burrier talks about Growth versus Fixed mindset and how it relates to our Zen practice, referencing cases 30 and 33 from the Gateless Gate, “Mind is Buddha,” and “No Mind, No Buddha.”

Shiro Burrier – 7.18.21
The heart in the prajna in the heart

What is it to see all, feel all, hear all, touch all, reach all, to be a Bodhisattva? A look at Case 89 of the Blue Cliff Record, “Hands and Eyes All Over,” and the relative ease (or not) of walking the path of compassionate wisdom that is the heart of our practice.

Shiro Burrier – 7.11.21
Declaring Independence

We discuss independence as it relates to our lives and everything in them. And the act and the power of declaration. The 4th of July. And Case 37 of the Book of Equanimity, “Isan’s Karmic Consciousness.”

Shiro Burrier – 7.4.21
How do we pass our days?

Shiro and the Sangha tackle Case 12 of the Book of Equanimity, “Jizo Plants the Field.” Zen and books. Zen and action. Zen and the moment to moment occurrence of our lives. Right now, right here, what is in front of us? What is the appropriate action? What distinctions do we make between the profound and the seemingly not?

Shiro Burrier – 6.27.21
Claim it! The awakened state.

Shiro talks about our role in seeing, hearing, receiving and maintaining the teachings. How do we manifest our natural awakened state in our lives as they occur each and every moment. Case 12 of the Mumonkan, “Zuigan Calls Himself Master.”

Shiro Burrier – 6.20.21
That one who roars with laughter

Zen and the Handmaid’s Tale. What is pure experience? How does art evoke it? When there is no beginning and no end to the path, to our practice, to our study, what is it right beneath our feet? Who is this standing here? Laughing. Crying. Shiro and the sangha explore Case 46 of the Book of Equanimity, “Tokusan’s Completion of Study.”

Shiro Burrier – 6.13.21
Taking it on

Deanne Shinzan Larsen, fresh out of Shuso training at Yokoji Zen Mountain Center shares her training koan, Case 94 of the Book of Equanimity, “Tozan’s Illness,” along with reflections on her time as head trainee.

Shiro Burrier – 6.6.21
Zen Doesn’t Win

Shiro answers questions about how Zen interleaves with life and career, Zen’s percieved wins and losses, the precepts as both content and context for an awakened life, how to just do it, and more.

Shiro Burrier – 5.30.21
Don’t fit zen in.

Shiro discusses the futility of trying to “fit” Zen into your “real life,” the distinction between context and content, working with Case 2 of the Blue Cliff Record, “Joshu’s Supreme Way,” as a embarkment point for the exploration.

Shiro Burrier – 5.16.21
Reclaiming Clarity

Akasha talks about our practice and how it can help with reclaiming and reactivating clarity, vision and commitment in our lives.

Akasha Burrier – 5.23.21 Great Mother. Divine Mother. Mom

In this Mother’s Day dharma talk, Shiro leads us in an examination of “What is Mother?” We discuss of the role of women in Zen, in our lives and in the world, as well as how both the masculine and the feminine exist and function within and without all of us, how to integrate the two and how to break out of the attachments of gender identity.

Shiro Burrier – 5.09.21
Kyozan Plants His Mattock

Shiro and the Sangha explore the difference between “seeing it” and “doing something with it” via case 15 in the Book of Equanimity, Kyozan Plants His Mattock.

Shiro Burrier – 5.02.21
Weed your garden

Akasha leads the Sangha in a discussion of coming out of the Yin time of year, breaking out, clearing things out and cleaning things up to bring our full potential into the world.

Akasha Burrier – 4.11.21
Not knowing is most intimate

On day 4 of the Prajna Heart Spring Sesshin, Shiro leads the Sangha in a discussion of Case 20 of the Book of Equanimity, “Not knowing is the most intimate,” looking at knowing versus the absence of knowing and how to unlock intimacy with everyone and everything around us. Also, how there is ALWAYS enough tamari.

Shiro Burrier – 4.25.21
Wholehearted practice of the way

Day 3 of the Prajna Heart Spring 2021 Sesshin, and Sensei Jokai Blackwell joins us to share teachings and perspectives from Dogen’s “Bendowa,” thoughts about Zen as the front gate among many gates to the way. Talk is followed by sangha Q&A.

Jokai Sensei  – 4.24.21
No escape from awakening

On day 2 of the Prajna Heart Zen Center Spring 2021 Sesshin, Tenshin Roshi, Abbot of Yokoji Zen Mountain Center, gives instruction for Sesshin and sheds light on how “what happens here” in our practice informs the rest of our life, and how what happens in the rest of our life informs our practice. Talk with Q&A.

Tenshin Roshi – 4.23.21
A sesshin states mind

On the first day of our Spring 2021 Sesshin, Shiro gives instruction on how to approach any sesshin and in particular this digital sesshin via Zoom, as well as introducing the Sangha to Case 32 of the Book of Equanimity, Kyozan’s State of Mind.

Shiro Burrier – 4.21.21
How big do you love?

Grandmother Lillian, a priest, a shaman, George W Bush, and putting yourself in a baggie, all in the service of love. Shiro and the Sangha explore the boundaries of our love, connection and acceptance.

Shiro Burrier – 3.21.21
The drumbeat of enlightenment

Zoom fails, dogs appearing as mosquitoes, women in Zen, and Case 44 of the Blue Cliff Record, “Kasan Beats the Drum.” Shiro and the Prajna Heart Sangha discuss the steady drumbeat of Zen practice in our lives.

Shiro Burrier – 3.7.21
The women of zen

In this Dharma talk from the Prajna Heart Spring 2021 Zazenkai, Shiro and the sangha acknowledge, honor and share the critical role of women in Zen Buddhism, past, present and future. We also tackle Case 10 from the Book of Equanimity: Joshu sees through the old woman and look at how it relates to our practice as students, our work with our teachers and the motivations and challenges of keeping on keeping on.

Shiro Burrier – 3.6.21
Meet the sangha: Jon Kongo Aharoni

Meet Jon Kongo Aharoni and learn about his work with para-athletes in sitting volleyball, parabeach volleyball taking players with exceptional abilities and challenges to multiple victories, on the court and off. Another in our occassional “Meet the Sangha” series, this one manifests Right Living.

Jon Kongo Aharoni – 2.28.21
Turning back at the exit

On the heels of the storm in Texas and ordinary acts of compassion by grocer HEB, Shiro and the Sanga explore what it takes to be a Bodhissatva, using events of the day and and examination of case 4 of the Blue Cliff Record, Bundles and All. About 25 minutes of Dharma Talk, 25 of discussion.

Shiro Burrier – 2.21.21
The touch, taste and feel of realization

When have you been at peace? What did it look, feel, taste, smell and sound like? Can you reclaim that experience on demand, at will? Shiro and the Sangha take a bath with the 16 Bodhisattvas in Case 78 of the Blue Cliff Record to answer the question.

Shiro Burrier – 2.14.21
A ball tossed on rushing water

Shiro and the Sangha explore case 80 of the Blue Cliff Record, “On rushing water,” and the implications of non-stop flow. Where do our lives begin and end, our selves begin and end, our perceptions begin and end? Like tossing a ball on rushing water, says Joshu.

Shiro Burrier – 2.7.21
The voice of raindrops

Shiro and the Sangha ask and answer the question, “Does Zen develop discipline,” and then explore Case 46 of the Blue Cliff Record, “The voice of raindrops,” following epic rain in Los Angeles, snow in the surrounding mountains and seemingly everything washed clean.

Shiro Burrier – 1.31.21
How to get out of the grave

In a week of Martin Luther King, Amanda Gorman, and an inauguration, we add Henry David Thoreau, David Whyte, George W. Bush, Shiro’s mother and the koan “How do you get out of a stone grave that is locked from the outside?”

Shiro Burrier – 1.17.21

Fandango at the Wall: Meet the Director
Varda Bar-Kar, director of “Fandango at the Wall,” an HBO movie documenting a fandango at the US-Mexico border wall and the journey to Veracruz informing it. Join the Prajna Heart sangha as we learn about the inspiration and exploration behind this wonderful film about coming together across barriers.

Varda Bar-Kar – 1.10.21
Every day is a good day

Happy New Year from PHZC. Looking at Case 6 of the Blue Cliff Record, “Ummon’s Good Day” and what it means when days can seem so, well, bad.

Shiro Burrier – 1.3.21
Zen and our pre-existing traditions

It’s the holiday season again. Happy Hanukkah, Merry Christmas, Happy Kwanzaa and more. So just where do we stand in all of this with our Zen practice? Let’s talk about pre-conceptions, baggage, beliefs and opinions that we bring to the table, and those others bring as well. How do we live our Zen life while honoring our family, religions of origin and traditions of yore?

Shiro Burrier – 12.27.20

No teachers of 


Shiro and the Sangha tackle Case 11 of the Blue Cliff Record, “Gobblers of Dregs.” What do you mean there are no Zen teachers in all of China? Then what are these teachings? Who is this leader? And where do I find the finest of wine. Dharma Talk and discussion.

Shiro Burrier – 12.20.20

The simple thing (happy birthday version)
Zen. The simple thing. Shaving off the “dis” and the “un” in our lives that creates suffering. In this talk by Teacher Dan Shiro Burrier, we look at what causes our feelings of disconnection and un-anything, and how the simple practice of Zazen can help. Using Case 40 of the Gateless Gate: Boddhidharma Puts the Mind to Rest, Shiro and the Sangha search for the mind.

Shiro Burrier – 12.13.20

Who is worthy?
Teacher Dan Shiro Burrier presents case 76 of the Blue Cliff Record, “Tanka’s Eating Rice,” in the context of making Zen practice your own, sharing freely and exploring the conceps of deserving or not, worthy or not, blind or not.

Shiro Burrier – 12.06.20

Appreciating your life. And mine.
This Thanksgiving weekend, Shiro and the Sangha look at how to put the practice of appreciation and gratitude into our everyday lives, starting with the meals we eat, and the relationships we make.

Shiro Burrier – 11.29.20

Inspiration. The Navajo Beauty Way
Where do you find inspiration? How do you inspire others? A trip through writing, art, culture, activism and voting via Indian Service Route 9 in the Navajo Nation.

Shiro Burrier – 11.08.20

The inexplicable desire to grasp even more
More is more. Or is it? In this talk we explore this “it,” where it is, where we search for more of it, why and how in the context of the 2020 election season and Hakuin’s Song of Zazen. Mix it up.

Shiro Burrier – 11.01.20

Happy Birthday Thich Nhat Hanh
A celebration of a master’s life on the occassion of his 94th birthday, and what it means to us as we reflect on our lives, our practice and how each manifests the other. (Audio only.)

Shiro Burrier – 10.25.20

The Walls of Our huts
Shiro Burrier on Case 11 of the Mumonkon, “Joshu Examines the Hermits,” relates it to our own practice, how we express it as Zen students and in everyday life, when we’re with others and when we’re alone. How does our Zen show up?

Shiro Burrier – 10.18.20

Trapping the Soccer Ball of Life
When faced with chaos, loneliness, uncertainty, resignation or a sense of isolation, what is the way forward? Build a wall? Tear it down? Climb over it? Dan Shiro Burrier of Prajna Heart Zen Center shares Zen insights and approaches for our time.

Shiro Burrier – 10.11.20

What we know
Tortoises, Kettle Drums, Zen and Case 34 of the Mumonkan, “Knowing is not the way.” Dan Shiro Burrier leads a talk and discussion about knowing, not knowing and putting words and reason to that which has no words nor reason.

Shiro Burrier – 10.4.20

The Other
Dan Shiro Burrier leads a discussion of “The Other,” the persistent distinctions we paint between us and them, you and me, this and that, right and wrong and some ways out, including picking a precept, for just one day, and manifesting the Buddha. Many thanks to the Day of Reflection Ceremony via Tenshin Roshi and Tetsugen Roshi.

Shiro Burrier – 9.27.20

Zen of the Dog
“Everything I know about Zen I learned from my dog.” In this talk with the Prajna Heart Zen Center sangha, Founder Melissa Kazumi Mueller, talks about Zen, her new Frenchie, the Four Noble Truths and the state of the world. Dog POV.

Kazumi Mueller – 9.13.20

Appreciate Your Life
Akasha Shiro Burrier shares teachings from the perennial classic “Appreciate your life,” by Zen Master, Maezumi Roshi, and leads a discussion with the Prajna Heart Zen Center sangha about its meanings to us today.

Akasha Burrier – 9.6.20

Mile 67
Shiro Burrier on those critical moments in our training when breakdowns lead to breakthroughs, the call to push through the eye of the needle, and going blind on the trail in pursuit of a 100-mile finish. Talk followed by Sangha Q&A and discussion.

Shiro Burrier – 8.30.20

Expect Exactly This
Shiro talks about our expectations of Zen. What can we expect? What are we promised? What do we promise? Talk followed by Prajna Heart Zen Center Sangha discussion.

Shiro Burrier – 8.23.20

How to say it
Shiro and the Sangha discuss living the Zen life in this life. How to move in the secular slipstream with maximum impact, joy and fulfillment. Do you speak Zen? Will anyone understand?

Shiro Burrier – 8.16.20

Tenshin Addresses the Assembly
Tenshin Roshi joins Prajna Heart Zen Center to deliver the Sunday talk. Reflecting on his time at ZCLA, his friendship with Yoshin Roshi, his time with Maezumi Roshi and others, Tenshin ties it all together with an exploration of case 67 of The Book of Equanimity, “The Avatamsaka Sutra’s Wisdom.” Please enjoy this rare moment with one of the greats. Approx 5 minutes of Intro. Tenshin begins at 5 min 30 seconds.

Tenshin Roshi – 8.9.20

Shiro: Clean it up
Shiro talks about Life Samu, bringing Zen work practice into our homes, directly into our lives, with a practical 16-point checklist designed to help us clean things up. What better time than a pandemic to practice close at home.
Shiro Burrier – 8.2.20

Shiro: The Knots in the Net
Shiro and the Sangha discuss the role of community, the safety nets we weave, Indra’s net, tying of knots and polishing of pearls. What role does community play in our lives and do we play in it?
Shiro Burrier – 7.26.20

Kazumi: It Takes a Sangha
In this highly relatable talk, Melissa Kazumi Mueller explores the power, benefit and joy of Sangha–our community of spiritual practice. How it supports our own practice of meditation and right living, and that of others. What is Sangha? This immediate circle? The next one radiating outward? Or all of humanity? And what that might mean for how we approach our life.
Melissa Mueller – 7.19.20

Take a Torch to It
Shiro Burrier works with the Prajna Heart Sangha on Case 28 of the Gateless Gate, “Ryutan’s Name Echoed Long,” and the distinctions between the Zen realization of our true nature and the reading and writing about that realization. Also a bit about the role of powerful women as teachers throughout time.
Shiro Burrier – 7.12.20

Buddha Holds Up a Flower
Case 6 of the Mumonkan, “Buddha Holds Up a Flower.” Shiro Burrier of Prajna Heart Zen Center leads a discussion on enlightenment, transmission and our natural-born right to experience the beauty of life, right there as it is before us, as it has always been and will always be.
Shiro Burrier – 7.5.20

Why Prajna Heart Zen Center
A discussion with the Sangha about the origins of Prajna Heart Zen Center: the whats and whys of it, original intent, how things have evolved and more.
Shiro & the Sangha – 6.28.20

Pasini Kitchen, Finding the Right Livelihood
Prajna Heart member Shleigh Pasini shares her story of the founding of Pasini Kitchen, a fresh, organic and vegetarian food prep and meal delivery service in Los Angeles. In this talk Shleigh ties her work to right livelihood and lessons from “Instructions to the Cook,” by Bernie Glassman.
Shleigh Pasini – 6.7.20

What is the way?
Shiro Burrier and the Prajna Heart Zen Center Sangha explore Case 19 of the Gateless Gate, “Ordinary Mind is the Way.” What is the way? Where is it? What do we do when we’ve lost it? When we’re on it? What about our relationship to those not on it, whoever they may be.
Shiro Burrier – 5.24.20

Taro and the Water Jug
Jennifer Isshin Hunter, PhD, Priest and Author, talks on Case 40 of the Gateless Gate, “Kicking Over the Water Jug,” sharing insights on the backstory and history underlying this koan as well as tying some of the lessons here to the journey of “Taro the Zen Cat,” both the hero and title of her new book.
Isshin Hunter – 5.10.20

Who is the one?
Meet the members of Prajna Heart Zen Center Sangha in this video, as we explore the question “Who is that one?” and share some of what folks are up to: writing books, starting book clubs, raising funds for First Responders, bringing Zen training 2600 years forward and more. Service in action.
Shiro Burrier – 5.3.20

The Pantry and the Pandemic
Shiro Burrier talks with the Sangha about Dogen’s 13th Century classic “Instructions to the Zen Cook,” how to view the ingredients in our pantry and in our life, what we intend to cook and how we serve ourselves, the Three Treasures and all those around us during the Covid-19 lockdown and beyond.
Shiro Burrier – 4.26.20

Holding on or Letting Go
Minutes prior to this talk, the Sangha of Prajna Heart Zen Center engaged in a guided meditation in which we were coached to “hold on tight,” “to focus intently,” and “to squeeze even harder,” with regards to a feeling, thought, belief or emotion that had arisen in the previous 40 minutes of Zazen.
Shiro Burrier – 4.19.20

Mind is Buddha
Prajna Heart Zen Center features “Dharma Talks from Lockdown” by Teacher Shiro Burrier. This week, we explore “Mind is Buddha,” Case 30 in the Mumonkon, and what it means to hold the smallest of everyday actions as the purest expression of Zen. The talk is approximately 20 minutes.
Shiro Burrier – 4.12.20